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« That's entertainment | Main | Today's battle with the Beeb »

Weasel words and bully boy tactics

The "tobacco free NHS" story rumbles on in several of today's papers.

Last night I was on the Stephen Nolan Show on Five Live, which neatly bookended the interview I gave to Five Live Breakfast at the start of the day.

I was also on Sky News although I was stood down from the live interview I was booked to do because they wanted to stick with Jeremy Corbyn who was speaking at the Scottish Labour conference.

Instead they recorded, via Skype, the briefest of soundbites for use in the evening news bulletin.

One interesting thing about this 'story' is that it isn't 'news' at all. The media is reporting that Duncan Selbie, the CEO of Public Health England, has written to all NHS trusts asking for their help to implement a smoke-free policy across all hospital sites.

Selbie's letter was actually written, sent and widely reported in November (see Health boss says hospitals should ban all smoking on their grounds).

Yet three months later the same story is doing the rounds and getting a similar amount of coverage.

Selbie was at pains yesterday to emphasise that "This isn’t about forcing people [to stop smoking], it’s about helping people."

These are the usual weasel words we've come to expect from prohibitionists.

By all means assist smokers who want to quit by offering them help, advice or some form of smoking cessation aid, but banning smoking across every NHS site will affect all smokers, including those who don't want to quit.

Even if you choose to ignore the 'No Smoking' signs the very fact that you are doing something 'wrong' and could be asked to stop at any moment will itself be stressful at a time when all you want to do is to have a quiet smoke – and a break from the hospital ward – outside and in the open air.

I don't think that's too much to ask yet the bully boys in public health don't see it that way. Whatever it takes, they are determined try everything to persuade or force you to quit.

The press coverage has been one-sided (we knew nothing about the story until late Saturday night so we missed the boat in terms of issuing a response) but the reaction from listeners to Five Live Breakfast ("so many messages") was far more polarised. For or against, people had "very, very strong views".

Btw, if you want to listen to the interview I eventually did with Five Live yesterday morning, click here.

Update: I'm on BBC Radio Oxford at 10.30, followed by BBC Three Counties at 10.45.

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Reader Comments (6)

Another of those unintended consequences.

It's quite possible that in their rush to send smokers outside at the will of their political masters, they didn't realise that it would make the hospital frontage look like a vision of Hell.

And no matter what they say or do, that's the real problem and they are stuck with it.

Monday, February 27, 2017 at 9:31 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

The likes of this Duncan Selbie need opposing. These are our hospitals paid for by us. Decent smoking facilities for patients are a right.

Monday, February 27, 2017 at 11:03 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy Goodacre

Picking on the weakest at the most vulnerable time in life makes them more than bullies. They are thugs. You only have to look at how they have promoted smokerphobia, fear and hatred of people who smoke, to see why people are so polarised in their view of smoking and why human rights, consideration and compassion are given to every social or identity group except ours.

Before they could attack people in a way that would be unacceptable against any other group of people, they first had to crush any notion that smokers are people at all.

I still cannot understand why hate, lies, and abuse against a minority group is being funded by our taxes that should go to heal the sick and bring comfort to those suffering I'll health.

Monday, February 27, 2017 at 13:22 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

Who pays for NHS? Taxpayers, some who smoke. There must be smoking areas in hospitals and if the dire management of the NHS doesn't like it, it has sacked itself. Maladministered health quango.

Monday, February 27, 2017 at 18:24 | Unregistered Commentergray

That's what gets to me as well, Pat. They had to make us inhuman before they could do this to us, and now it continues in denial of housing, employment, and medical care. But it's okay, we're just filthy, disease-ridden, selfish smokers. Replace 'smokers' with 'Jews' or 'blacks' and see how that would play. Though yes, we're all scientific about it now, just like the Nazis were.

And what better time to kick someone than when they're down?

Do people really need a group of other people they can revile? Is that part of our psychological makeup?

Monday, February 27, 2017 at 18:41 | Unregistered CommenterChanah See

Yes channah. Society needs heroes and villains. These are helpfully singled out for the thick bigots like Mr French B&B in Simon's next post, or just haters who love to hate something officially approved as hateful just to prove how caring or considerate they are.

What difference does it make to, say, Katie Hopkins life, for example, if there are fat people in the world? I would suggest none, except for the fact that picking on this newly oppressed and bullied "lazy" "selfish" "greedy," section of soceity is making her money in the same way anti-smokerism earns money and wealth for others.

It seems as long as you hate and fear what Public Health tells you to hate and fear it is acceptable. Public Health should be renamed Public Hate but until bigoted and phobic politicians - caring people like Dianne Abbott, for example, or Jane Ellison - see the issue is no longer about health but sheer hatred it will continue scamming the public and inciting yet more hatred, social exclusion and discrimination backed up by force of law.

And then they wonder why the general public has lost both faith and trust in our leaders.

Zeig Hiel Public Hate!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 at 12:27 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

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