When the smoking ban in cars with children was first mooted I had a problem with it; not because I thought that smoking in cars with children was a good thing, I certainly don’t, but because it is the first step on the proverbial slippery slope of allowing the state to control our otherwise perfectly legal activities within our own private space.
Of course we have been suffering the effects of the draconian smoking ban in enclosed public spaces for years. The bans are, apparently, popular with the public and there are high levels of compliance even though official enforcement is virtually invisible. Smokers have largely adapted to these bans and the more smoke friendly establishments have found creative ways in which to keep their smoking clientele relatively comfortable. However there would have been no need to do so had the bans been implemented in a fair fashion, for example by permitting separate smoking rooms.
Hot on the heels of the Dept of Health’s announcement that it intends to introduce the ban on smoking in vehicles with children comes this comment from Deborah Arnott at ASH London, which I came across via Chris Snowdon’s prophetic blog on the same subject :
Where to start… What she’s saying is that smokers cannot be trusted not to smoke around their own (or other people’s) children in cars so we must have a law. But because adults are affected too, and smokers can’t be trusted to be considerate towards non smoking (or even smoking) adults, we need a law for that too. In other words, if a smoker offers you a lift in their car you need a law to protect yourself from them, because after all, it would be too much to expect you to just walk, take the bus or use your own car instead. But Deborah goes further, because the police won’t have time to count the people in a car as it goes by at 70 mph up the M6 we need to make sure the law encompasses all cars – that way they only have to spot the smoking driver and job done. You’re nicked mate. Easy pickings.
The logical extension to the argument that second hand smoke is also a danger to adults, who should therefore be protected by the law, is that if they are affected in private cars they are also affected in private homes. And not only during the period whilst the smoker is actively smoking, I mean, what about the third, fourth and fifth hand smoke (are we up to sixth yet?)? How long before we see old people forced from their homes for smoking, just as we are seeing in the US? How long before vaping is included in yet further bans to aid the difficulties in enforcement? How far are we going to allow these fanatics to go in their relentless drive to control everything we do, say and consume?
For me the answer is simple. The state can control those places over which it has control as it sees fit (or can get away with) and that should go for any proprietor, but attempt to stick your jack boots into my private space and there’s going to be an almighty fight. Be warned Deborah, this is a (goose) step too far.