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Thursday
Jun232011

Smoking in cars: support Philip Davies

Thanks to those who have drawn this to my attention:

Philip Davies leads the charge against a ban on smoking in cars.

You can comment.

Interesting to see the list of Tories backing a ban, and those against it. If your MP is on either list I recommend strongly that you write to them expressing your views.

Thursday
Jun232011

Inner city pubs stubbed out

The Save Our Pubs and Clubs campaign has today issued this press release:

INNER CITY PUBS STUBBED OUT BY SMOKING BAN
Labour constituencies the biggest losers, report finds

Traditional inner city pubs have suffered the most since the introduction of smoking bans in Scotland, England and Wales, a new report has found.

Researchers also found that the areas with the greatest levels of closure have been in Labour‐held constituencies with an average of almost eleven pubs per Labour constituency, compared to 9.9 pubs per Liberal Democrat constituency and 7.6 pubs per Conservative constituency.

Of the ten hardest hit constituencies seven are Labour held, two Liberal Democrat, and just one (Cities of London and Westminster) Conservative.

All bar one of these constituencies (Argyll and Bute) are in the inner cities with one each in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Leeds, Edinburgh and Nottingham.

In Wales every Westminster constituency lost at least one pub. In Scotland only one Westminster constituency has escaped without a single pub closure.

The research was conducted by CR Consulting for the Save Our Pubs and Clubs campaign. Oliver Griffiths, director of CR Consulting, said:

"The data show large numbers of traditional drink-led urban pubs shutting down. These are in areas with traditionally quite high levels of smoking so it would appear that regulars who used to enjoy a pint and a cigarette with friends have decided to stay at home instead."

John Madden, Executive Officer of the Guild of Master Victuallers, said, “The smoking ban has put a huge strain on the traditional urban pub. Many regular customers decided to smoke and drink at home and very few non-smokers came in to replace them.

“The result has been the closure of thousands of pubs. Licensees have lost their livelihoods, bar staff have lost their jobs, and many communities have lost their social centre.”

Simon Clark, director of the Save Our Pubs and Clubs campaign which counts TV chef and publican Antony Worrall Thompson and artist David Hockney among its supporters, said, “Labour was the principal architect of the smoking ban. It is ironic therefore that pubs in Labour-held constituencies have suffered the most.

“The smoking ban is an issue that MPs must address because local communities cannot afford to go on losing pubs at the present rate. The Coalition Government must review the smoking ban and consider options that bring us into line with most other countries in Europe where smoking is permitted in separate smoking rooms or designated smoking bars.”

The Scottish version has this comment by Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association:

“Everyone can see pubs are shutting, especially the more traditional community pubs. Many of these have been around for decades. They have been social centres for the communities that they serve and then suddenly they are gone.”

“Our pubs have offered a safe and regulated environment in which to enjoy a drink and a sociable chat. The smoking ban caused many smokers to stay away and those that still come have to stand outside. The ban may have cleared the air but its destroyed the atmosphere.

“Other European countries have had more sensible regulation allowing smoking rooms or exempting small bars and have avoided this devastation. The Executive should look at this again before it’s too late.”

Click here to download the report: The British Smoking Bans: Stubbing out the urban pubs.

Update: the report was mentioned on Five Live Breakfast's Money News this morning (8:52). Needless to say they then featured a publican from Exeter who said that, yes, all pubs had suffered briefly following the smoking ban but the better pubs (ie like his) had adapted.

See: Smoking ban: traditional inner city pubs have suffered most (Morning Advertiser), Pub campaign blames smoking ban for latest city centre closures (Retail Times)

Also: Stubbing out your own folk (Pub Curmudgeon)

Wednesday
Jun222011

Minister’s links with ASH questioned

Letter from Kieran McDonnell, president of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, to David Cameron:

21 June 2011

Dear Prime Minister,

Formal complaint regarding breach of the Ministerial Code

I write to you in my capacity as President of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN), which represents 16,500 newsagent members across the UK, with a complaint regarding the conduct of your Public Health Minister Anne Milton with reference public statements made and circulated on 15th June when Ms Milton attended the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking & Health’s 40th anniversary for Action on Smoking & Health (ASH).

At the meeting, Ms Milton credited the Vice Chair of the group (and former Chair of the Health Select Committee) Kevin Barron MP for his help “behind the scenes” when addressing smoking legislation. In addition the Minister also accepted an award and presented an award to the Director of ASH.

This statement and public acceptance and deliverance of awards to an organisation that has been lobbying her department, MPs and other government departments (and indeed is granted government funding on the basis that it not be used for lobbying purposes) has called into question the manner in which recent tobacco display ban legislation has been made; and the ability of the Minister to be considered unbiased on the issue.

I attach a copy of the event report from an independent parliamentary reporting service and would ask that you formally conduct an investigation into the conduct of your minister in the light of her public admission that she had worked with an officer of an ASH funded parliamentary lobby group on recent legislation “behind the scenes”. Moreover, this inappropriate conduct necessitates a review of the legitimacy of the legislation itself.

We have long suspected that ‘behind the scenes’ dealings have been going on in the formation of this legislation in the manner in which it has been pushed through without running the legislation past the Reducing Regulation Committee; without identifying a ‘one out’ for the legislation; and indeed without fulfilling the BRE Guidance to undertake a Small Business Impact Assessment.

In light of these recent statements, I regrettably now see proof of these suspicions which is deeply offensive to our members who have campaigned so hard to see the government fulfil its pre-election commitments to bring the debate back to the House of Commons for a free vote and which the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats publically opposed in opposition.

I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Yours sincerely,

Kieran McDonnell
President, National Federation of Retail Newsagents

I'll let you know if he gets a reply!

Wednesday
Jun222011

Smoking in cars: show us the evidence that this is a major health hazard

Remember David Nuttall's Ten Minute Rule Motion to amend the smoking ban?

Today Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North on Teeside, will propose his own Ten Minute Rule Motion – to ban smoking in cars where children are present.

It is now standard practise for anti-smokers to claim that secondhand smoke is "23 times more toxic in a vehicle than in a home". And yet, according to Ross MacKenzie MA and Becky Freedman MSc of the University of Sydney School of Public Health in Australia, this widely reported 'fact' does not seem to be based on any scientific evidence whatsoever (Second-hand smoke in cars: How did the '23 times more toxic' myth turn into fact?, CMAJ, 2010).

MacKenzie and Freeman traced the claim to a 1998 story in – wait for it – Rocky Mountain News and a comment by the state legislator who "was quoted as saying she had become concerned about the issue upon hearing the now ubiquitous claim".

In other words, gossip and rumour.

I have just been interviewed on BBC Radio Tees and I explained all this (including the reference to Rocky Mountain News!). I also queried the need for legislation and yet another ban when a survey of 1000 adult smokers last year revealed that:

85.3% said they would not smoke at all [in a car with children present]. A further 6.5% said they would ask before lighting up, therefore 8.2% said they would smoke as normal.

Source: Holden Pearmain survey of 1000 adult (18+) smokers, May 2010

The other point I made was this: anti-smoking campaigners say they only want to ban smoking in cars where children are present. However, how can we believe them? It is only a decade since they were saying that all they wanted was more non-smoking areas in pubs and restaurants. Within a few years they were campaigning for a comprehensive ban.

It is a very short step from banning smoking in cars where children are present to: (a) banning smoking in ALL private vehicles, even if the only occupant is the owner/driver, (b) banning smoking smoking in the home if children are in the house.

Anti-smoking campaigners may say that is not their objective but history shows that they are always looking for the "next logical step".

PS. Philip Davies MP will oppose Alex Cunningham's motion which will follow Prime Minister's Questions at 12.30pm.

Tuesday
Jun212011

Freedom, education and the state

Sorry, very little time for blogging this week.

Tonight, The Free Society and the Adam Smith Institute present:

FREEDOM, EDUCATION AND THE STATE
Is mediocrity for all preferable to excellence for some?

Venue: Institute of Economic Affairs,
2 Lord North Street, Westminster, SW1

Not a bad line-up, if I say so myself.

Chairman:
Claire Fox (Institute of Ideas)

Speakers:
Tom Clougherty (Adam Smith Institute)
The Rt Hon David Davis MP (former shadow home secretary)
Matt Grist (senior researcher at Demos)
Professor Terence Kealey (vice-chancellor, University of Buckingham)
Toby Young (associate editor of The Spectator and founder of the West London Free School)

We're expecting a full house – and more – so do join us. RSVP events@thefreesociety.org or telephone Nicky Shepherd 01223 370091.

Monday
Jun202011

Register now if you want to change the smoking ban

Save Our Pubs & Clubs reception
Terrace Pavilion, House of Commons
Wednesday 29th June 2011, 4.00-6.00pm

You are invited to join us at the Save Our Pubs & Clubs reception to be hosted by the Rt Hon Greg Knight MP, Roger Godsiff MP, and John Hemming MP on Wednesday 29th June.

The reception marks the fourth anniversary of the introduction of the smoking ban in England and comes a few months after the fifth anniversary of the ban in Scotland.

MPs from the three main political parties are uniting to support our campaign to amend the smoking ban to allow a separate smoking room with proper ventilation in private premises, including pubs and clubs.

It is vitally important that this event is well supported. If possible, you should also contact your MP in advance and arrange to meet them at the reception.

RSVP as follows. Email your name and full postal address – and that of any guests you wish to bring – to:

info@amendthesmokingban.com

After you have registered, you will be sent an admission ticket, which you will need to bring with you to the reception. Tickets will be posted this week.

Please make every effort to attend this event and demonstrate your support for the campaign to change the smoking ban.

Sunday
Jun192011

Better late than never, Sunday Mirror wants to save the British pub

The Sunday Mirror has launched a campaign to Save Our Pubs.

Needless to say there's a political angle – British Pubs facing closure under the Tories reveal their battle to survive, screams a headline in today's paper:

They have been at the heart of our communities for centuries - but now Britain's pubs are under threat. Six close down every day and those still open face a constant struggle to survive.

The local is in crisis. So today the Sunday Mirror calls on PM David Cameron to honour his election promise that his Government would be "pub-friendly and take the urgent action needed to protect a treasured national institution".

The paper highlights four areas for the problems facing the British pub – cheap supermarket alcohol, tax and duty, pub chains and, yes, the smoking ban:

The smoking ban dealt a devastating blow to thousands of traditional pubs. Takings nosedived by as much as 40 per cent at some town centre and inner city locals as smokers decided to drink at home. Supporters of the ban - introduced in Scotland in 2006 and the rest of the UK in 2007 - say it has made pubs more family friendly and people healthier. But street corner pubs with no beer garden have suffered badly.

Funnily enough, I distinctly remember the Daily Mirror (if not its sister paper) supporting the smoking ban when it was introduced by the previous (Labour) government.

Oh, well, at least our message about the impact of the smoking ban is finally getting through.

Welcome aboard.

Saturday
Jun182011

Review of the week

From the Forest website:

From The Free Society:

Above: Parliamentary event to mark the 40th anniversary of ASH. Doesn't look the most exciting occasion, does it?

From left: Sir Richard Thompson (president, Royal College of Physicians), Stephen Williams MP (chair of All Party Parliamentary on Smoking and Health), Kevin Barron MP, Anne Milton (minister for public health) holding the WHO World No Smoking Day Award, Deborah Arnott (CEO of ASH), Professor John Moxham (chair of ASH).