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Anti-smoking campaigners target smoking in the home

The president of the Faculty of Public Health wants smoking banned in all new council houses.

Professor John Middleton, president of the Faculty of Public Health, said adults smoking in the home damaged the development of children’s lungs and put babies at risk of cot death.

"Housing associations and councils are looking at smoke-free housing buildings. Where children are involved I think there is a real case for it,” Middleton said.

The Sunday Times has the story here, although it's behind a paywall.

ASH, naturally, support the idea without being quite so explicit. Nevertheless the meaning behind these weasel words is clear:

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, said the anti-smoking charity (sic) had a call last week from a woman whose granddaughter had cystic fibrosis and had never been able to visit because neighbours’ smoke from communal areas drifted into the grandmother’s home.

Arnott said people were often "frustrated by councils’ and social landlords' failure to take action".

I'm quoted as follows:

Simon Clark, director of the pro-smoking (sic) campaign group Forest, said that a ban “would penalise unfairly those who can’t afford to buy their own homes”.

The full comment I gave them (not used) read:

"Banning smoking in social housing would set a very dangerous precedent. Not only would it be a gross invasion of privacy, it would penalise unfairly those who can't afford to buy their own homes.

"How would the policy be enforced? It could create a snooper's charter allowing people to snitch on neighbours, especially those they don't get on with. Children might inadvertently give their parents away, resulting in possible eviction.

"It's not second hand smoke that's making people's lives a misery. It's puritanical bodies like the Faculty of Public Health who, having campaigned to ban smoking in every pub and club in the country, are now trying to dictate how people behave in their own private space as well."

Middleton is one of the public health 'chiefs' who has been pressing the Government to publish its new tobacco control plan without delay (Doctors urge May to publish anti-smoking strategy).

By calling for what many people will think is fairly extreme action, I imagine the strategy is to force ministers to introduce other policies that can be presented as less draconian.

The long-term goal however is clear and thanks to the Obama administration the US now offers governments worldwide a model when it comes to smoking and social housing.

What disgusts me is how shameless anti-smoking campaigners are. Social housing or not, it's still someone's home. As I told the Sunday Times, why should people be discriminated against just because they can't afford to buy their own house?

Whether it's taxation or smoking bans, the likes of ASH just love giving the less well-off a good kicking.

Ultimately though policies such as this are just a Trojan horse to ban smoking in all housing, regardless of wealth.

The 'good' news, if you can call it that, is that it might put 'passive' smoking back on the agenda.

One of the problems we've had since public smoking bans were introduced a decade ago is that no-one, least of all the media, wants to talk about the impact of 'secondhand' smoke in enclosed spaces, public or otherwise.

As far as journalists and politicians are concerned it's yesterday's news. Passive smoking kills (allegedly) and there's no more to be said. The debate, in their eyes, is over.

By putting smoking in the home up for discussion it means there's an opportunity to reassess the impact of 'secondhand' smoke.

Perhaps (and I don't say this with any confidence) we may be able to persuade ministers to revisit the evidence and reconsider the extent to which smoking should be restricted.

If the anti-smoking industry wants to have that battle I'm all for it.

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Reader Comments (9)

I can’t tell how angry this makes me.

Prehaps Arnott Middleton and their ilk should try living on a rough council estate for a month. Somewhere where rapes, stabbings, muggings and all sorts are commonplace.

They’ll soon find out that someone smoking in the home is the least of the problems, if at all a problem that residents face on a daily basis.

Sunday, May 7, 2017 at 12:14 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

One more step towards criminalisation. What next? Jail for possession of tobacco where we will be forced to quit?

This authoritarian insanity must stop but who will end it? Certainly not the Tories, not Labour, not the LibDems, and certainly not ukip which thinks people are more worried about a woman in a burka.

I've gone back to not voting because there is nothing to vote for while ASH are given free reign to carry out an unlimited hate and social exclusion campaign with the money forced out of smokers in unfair tax.

Sunday, May 7, 2017 at 12:25 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

It was only a matter of time before some numpty suggested this. However I hope that the government has the sense to counter this and tell these idiots that it is not the 1930,s and an autocratic state. I am not hopefull though, for myself I upset my kids and grandkids by telling them to go outside when I want to smoke. They do so but usually with a grump or two.

Sunday, May 7, 2017 at 12:57 | Unregistered CommenterDavid kerr

This must be opposed virulently. These bigots are about to impose smoking bans in prisons. Be interesting to see what happens there.

Sunday, May 7, 2017 at 16:10 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy Goodacre

Whatever the heath arguments are, such a ban would reduce deaths from house fires(it is 'proven' that house fires are more common in smoker households, fact!!).

Monday, May 8, 2017 at 19:44 | Unregistered CommenterGavin

"Professor John Middleton, president of the Faculty of Public Health, said adults smoking in the home damaged the development of children’s lungs and put babies at risk of cot death."

Wrong way around.
Non smoking in the home kills more children than smoking in the home.
The only statistically significant finding of this IARC study "Multicenter case-control study of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and lung cancer in Europe." was that people brought up in smoke-free houses was that they were about 20% more likely to get lung cancer. As there are about 36,000 lung cancer deaths every year the UK, increasing the number of smoke-free houses will increase the number of children that will eventually be killed by lung cancer. How many? Well ultimately about 7,000 future deaths could be attributed to smoke-free house holds. This would be a public health disaster and the TCI would be to blame, as the study above is one of theirs , so it's not like they didn't know about the risk.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017 at 0:17 | Unregistered CommenterFredrik Eich

@Gavin - since there seems to be a consistent view that cooking equipment is the leading cause of house fires, do you mean that faulty or carelessly used cooking equipment is associated with smokers? Are, for example, smokers so engrossed in smoking that they take their eye off the chip pan? And does the fire brigade make a note about whether the occupier whose chip pan has started the fire is a smoker?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017 at 8:13 | Unregistered CommenterJay

No it isn't so stop lying. House fires are still more common because if cooking specially when heating fat. These smokerphobics will say anything and slander smokers in any way to push through their own prejudical demands that someone else lives the lives they are told to.

Leave us alone and be honest.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017 at 12:13 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

@ Gavin

The most common causes of fire in the home:

!. Cooking
2. Heating equipment
3. Electrical equipment
4. Carelessness (For house fires, negligence causes 5.8 percent of blazes. Carelessness includes not putting our cigarettes, leaving candles burning, putting heating equipment near combustible items, and more. Fire is dangerous. Never treat anything hot or on fire with anything but the utmost care.)
5. Open flame
6. Appliances
7. Intentional (Out of all house fires, 4.2 percent are intentionally set.)
8. Smoking (About 2 percent of fires are caused by cigarettes)

So it is more than twice as likely that an arsonist will torch your home than it is that a fire will start as a result of smoking.

So I think that the statement that it is 'proven' that house fires are more common in smoker households, fact!! is rather misleading, don't you? The figure of 2% doesn't seem particularly high to me.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017 at 16:48 | Unregistered Commenternisakiman

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