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« Transparency, transparency, transparency | Main | Trouble at market »
Thursday
May032018

Hypocrites!

Barnsley Council's bid to ban the sale of smoking accessories by market traders has reached the ears of the Sheffield Star.

The story, which I wrote about yesterday, comes with a twist however.

Thanks to a Freedom of Information request by Keiron Knight, who runs a market stall in Barnsley and represents the National Market Traders Federation, the Star is able to report that:

A council which banned the sale of smoking related goods from market stalls in a prestigious new shopping complex on public health grounds has money tied up in tobacco companies through its pension funds, it has emerged.

Market trader Kieron Knight, who has built up a business based principally on selling goods for smokers on Barnsley market has been told he cannot continue to do so if he takes a stall at the new Glass Works complex, being built to replace Barnsley’s old Metropolitan Centre.

He has been offered help by the council to switch to other products, but says his reliance on supplying legally available items to smokers means it would be impossible to do so and has asked questions under Freedom of Information legislation which reveal the council invests indirectly through the South Yorkshire Pensions Authority, which provides retirement income for its staff, in several tobacco firms.

I have no problem with councils (or anyone else) having shares in tobacco companies. (I'm no expert but traditionally it's been a pretty safe investment so it makes shrewd financial sense.)

You must be a hypocrite of the first order though if you invest in tobacco companies while banning smoking in outdoor public places and prohibiting small traders from selling smoking-related accessories – all in pursuit of your ultimate goal, a 'smoke-free' borough.

I spoke to Keiron Knight (and the Star) a couple of days ago. The paper reports:

Mr Knight has the support of smokers’ group Forest and director Simon Clark said: “Tobacco is a legal product. It’s wrong and extremely hypocritical for the council to ban the sale of smoking accessories in every market in the borough.

“To the best of our knowledge neither traders nor consumers were consulted which demonstrates the contempt the council has for local people.

“If the aim is to denormalise smoking it won’t work because smokers will buy their accessories elsewhere. The policy will however hurt market traders, some of whom may be forced out of business.”

Full report: Council accused of hypocrisy over tobacco investments while promoting 'smoke free' town (Sheffield Star).

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Reader Comments (2)

Hypocrisy - the virtue of the new "progressive" age.

Thursday, May 3, 2018 at 15:06 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Simon,

Benediction to you.
The only way to correctly relate TobCON to reality is to speak always of SMOKERS, and not 'smoking'. The word 'smoking' is divorced from human beings.

Friday, May 4, 2018 at 1:43 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

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