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Monday, 7 March 2011

F2C March Newsletter redone


Some time ago I joined my local NHS public sector  group.  Nothing exciting, but you get to fill in surveys and questionnaires for them periodically. It also transpires that they hold regular meetings to discuss present and future policies.  I attended one of these  meetings entitled "Priority Spending".  What an eye opener! Briefly, smoking cessation was way down the priority list in Jo Public's eyes. NHS representatives are directing ordinary people by the way they present each subject - in this case tobacco!

Accordingly, I have written by post to each member of f2c, asking them to 'sign up' to their local NHS group, and would urge everyone who feels that these
unelected 'experts' enjoy too much power to do the same.  You don't have to go to meetings to speak if you do not feel comfortable, but you can create plenty of uncertainty when filling in all their online bumpf!

If you want to make a difference, start chibbling away at the bottom - that's exactly what ASH did!

Phil Johnson


Huge kudos to those tenacious folk over at C.A.G.E. for unearthing Smoke-Free Outdoor Public Spaces: A Community Advocacy Toolkit.  This lengthy guide painstakingly details the work of getting outdoor smoking bans ordained at local level -  what its opening sentence calls ‘the logical next step’.

Essential reading is C.A.G.E.’s own summary of the toolkit’s instructions, and what they tell us about the ethical values of tobacco control bodies like the Canadian Physicians for a Smoke-free Canada who reviewed and produced the toolkit.

The anti-smoking activist is advised to ‘ghost write’ under different names, to adopt a tame journalist, to ‘plant stories’ and ‘create impressions’ in the local press.  Politicians must be made to believe that the campaigning activist’s demands are those of all non-smokers.

Of particular interest to individuals and groups fighting these encroaching bans is the sweeping assertion that all opposition encountered is “invariably undertaken by tobacco industry front groups or plants, not ordinary citizens.”

The toolkit comes with a menacing twist in the tail: when the campaign is over and all the town ‘smokefree’, the dedicated activist is still not done. S/he must evaluate the lessons of the campaign in order ‘to determine how far you can push the envelope now.’

“You may not even know what the campaign will be yet and there may be a whole new set of players.”

(To be cont’d…)


New York City council vote by a majority of 36 to 12 to ban smoking in all public areas except sidewalks. Billionaire, anti-smoking Mayor Bloomberg is said to be ‘delighted’, a view not endorsed by the comment sections of most newspaper reports. Despite a widespread thumbs-down for the move, Boston (Mass) is said to be keen to follow suit.

After analysing Health Minister Anne Milton’s bafflingly vague reply to MP Steve Baker’s question: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on the exercise by local authorities of powers restricting smoking in public places, Alex Deane of Big Brother Watch thinks similar bans may be heading our way.

It is a prospect made sharper by February’s Johnston Press online poll. Its network of local e-newspapers were asking for a yes/no response to the acceptability of New York style bans around the country.  Ascertaining the level of support for ‘the logical next step’ is standard tobacco control strategy.  Polls are interspersed with periods of intense scare-mongering education until the ‘right’ answer is met.

Poll Name No Yes
Leicester 55% 45%
Nottingham 61% 39%
Derby 57% 43%
Gloucester 55% 45%
Cornwall 63% 35%*
Scunthorpe 63% 37%
Bath 63% 37%
South Wales 57% 43%
Somerset 75% 25%

*Don't know 2%
(Results at 28th Feb. 2011)

Expect ramped-up lobbying from the usual quarters, each armed with its very own Toolkit!


You have to have sympathy for the Coalition. The country is broke and so, once again, finds itself turning to those naughty smokers to bail it out. The new boss appears to be as unfamiliar with the Laffer Curve as the old one.

As The Guardian points out, an above-inflation tax increase on tobacco is on the cards, which looks likely to increase man-in-a-van’s trade, resulting in more money lost to the treasury than gained - through smuggling.  Ms Arnott, director of ASH, denies any connection between high tax and smuggling, but then denying connections is an area in which ASH has previous form.

Hull City has a different tack.  Having voiced not a peep of protest about the proposed display ban, their sudden interest in damage to local shops from smuggling is heartening, albeit misplaced.

Meanwhile, in Warrington there are worries that people who buy cigarettes with Ukrainian health warnings might think those cigarettes are only dangerous in the Ukraine.  Because everyone knows smokers are too stupid for rational thought.

Other examples of HMRC working hard for their dollar in Lancashire and Staffordshire.

And, despite all the counterfeiting, this report from trustnet tells us that:

"Tobacco stocks have returned more to investors in the last decade than any sector in the IMA universe".


...Or maybe not.

For the residents of Campbell County, Kentucky, the answer is a resounding ‘Not!’  Thanks to two men of principle and a concerted effort by bar owners and lovers of liberty, Campbell County vote 3-1 to overturn their smoking ban

New commissioners Pete Garrett and Brian Painter kept to their campaign promise to vote down the ban, which was originally passed in December and due to go into effect on April 15th.

Judge Steve Pendery describes the strength of feeling surrounding this issue:

“…which led to six consecutive capacity crowd meetings, [and] was by far the most contentious in his 28 years of governing, including 12-plus with the county: “It’s not even close,” he said.”


stop press: shortest smoking ban ever? Venezuela Health Minister rescinds national smoking ban 24 hrs after the law is passed. No reason given for the sudden U-turn.



NHS Trust Boards consist of people who do not have the authority to create new laws. Yet, Trust Boards across England and Wales have taken it upon themselves to declare that smoking in the open air grounds of our NHS hospitals is 'banned'.

It is against U.K. law to smoke in public enclosed places:  there is no mention of smoking being banned in the open air.  Private organisations have the right to ban smoking on their grounds, but NHS grounds are owned by the public and are not privately owned.

no smoking sign

The notices that have sprung up in our hospitals are usually careful not to state that smoking in the grounds is against the law, but they often state that smoking is against the law IN these premises.    They hope that this will convince most people that they would be breaking the law if they smoke outside in the grounds.  Other notices might state ‘It is this NHS Trusts policy to prohibit smoking on the hospital grounds'.  This statement is merely quoting the Trust’s   'policy'.  While law can compel or prohibit behaviours, policies cannot.  Staff may have to abide by these policies if they have a contract of employment, but patients and visitors do not.

When challenged, these NHS Trusts must admit that their policies are unenforceable and that patients and visitors are breaking no laws by smoking in the grounds. 

This new call by Manchester health chiefs proves that the Trusts do not have the authority to prevent smoking by patients and visitors in the grounds.  If they did have the ability to create new laws, they would not now be calling on the Government for outside smoking to be made illegal


ASH Scotland has a busy month ahead with not one but TWO conferences on the agenda.  First up is the March 3rd. gathering in Dundee at which attendees will be trained in the art of scare-mongering persuasion.  Co-sponsored by REFRESH (REducing Families' exposuRE to Second-hand smoke in the Home) the full conference title is: Smokefree Homes and Cars: protecting children and families. Thanks to a generous donation from the Big Lottery Fund, it is free to professional health groups at point of entry.

Helping to ram home the smokefree message is Third Hand Smoke, now a fully accepted asset in ASH Scotland's arsenal of fear.

The grandly-named Scottish Alcohol and Tobacco Policy Summit is scheduled for for the middle of the month, in Edinburgh. Officially, delegates from both sides will compare notes and ‘explore what each sector might learn from the other’. In reality, of course, the lessons will flow one way only. The modern alcohol prohibition movement lags behind tobacco control by almost forty years and has much to learn.

The Licensed Industry has reacted with bewilderment and anger to the news that their trade representatives have been left off the invitation list.  Alcohol Focus Scotland, showing how well it has learnt its first lesson, explains the snub:

“…it’s stand was done so to fall in line with Ash, which bans the tobacco industry from its events.”

Back on the mean streets, Chief Constable Steve House blames an increase in homicides on the combination of smoking ban and ‘cheap booze,’ which he says has created drinking dens in the residential areas of Strathclyde.


Spanish business owners in the hostelry sector said they are expecting to collect a million signatures in support of changes to the country’s no-smoking legislation; a figure which is double the amount needed to petition a debate on the matter in parliament.

Greeks continue to defy the ban. As reported here,  there is something, 

“...within Greek society: a propensity to bend the rules, to rebel against authority, particularly that of the state. It is so ingrained that many Greeks barely notice the myriad small, daily transgressions — the motorcycle driving on the sidewalk, the car running the red light, the blatant disregard of yet another government attempt to ban smoking in restaurants and bars.”

And in the meantime,  we suggest the growing unrest across Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and even northern Cyprus means that for years those countries will have rather more important matters to attend to than anti-smoking.


Martin Dockrell of ASH blames seasonal fluctuations in smoking cessation attempts on last May’s governmental decision to withdraw funding for anti-smoking adverts. Chris Snowdon offers a more cogent translation, of both the figures and Dockrell’s interpretation of them.


NHS north Yorkshire and York is now joining Kent PCT in banning smokers and fat folk from routine orthopaedic surgery.

Still with smokers and fat folk, an increased demand for foster placements in the wake of the ‘baby P’ tragedy has charities again voicing criticism of rules, put in place in 2008, that bar both kinds of 'undesirables'  from fostering.


Road blocks and sniffer police will be deployed in a month-long campaign by Tendring council and Essex police to help identify cases of smoking in works vehicles and company cars. Two points of interest here: both the guilty driver and employer may be fined; and police involvement in an issue that they have, until now, been keen to steer clear of.


David Hockney says he is thinking of packing his bags and decamping to America, so sickened is he by the constant smoker-bashing encountered here. He describes California as “anti-smoking but not mean-spirited.”

Don't forget! - Wednesday 9th. March 2011

Now Smoking Day

c/o John H Baker 22 Glastonbury House, Priestfields, Middlesbrough, Cleveland TS3 0LF
Tel/Fax 0845 643 9469

Freedom2choose (Scotland):
c/o The Dalmeny Bar, 297 Leith Walk,
Edinburgh EH6 8SA

Tel 0845 643 9552

JOIN F2C for just £10 a year.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"David Hockney says he is thinking of packing his bags and decamping to America, so sickened is he by the constant smoker-bashing encountered here. He describes California as “anti-smoking but not mean-spirited.”

Good artist, but otherwise ignorant.

Great cartoon!

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