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Brighton – common sense prevails

Brighton Council's health and wellbeing board met yesterday and confirmed that it would not be recommending an extension of smoke-free areas to beaches, parks & squares.

You can view a webcast of the discussion by clicking here. It's item #9 (The Public Consultation on Extending Smoke-free Spaces) and you can go direct to that part of the meeting by clicking on the relevant link.

Some of the comments were quite interesting. One councillor seemed to suggest it would be ten years before the idea was proposed again.

Another suggested the Swansea consultation on the same issue had attracted a similar response which, if correct, is also hugely encouraging.

Credit to the health and wellbeing board, and to chairman Daniel Yates in particular, no-one struck me as being a fanatical anti-smoking zealot.

Their comments were mostly quite measured and if they were disappointed by the parks and beaches result they hid it well.

What seemed to please the board most was the large number of responses which only goes to show how important it is that people engage with councils on matters such as this.

The more enlightened and open-minded councillors will listen and use their common sense. I'd like to think too that they recognise that policies should be evidence-based and it's not just about the ability to enforce restrictive regulations.

As for media coverage, I mentioned last week how BBC Radio Sussex had tried to spin the story. Well, this is where they got the angle from – Brighton Council!

Plans to increase the number of outdoor smoke-free areas in Brighton and Hove will be considered by top council and NHS representatives at a meeting on Tuesday 15 December.

The city’s health and wellbeing board will be asked to agree smoke-free zones at the entrances to school gates and children’s centres, and also in children’s play parks.

Public health officials could also be asked to work with restaurants and pubs to encourage smoke-free outdoor areas on a voluntary basis.

However, the board will be asked not to extend smoke-free places to parks and beaches.

The proposals take into account the findings of a public consultation to which more than 1,900 people responded. A majority of respondents – both smokers and non-smokers – agreed that play parks and school and children’s centre entrances should become smoke-free.

A majority of residents agreed that it was anti-social to smoke where people were eating and drinking. Many non-smokers said they would be more likely to use restaurants and pubs with outdoor seating if they were smoke-free.

However, there was little general support for smoke-free parks and beaches.

The chair of the health and wellbeing board, Councillor Daniel Yates, said: “I believe the measures that are being suggested are a common-sense approach and an appropriate reflection of the views of our residents and visitors.

“We’re delighted with the level of response to this consultation."

See More smoke-free areas proposed for Brighton & Hove (Brighton Council).

Thankfully the local press recognised the real story and reported it as follows:

Anyway, as I reported at the weekend, I've searched in vain for any national coverage of this important development.

Hope springs eternal, though, so watch this space.

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Reader Comments (4)

If the public taking part in and responding to consultation works and is welcome locally, why is it a waste of time nationally where the public is ignored in favour of ideological policy making?

We will get plain (AKA gross and insulting) packs because someone lied or ignored the overwhelming opposition to this blatant theft of both industry intellectual property rights and consumer rights.

Nationally the only consultation that matters is what a handful of tobacco controllers say.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at 14:14 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

By getting useless MP's to vote on issues such as the tobacco display ban, the smoking ban and plain packaging many of them no doubt voted according to their own personal prejudices and tobacco control got untold influence over the outcome. This way, the views of the general public the majority of whom that would have translated into no votes against such measures continue to go ignored.
If any of these unpopular measures had been put to the public vote, they would not be in place today. You only have to look at Austria where the general public voted against a smoking ban.The same would have happened here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at 21:16 | Unregistered Commentered

This is good news but really, just a drop of good news in an ocean of antismoking doom and gloom. I write from cold and rainy New York where it is illegal to smoke on beaches, in parks and in arbitrarily-defined public spaces (such as Times Square). Bars are theoretically allowed an outside 'smoking section', if it's smaller than the nonsmoking section and physically separate from it - but in practice, very few bars can comply. (Other States with more recent smoking bans forbid even this). You can't even stand outside a bar and smoke with a drink because it's illegal to drink outside. Meanwhile pretty much every building has a sign saying No Smoking Within 15 (or 20, or 25, or 30) Feet Of Building.

Why on earth would anyone think 'it can't happen here?' The only hope I can see is that the hospitality industry will unite and actually stand up and fight further restrictions. (Better still, of course, fight to roll back existing ones). A restauranteur I know, says that pubs and restaurants are fed up with restrictions and will resist any more. Is that true, and if so what can be done to encourage it?

Thursday, December 17, 2015 at 16:48 | Unregistered CommenterJoe jackson

From Guido. More ASH shenanigans.

Thursday, December 17, 2015 at 19:05 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

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