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« No evidence that prison smoking bans lead to riots? Bullshit! | Main | Beach smoking ban and "tyranny of the majority" »

Should our beaches be smokefree (sic)?

I'm back in the UK but took the day off yesterday.

First, I had to take my son to the station so he could catch a train to Devon where he's working on a farm for six or seven weeks. Good luck with that.

I then had to drive my daughter to Heathrow to catch a flight to San Diego where she's staying with friends while working as an intern in a local theatre until September.

The downside for me is that I'll have to walk the dog far more than usual – at least once a day. Thankfully it's been raining hard all day in Cambridgeshire and I can't possibly take the mutt out in that weather. Have you ever seen a cockapoo when it's soaked to the skin?

Instead I've been catching up on media coverage of the Brighton beach smoking ban proposal. I particularly liked Chris Snowdon's appearance on Sky News opposite Deborah Arnott of ASH.

In many ways it was a masterclass. I loved the little digs and jibes directed at ASH. I loved too the inevitable moment when Deborah raised the issue of tobacco funding (of the IEA) and, momentarily, Chris had a 'problem' with his earpiece.

When the issue was put to him again by the presenter he brushed it off, suggesting he was only on the programme because he was a local resident. Genius! (I mean that.)

I've also had a chance to see Rob Lyons (Action on Consumer Choice) on Good Morning Britain, which I couldn't while I was in Ireland.

Rob was featured twice on the programme. Click here and go to 0:20:00 and 01:26:00 (approximately).

In addition to a large number of news reports I was quoted in the Guardian which published what I thought was a well-balanced feature headlined Is Britain ready for outdoor smoking bans?.

Forest ("a for smoking group") was even mentioned on CBBC, the pre-teen channel, which broadcast a report on Newsround. (See Brighton looking into banning smoking on beaches.) Naturally the report focussed on the views of several young children who, as we all know, are experts on public health.

Everyone from Deborah Arnott to Daniel Yates, chairman of the Health and Wellbeing Board, is adamant that nothing has been banned and it's only a consultation but we all know how consultations work (Chris put it very eloquently on Sky News) and the chances are the decision will be made not by the public but by the usual public health elite.

Needless to say we're going to fight this all the way because if we don't outdoor smoking bans will spread like wildfire, as these local newspaper reports clearly suggest:

Should East Anglia’s beaches be smoke free? (Eastern Daily Press)
Should the North East ban smoking in public places to help cut smoking by 75%? (The Chronicle)

What's interesting is the way we are consistently being asked to consider the worst case scenario rather than the every day reality of visiting a beach or public park.

For example, the image most frequently used is a crowded bank holiday beach. How often are beaches that busy? Not often.

On Good Morning Britain the presenters kept referring to an imaginary situation in which a smoker sits next to a non-smoker on the beach and puffs away, with smoke drifting over the non-smoker. Seriously, how often does that actually happen in real life?

Anyway, the consultation to consider extending "smoke free places" in Brighton was published yesterday. I suggest you visit it here.

And talking of outdoor smoking bans, Tobacco Free Futures (formerly Smokefree North East) has launched its own Smokefree Summer (sic) campaign in the North West.

Yesterday I was on BBC Radio Manchester and it was interesting to hear TFF's Andrea Crossfield say, quite definitively, there is "no risk from secondhand smoke in outdoor areas".

She then went on to say "I don't believe in banning things" (!) despite the fact that she supports the indoor smoking ban and will welcome, I am sure, any further restrictions on smoking (voluntary or otherwise) in outdoor public places.

Duplicitous or genuine? You decide.

To hear the interview in full click here (Smoke free family events). It begins around 01:06:40.

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Reader Comments (6)

Nice post. I particularly enjoyed the curmudgeonly part at the start! A man after my own heart.

I really couldn't hear the question! In fact I couldn't hear much the whole interview, including what Arnott was saying. I asked the producer to give me some more volume before I went on air and whatever he cranked up made it very distorted. And I really was only there because I'm a local. If it was in London, I would have turned it down as I'm meant to be on holiday this week.

Perhaps I shouldn't admit to any of this if it's going to ruin my reputation as a media genius!

Friday, July 24, 2015 at 18:55 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher Snowdon

I live in Brighton and have just completed and submitted the so called public consultation. I hope ordinary residents responses are not ignored but I have a bad feeling about this because the Greens have big say on the council. They will ignore us but I hope other Brighton smokers respond, it might surprise them. As a smoker I have spent a lot of time in pub gardens talking to other smokers and I know that they feel as I do, that the indoor ban was persecution but this smacks of lunacy judging by the number of tourists we get here every weekend during the summer especially in good weather. It is also quite windy on the seafront even when it is hot and sunny. It is quite difficult to light a cigarette and you cannot smell it at all. One thing I hope you who have done survey noticed is the list of places they are asking us where we want to be smokefree including pub gardens. That is us smokers' social life being gradually eroded to nothing if these lunatics get their way.

Saturday, July 25, 2015 at 1:06 | Unregistered CommenterJill Curtis

Dear Mr Clark

Is this an example of cognitive dissonance?


Saturday, July 25, 2015 at 11:08 | Unregistered CommenterDP

Here is a link to Brighton and Hove's city council's consultation and survey on smokefree areas.

Saturday, July 25, 2015 at 14:38 | Unregistered Commentermark

There is no risk to others from second hand smoke outdoors. The Brighton ban needs to be stopped in its tracks. But that isn't enough. There are renewed calls for ban in London parks, and of course outdoor bans are the global antismoker rage these days.

Few dissenting opinions are heard as calls for rejecting the bans are often censored and most news reports start with the assumption that bans are good, why don't we all jump on the bandwagon... A concerted pro-choice voice needs to be heard throughout the UK, EU, US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand now... Before the incremental steps toward total tobacco (and non-pharma nicotine) prohibition take hold.

Sunday, July 26, 2015 at 1:09 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

The proposed Brighton ban is likely to go beyond beaches:

Brighton considers banning smoking outside restaurants and pubs
By Sophie Witts, 27-Jul-2015
Smoking outside restaurants, cafes and pubs in Brighton and Hove could be banned under plans being considered by the council.

All the more reason to actively oppose it!

Monday, July 27, 2015 at 18:26 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

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