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Friday, 16 December 2011

Should I be worried?

If you are a reader of this blog then you must be interested in the smoking debate, you know, the one the anti’s say is over. Of particular interest to me is the SHS anti smoking mantra that has invaded the bodies of normally sensible people. It was the myth of SHS that drove me out of my apathy pre ban to look on the net for like minded people when I found Freedom2Choose, or The Big Debate as it was known as back then.

If you have clicked on my blogroll links lately then I’m sure you have been taken to Pat Nurse and Simon Clarke’s blogs, to name but two, and read that ASH have turned their attention to banning smoking in the home, something their leader, Deborah Arnott said her corrupt organisation would not be seeking. But it seems that she and her motley crew have been bolstered, like a drunk man starting a fight, by that bastion of illiberal anti smoking shit kicking, California.

The whole absurdity of SHS and it’s killer instinct to travel through walls and along communal pipework was first muted by one Jonathan Winickoff, (or was it Stanton Glantz? I find it hard to keep up these days,) whom Chris Snowden rips into here and here so I will not go there.

Apart from the usual incitements towards abuse and hatred of the smoker this caught my eye in this ASH document which goes under the title “What landlords can do":
Landlords already have the power to make their properties smokefree provided that the terms
are made explicit in the tenancy agreements. Enabling tenants to achieve smoke-free homes
by including smoke-free clauses in tenancy agreements is not only good public health policy
but also has economic benefits.

Private landlords, local authorities and housing associations alike can include a clause
prohibiting smoking in new tenancy agreements to a building.
It’s that last quote about local authorities and housing associations that made me beg the question “Should I be worried” in the title of this blog. Let me tell you a story.

I live in a council flat run by the local authority in Middlesbrough, have done since 1978 when the Mrs and I moved in with the aging mother in law. In 1981 Beryl’s mother died and we took over the tenancy. About a year and a half later we were told that the utility area between the bathroom and the kitchen, where the communal pipes, stopcocks, wiring etc. run throughout the block was encased, on four sides, by Asbestos boards. I am not kidding when I say that it was like a scene out of a biological disaster movie when they came to “fix” the problem. The workers were dressed up in biological suits and walked through a tunnel they had made from the front door to the bathroom, a very short distance. So, did they take the offending Asbestos out? No, they did not, they painted it! Remember this for later as, after near on thirty years I have just recently found out that they 'neglected' to inform me and my flat dwellers of something that could be detremental to our health. So flash forward to 2011.

I’ve known for a couple of months now that Erimus housing, my landlord, which is a subsidiary of Middlesbrough Council, that major works were afoot to finally remove the offending known killer Asbostos.

A lady calls.

A woman from Erimus Housing called to explain the timeline of events for the removal of the offending killer Asbestos. I was gobsmacked when she said that, nearly thirty years ago, when they painted the killer Asbestos, they could not paint all sides as one side was in a position that made that impossible and they now have decided to remove all the killer Asbestos??? Why didn’t they do that nearly thirty years ago? It is no less a killer now than it was then!

So the work is being done and I and my ailing wife, who has Alzheimer’s, have to move to a ‘courtesy flat’ in the ninth floor for six days and I am not looking forward to that, with my wife’s dementia my main concern. So we have to move out on the 17 of January 2012.

Instructions over the lady from Erimus just had to go through a box ticking exercise with questions they mostly have on file anyway. Before she started I said something I should have kept tight lipped about.

Before she started box ticking I said: “Ah, I’ll bet I know one of the questions!” and when she asked me
what question I said “I’ll keep that till you are finished.”

Well she box ticked to her hearts content but never once mentioned the smoking. When finished she asked my what was that question I’d thought she was going to ask her.

When I told her she said, stern faced, “you have to go out onto your balcony to smoke, you have to think of others, it’s policy that there is no smoking in the flats.” then said, “when you go to the courtesy flat then you cannot smoke there either.” I laughed and am sure that she was winding me up but she never cracked a smile. I can only think that the likes of Deborah Arnott and her corrupt fake charity are getting to those who are landlords and their hirelings, a sobering thought to me as I will refuse to give up smoking IN MY OWN HOME!

PS: I am now asking for a copy of my tenant agreement to try and clear this up and have been on the Erimus site to find clarification but can find none. Either this lady was taking the piss or has been duped by the likes of ASH et all.


Lysistrata said...

John, this is awful, and serious stuff.

Firstly, as you well know, moving someone with Alzheimer's to strange surroundings can have a real detrimental impact on their health and happiness and behaviour, and puts enormous strain on you as the carer.

Second, moving people out of their home just before Xmas...what can I say?

Third - asbestos is dangerous stuff - but mainly, the short-fibred asbestos. I should know - I worked at Turners Asbestos in Trafford Park in the late 60s, where we punched out brake linings and, when the die didn't cut properly, us youngsters were sent in to break the linings out WITH OUR BARE HANDS. We used to go to the pub on Thursdays (pay day) and spend the evenings picking the fibres out of our fingers.

And NOW they dare to tell people that they cannot smoke in their own homes because of the imaginary danger of SHS!!! And no doubt if you smoke on the balcony the "smoke drift" will have some neighbouring anti running crying to the authorities.

Yes, do look up your tenancy agreement. You may want to ask Grumpole to cast an eye over it for you.

Your so-called 'social' landlords are anything but. Heartless and mindless bastards. IMO.

John Baker said...

Sorry about the date mistake Lysistrata, I said the 17th of DECEMBER 2012 when I meant January 2012, my mistake, sorry again.

Yes It will be a difficult time moving Beryl upstairs for six days but we will soldier on. The worrying thing is how ASH seem to take over the minds and hearts of otherwise sane individuals who hold sway over others.

They could not police such a ban but I would not put it past them to try.

I don't know if the lady that called saw the sign I have had posted on my door since 2007 promoting F2C and rubbishing SHS but if she did then I expect some comeback asking me to remove it, we shall see. I have photographed it just in case it is removed without my approval.

davidb said...

Sorry to hear of this John, it's the last thing you need at the moment. Perhaps legal action may be an option - they have knowingly put both your lives at risk.

I hope the temporary move will not be too disruptive. As for the smoking ban, I agree, might be worth checking the tenancy agreement. It could be that this is groundless and purely spiteful intimidation.

John Baker said...

Thanks David for your words. I know that my wife will not know what is going on and I will be glad when it is over.

I think it was a spiteful thought on the lady's part when I mentioned smoking which leads me to believe she is an anti smoker with a grudge. The fact that she may have a grudge gives me grounds for concern as once people who hate smokeing have a possition of influence then use it towards their predudices.

I may have to use the FOI request to ascertain whether the 'flat' smoking ban is true. I have not signed a tenancy agreement for many years before then UK ban. Hope they have not sneaked this in by the back door.

Maybe I'm just being paranoid.

davidb said...

Hmm, if you ain't signed anything recently, it wouldn't be contractual, so they probably couldn't insist on a ban. One for CR possibly?

Sounds like they might have been instructed to intimidate. In which case, you might have grounds for an official complaint if they start to harass you. And you do seem to hold a trump card - their apparent long term and deliberate negligence towards a tenant. Could be they are the ones who have breached the contract....

Johnnyrvf said...

No smoking clauses have been in the small print in tenancy agreements for quite a while before the smoking ban, particularly if the Landlord went through an agency or agency chain; I do not know the year they started appearing in contracts but I doubt it was left until the smoking ban was first mooted. Of course it is up to the landlord to allow smoking or not; however most landlords WILL have a non smoking clause in the contract because most tenants don't read the small print and deductions can be made from the deposit when it comes to cleaning the curtains at the end of the tenancy etc. because the tenant never bothered with the fine print. As an aside a proffessional landlord budgets to re-decorate every 5 years as a matter of course and therefore any smoking will not in reality affect the condition of the paintwork etc., but beware because PSL's are very P.C. and they wont let an opportunity like that to slip by, however you may be able to sue them over their gross dereliction in regard tonot removing the asbestos 30 years back.

Anonymous said...

You should buy a recirculating fan with a carbon filter. Just smoke into the inlet and pure fresh air comes out the other side. Simples! I got mine from Argos.

Blue'n'Bramble said...

Which one did you get Anon? Have you got a link?

Anonymous said...


I am a bit late coming to this post.

Does the landlord decorate the interior of your flat? I would be very surprised if he does. If he does not, then it is hard to see how a clause in a tenancy forbidding smoking could hold up in law if the shit hit the fan. The reason is that no damage is being done at all to the property. As I understand these things, breaking a rule is not sufficient in itself - the landlord has to show real loss. If you decorate the interior, then those 'decorations' (wallpaper, paint) are yours. It is not the same as banning, say, dogs since dogs can do a lot of actual damage; or loud music, since loud music can be a real nuisance to other tenants.

John Baker said...

@Junican. You are never late and always welcome.

You are right, the landlord does not decorate but does give a 'decoration allowance' whenever a major upheaval occurs when major restructure is involved, in this case no major restructure is involved. Decorating the small area that is involved will be done by the landlord, everything else will be left looking 'as is'.

It was infered by my visitor from Erimus that an Erimus edict exists that smoking was not allowed on their property and I am endevouring to find out where this is laid in print. Today I have asked for my last tenancy agreement to be sent to me and am waiting for it.

I have been living in these flats for well over thirty years and have not transgessed in any way, shape or form to be a nuisance to anyone even though my ever changing neighbours have, with their loud telly viewing in the middle of the night. But they were old and maybe could not sleep and are hard of hearing, for which you make allowences for...will they make allowences for me becouse I smoke? They all know me in here for my stance against smoking bans and some lively debates ensue but they do not seem the type to insist on a ban on smoking in the home due to rubish junk science.

John Baker said...

BTW Junican, am enjoying your posts on the Bolton blog about tobacco growing. Well done, very intersting.

alanxxx said...

No expert here on the matter, but it wouldn't surprise me if the lady who called is not exactly correct.

If you get pressurised into not smoking in your temporary flat (if that's possible), and if you can afford the expense, a:

Bionaire BAP 1550 Smokestop

will extract the smell of smoke, and you can leave cut raw onions laying about as well.

A friend of mine has a BAP 1550 Smokestop machine, and it works very well.

Anonymous said...

Christmas day night - replete with all things good.......

Get a copy of your original agreement. Read it carefully and assess to what extent many of the provisions apply to you or any other tenant (a lot of these provisions are just in case provisions). Remember that only provisions which might subject the landlord to actual, real, financial loss matter.

It is extremely unlikely that there will be anything about smoking.

More than anything, don't let them con you into signing a new agreement. Merely moving from one flat to another temporarily for emergency repairs, at the landlord's request, does not constitute a change of tenancy.

Thanks for your compliment about the 'Grow Your Own' project. Essentially, it combines three thoughts - one: grow the plants; two: remove mature leaves and 'towel' them to prepare them for fermentation; three: ferment them by 'wadding' them. Once the plants have grown, the creation of the 'produce' is easy, using the method that I have described.

May I wish you, and yours, a happy new year!

John Baker said...

Junican a copy awaits me at my local housing office, gonna give it a proper look this time and no, I will not sign another tenancy agreement till I've read the fine print.

Erimus have started a citizens panel where people get together and talk about improvements that they would like to see and I fear that a lot of anti smokers will get on these panels and push the anti smoking agenda which is all about them in the form of anti smoking propaganda. Even if non smokers on these panels didn't bother about SHS they may be turned by the lies in that propaganda to push smokefree's agenda, these panels are quite frightening.

Anyway, enough with the downside of life, have a prosperous and very happy new year.

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