Prejudice and Prohibition

Road To Ruin?

Search This Site
The Pleasure of Smoking

Forest Polling Report

Outdoor Smoking Bans

Plain Packaging

Share This Page
Powered by Squarespace
Friday
Nov302018

The importance of a dissenting voice

As of today smoking is banned in all Scottish prisons.

The policy is controversial because reports - as I explained here and in the Scottish Sun on Wednesday - suggest that an identical ban in prisons in England and Wales has helped fuel violence and the use of illegal drugs among inmates.

With the notable exception of the Sun, however, communicating that message has proved difficult.

Forest’s response to the ban was sent to the Scottish media on Wednesday morning.

Yesterday, at around 5.30pm, we started getting notifications of media reports, none of which included a single comment from Forest or any other critic of the ban.

Instead each report was identical and read like a government press release.

The source was the Press Association (which was the first recipient of our own press release) so I rang the PA to complain.

To be fair, they immediately updated their report - which is how I’m quoted in the Mail Online (Smoking ban to be introduced in Scotland's prisons), the Glasgow Evening Times, the Aberdeen Evening Express and elsewhere - but it was disappointing that I had to chase them.

That wasn’t the end of my work however because at 1.00am this morning BBC News online posted their own story about the ban.

Like the initial PA report it merely regurgitated whatever the government (or Scottish Prison Service) had fed it.

Older readers will know what happened next because I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to do something similar.

I rang the BBC Scotland newsdesk. In Glasgow. At 2.30am.

A reporter from Radio Scotland answered. BBC News online? I’d have to wait to speak to someone because no-one would be there until five or six o’clock.

I went back to bed and fell asleep. When I woke up it was almost eight so I rang again.

This time I got someone on the online newsdesk who wasn’t best pleased with my complaint but agreed (reluctantly) to consider our response if I sent it again.

That was at 07:51.

I also sent a link to the PA report that had appeared on Mail Online with my quote.

Zero response. The report on the BBC website remained unchanged.

At 09.01 I rang again and was told the person I had spoken to an hour or so earlier was in a meeting. So I left a message.

Forty minutes later, almost nine hours after the report was published on the BBC News website, I got this response, via email:

Mr Clark, I have added a quote at the end of the article.

It’s a token quote (see our full response here) but it’s better than nothing and the reason we chase these things is simple.

Failure to do so would allow these influential reports to appear without a single dissenting voice and with no hint of opposition governments in Westminster, Edinburgh and Cardiff will be emboldened to introduce more and more regulations.

To be honest, I’ve never thought that prisoners should have a right to smoke in jail, but there is an argument to be had about the wisdom of banning smoking in prison, especially when reports suggest there are serious unintended consequences.

What really makes me cross though is the increasing tendency of journalists to publish stories that could have been cut and pasted straight from a government or ‘public health’ press release.

I’ve written about this several times because it’s an ongoing issue, but it seems to me that many journalists are little more than copy takers because relatively few can be bothered to make the story their own.

Anyway, this is how BBC's report now reads - Smoking banned in Scottish prisons, with a short comment from me at the end.

Update: Forest is not alone because the comments below the BBC report are largely critical of the ban.

I'm not surprised. Earlier this year Populus conducted a poll for Forest in Scotland and one of the questions concerned the prison smoking ban:


There was support for inmates in Scottish prisons being permitted to smoke, with two thirds (66 per cent) of respondents agreeing that prisoners should be allowed to smoke in designated smoking areas.

On this issue, like many others, public opinion is on our side. It's just not represented in parliament.

See Forest criticises Scottish Government's "constant war on smokers"
.

Update: I also discussed the Scottish prison smoking ban with Mike Graham on on TalkRADIO at 12.35.

Wednesday
Nov282018

Thatcher and Trumps – two great ladies

Many of you will have read that Baroness Trumpington died, aged 96, on Monday.

Announcing the news, her son Adam Barker said, "She did not make it to 100 but she had a bloody good innings."

I knew a little bit about her but having read several of the many obituaries that have been published in the past 48 hours I realise I was barely scratching the surface of an extraordinary life.

I knew she had been a smoker because I'd seen photographs of her with Lord Harris of High Cross, chairman of Forest, outside parliament on No Smoking Day.

They were members of the Lords and Commons Pipe and Cigar Smokers Club and this annual photo opp often made the front pages.

She gave up cigarettes in 2001 when she was 79. Later she is reported to have said:

"Is the noble Lord aware that, at the age of 80, there are very few pleasures left to me, but one of them is passive smoking?"

In 2012 she appeared on Have I Got News For You and this happened:

I met her just once – at a 'Libertarian Lunch' organised by Boisdale Life magazine (and sponsored by Forest) in February 2017.

She was in a wheelchair and rather frail but in good spirits.

I'm told that her ghost-written memoir, Coming Up Trumps, published in 2014, is well worth reading. The subject however was less impressed.

Interviewed for the Guardian she said: "I don't understand all this excitement. I didn't write the damn book, and I haven't read it either."

It's worth noting too her thoughts on Margaret Thatcher who gave her a job in government as a health minister. On daring to contradict her boss, she said:

“Well, I took the view that if she was going to sack me, she was going to sack me, so I’d better be true to myself and say exactly what I thought and if she sacked me at the end of the day, so what?

"And I think it was useful to her. She was terribly kind to me. I loved her dearly.

"I think she used me because she knew I would not just say yes to something she’d said, and that I’d argue the matter, and it gave her ammunition on how to deal with other people.”

Not one but two great ladies. RIP.

PS. By coincidence I am having dinner tonight with Ranald Macdonald, MD of Boisdale Restaurants and publisher of Boisdale Life.

Click on the link below to see Ranald with Baroness Trumpington at that 'Libertarian Lunch' last year:

Baroness Trumpington is wined and dined at Boisdale (Evening Standard).

Update: Chain smoking, V-sign flicking peer regularly turned the air blue but Lady Trumpington, who’s died at 96, was the very best of battleaxes — and a tonic to public life, says Quentin Letts.

Wednesday
Nov282018

Scottish prison smoking ban debate

Smoking will be outlawed in all Scottish prisons from Friday.

The Scottish Sun asked me to contribute 300 words on the subject for today’s edition. It's not online but I wrote:

Five months ago Rory Stewart, the former prisons minister in England, tweeted: ‘Delighted to confirm that we have just achieved one hundred per cent smoke free prisons.’ “We were ahead of the Scots and we’ve done it,” he told a Commons committee.

Unaware, it seems, of a succession of reports linking the smoking ban with increasing violence and illegal drug use in prisons, Stewart’s jubilation seemed misplaced. Incidents of self-harm and assaults in prisons are a serious problem and the use of illicit drugs is rife, yet here was a minister celebrating the prohibition of a legal product.

According to the Scottish Prison Service the aim is to protect staff and inmates from exposure to second hand smoke. The potential harm has been exaggerated but allowing prisoners to light up outside, in an exercise yard or smoking area, doesn’t put anyone else’s health at risk. In contrast, banning smoking completely could inflame a tense or volatile environment.

Plans to give inmates vaping kits after prisons in Scotland go 'smoke free' are well-meaning but questionable. Vaping may satisfy some prisoners but for many e-cigarettes are still no substitute for tobacco. Why not offer e-cigarettes to those who want to quit, and allow them to vape in their cells, but permit designated smoking areas for those who don’t?

Another proposal is to give prisoners in Scottish jails jigsaws and colouring books to wean them off cigarettes. If the plan is to treat inmates like children, don't be surprised if they behave like children.

Smoking is one of the few pleasures many prisoners have. That's why tobacco is such an important currency in prison. No-one has the right to smoke in jail but banning smoking completely could have serious unintended consequences including increasing violence and illicit drug use. Is that a legacy the Scottish government is willing to risk?

My contribution was one half of a head-to-head debate with Deborah Arnott, CEO of ASH (London), who has been billed as ‘ASH Scotland chief’.

I’d love to be a fly on the wall when Sheila Duffy, chief exec of ASH Scotland, sees that!

Anyway, Deborah has pooh-poohed the suggestion that banning smoking in prisons can fuel violence and the use of illegal drugs.

According to her, ‘After Scottish prisons go smoke-free, everyone will wonder what all the fuss was about.’

The tobacco control industry will deny there is a link between smoking bans and unrest or increasing use of drugs in prisons, but there have been enough reports - both formal and anecdotal - that suggest otherwise.

Here are a few:

Prison smoking ban 'fuelling HMP Leicester violence'
BBC News, May 31, 2018

Prisoners trashed jail in NINE HOUR riot after smoking ban was introduced
Daily Star, March 4, 2018

HMP Haverigg prison riot 'linked to smoking ban'
BBC News, February 27, 2018

Smoking ban and short staffing 'sparked prison riot'
BBC News, January 30, 2018

I could go on.

Meanwhile the Mirror also reported (January 27, 2018):

The smoking ban in prisons has made air quality WORSE, a report has revealed.

The findings heap embarrassment on prison chiefs, who have trumpeted the health benefits of outlawing cigs at all the jails in England and Wales.

So, no, I don’t think anyone should be complacent about the impact of the prison smoking ban – not even Deborah Arnott whose membership of the mysterious 'smoke free prisons project board' was discussed here exactly one year ago.

See also: No evidence that prison smoking bans lead to riots? Bullshit!

Friday
Nov232018

Insulting our intelligence

I go away for three days and while I'm away ASH publishes a report about smoking in the home.

According to The Times, which headlined its report 'Plan to stamp out smoking in social housing':

Stop smoking campaigns must target tobacco use in domestic settings, according to Action on Smoking and Health, which found smoking was twice as common among those in social housing than other tenures.

It also said housing associations should consider designating new-builds as non-smoking areas.

My response, written in haste moments after landing at Dublin airport on Monday (ASH's press release was embargoed until 00:01hrs on Tuesday), read:

“Reaching into smokers’ homes takes tobacco control in a new and rather sinister direction.

“Focussing on social housing targets those who can’t afford to buy their own homes. That’s discrimination in anyone’s language and many people will find it repellent.

“They say this is not about banning smoking in the home but that’s clearly the long-term goal. It’s prohibition by stealth and a gross intrusion into people’s private lives.”

I was quoted by The Times (in print and online) and a number of regional newspapers (online only) but my soundbite was restricted to the first sentence so the points about discrimination and prohibition got lost.

That's important because – despite the evidence before us – ASH is determined to deny the suggestion that they want to ban smoking in people's homes.

According to TalkRadio:

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health has said it is “unreasonable” to stop people from smoking in their own homes, but more has to be done to reduce smoking in social housing and privately-rented properties.

A report by Action on Smoking and Health and two All Party Parliamentary Groups found that smoking is “highly concentrated” on council estates, with a suggestion that new social housing could be designated smoke-free.

Ms Arnott stressed that this was not suggesting that people should be stopped from smoking in their own homes.

She told TalkRadio’s Matthew Wright: “It makes a good headline but the report does not actually say that people should be stopped from smoking. That would be completely unreasonable.”

“We are not suggesting that people should be stopped from smoking in their own homes,” she added.

“But, when the ban on smoking in public places came in we saw a decline in the number of people smoking in the home.

“Because, if it is dangerous to smoke in front of your workmates, why are going to smoke in front of your family?

“So there is much less smoking in the home than there used to be but it still happens.

“We need to do more to remind people why it is not a good idea. But, we certainly do not want to ban it.”

Deborah's colleague Hazel Cheeseman said much the same thing when we were interviewed together on LBC.

In Hazel's case she emphasised that the aim was to make new developments 'smoke free'. But that's still prohibition, right?

It strikes me that ASH is playing down the idea of stopping people smoking in their own homes because they know how that sounds to most people.

And if they don't know they should read these reactions on the Nottingham Post website:

Dave Jennings, 71, said he had no plans to stop smoking in his council house. “It is not anyone’s business what I do in my house,” he said.

Non-smoker Gary Brown, 66, said people smoking in their homes was no one’s business but their own. He said: “Politicians are always trying to ban this or that. Why can’t they just leave people, paying rent in their own home, alone. These people need to get a grip.”

Non-smoker Karen Lovell, 39 from Bow, east London said: “If you pay your rent, I don’t see why it’s anyone’s business what you do in your home.”

Dawn Tillett, 51, said: “I don’t smoke but people pay enough in rent to be able to smoke in their own home. For me it is nothing to do with the council or the government. People know the risks of smoking - if they do it, it is their choice.”

The reality is, ASH is deliberately obscuring the truth of the situation, as prohibitionists always do.

How often, for example, did we read that ASH didn't want to ban smoking in every pub and restaurant in the country until, one day, they did.

"No-one is seriously talking about a complete ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants," said Clive Bates, director of ASH, in September 1998.

Or what about the ban on smoking in cars carrying children? When we voiced concern about banning smoking in private vehicles the British Lung Foundation responded:

'Smoking in cars results in concentrations of toxins much higher than are normally found elsewhere ... Suggesting that other bans will inevitably follow insults the intelligence of the public ...'

If anyone is insulting our intelligence it's Deborah Arnott and ASH who want to create 'smoke free' housing developments where residents are not allowed to smoke while insisting "we certainly do not want to ban it".

If that's not a real-life example of George Orwell's Newspeak I don't know what is.

Thursday
Nov222018

Golden Nanny Awards 2018

I’ve been in Dublin this week for the Golden Nanny Awards.

We launched the awards last year in order to highlight Ireland’s burgeoning nanny state and the people and organisations behind it.

I was told that we’d struggle to fill a room let alone a restaurant but in November 2017, with the help of Students for Liberty Ireland and other groups, we attracted 60 guests for dinner followed by the inaugural awards.

To our surprise we were joined by Senator Catherine Noone, winner of our first ‘Nanny-In-Chief’ award, who began her acceptance speech with the words:

“Libertarians, contrarians, barbarians, thank you.”

This year there were almost 80 guests including Senator Noone and two TDs, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy and Noel Rock.

Ireland’s libertarian community was out in force with Students for Liberty and the Classical Liberal Society at Trinity College Dublin well represented.

The evening began with drinks on the heated smoking terrace. The weather was foul but guests remained warm, dry and immune to the driving rain.

(As it happens, the UK could learn from Ireland's more liberal approach to outdoor smoking areas, many of which are significantly enclosed.)

We sat down for dinner at 7.30 with the after dinner entertainment beginning at 9.15.

Introduced by Forest’s John Mallon, our MC for the evening was Cllr Keith Redmond, a dentist by day and one of Ireland’s more liberal voices.

Guest speaker was the familiar figure of Chris Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs and editor of the Nanny State Index. He didn’t hold back:

“Nannies, killjoys, wowsers, curtain-twitching puritans, fun sponges, po-faced poobahs, puritanical prodnoses, lemon-sucking busybodies, meddlesome ratbags, hatchet-faced prohibitionists, health fascists, pocket dictators, little Hitlers, nicotine Nazis, gambling Gestapo, sugar Stasi, tobacco Taliban, interfering, hateful, miserable, little scumbags whose very existence is a curse on humanity, they suck the light out of the room, the grass withers beneath their feet.

“These are just some of the things people say about the nominees for this award just because they try to stamp out the small pleasures that make life bearable. I think this is unfair. What a lot of people forget is that interfering in other people’s lives is the only pleasure these people get. So in a way, it’s the libertarians who are the killjoys.”

On the challenge of toppling Finland from the top of the Nanny State Index (Ireland is currently third), Chris told guests:

“If anyone can do it, it is the people nominated for this prestigious award this evening. Although we are only trying to honour the biggest nanny statist in Ireland tonight, it’s difficult to imagine the list of nominees looking much different if it was a global award. We are talking creme de la creme.”

Wishing the nominees well, he added:

“It’s going to be tough to pick a winner and in a way it’s a shame there has to be winner. To me, they are all losers.”

Ignoring these barbs, the former minister of state for health promotion Marcella Corcoran Kennedy accepted her award as ‘Nanny-in-Chief 2018’ in the same spirit as her predecessor Catherine Noone (who presented it).

“Thank you for this amazing award, I feel really honoured.

“I’m going to put it on my mantlepiece and reflect on the outcome of having introduced sugar tax, the alcohol bill and plain packaging.

“I might even have a glass of wine to celebrate.”

Other winners included Trinity College Dublin for introducing a campus wide smoking ban, the Restaurants Association of Ireland for welcoming a possible ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas, and Alcohol Action Ireland for backing the alcohol bill.

Sadly, none of these august bodies were represented at the event so others had to accept the awards on their behalf.

This year, to counterbalance the ‘Nanny’ awards, we introduced a new category.

The Voices of Freedom awards will be familiar to those who attended the Forest Freedom Dinner in London in 2016 and 2017 but this was the first time we’ve taken the concept to Ireland.

The winners of the first Voices of Freedom awards in Ireland were Rob Duffy, coordinator of Students for Liberty Ireland, and journalist Ian O’Doherty (above) whose fearless and always entertaining columns can be found in the Irish Independent and Irish Daily Star.

In a short but typically droll acceptance speech, Ian told guests he won’t have anything to do with journalist awards “on the grounds that I refuse to be judged by my inferiors. This, on the other hand, is a genuine honour.”

The rest of the evening is a bit of a blur but thanks to everyone who supported or attended the event - including Catherine Noone and Marcella Corcoran Kennedy whose presence was greatly appreciated.

I know some people feel we shouldn’t be giving our adversaries a platform to ‘celebrate’ their nanny state credentials.

It’s worth noting however that Senator Noone and Deputy Corcoran Kennedy have also been criticised (on Twitter) for consorting with a group (Forest) that receives donations from the tobacco industry.

The accusation is that the Golden Nanny awards and those who accept them are trivialising serious issues whether it be health or freedom of choice and personal responsibility.

I don’t see it that way.

One, you should be able to laugh at almost anything and shared humour brings people closer together.

Two, while I am under no illusion that a small event like this will change our opponents' views (which I’m sure are genuinely held), I hope it will give them some insight into our equally strong convictions.

At the very least, faced with a room full of people opposed to excessive government intervention in our lives, it may provide food for thought.

That aside, the awards allow us to engage directly with those who don't share our views and engage indirectly with many more.

You see, the Nannies haven’t gone unnoticed. Aside from the invitations we sent to other public health campaigners and journalists, the event was featured by The Times, RTE and Newstalk, the country’s leading independent radio station.

Guest speaker Chris Snowdon did two interviews - the first, on RTE1, with Professor Donal O’Shea of the HSE (Ireland’s health service); the second, on Newstalk, with Catherine Noone.

Forest's John Mallon also discussed the theme of the event on several local radio stations.

The report in The Times (Ex-minister Marcella Corcoran Kennedy ‘proud’ to accept award for expanding the nanny state) finished with this quote:

John Mallon, a spokesman for Forest Ireland, said he was pleased that the winner stopped by to accept her award.

He said nanny staters strengthen their grip on the nation every year. “For years tobacco was in the firing line and now it’s alcohol and sugar,” he said.

“Enough is enough. It’s time to reassert a live-and-let-live culture that allows adults to make informed choices without being patronised or punished.”

In a largely hostile political and media environment - worse, in many ways, than the UK - I consider that to be a reasonable result.

But do watch the clips below ...

Update: Chris Snowdon has posted his speech in full here. Do read it.

Friday
Nov162018

Michael Gove, your country needs you!

Despite everything, a lot of people are crediting Theresa May for her ‘hard work’, ‘grit’ and ‘resilience’.

Pity that hard work didn’t include making proper preparations for a ‘no deal’ scenario.

That should have begun even before Article 50 was deployed. The shocking failure to do so removed one of the UK’s strongest bargaining tools and weakened our position with the outcome we see today.

If deliberately undermining the two Secretaries of State she appointed to handle Brexit is evidence of grit and determination, so be it.

As for her resilience, I saw very little on the question of the Irish border. Neither Ireland nor the UK want a hard border. If unelected EU bureaucrats want to impose such restrictions that’s up to them. We should have challenged them to do so and be responsible for the consequences.

Ploughing on when it’s clear you’re not up to the job (the General Election campaign was a clue) is not a show of ‘resilience’, it’s pig-headedness.

The election destroyed her authority and it’s been downhill ever since.

I don’t doubt Theresa May’s sincerity. I do believe she’s doing what she thinks is right. But so did Chamberlain and, like him, her strategy is to kick the problem down the road while waving a piece of paper - or, in her case, a 500-page withdrawal document.

To be fair to Chamberlain, some historians credit him with buying Britain time to prepare for war and that ultimately saved us from invasion, but you get my point.

I don’t want to overplay the Chamberlain analogy (which I appreciate may be a little crass) but if May’s strategy is to play for time so we eventually get the Brexit 17.4 million people voted I’d have a bit more sympathy. But I don’t think it is. For her, this is it, the ‘best’ we can hope for.

Take back control. A clean break with the EU. That’s what the British people voted for in the referendum. And the prime minister, a Remainer, has not delivered.

Then again the Brexiteers have been a shambles, a disunited rabble with no clear vision torn apart by raging egos (David Davis, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, even Jacob Rees Mogg, to name a few).

Today, Michael Gove must resign and coordinate the resistance to this Whitehall/Brussels stitch-up. We need a genuine Brexiteer to mastermind a new agreement (which the EU will resist) or have the courage to walk away.

But Gove can’t do it alone. He needs Boris to stop hiding behind his Telegraph column and return full-time to the political fray.

Yes, I still think Boris is the man for the hour in terms of selling this to the British public with his optimism and quirky eccentricities.

In that regard he could probably do a better job as PM while leaving Gove, his deputy, to handle the details of our withdrawal from the EU.

Gove also needs every other leading Brexiteer to put aside their differences and line up behind him. And he needs to challenge the prime minister to a leadership contest.

What we don’t need, at this juncture, are the ‘sensible’ but dull candidates, the ‘safe pair of hands’ offered by Hunt or Hammond.

Nor is it the moment for the likes of Sajid Javid or Dominic Raab who may be the future but are inexperienced and are no political heavyweights (if such a thing exists in Britain today).

After two years of muddle and misrule we need optimism, a clear vision, and negotiators who believe in Britain, in Brexit, and want to achieve more than damage limitation.

Go, Michael. Your country needs you!

Update: Ten minutes after I posted this, the BBC reported ‘Michael Gove decides not to quit cabinet‘.

Another politician with no cojones. Sad.

Wednesday
Nov142018

A tale of two countries

Last night I had a drink with Guillaume Perigois, director of Forest EU, in a bar on the Place du Luxembourg in Brussels opposite the European Parliament.

Smoking is banned in Belgium's bars and restaurants yet here we were, sitting at a table, ashtrays close to hand, with several people smoking at other tables around us.

Technically we were ‘outside’ but in Belgium there is no ludicrously petty regulation that says smoking areas have to be ‘50 per cent open to the elements’.

Consequently we were sitting in a warm and completely enclosed extension at the front of the bar, not hidden away, out of sight, at the back.

Similar facilities are common in countries such as Belgium and France, although I haven’t been to France for ten years so perhaps someone can update me.

It’s not a fixed structure but it feels as though you are inside. We were warm, under cover and comfortable. And the arrangement seemed to suit everyone, including the bar staff.

There's no reason why we shouldn't have similar smoking areas in the UK. Instead Welsh Labour leadership candidate Mark Drakeford, who will become first minister of Wales if he is elected, wants to extend the smoking ban to outdoor areas of cafes and restaurants.

Given the current regulations in Wales, which are a far cry from civilised Belgium, this seems rather spiteful.

Anyway, shortly before Guillaume and I went for our drink I was invited to discuss the issue with Eddie Mair on LBC.

But first he spoke to Suzanne Cass, CEO of ASH Wales.

I lost count of the number of times Cass used the word "progressive" to describe Drakeford's proposal. She said it had "strong public support" and was "not persecuting the smoker", a claim that seemed to surprise the former Radio 4 presenter.

She admitted there is "little evidence" of harm caused by 'secondhand’ smoke in the open air but that doesn't matter to tobacco control campaigners. It's all about denormalisation, keeping smoking out of sight of children, and 'helping' smokers to quit.

Smoking, said ex-smoker Cass, is "not a habit of choice". Not for her perhaps but why should regulations be dictated by those who are weak-willed or easily influenced?

In response I reminded Mair why the workplace smoking ban was introduced. It was, or so we were told, to "protect" the health of bar workers working in enclosed spaces. I then repeated what Cass had said about secondhand smoke outside.

I queried the need for a further ban, pointing out that according to a study in Scotland exposure to secondhand smoke has dropped by 97 per cent in the past two decades. I imagine the same is true in Wales and the rest of the UK.

I also challenged the implication of her claim that since the workplace smoking ban there has been a huge drop in the number of people who smoke. The ban, I pointed out, made very little difference to smoking rates which barely changed between 2007 and 2012 when a more significant fall – the result of other factors – began to kick in.

We had a lively exchange when Mair played devil’s advocate and suggested it was unfair that non-smokers couldn’t sit outside on a sunny day without having someone blow smoke over them, or something like that.

It’s an argument, I suppose, but try telling a smoker who has sat outside in all weather, all year round, that he can’t smoke outside because the anti-smoking brigade now wants exclusive use of the outdoor area when it’s sunny and even when it’s cold and wet, although they will all be inside at that point.

Anyway we have a fight on our hands. Responses to the Welsh government consultation on The Smoke-free Premises and Vehicles (Wales) Regulations 2018 are currently being reviewed and I don't hold out much hope that the consultation report, when it's published, will do us any favours.

Tobacco control is almost a nationalised industry in Wales and the Welsh media make little or no effort to provide any sort of balance in their reports.

If you live in other parts of the UK what happens in Wales also tends to go under the radar, which in this instance would be a huge mistake.

If Wales adopts Drakeford’s proposal the policy will almost certainly be considered by the Scottish government. Even in England there will be some local authorities who want to give it a go.

It’s worth noting too that Drakeford’s plan goes beyond al fresco dining areas because it includes high streets and town centres - the very policy that was ridiculed when it was proposed by a lone and somewhat eccentric councillor in a Buckinghamshire town seven years ago.

Times change but the tobacco control industry stays the same. The prohibitionists are always looking for the next logical step.

I support Brexit but there’s a lot to be said for Brussels!

Tuesday
Nov132018

And the nominees are ....

Yesterday we announced the shortlist of nominees for the 2018 Golden Nanny Awards that take place in Dublin next week.

They are minister for health Simon Harris TD; former health minister Senator Dr James Reilly; former minister of state for health promotion Marcella Corcoran Kennedy TD; Professor Donal O'Shea, clinical lead for obesity, HSE; Dr Patrick Doorley, chairman, ASH Ireland; Dr Bobby Smyth, board member, Alcohol Action Ireland; and Eunan McKinney, head of communications and advocacy, Alcohol Action Ireland.

Following the introduction of campus smoking bans Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and the University of Limerick have also been shortlisted.

Another nominee, the Restaurants Association of Ireland, has been shortlisted after its chief executive Adrian Cummins gave a "cautious welcome" to a ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas.

Interestingly, in 2014 Cummins also called for a total ban on the use of e-cigarettes in restaurants.

The shortlist reflects two major developments in Ireland this year, the passing of the alcohol bill which aims to reduce alcohol consumption, and proposals to ban smoking in outdoor dining areas.

The alcohol bill includes ‘restrictions on advertising, separation of alcoholic products from retail areas inside shops and the introduction of cancer warning labels on containers.’.

You can read our nominations press release on the Forest website but here’s what John Mallon, spokesman for Forest Ireland, had to say:

“The Golden Nanny Awards celebrate excellence in finger-wagging and an unhealthy desire to intervene in other people's lives.

"This year's shortlist is particularly strong. Choosing the winners will be difficult because every nominee deserves a Nanny.

"The judging panel will examine the evidence very carefully before deciding who should receive one of these coveted awards."

Page 1 ... 5 6 7 8 9 ... 287 Next 8 Entries »