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Forest responds to RCP report

The Royal College of Physicians, supported by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), has called for a ban on smoking in ALL cars, irrespective of whether children are present, plus a raft of other anti-tobacco measures.

The story appears in many of today's newspapers, several of which carry quotes from Forest. We are also quoted by BBC News (online) and the Press Association. Today I will be doing several interviews for BBC local radio stations and ITN - the latter in Regent's Park. (What is it with parks this week?!)

The full Forest response, issued yesterday, reads:

NEWS RELEASE 0001 Wednesday March 24, 2010


The smokers' lobby group Forest has criticised a report by the Royal College of Physicians that calls for a ban on smoking in cars and other places where children congregate, including parks and swimming pools.

Simon Clark, director of Forest, said: "If you ban smoking in cars, which is a private space, it's a small step to banning smoking in the home. Both measures are unacceptable and unenforceable.

"Smoking in outdoor areas poses little or no threat to anyone's health. Banning smoking in parks and other areas where children congregate would be a gross over-reaction.

"We wouldn't encourage people to smoke around children but adults should be allowed to use their common sense and act accordingly. We don't need laws to regulate every aspect of our behaviour.

"These proposals go way beyond what is acceptable in a free society.

"We urge smokers to be considerate towards those around them, especially children, but changing people's behaviour should be achieved by education and encouragement not by legislation and enforcement."

The RCP report claims that passive smoking in the home is a major hazard to the health of millions of children in the UK who live with smokers.

Clark said: "Smokers should err on the side of caution and not smoke around small children in an enclosed space, but to say that the health of millions of children who live with smokers is at serious risk is, we believe, a huge exaggeration.

"If smoking in the home does represent such an enormous risk to children, why can't adults be given the choice of well-ventilated smoking rooms in pubs and private clubs?

“Unfortunately the anti-smoking industry isn't interested in compromise. It just wants to bully smokers until they quit."

Reader Comments (25)

Fine, ban it in all cars, sales of convertables will rocket.

But what if the hood is half up?

Or will we have to as in all those US cop shows "step outside the veehi-cal"?

March 24, 2010 at 5:41 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph K

I'll just smoke in my car if I wan't to.
Every time I drive I see someone using a phone.
Know what I mean ?
They tried this one on in Australia.
The police there said it was unenforcable.
It is.

March 24, 2010 at 8:09 | Unregistered CommenterSpecky

As a dedicated smoker of 30+ years, I find smoking in cars very unpleasant and distracting (where did that ash go?). I gave it up 20-odd years ago, but even then I would never have dreamt of doing so in front of a child.

I think AWT and others are right to separate smoking in cars out from the other encroachments on our rights on the horizon, because I think most people have a visceral reaction to the idea of a small child in a very small enclosed space with a cigarette ... whereas smoking outdoors will strike most people as probably harmless. (It is, of course, totally and utterly harmless).

If smoking outside /near doorways gets banned, the little social life we have left will be completely and utterly destroyed. We need to concentrate on that issue before that nightmare becomes a reality, and not waste time trying to defend something that makes us look selfish and thoughtless and uncaring about kids.

March 24, 2010 at 8:16 | Unregistered CommenterRose Whiteley

"not waste time trying to defend something that makes us look selfish and thoughtless and uncaring about kids"
Sorry Rose I cannot agree. People with children should take responsibility for them, not hand off that responsibility to the whole of society. I am not a parent, I have an obligation, as an adult, not to harm children, I pay taxes to help ensure they get an education, healthcare and the infrastructure necessary to provide them with a future, that is the limit of my contribution. I do not have an obligation to look after them, that is their parents job. When did having children entitle you to expect the whole world to join in in their upbringing? I am getting tired of the fruit of other peoples loins being used as a stick to beat me with. Legislation cannot be just targeted at people who have children of their own, it will affect everyone evidenced by the excuse for banning outdoor smoking "where children gather".

March 24, 2010 at 8:40 | Unregistered CommenterHeretic

My wife and I both smoke and have a young child. We do not smoke when any children are in the car for two reasons. Firstly, we smoke with the windows down and do not want any children to be rained on or catch cold from the draft and secondly if we did not do this we understand that a car full of any smoke can be unpleasant.

It is common sense how to behave around children irrespective of the junk science. When I light my fire at night I make sure that the room does not fill full of smoke and when the wife burnt the dinner recently I did not take my child into the kitchen until all the smoke had cleared from there.

I watched Sue Carroll on the Breakfast Show on BBC this morning and her anger was palpable. The grey faced doctor spouting figures without any backup looked stupid and I liked the fact she was going for a smoke immediately the recording was over. More of the same.

March 24, 2010 at 9:39 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Peoples

I agree, Heretic. I didn't say I was in favour of banning smoking in cars, with or without children. There's been far too much banning. And, by the way, you're not paying taxes to educate my children, as I don't have any.

I feel complete despair at the idea of an outdoor smoking ban, and what I said was that I think like AWT we need to pick our battles, and concentrate on the battles we're most likely to win, and which are easiest to fight.

Right now, that means smoking outdoors, which I imagine the vast majority of the public currently would accept was harmless, rather than smoking in cars with kiddies, which a lot of people are likely to find at least somewhat anti-social.

March 24, 2010 at 9:39 | Unregistered CommenterRose Whiteley

Proposals, we have them spewed up at us almost every day. That is all this is, more proposals put forward by people who are paid to dream up sets of unproven facts and figures, and to state in their warped minds, what they think should be done about them.

Admittedly governments do, on occasion, act upon such proposals, but that only normally happens when public opinion is in favour, or seen to be swayed in that direction, which is why this particular proposal has used "children" in its wording.

Whether you have children of your own or not, is irrelevant; there is nothing that gets people's hackles rising more than the thought of harming young innocent children in any way, and I agree with that 100%, as long as the threat to the child is real, and not fabricated for monetary gain, as is the case here.

The people who are paid to produce these reports and proposals treat the public as if we are all morons, who cannot add up, and somehow came to being without ever being a child ourselves.

Take one step back, look in a mirror and ask yourself how did I get here? My parents smoked around me, why am I not dead or terribly ill? Why am I so healthy if all your fact and figures are correct?

It would be nice if we could put these questions to the producers of these proposals wouldn't it, but I am afraid we can't, because discussion and debate about such matters is strictly forbidden. But we can spread the word, we can show our faces in public, and we can prove, by simply being here, that what they say is not true. It is a lie!

March 24, 2010 at 10:20 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

I agree with Michael Peoples. Sue Carroll was indeed angry and she come across well. Asthma, glue ear, meningitis, cot deaths. Give us the proof. The doctor looked shocked to be getting this sort of response and began mumbling. Sue Carroll, well done.

March 24, 2010 at 10:27 | Unregistered Commentersheila

I'm just waiting for the announcement that smoking will be banned at entrances of pubs and other public buildings, and in beer gardens. It must be imminent.

March 24, 2010 at 10:56 | Unregistered CommenterJenny of Yorkshire

I don't agree either Rose I do not have kids.

March 24, 2010 at 11:06 | Unregistered CommenterSpecky

The entrance ban will finish off the trade.
I guesstimate half of pubs will go.
Only a guess but definately a lot more.

March 24, 2010 at 11:15 | Unregistered CommenterSpecky

So, predictably, the move to ban smoking in cars moves a step closer. Hiding behind the protection of children the meddlers want to stop us all lighting up in one of the few places where we still can.
In this day and age only a congenital idiot would smoke in a car with babies and children. Whether you agree with the propaganda or not, and personally I think it is exaggerated*, it has become unacceptable. For the same reasons I never smoke in my car when anyone is with me-unless they also wish to smoke. And that is rare.
Legislation wont stop people smoking in cars when they want to and embracing lone drivers will only lead to resentment, infringement, and further contempt for the laws of the land. And, even worse, it will lead to surreptitious in car smoking which increases the risk of not concentrating on the road ahead. Personally I rarely smoke in my car but on long journeys, especially in traffic jams, I do light up. I do not see what it is to do with anyone else.
Much of the arguments to justify further restrictions is pure baloney. Asthmatic children are the result of our polluted towns not smokers, and polluted towns are the result of the massive increase in traffic. Accidents are not caused by people smoking. Anyone can cite the odd case but that applies to any number of actions that people do when driving. Are we intending to ban all the others? No. We do not need to. We have laws to cover careless driving and that should cover smokers and everyone else. We do not need a specific cigarette law anymore than we need a law banning eating oranges or blowing your nose when driving.
All this drivel from the RCP is about further demonisation of smokers launched on the back of protecting children. Not surprising they want it to include any area where children are likely to congregate. Today the park and playground. Tomorrow the home.
Society moves on by Education not by diktat. This country has forgotten that.
I despair.

* I grew up in the 1950's. We had smoked filled homes from the fires and most adults puffed away on full strength, unfiltered, Woodbines and Park Drive. But we had few cars.

March 24, 2010 at 12:10 | Unregistered Commentergrumpybutterfly

Just heard you on the radio Simon and despite the inevitable BBC bias (the Doctor was given the first AND last word on the subject) you came off best.

March 24, 2010 at 12:23 | Unregistered CommenterRTS

I feel the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against us and often it is, and has always been, our own side that scores the most home goals. I am seriously beginning to wonder what the hell is the point.

March 24, 2010 at 12:50 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

I've said this before. I'm 74. Our wartime houses were sealed totally at night by blackout curtains. My mother and I lived with my grandparents,who were born in the 1880s - and who died in their eighties - while my father was in the army. All three adults in the house smoked. We were warmed by coal fires.I am still here and so are many of my contemporaries, and those who are now octogenarians. These medics should ask themselves why my generation is still here.
We did of course roam free during the hours of daylight, winter and summer. Perhaps that has something to do with it. I only remember one child in my primary school who had asthma.

March 24, 2010 at 15:42 | Unregistered CommenterNorman

Spot on Peter Thurgood, you seem to be the only one on here who talks sound common sense. This is not say all the rest of you don't, it is just that so many of you seem to waffle instead of targeting the real threat.
We should all do as Peter says, and start spreading the word more, and the word, or should I say words, I am referring to is Human Rights. We won't get our rights without fighting and screaming for them. We must let the people in the streets know that we are being denied our rights. When we win the man and woman in the streets over, then we are 75% on our way to getting back our human rights.

March 24, 2010 at 17:33 | Unregistered CommenterTina M I don't if you've seen this Simon. Well worth a read :)

March 24, 2010 at 17:51 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

I agree with Peter and Grumpybutterfly and Norman made very valid points that have been raised before about what many of us'endured' whilst growing up of homes filled with tobacco smoke as well as coal fires.

All of these issues are very conveniently ignored by the anti smoking lobbyists.

Smoking in cars has been happening ever since cars were invented, yet a report I heard on the radio yesterday was saying that it must be banned because of the huge increase in the numbers of children with asthma and other similar such illnesses. My immediate thought was how can that be blamed on smoking when there are fewer smokers now than ever before? If smoking were to blame then surely these figures would be dropping, not increasing. The very fact that they are increasing, if this is indeed a fact, has to be due to something else. As already mentioned, that something else would appear to be in connection with vehicles as that is certainly one thing that has increased enormously over the past 4 decades or so.

Tina, as for our human rights, we have tried this, unfortunately those that do not like smoke believe it is there human right to live a totally smoke free life, therefore the human rights of the minority lose out to the majority. The fact that choice is what smokers are asking for seems abhorrent to these selfish antis as it would mean that we could be 'poisoning the atmosphere' of a venue that they might, just, want to visit, maybe once!

As I have said before, my daughter grew up in a smoking home and we did smoke in the car too. She does not smoke, which is her choice, but since the smoking ban and her non exposure to smoke, she is frequently ill with all sorts of minor ailments such as colds, coughs, sore throats. Until the smoking ban she was always fit and healthy and virtually never ill.

March 25, 2010 at 8:56 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

As you say Lyn, it is all so bloody obvious. Smoking had decreased, and traffic has increased.

And we now have more deaths and illnesses that "seem" to be associated with bronchial problems. It doesn't exactly take a scientist to work out from what direction these problems are coming from does it?

But as we all know of course, the so called scientists and Government paid "specialists" opt for the easy option every time, and the option they point to is the one they are being paid to point to, i.e. tobacco. The Government can afford to lose out on tobacco tax, if they can convince us that the "health products" they are trying to peddle are so good for us that we won't even notice, or won't min, all that extra tax they are getting from it.

On the other hand, it is so difficult to make motorised transport into the villain, as we need it so much. Without motorised transport our economy would come to a standstill. It hasn't occurred to these idiots that what they should be putting "our" money into is safer forms of fuel, that would be too much to ask of them wouldn't it.

They go for the easy option every time, and I am afraid we smokers are exactly that. We are the proverbial cash-cow, who can be bullied and intimidated until our brother and sister cows come home, and while they sit there in Parliament, telling the world how terrible smoking is for everyone, they have the audacity to take extra money from it in the form of extra tax.

In doing this they are acting exactly the same as a ponce living off the immoral earnings of a prostitute.

March 25, 2010 at 10:22 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

I have just been reviewing the "evidence" that ther RCP has offered. There are few references to medical papers except one. The Rose 1985 "Sick Individuals" paper does not cover childhood infection but is about epidemiological aetilogy (etiology) a posh word for causation.

Also on the Powerpoint slide below from RCP's "case" on they plot a graph of various infections between incidence and socioeconomic status. The less affluent you are the more likely you are to smoke (15% vs 30%), but also the more likely to live in less hygenic homes. Smoking could be more of a marker of relative poverty.

Firstly middle ear infection has a very small non statistical inverse relationship between smoking and incidence. I.e. the more second hand smoke the less likely you are to contract middle ear infection.

Asthma incidence in a smoking home again has a non significant raised risk of 1.25. But as these homes children are twice as likely to be exposed it just confirms that SHS protects children from 37.5% by the RCP's standards.

Meningitis is bacterial or viral infection and just cannot be put down to smoking. If you look at some of the most deprived estates in this country with heroin needles, rats, rubbish etc it is far easier to put meningitis down to infection from the environment, the same for wheeze and lower respiritory tract infections.

So in conclusion it is junk science and the RCP is guilty of venal publication bias.,5,Socioeconomic status

March 25, 2010 at 13:52 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

Here's paragraph 11.1 of the RCP's "Overview and conclusions" in that report:

"Smoke-free legislation in the UK has been a success. Making enclosed public places smoke-free has proved highly popular, achieved widespread compliance, improved indoor air quality, and reduced passive smoke exposure. Most businesses, including those in the hospitality trade, have adapted successfully to the legislation. The health benefits, particularly in terms of reductions in acute cardiovascular disease, have proved substantial. With a few exceptions, of which the tobacco industry is one, smoke-free legislation has been good for just about everyone."

Why, given that heap of garbage, should we believe anything they say? The only statement in that paragraph that is even vaguely true is the obvious one that banning smoking indoors means there's "reduced passive smoke exposure" (duh). Every other comment in it ranges from the highly subjective to the blatantly untrue.

March 25, 2010 at 17:55 | Unregistered CommenterRick S

Peter what a wonderful and accurate descroption:
'In doing this they are acting exactly the same as a ponce living off the immoral earnings of a prostitute.'

I so totally agree with everything you have said in your post.

Sooner or later, surely the people of this once great country will finally snap and there will be a revolution and government heads, along with these corrupt scientists and doctors, will roll!

Can't wait!

March 25, 2010 at 19:52 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

It's time that we started to fight back in practical ways and expose the anti-smoking lobby as the cesspit of hysterical liars that they really are, but how?

We may be a minority but obviously a very sizeable one and as a block vote we could make a huge difference at the next election

As UKIP are the only party that have stated that they will amend the smoking ban I feel we must support them if only as a protest vote against the present incumbents that supported this fascist ban in the first place.

(I need to sit down and smoke my pipe in a darkened room now - even discussing it makes me angry!).

March 25, 2010 at 21:22 | Unregistered CommenterIan Allen

I agree 100% with you Ian, much as I hate to bring politics into the debate and I know Simon doesnt approve, but I think England is very lucky to have alternative parties to vote for in their imminent election.
It seems to be the same situation all over Europe, with a lot of countries fed up with their present Govt party. Which is the situation in Ireland anyway, where the electorate hate the present govt and will only vote for the opposition just to get the present shower out, but we all know it will be just more of the same, and they're all anti smoking as well.
Because we have no alternative party to vote for.
As for the Anti ponces spewinging lies about the 'lower classes' smoking more than the more affluent.
Thats just more PR junk psycology to make the 'more affluent' quit smoking in case they would be considered 'lower class', and I'm sure it works on a lot of the wannabees.
The ponces do try every trick in the book dont they.
They should be taken to court on that one, for defamation of the disadvantaged.

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