The smoke police 
Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 16:30
Simon Clark

A 79-year-old man in Ontario, Canada, received three tickets for smoking in his own vehicle.

According to the Mail Online, which got the story from the National Post:

He was fined more than $1,000 for smoking in an enclosed workplace, failing to have a no-smoking sign in his SUV, and failing to properly supervise a workplace.

Arguing that the vehicle - a Porsche SUV - was never used as part of his cleaning business, Harry Kraemer took the case to the Provincial Offences Court and won, with all three tickets being overturned.

Describing some of the "smoke police" as "overzealous", Kramer said:

"Very soon, they'll keep coming and coming and coming at us and pretty soon we can't have a smoke except in the middle of some farmer's field."

Kraemer believes he was 'unfairly targeted as part of an ongoing dispute with the anti-smoking officers':

Last year, he was fined after an officer found an ash tray and cigarette butt in his private second floor office ...

He says he smokes with the door closed, window open and fan blowing.

But he was slapped with two tickets for workplace smoking which sparked a huge row.

"I verbally told him to get the hell out of my office and I said some very nasty things maybe, I don't know," said Kraemer after he was handed the ticket.

The officer, Kraemer said, told him, "We'll be back."

A year on, and an enforcement officer, working on what the claimed was an anonymous tip off, had approached him in his Porsche and handed him the ticket.

'An anonymous tip off' is exactly what I had in mind when I asked how a ban on smoking in social housing might be enforced:

It could create a snooper's charter allowing people to snitch on neighbours, especially those they don't get on with.

The Mail added that:

Ontario's anti-smoking team investigated 100 complaints of inappropriate smoking [my emphasis] last year.

Anyway, the Canadian connection and references to 'smoke police' brought to mind a song by the semi-professional Toronto band The Intended.

Back in 2004 the band recorded a song called 'The Smoke Police' with lyrics by poet Eric Layman. You can read them here, together with this comment by Eric himself:

I wrote this because I wanted to attack 'the smoke police' and have fun doing so. There's too much preaching already, without my tying more 'should-nots' around people's necks.

Before The Intended recorded it, I used to drop copies off in restaurants and bars. Several times, the owners told me they liked it. People who don't want to inhale smoke are free to patronize a smoke-free locale.

A smoker has the right to smoke anywhere that permits it - with the owner of each bar, etc. having the right to say Yes or No. My right to smoke in a bar is an extension of the owner's property rights. That the government has the power to ban smoking, does not give them a moral override.

Recently, I quit smoking for health reasons; but I continue to support freedom of choice. An attack on the rights of one person is an attack on every other person's rights.

Most people, including free-enterprisers, support the idea of the 'nanny state' in some areas. I don't. Government does not have a right to outlaw behavior which doesn't infringe on others' rights. But if you want government to take care of you like a child, don't be surprised if they order you around like a child.

I met Layman when I was in Toronto in 2005. We were introduced by Matt Finlayson, founder of The Intended, who had sent me a copy of the song and the album on which it featured.

Sadly Eric Layman died a few years later, aged 64.

Meanwhile the 'smoke police' is no longer the title of a wry protest song. It actually exists in the form of a team that investigates "inappropriate smoking" and prosecutes people for smoking in their own private offices and vehicles.

Harry Kraemer's convictions may have been overturned but that won't stop the smoke police harassing other smokers. Globally, this is only going to get worse.

Article originally appeared on Simon Clark (
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