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Thursday
Jan052012

Oi, you, put that fag out!

I was on the Stephen Nolan Show (BBC Radio Ulster) this morning.

We were discussing a recent report that:

Smokers who light up outside three hospitals in north Wales will trigger an alarm and loudspeaker message telling them to stop. The warnings have been installed at the main entrances and maternity units of Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor, Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan and Wrexham Maelor. Even lighting a match will set-off the bilingual message.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has taken the steps to create a smoke free environment. Warning signs have also been put up to tell patients, visitors and staff that smoking is banned on the premises. Health bosses hope the measures will lead to a "cultural change" whereby people will no longer find it acceptable to smoke outside hospital.

Forget the Orwellian, Big Brother nature of this initiative (which is not the first of its kind), the most striking thing for me is the fact that smokers are going to be assailed by the same message in two languages!!

Anyway, I won't bore you with what I said (I think you can guess) but I was struck by something Nolan said. Speaking to Andrew Jones, executive director of public health for the health board, he asked whether similar warnings would be shouted at obese people caught eating a Mars Bar.

He may have been playing devil's advocate but the question wasn't entirely frivolous.

Returning to the matter in hand, Jones said that smoking is costing the NHS (in Wales, I assume) one million pounds a day, which is a remarkably neat round figure.

Smokers, I wanted to shout, not only pay far more than that in taxation, they help pay your effing salary. We need to remind public sector workers of this at every opportunity.

PS. Stephen Nolan is one of the great British broadcasters. He should be given the mid morning slot on Five Live on a permanent basis. Unfortunately someone at the BBC loves Victoria Derbyshire so that ain't going to happen any time soon.

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Reader Comments (14)

He wasn't joking about the Mars Bar. He makes no secret of his unsuccessful attempts to lose weight and his liking for high calorie food.

Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 15:01 | Unregistered CommenterJon

My elder girls were both born in Bangor Ysbyty Gwynedd. The first time, the curtain was pulled around my bed and a cup of tea and ashtray were bought to me. There was also a lounge you could smoke in. After the second birth, I wasn't allowed to smoke in the bed and it had been banned in the lounge - but we were still allowed to smoke in the toilets. Charming.

Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 15:19 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Can't wait to go to those hospitals now just to test the alarms/messages. Was at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd fairly
recently and smoked in my car. Inside my car is MY
private property and the hospital can just fuck off!

Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 15:35 | Unregistered CommenterBlad Tolstoy

Reminds me of an old Eagle's song, "Welcome to the Hotel California", because that's how it is there, ridiculous and unrelenting going on 16 years now.

Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 16:59 | Unregistered CommenterTom

What always gets me is how the antis paint the inexorable trudge towards a smokefree world as if "it's just the way things are going," a perfectly natural social change, like building houses instead of living in caves or cooking food rather than eating it raw (a prime example being the BBC prog last night).

They never seem to show these Orwellian devices shouting at people, or the loudspeakers at train stations demanding people on train platforms stop smoking or the Police beating up and arresting someone smoking in a park (jredhead girl posted the pictures on FaceBook), or the fact that when places go smokefree (like pubs) people choose to no longer go there so they shut, or the job contracts that say you'll be sacked if you contravene the workplace's smoking policy or the ever-present signs with warnings of extortionate fines, or, or, or .......

If going smokefree was such a natural state, desired by so many, why would there be the need for such coercion, such control? They don't seem to realise, while bleating on about the popularity of their initiatives, that measures like the above seem to, dare I say, indicate that perhaps most people don't want such measures? Otherwise why would the population need to be so controlled?

Like Churchill's cigar, these measures will undoubtedly be airbrushed from History, to be replaced by a narrative where we all became enlightened and progressive and all rose up as one demanding, "No more smoking!"

Often, I think they're plain evil. But sometimes I think they're just incredibly blinkered and don't quite see the obvious dissonance between what they claim ("everyone, except a tiny minority wants to live in a smokefree world") and what they do ("damn, these people won't go smokefree and even the non-smokers don't seem to care about the filthy smoker next to them. Their behaviour must be controlled!").

So which is it antis? Are you standing up for the majority or are you attempting to alter and control public behaviour like every other despot before you? Which is it? There's no middle ground. And if you are indeed the former, then why are all these measures even necessary? Which does lead one to believe that you are in fact, the latter....

Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 18:54 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

You're right Mr A - it shouldn't be necessary to legislate for things like this. But sadly, because people like you are so blinkered as to the effect your behaviour has on others, it is. The laws are only there to control the arrogance and selfishness of people like you. the vast majority were quite able to control themselves. It's you that messed it up for everyone else. Live with it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 20:09 | Unregistered Commentersimon (nsc)

“…..because people like you are so blinkered as to the effect your behaviour has on others”

Oh Simon (nsc) the Superior One, I for one was incredibly blinkered. I had no idea the effect my behavior was having on others. It seems I missed it all. In years past, there was – apparently – a constant stream of nonsmokers in distress about me; some with blood streaming from their smoke-affected eyes, others semi-conscious, others, still, collapsed on the ground, clutching at their throats, gasping for air.

In restaurants, there was – apparently - a steady stream of nonsmokers sending their meals back to the kitchen, either unable to see the plate in front of them due to the thick smoke that had engulfed them and/or unable to savor food due to smoke-affected taste-buds. This was – apparently – going on about me all the time. I missed it all for decades and decades.

One would have thought that I would have tripped over a fallen body here and there that might have aroused my suspicion. But I must have been “lucky”, getting through it all upright. There were – apparently – scores of nonsmokers that would leave venues screaming, smoke wafting from their hair and clothes, attempting to locate the nearest dry-cleaner/shower to remove the magical mist lest their quality of life be utterly destroyed. I had no idea.

And apparently, as I smoked in people’s homes, shortly thereafter the paint would begin to peel, the carpet would decompose, goldfish would go belly-up, and cats and dogs would lose their hair. If I walked down the street smoking a cigarette, apparently plants would wither and the pavement crack, leaving a Moonscape in my wake. No, Simon (nsc), thank you for pointing out my selfishness and the world according to antismokers.

Puhhhh-leeeez!!

Friday, January 6, 2012 at 0:39 | Unregistered CommenterWhat

Personally, it disgusts me.

How the smoking ban can be in the interests of health, as far as hospitals are concerned, is beyond me.

Forcing the seriously ill into extreme temperatures in their nightwear, which everyone knows is against doctors orders, is certainly not in the interest of good health.

Is there any chance the anti-smokers (and career-minded politicians for that matter) could actually realise that we are now living in the 21st century with 21st century solutions to cater for everyone (including those that enjoy tobacco), and not in the dinosaur years of prohibition?

Is there a second agenda for those career-minded politicians who continue to preach prohibitionism rather then modern-day solutions?

One often wonders, rightly so, and one usually knows best.

Friday, January 6, 2012 at 1:22 | Unregistered CommenterHelen

@ Simon (nsc).

""....the effect your behaviour has on others...""

Would that effect be the non-existent, health-related effect of SHS? You see, Simon, no ill-effects have ever actually been shown to be true. The ill-effects are not real effects at all. They are statistical constructs.
What the Tobacco Control zealots have been doing is this:

They take the possibility that a person might be killed by SHS, if that person is exposed to SHS for a thousand years. And then they multiply it by a thousand. That calculation then becomes the real death of one person in a year.
The reality, of course, is that no one will actually die from SHS unless he lives for a thousand years.

You really must stop believing in ghosts!

Friday, January 6, 2012 at 1:47 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

Mr A,

It’s a combination of reasons. Like religious converts, anti-smokers come to the anti-smoking cause via many different paths. Some are simply unable to recognise that everyone doesn’t share their point of view; some just like the power-trip; some are driven by a sort of religious zeal which needs to see something or someone as “bad” in order to see themselves, by comparison, as “good;” some are ex-smokers who need to maintain an “anti” stance for fear of otherwise having to admit to themselves the bitter regret which they feel from having given up one of their greatest pleasures; others have unresolved issues, usually around the loss of a loved one that they’ve never come to terms with, and they need someone else to blame – and smokers will do in the absence of anyone else. And of course many of the big anti-smoking cheeses are in it purely for the perks and the money.

But I think it’s true to say that not a single, solitary one of them joins the “cause” for what might be considered a good, humanitarian, caring or compassionate reason. If they do, then there’s precious little evidence of it in either their words or their actions.

Friday, January 6, 2012 at 2:26 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

Actually it is very selfish for someone to want every single pub, restaurant, park, bus stop, rail station, all outdoor streets and other peoples' homes to be illegal to smoke and issue citations for breaking the law. That to me is real selfishness. Because before that there were places anyone could go, whether to smoke or to be away from smoke. Now, because of true selfishness, that no longer exists and it's become socially, morally, ethically and economically dibilitating to everyone, smoker and non-smoker alike.

Friday, January 6, 2012 at 5:53 | Unregistered CommenterTom

NHS hospitals tried this in England, but they admit that they cannot enforce any smoking ban on their grounds because it is NOT against the law.
Laws in England have to made in Parliament. Does the same apply in Wales?

Friday, January 6, 2012 at 10:06 | Unregistered CommenterChas

@ Simon nsc.

I have never, not once, smoked somewhere where it was not allowed. For most, if not all, of that time, that was the pub and certain cafes. (buses, cinemas and the like were before my time). And never, when I did enter a non-smoking pub or cafe, did I moan or whinge or complain - I simply accepted that this was the owner's choice.

I would bet good money that you, however, despite having shopping centres, banks, supermarkets, buses, trains, theatres, cinemas, leisure centres, libraries, museums, offices, hospitals. churches etc etc etc as "smokefree" venues, have undoubtedly, on many occasions, stuck your face into other people's business, complained, moaned, whinged, written letters of complaint and generally acted like a social cancer spreading your egocentric intolerance to all who are unfortunate enough to enter the sad little orbit of your bitter, failed existence.

In 20 years I have never actually met an anti-smoker in real life. Damn the Internet for making it so easy for the selfish, deranged egotists of this evil movement to spew their intolerance as they tap away at their foam-flecked keyboards.

Friday, January 6, 2012 at 13:37 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

You know Mr A - I've also never met an anti-smoker yet in real life. All the anti-smoking hype comes from the politicians, the lobby groups and the internet.

Walk down the street, and most non-smokers I speak to are appalled at the treatment of smokers, particularly at hospitals.

I'm a bit older than you as well - I remember smoking in supermarkets whilst shopping with my trolley, as well as an ashtray on my counter whilst serving at a bank. I remember ash-trays at the bed-side cupboards in hospitals.

Anti-smokers will never stop with their demands. They have no concern for anyone other than their own selfish and bigoted beliefs, and have the immoral activities of BP to fund their lobbying.

Friday, January 6, 2012 at 22:49 | Unregistered CommenterHelen

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