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« Lefties, liberals and libertarians | Main | Just fancy that! »

Your freedom, his choice

Thanks to Peter Thurgood for drawing my attention to Nick Clegg's latest contribution to the Your Freedom project.

Nice to know there are some freedoms that have already been ruled out by the new Coalition Government - including the freedom to smoke in well-ventilated smoking rooms.

Amusing too that the deputy prime minister has chosen to utter the words "death penalty" and "smoking ban" in the same sentence, as if the two are inextricably linked.

What a plonker.

PS. Although the video above can also be found on YouTube HERE, comments have been disabled. I wonder why?

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    It's taken a couple of months, but this 'new politics' is beginning to properly reveal itself. As I now understand it, it means two parties telling us what to do instead of one.

Reader Comments (63)

Here are Nick Clegg's contact details to debate the matter with him. On NC's Facebook page you have to click 'like' before you can comment.

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

July 12, 2010 at 15:13 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

The Your Freedom site is down again now.

Just what is going on there?

July 12, 2010 at 15:34 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

Outrageous arrogance. It's the way he says "of course we won't be looking at the smoking ban" that gets my goat.

George Speller

July 12, 2010 at 15:53 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Speller

It's just what I expected. I asked Mark pack when the freedom scam was first mooted on FB last year. He made clear that the LibDems hate smokers - he calls it a difference of opinion. I call it hate when this shower won't even offer a modicum of shelter and respect to a minority group. Frankly, I think the Tories don't care as long as they hold the balance of power. They don't want to amend it or they would have said so before the election but as we know they were far too cowardly.
The freedom Bill is a con. Anyone who believes it is anything other than a piece of propaganda to make the ConDems look good, is entirely foolish. I wash my hands of it, of them, and urge smokers to please come to your senses and, even though it's probably too late now, vote other next time and then maybe, just maybe, the politicians might start listening instead of tickling your tummy into submission.

July 12, 2010 at 16:04 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

I wish I could understand just *why* the ban is so important to maintain in its present form.

Only the UK, Ireland and Turkey have these rules - everyone else has exemptions. Personally, I was never hopeful that the ban would be amended.

July 12, 2010 at 17:01 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Interesting the ban is mentioned in the same breath as restoration of Capital punishment, if these were subject to referenda the ban would go and we could hang folks again.

Is it really such a taboo subject that its lumped in with something as retrograde as the death penalty?

Its incredible how demonized smokers have now become, and how "normalised" we are that we're in the same category as the hang 'em majority, that the organ grinder and his monkey lump us in the same "popular public opinion nutters", they cant even turn their faces towards us.

July 12, 2010 at 18:07 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph K

The "of course" infuriated me as well. What the hell is it that makes the ban different from any other stupid law introduced over the last few years?

Thanks a bunch Nick, and if you're thinking of asking our opinions on anything again, can you just tell us up front which ones you'll ("of course") ignore, so that we can all stop wasting our bloody time and energy?

Nor do I suppose that there's much point in writing to my MP about EDM 406 now. Smoking stinks? Not as much as our rulers, whatever their party affiliation.

The only (minuscule) piece of encouragement is the fact that he mentioned the smoking ban at all. As far as I can recall, this is the first time anyone in power has come near to admitting that there is a groundswell of opinion against the ban. In some ways it would have been even worse if nothing had been said at all.

July 12, 2010 at 18:16 | Unregistered CommenterRick S

I have smoked for 48 years. I enjoy it as I,m sure we all do but this is one reason why I will never stop.
add the fact that with the present law, we older ones are either likely to get pneumonia or lead a very solitary existance at home and I,ve seriously come to the conclusion that they are using this to rid the country of the amount of pensions being paid, eg. a voluntry euthanasia. Bit extrems possibly, but his dismissal at this stage, despite the amount of comments ect, many which were by far the most sensible arguments out of the two sides beggars belief.

July 12, 2010 at 18:18 | Unregistered Commentersheila

Norman Tebbitt has a blog on the Daily Telegraph entitled "Why I'm concerned about the direction this coalition government is taking."

Plenty of room for comments.

July 12, 2010 at 18:28 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

I've just posted a comment on his facebook wall. It came up then promptly disappeared. I don't know how facebook works - are comments moderated or should I assume that any comment on the smoking ban is somehow blocked?

July 12, 2010 at 18:30 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

I thought that but it's hidden by the deafult filter setting - you comment is there under "just others" or Nick Clegg + others

Feel free to add some more. C'mon everybody CUT HERE!

July 12, 2010 at 19:21 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Speller

Your comment is there, Joyce. There are three options for viewing Comments: Nick Clegg & Others, Just Nick Clegg and Just Others. The default position is (of course) Just Nick Clegg.

July 12, 2010 at 19:22 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda


or just do a search for SHAM

July 12, 2010 at 19:29 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Speller

TY Goerge and Belinda - I've now emailed him as well!

July 12, 2010 at 19:34 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

In case someone wants to email taking a different tack, here's mine:

"Dear Mr Clegg,

It was with huge disappointment that I heard you state on your video that the smoking ban would not be considered for review by this government, and I would like to know why.

I and my fellow smokers pay heavily into the coffers of this country to indulge in a legal product. In return, we are cast out of society, denied, by law, less shelter than animals are entitled to be given.

The UK is one of a very few countries to enact such a draconian ban. It has decimated the leisure industry and caused misery and social isolation. It is disproportionate to a risk which is less than other risks which people happily take in their everyday lives as well as being only one solution to the issue of public smoking. Perhaps most oppressive of all, however, is its denial of the right of adults, be they business owner or customer, to make choices for themselves.

I had, at least hoped that a government which has trumpeted its enthusiasm for personal responsibility and 'power to the people' would realise that the ban flies in the face of this. Might I, respectfully, suggest that you have the integrity to ban tobacco altogether or begin to represent the interests of 25% of the population

July 12, 2010 at 19:45 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

I have made multiple comments on the Your Freedom site, spread it around the blogs and commented on his Facebook. I was going to call him a c*** but I'm so angry I wanted to be as offensive as possible. So I accused him of being like New Labour.

True, few people deserve such vile abuse on their Facebook but I just had to use the most disgusting, nauseating, stomach-churning insult I could think of.

It does seem clear though that there's something more going on with the ban than is apparent at first sight. There was no political mandate for it, it's definitely killed business, we're out of step with other EU bans (and we KNOW how we just have to keep up with the EU), the Your Freedom site has demonstrated that 1) it's the most commented topic and 2) despite ASH's fake surveys, more people want it repealed than not. It would save money, be a big civil liberties coup, then there are private property rights, triumph of science over junk science, market forces being reimposed etc etc etc.....the list goes on - I just can't think of any argument FOR the damn thing.

Yet, yet.... It's been blocked before the consultation has even really started. Yet the far more contentious hunting ban is still up for debate. There's something going on here. WHO money perhaps? Some deal with the UN? There is definitely more going on than letting your landlord have a smoking room.

July 12, 2010 at 20:01 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

Blimey! I didn't really think that allowing people to smoke with a roof over their heads was as rejectable as asking the state to kill (possibly innocent) people in captivity.

July 12, 2010 at 20:33 | Unregistered CommenterFredrik Eich

I'm sorry but just watched the video.

"Of course (err pauses for thought, as if its not scripted) there are some things we won't be looking at, like bringing back the death penalty or the smoking ban..."

NICE, lumps the two together as if was as abhorrent as letting us stick kids up chimneys or re-instating the slave trade.

Piss-poor little politico, still - nothing less than I expected.

I'd love to have snuck into the "common folks" cafe and sparked one up in the background, smoke-free teas and damn lattes - bollocks to them all.

July 12, 2010 at 20:34 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph K

Gambling does not appeal to me. I don't want to stop people gambling. Some sexual practices would not appeal to me. That's for the individuals involved. Vuvuzelas drive me mad. They have their place for those who want them. Canned music makes me potentially violent. If there were two banks, one with canned music and one without, I would choose the latter. Intolerance tests me to the limit. I can't tolerate intolerance. Herein a paradox. I have to tolerate the Liberals. But they won't tolerate me, if I should want to smoke in a place where people have met, smoked and drank beer for centuries. These precious people are inheritors of the battles my generation faught for freedom 70 years ago . But they raise their eyebrows and turn their delicate nostrils away from those to whom they owe their lives - or the lives of their contemporaries. One of my local pubs had beer mats with RAF roundels. Short shrift indeed for any survivor of World War Two who wanted to light a Woodbine therein today.

July 12, 2010 at 21:56 | Unregistered CommenterNorman

Mr A: "I was going to call him a c***"

Tempting, isn't it?

July 12, 2010 at 21:59 | Unregistered CommenterDick Puddlecote

The "Of course we won't be re-examining the smoking ban" is PARTICULARLY outrageous since the government had PROMISED to re-examine it in three years. He tosses it out as though it's an absurd idea, when part of the very passage of the law included the realization that they needed to commit to re-examining it in order for it to be invoked at all. You Brits should be absolutely furious about this.

I'd say it's time to unionize the pub owners (yeah, I know, it's like herding kittens ::sigh::) and have them do the equivalent of a "strike" - i.e. a strike against acting as unpaid and untrained enslaved Enforcers of the ban. Do your own "Re-Examination" - a Re-Examination of the law itself! Are pub owners required to physically toss smokers out on the street? Or are they required merely to inform them of the law and ask them not to smoke? Are they allowed to serve a smoker while he or she is smoking? What if he or she stops smoking? Are they required to call the police? Or merely allowed to?

Over here in the States the one area of legal action where we've had success against the bans has been the rebellion against indentured servitude. When the health inspectors themselves refuse to confront smokers in bars, saying "We're not the police!" then why should pub workers have to put themselves on the line? When antismoking teams on public transit require six officials for safety (according to a news story from Ireland a year or two ago) then why should a slim young waitress be required to potentially face down a gang of half a dozen toughs?

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

July 12, 2010 at 22:13 | Unregistered CommenterMichael J. McFadden

Its difficult to imagine anything other than civil disobedience working now when no amount of schmoozing seems to.

July 12, 2010 at 22:38 | Unregistered CommenterChris F J Cyrnik

Like I said earlier, it looks as though The Government got in again.

'Of course'.

Socialism - now in THREE flavours.

Or is it two.........................................................?

July 12, 2010 at 22:55 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

@ Michael McFadden

But there lies the other paradox about the ban I don't understand. We all know about the 100,000 jobs lost, the industry literally decimated. Yet the pub trade does nothing. Now okay - many pubs are either owner-occupier or are rented from the big boys so they are either powerless or shackled by the rules of their landlord. But what I don't get is the big boys are royally screwed too. Look at Kingfisher's shares. Look at the cheerleader for the ban, Wetherspoons. Their value has plummeted since the ban, yet they still say nothing, or worse they still support it? Why!? Don't the shareholders have a say in this? Why is it bans can be overturned in other countries by publicans and restauranteurs yet here the trade is complicit even as their business and value is destroyed?

Politically, the actions of the politicians make no sense. Economically, the actions of the trade make no sense . Similarly the media is uber-tight-lipped about the whole thing and always has been - even to the extent of wiping pro-choice comments off their websites for God's sake. There's something going on here WAY beyond what is obvious. I don't want to sound like a tinfoil-hat merchant but there HAS to be more to it. It just does not make any sense from any conceivable angle....

July 12, 2010 at 22:57 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

Perhaps now we should start leaving a large number of suggestions on the Freedom Website about what we think about this betrayal from Clegg…let’s clog it up…or is that Clegg it up.

Let’s make the whole site unworkable!

July 12, 2010 at 23:00 | Unregistered CommenterChris F J Cyrnik


Probably no chance of scrapping the Climate Change Act, or re-negotaiating our relationship with 'Europe', then ?

You know, Nick (and The Other One), for a moment there you ALMOST had me fooled..................................

(And Dick P was FAR too polite)

July 12, 2010 at 23:06 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Mr A -

Your admirable comments above merely echo something I said a long time ago on this site.

There's something STRANGE about this worldwide obsession with smoking - even when you factor in EVERYTHING we (think we) know about the motivations behind it.

Even the Climate Change Hysteria makes more sense.

Very strange indeed............................................

July 12, 2010 at 23:14 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

" Obviously some things won't be taken up by this government" Obviously?? I fail
to see anything obvious about it.
If most countries can manage to provide adults with the choice of indoor areas, why can't we?

The Libdems, clearly don't like smokers.

Your Freedom website. What a complete sham.

July 12, 2010 at 23:28 | Unregistered CommenterJames


The other thing that struck me as odd about the Ban is its global nature. If they had come in sporadically over many years you could perhaps argue about the growing power of anti-tobacco or of a "general social shift" that has naturally occurred over time. Yet it seems to me they've all come in in the last decade, with the majority coming in over a two year period a few years back... almost like a light being switched off. I just find it hard to belive that countries as diverse and politicaslly and socially different as China, Bulgaria, the UK etc etc can all suddenly agree bans are good things and all decide to implement them within months. Hell, they have a smoking abn in Iraq and the place is still full of unexploded mines and factional slaughter. WTF is going on?

Ditto "scientific integrity." When a respectable journal like the BMJ can put that toilet paper report about heart attack drops since the ban through peer review AND PUBLISH IT when it's clear the rate is the same as it has been for thirty years, something, somewhere is going on. The whole thing seems so bizarre....

July 12, 2010 at 23:32 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

Mr A, the countries where the bans are being seriously challenged seem to fall into two main categories:

1) Countries where the pubs have banded together to some extent to fight at levels both in court and in terms of refusing to act as unpaid laws enforcers


2) Countries where citizens seem to have the attitude of "Oh, the silly government always makes stupid laws and everyone just ignores them."

Not sure why that sort of thing hasn't happened in Ireland and the UK, although I think a major factor may be one of small/family townnessness (OK, it's not a word but you know what I mean) leading polite pub customers to feel responsibility toward the pubkeeper. That feeling then moves them to smoke out on the sidewalk while scarcely being asked to. They simply don't want to get the pubkeeper, their friend, "in trouble."

It's kind of like when terrorists take you wife and children hostage. You don't do what they say because you agree with it, you do it to save your loved ones. In this case the government is acting as the terrorist agent and is holding the lives of the pubkeeper and family hostage: if the customers don't cooperate the keeper and family will lose their livelyhoods and more or less their lives.

HOWEVER... if a significant enough percentage of pubkeepers were to act together in telling their customers on the quiet that they really would LIKE for them to defy the ban even when they are told not to, then the government would find its hands tied. Gandhi dared the British government to try to force his people to work by machine gunning them. The Brits were smart enough to realize they'd get nothing from India if it consisted of just a pile of dead bodies. So they compromised.

Is your government today smart enough to know that it can't run all the pubs with its soliders and civil servants?

- Michael

July 12, 2010 at 23:38 | Unregistered CommenterMichael J. McFadden

Re the worldwide nature and the last decade: In 1998 the American Antismoking movement tapped into a nearly bottomless gold mine. According to the American MEdical Association the "Tobacco Control" movement in the early years of this century was receiving over EIGHT HUNDRED AND EIGHTY MILLION dollars a year to push this stuff. I'm guessing a fair amount of that gold found its way overseas in various ways too to boost your movements.

- Michael

July 12, 2010 at 23:41 | Unregistered CommenterMichael J. McFadden

Oh you're right Micheal. It was very cleverly implemented. If they'd only fined the smoker £50 the thing wouldn't have lasted an hour. But by taking advantage of smokers' innate sociability and open-mindedness they managed to get it to work - another reason why it's so pernicious. If positions had been reversed and the antis were forced to stand outside (where, let's face it, the fresh air is, so it would have been the logical decision to make) does anyone think pubs wouldn't be full of people whining and shouting and fake coughing and bleating about writing to head office?

Direct action is clearly the only way to go. But again, I don't want to get anyone in trouble. We need some landlords to put their heads above the parapets and say, "Want to protest? Come here!" That said, I fear more direct action can not be far away given how feelings on both sides are getting increasingly incendiary and how the views of the people are being so deliberately ignored. I can envisage groups of smokers "taking over pubs" in the near future, regardless of what the landlord says. This may be the only way to challenge it - not just by denying the ban, but by showing how ridiculous it is that a landlord is expected to control huge groups of blokes. Would they fine a landlord in that situation? It would be farcical.

But I fear that's the only way to expose the law for what it is. It also goes counter to the whole "landlord's right to choose" which is a fundamental part of our argument. Basically, we've been screwed over because we're not sociopathic, narcisstic misfits like the anti-brigade and we can think of people other than ourselves.

July 12, 2010 at 23:54 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

Flame the gov "freedom" site on this entry

July 13, 2010 at 0:04 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Speller

Sorry, I duplicated the entries - main one is:

July 13, 2010 at 0:08 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Speller

I'm not familiar with exactly how your law is worded. When I was over there a few years ago I had the please of hearing your wonderful Lord Stoddart responding to a Health Minister who wanted the ban law left open for interpretation. Lord Stoddart stood up and said that someone else had stood up in that chamber a good number of years ago and ALSO said he wanted the power to interpret the laws his own way. Then he paused and added, as sort of an afterthought, "His name I believe was Henry the Eighth."

LOL! You should have seen the chamber react!!! One of my fondest memories of my month touring your fair Isle


Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

July 13, 2010 at 2:38 | Unregistered CommenterMichael J. McFadden

The above should read "had the pleasure" of course. Plus I forgot to add what I was actually leading up to! :> One of our States, Michigan, recently came under the onus of a ban and I've been posting the following around on various Michigan websites. I have no idea if barowners have picked up on it, but I hope they have!


It's important to know what the law DOES and DOES NOT demand!

Businesses are *NOT* required to act as actual law *ENFORCERS* in any sense, and do *NOT* have to physically eject smokers or call authorities unless they *WANT* to.

Businesses *ARE* required to *POST* no smoking signs, *REMOVE* fire-safety equipment (ashtrays), *INFORM* smokers of the law violation of possible penalties if a legal Enforcer wanders in, *ASK* smokers to stop or leave, and refuse them service *WHILE* they are smoking. (Note: *NOT* throw them out.)

Read the law itself and share this information with bar owners: it's short and simple and I am not misrepresenting what it says. See the law:


July 13, 2010 at 2:42 | Unregistered CommenterMichael J. McFadden


The law originally envisaged only that publicans were required to put up notices on the outside of pubs saying that ‘it is an offence to smoke in these premises’. Unfortunately, a couple (Yes! That right! A couple!) of publicans made a terrible error. I speak specifically of Nick Hogan (God bless him, for whom we paid the fine required to free him from jail). I live in Bolton where Nick had his pub(s) at the time. I went there to see what was going on. In the first place, I noticed ashtrays on the bar and on tables. Well……..erm, red rag to bull? At least the Irish replaced ashtrays with saucers! But, most importantly, Nick put up a notice which said (words to the effect), “The law does not allow smoking in these premises, so if you do, you do so at your own risk”. Erm……No, Nick. You should not have put any notice up at all. What you did by putting up that notice was ALLOW smoking in your premises. What he should have done is EXACTLY what is required by the law AND NOTHING MORE. What is unfortunate, and there is no going back (well, not at the moment), is that publicans did not know the law. They interpreteted the law- that- they- did- not- understand to mean that they had to BAN anyone who lit up and that they had to FORCE people (using physical violence if necessary) not to smoke and, if all else failed THAT THEY HAD TO CALL THE ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS – otherwise they would be fined thousands of pounds. Unfortunately, Nick Clegg and whatsisname from Blackpool gave the powers that be carte blanche to condemn them.

@ Clegg’s comment re smoking and the death penalty.

His comment was a sop to his MPs and his Party. They are worried about the passion of smokers revealed by the suggestions and comments on the Freedom site. The idea of his comment is to try to quash the suggestions – to try to suggest that it is a waste of time suggesting amendments to the Health Act 2006, Part 1 of Chapter 28. We would be very foolish to allow this to happen. We must intensify our attacks via the Freedom site. Also, the juxtaposition of Capital Punishment and Smoking is totally deliberate. The object of the exercise is to juxtapose the idea of A DEATH PENALTY with SMOKING. It is a cheap, psychological trick.

Finally, here is a letter that I intend to send to my MP (who is Labour). Before I send it, I would be interested in any comments about it:

"I do not know whether or not, as a person rather than as an MP, you believe that passive smoking is harmful. You may believe that it is, but you may believe, in your own mind, that the harm is ‘miniscule’ – or, indeed, ‘significant’, or ‘serious’. However, you must be aware that the very big study conducted by the WHO itself, along with the majority of other studies, found no correlation between second hand smoke and harm.

But, you may also believe that, no matter how ‘miniscule’ the harm of second hand smoke may be (or even if it is non-existent), it is worth supporting the smoking ban in order to reduce the prevalence of smoking itself.

But you must also be very much aware of the philosophical idea that, “The end DOES NOT justify the means”. The idea that, “The end justifies the means” was well thought through in the 14th/15th centuries and found to be false.

“There is little doubt, among intelligent people, that passive smoking is harmless. There are specific studies, of course, as indicated above, but studies are not needed. The mere fact that there are so many people alive today, who smoked when smoking was very prevalent and were also exposed to second hand smoke at the same time, shows that the fears regarding second hand smoke are groundless.

There is an EDM (406) available. This EDM asks for an amendment to the ban allowing separate smoking rooms. That is all. There is no big deal, but the consequences could be very good – pubs, working men’s clubs, bingo halls, etc may stop closing down. CHOICE will be enabled. From a health point of view, there is no downside. There is no reason for you not to sign this EDM, and, as a constituent, I would be grateful if you would do so. I feel the need to remind you that there are thousands of your constituents who feel the same way, but do not have the communication skills to write to you as I have. I do not say this in any way as disparaging to other people – it is merely a fact that, when I have suggested to people that they write to you or email you, they say that they would not know what to say.

The objective of the EDM is to have the matter debated. There is a very strong belief among the people as a whole that the smoking ban was ‘railroaded’ through Parliament – Labour manifesto, changes to bill, rushed through the Lords, former ministers becoming directors of drug companies….A bit of a scandal, really.

I would be grateful if you would reply to my letter. You need not say much, but I would be obliged if you would indicate in your reply in what way you think that the WHO study was wrong.

Yours sincerely,”

What do you think?

July 13, 2010 at 4:06 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

Brilliant! But will he respond? Our local MP Kris Hopkins (con) has so far failed to respond to all but one of my emails, and I've only just scraped one acknowledgement. I would recommend

as they compile stats on MPs' responses

July 13, 2010 at 9:17 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Speller is an excellent site...they name and shame those that aren't doing their job properly.

I received a courteous and prompt written response from Lord Stoddart of Swindon complete with House of Lords logo....little old me being written to by a Lord eh...who'd have thunk it?...mmm lovely.

July 13, 2010 at 10:23 | Unregistered CommenterChris F J Cyrnik

My MP has not responded. Unfortunately he's a young gun who replaced good ol' Patrick Cormack (who was a non-smoker but against the ban). He's probably Blue Labour, sadly.

July 13, 2010 at 11:14 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

You could complain here:

I have...

July 13, 2010 at 12:28 | Unregistered Commenterdavidb

I'm too gutted by Clegg's "obviously ... smoking ban ... death penalty" for words. Except for, Plus ca change, Plus c'est la meme chose.

July 13, 2010 at 12:50 | Unregistered CommenterRose Whiteley

The "Sham" thread is now gone. It was a duplicate (the guy who set it up accidentally set up two, undoubtedly due to the glacial loading speeds of the site) and they have erased the one with the most votes and comments leaving the one people had been ignoring. Also, it does look like the original has been erased, rather than blocked.

It just gets worse and worse....

July 13, 2010 at 13:47 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

It's not only gone completely, but it now tells me (I had logged in):

"Insufficient Privileges
You do not have sufficient privileges to view this page. If you believe you are receiving this message in error, contact the site administration. "

July 13, 2010 at 14:24 | Unregistered CommenterLysistrata

My MP Edward Leigh, to his credit, has signed in support of the EDM.

July 13, 2010 at 14:26 | Unregistered Commenterdavidb

So what was it you were saying Mr A, "Direct action is clearly the only way to go"?

If I remember correctly, last week, the vast majority of posters on here were calling for smokers to set up their own film production company, with which we would then produce a whole series of films and TV shows, showing the truth about smoking.

Please don't think I am knocking your ideas, for I have long said the same myself, regarding "direct action". But, Apart from Hamish, I have yet to meet any publican etc., who has the guts or the moral fibre to stand up and do anything about the law, which is ruining his livelihood. Most of them haven't even got the guts to admit that the smoking ban is affecting their businesses.

Try explaining the law to them; you might as well be talking to one of their beer pumps. They do not understand it, and they are scared of finding out about it, in case someone then asks them to test it by doing just what they are obliged to do by law, which is NOT to start throwing their weight about, by barring customers, and NOT to actually throw customers out, and NOT to refuse to serve someone who smokes. The landlord or publican is obliged by the law to explain to a customer that he or she sees smoking that they are breaking the law, and to tell them to stop smoking on his or her premises. If the smoker refuses to stop, the only obligation of the landlord is to call the police, NOTHING ELSE. If they have complied with this, they are within their rights and CANNOT be fined.

Having had this vile law hanging over us ordinary people for three years now, and being constantly vilified as sub-humans, criminals and filthy dirty people who stink and harm small children, I do not think that this is the time to "criminalise" ourselves even further by taking the sort of "direct action" that involves "smoke-ins" and "taking over pubs".

That sort of publicity can only work against us. We need to be seen in a different light, we need people to see the human side of smokers, the caring side of smokers, the vulnerable side of smokers.

If you look on many websites, where smoking issues are being debated, I am afraid to say that that you will get a hell of a lot of real "thickos" on both sides of the argument. They do not debate as much as shout and swear at each other. I personally think that once you lower the tone of your argument to that level, you have lost the debate. Can you imagine Churchill ever winning an argument by calling Hitler a c***?

When you log onto this site, you know that you are going to indulge in intelligent debate, with a few exceptions here and there, no one swears, and the arguments are good natured, and in my opinion, that is the way they should be kept.

And the main reason for this I believe, is that we have a huge amount of facts and figures on hand here, and we basically, know the law.

My idea then, is not to suddenly take up arms and start growing beards and wearing berets; taking over pubs and organising mass smoke-ins, but to try and get the publicans and restaurateurs clued up and educated as to the actual law surrounding the smoking ban. Take the fear away from them, tell them what they can and cannot do, what they are supposed to do, and what are not obliged to do.

All laws are supposed to be there to protect, not to persecute. This law could protect us and the publican if it is operated in a correct and sensible manner.

I am proposing that Forest sets up a legal helpline, maybe alongside one of the pub trade organisations. The helpline would publish all the legal requirements of the smoking ban law, which both the publicans and restaurateurs, as well as the general public should abide by. A simplified version that everyone can understand, no if and no buts, just this is it, what you can and cannot do under the existing law. Such a document should be published on the web, as well as in trade papers, with a question and answer section, such as "What should I do if I see a customer smoking and he refuses to stop?"

At the moment, the publican, restaurateur, is scared stiff. They believe that under this law, they need to act as policemen. They do not!

The law needs to be made absolutely clear of what we can all do and cannot do. Once the fear is taken out I am sure we will find a legal way forward.

July 13, 2010 at 16:36 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

Peter, I agree about the swearing but am not so optimistic about the employment of sweet reason and persuading pub owners that ringing the police will save them from harassment by the smoke ban enforcers. I can't think of a law which has been changed without some sort of at least borderline unlawful demonstration. It appears that the Government is not going to look at the ban, so how do you see a legal way forward?

July 13, 2010 at 17:36 | Unregistered Commenterjon

Education of the publicans!

July 13, 2010 at 17:59 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

As I said before Jon, laws are there to help and protect all of us, not just a few who know how to milk them.

In any court case, you have two opposing sides of lawyers fighting each other, but they do not fight by breaking the law, they fight by being able to interpret better than their opponent.

If you get an ignoramus in court who doesn't have a clue as to what he is being charged with and why, without a lawyer, he will almost certainly go down. With the right lawyer to fight his rights for him, he has an equal chance of winning his case.

I am sorry to say Jon that the average publican is that ignoramus. They do not know their rights and they do not know about this law. They have been purposely kept in the dark and have been led to believe that they will be fined and lose their business if as much as one person dares to smoke in their place. This simply isn't true!

If we can educate the publicans to know their rights about this law, then they will not be so scared, and they will not start screaming just because one person lights up.

All they need do to keep within the law is tell that person to extinguish their cigarette. Once they have done that, they are covered, which would mean that your "friendly" publican could turn a blind eye to you smoking and only complain to you when he actually sees you. You in turn would oblige by doing what he asks, and no one would have broken any law.

July 13, 2010 at 18:28 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

I should like to stick a big fat lighted cigar up Nick Clegg's arse.

'Nuff said!

July 13, 2010 at 21:19 | Unregistered CommenterBlad Tolstoy

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