Stephen Williams, illiberal MP
As a Liberal supporter I am absolutely appalled at your totally illiberal views in your article copied below:-
As Liberal Democrats we are unique in our commitment to personal freedom. Our battles for liberty have gone hand in hand with a dedication to social progress. We want freedom but not a society that walks on by.
Do these freedoms apply only to non smokers then Stephen? It seems to me that too many politicians don't see that they have created a society that 'walks on by' the rights of smokers.
Getting this balance right is a central part of our party’s policy consultation recently launched by Health Minister Paul Burstow.
Of course balance is of the essence but it seems very obvious that smokers do not even have a foot on the scales!
It asks whether tobacco should be one of the main areas of focus for public health. The answer to this was given very clearly in the inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Smoking and Health, which I chair.
We heard evidence that smoking still kills over 100,000 people a year in the UK with the tobacco industry recruiting the vast majority of new smokers in their teens. It is an addiction that most smokers bitterly regret, which is not surprising when half of long-term smokers will be killed by tobacco.
You heard evidence? Who from? ASH perhaps-RCP possibly, even CRUK. Now I ask you Stephen, given that there is not one single death recorded against SHS/Passive smoking in this country, would you be kind enough to inform me just where the figure of 100,000 comes from. An admittance of pure guesstimation will suffice.
You say that the tobacco industry recruit the vast majority of new smokers in their teens. What do you actually mean by this statement Stephen? Do you mean that the tobacco industry send out masses of 'troops' to convert teenagers into instant smokers, thus buyers of their perfectly legal product? Have you not realised yet that people are born to smoke or not smoke-nobody forces another to be a lifelong or short term smoker; it is, quite simply a freedom of personal choice.
Example: my daughter loves her cigarettes, my son abhors cigarettes; ie, individual choices made.
Widespread addiction to tobacco can hardly be said to be part of a society of strong, autonomous individuals.Why not Stephen? Does being a smoker make one more or less autonomous than a non smoker-and vice versa? Did smoking cigars make Winston Churchill a less strong autonomous leader?
And we should ask ourselves, setting aside the cost smoking imposes on society, when two out of three smokers say they want to quit, is there not a duty to do all we can to help them make that choice stick?
Let's start with "cost smoking imposes on society" shall we? Exactly what cost would that be Stephen? Smokers happily contribute £11bn to treasury coffers annually, yet figures released from the DofH report that smoker related treatments cost the NHS £2.7bn per annum so what do you do with the residue of £8.3bn-apart from waste vast amounts on anti smoking propaganda and fake charities/quangos?
Now to your bland statement that "" 2 out of every 3 smokers WANT to quit" , then with the greatest respect, after governments have wasted £100m on smoke cessation programmes but smoker prevalence is up, tobacco sales are up & tobacco shares are now the sanctuary for council pension funds I find it incredible that you can support such a preposterous statement. Perhaps of course you have merely been sucked in by the 'OTT' claims of ASH et al-a dangerous pursuit indeed!
A liberal approach to smoking is not to ban tobacco but to make sure people are not harmed by the smoking of others.
Of course you didn't want to ban tobacco altogether as not only is is a tremendous revenue earner but it is a legal product! Can you point me to the proven harm caused to others please Stephen as 83% of the worlds top studies refute such claims-some even find smoke beneficial as a medicinal aid; ie, Alzheimer's! Of course if you want to quote the SCOTH committee report, who used Jamrozic's totally statistically flawed findings to base their report upon, then you are fully entitled to but would you not feel more comfortable by aligning yourself with scientific evidence from those who have signed the Brussels declaration of Scientific Integrity-instead of those who refuse to and simply chase the money?
It was for these reasons that Liberal Democrats played a big part in helping to end smoking in enclosed public spaces.
That would be the reasons that are not really reasons then Stephen, yes?
We should also help individuals when they want to give up, which is why it is vital that the NHS’s successful and highly cost-effective stop smoking services should be maintained.
Please excuse my merriment at this amazing statement Stephen for this is pure parliamentary spin/speak! For a start the NHS has been neither highly successful nor cost effective with its quit smoking efforts. Last year alone saw £253m disappear down a black hole with the DOH announcing to the world that HRT had provided a magnificent 98.4% FAILURE rate. All quit figures are somewhat spurious as they only cover a minimal 4 week 'giving up' period. In other words they are basically useless as a reliable guide! 6 months and 1 year reviews would give at least a modicum of an indication of a true figure. At 12 months you would probably be down to 5% of your 4 week figure!
We need to create an environment where fewer and fewer young people start smoking.
I agree totally but education is the way forward not using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut!
The Coalition is now considering whether to implement legislation to strengthen the advertising ban by putting tobacco products out of sight in shops, where brightly lit ‘powerwalls’ of cigarette brands act like adverts for cigarettes.
Again you are quoting the ASH strategy, but if you look at the effects of this highly dangerous move in the cold light of day you will see that doing this made no difference to tobacco sales whatsoever in other countries. In fact youth smoking increased! it is a ridiculous idea as what you will be doing is creating an 'interest' in the 'forbidden fruits' market amongst the younger generations. I certainly don't see teenagers glued to your 'powerwall' when they fetch a 4-pinter of milk from the local shop-do you?
The more children are aware of tobacco displays in shops the more likely they are to want to experiment with smoking. The evidence from places like Ireland that have taken this step is the benefits are very worthwhile while costs for retailers are not excessive.
Actually Stephen the more you bang on about tobacco displays being the greatest attraction to children the more likely you are to raise their curiosity! A pretty packet does not necessarily mean a child/young adult will take up smoking. I would beg to ask to see the evidence from Ireland Stephen for the Irish made a monumental blunder by banning 10 packs of cigarettes-more 20 packs were sold and smoker prevalence increased. As for the benefits, what are the benefits for small retailers who rely on tobacco sales for up to 50% of their weekly profit (ie, wages)? Surely you do not want to start a closure epidemic in that sector as well as the hospitality sector?
You also state that costs for implementation for retailers are "not excessive". Would that be using the guidelines presented to government and the House of Lords by ASH/CRUK/DofH which were as fallacious as could possibly be in order to ease the passage of the Bill? The 'FOI' proved a very useful instrument in uncovering that particular vipers nest of deceit (Velvet Glove/Iron Fist) leaving one Deborah Arnott stranded, and showing that ASH manipulate whatever can be manipulated to their own ends and ensure future funding.
Groups involved in the sale and manufacture of tobacco products are lobbying hard against these measures. But just as we had confidence in our convictions with the smoking ban we should be firm now and remove the tobacco powerwalls.
It should not be a surprise to you that certain organisations are lobbying hard against any proposed measures for all measures are simply eroding the freedoms of a section of our people-or is that a Liberal dream to ostracise and discriminate against 25% of the population? Not only are you discriminating against 25% of the population you are trying to totally suppress businesses that rely on a legal product-can you afford to do that? can you do without £11bn per annum Stephen? can you cope with pensions if this new wave healthism extends all our lives to at least centenary status?
Having a healthy start in life is one of the foundations from which an individual can flourish. Young people should have the freedom to have a smokefree life.
Indeed a healthy start in life is essential but it is an impossibility Stephen for babies in prams, toddlers on foot and in push-chairs are constantly exposed to great bouts of evil black diesel fumes every time a bus pulls away from the kerb! Scientific research found that the toxicity level of each 'blast' was equivalent to 1,000,000 cigarettes. Now I ask the question Stephen; on all that you have stated, what is more important, preserving the lungs and bronchial tracts of our most Junior citizens or waiting until they are already infected teenagers-or should I rephrase that as which is the easier target for you to go at?
I respectfully await your detailed response.