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Eddie Mair | 12:27 UK time, Friday, 29 June 2007

will be a big thing in England this weekend - campaigners for the right to smoke have launched a High Court challenge over the Government's smoking ban in enclosed public places. Tomorrow, from the place I'm not allowed to refer to on air as Honkers, Hugh will report on the smoking rules there. I'll post some photos in good time for Saturday PM.

Just had a police news conference on the car bomb in central London. Information was sparse.


  1. At 12:36 PM on 29 Jun 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Last week, in the local newsagent/tobacconist, I overheard the following:

    A-I think it's a shame they won't allow smoking in pubs, after all, it's what you expect when you go there, isn't it? Smoke, etc., all part of the atmosphere

    B-(smoking a cigarette as he spoke) Yeah, well, I think it's an invasion of my rights. I don't understand what is the problem. After all, if they don't like it, they can always go somewhere else, can't they?

    A-Yes, if people don't like smoky atmospheres, then they should avoid pubs. It's their choice. And I don't smoke, so it's not as if I've got an axe to grind.

    B-Bloody government, always taking away our civil liberties.

    (end of extract)

    Person A was the shopowner, Person B the customer. Now, perhaps Person A has a vested interest.

    But I was gobsmacked. With all the information that is now available about the effects of passive smoking, do people still really remain this ignorant of the effects other people's smoke has upon their own health?

    Rant over. For now.

  2. At 12:45 PM on 29 Jun 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Personally I'm against smoking in any place.

    I have no objection to smouldering sensuously anywhere though. I think it should be encouraged.


  3. At 12:52 PM on 29 Jun 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Are we really going to go over this subject again? I feel I've been transported back to November 2006! But then, the weather was probably better...

  4. At 01:06 PM on 29 Jun 2007, witchiwoman wrote:

    Big Sis -
    Oddly enough, even knowing the dangers, theres a small part of me that may miss that smokey pub vibe. Mind you the rest of me will be glad to not have to suffer the fumes, the toxins, the smell, the overflowing ashtrays etc etc

  5. At 01:11 PM on 29 Jun 2007, RJD wrote:

    I've experience of the smoking ban being introduced in the South of Ireland and here in Northern Ireland. A few weeks after the introduction the fuss will have died down and people will accept it as normality.

    It certainly makes visiting pubs, restaurants etc., much more pleasant.

    I was in an office in Belfast recently and they told me that they are not allowed to smoke within 15 yards of their front entrance. The same rule holds for the employees in the office across the road. The result is that Office A employees cross the road for a smoke and the smokers from Office B do likewise. Rules not broken but bent!

  6. At 01:13 PM on 29 Jun 2007, Adrie van der Luijt (Mr.) wrote:

    My partner advises firms on bomb-proofing their premises. He inevitably gets told that it's not a priority, what are the chances etc. Now the phone is ringing off the hook, just like it did after 7/7. Bolting the stable doors etc?

  7. At 01:23 PM on 29 Jun 2007, vyle hernia wrote:

    That's the trouble with smokers. They overlook the additional risks, such as fire and setting off explosives.

    Personally I think anyone under the age of 40 who smokes is mad.

  8. At 01:28 PM on 29 Jun 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    I quite enjoy the occasional shared smoke (suitably adulterated, of course), out of doors. Anyone care to join me?


  9. At 01:33 PM on 29 Jun 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    RJD (5):

    It certainly makes visiting pubs, restaurants etc., much more pleasant.

    It doesn't half stink up the pavements and the entrance to railway stations though.

    In fact on the railway station entrance thing, I found it almost impossible to get into the city-centre station last night past the smokers, the Big Issue seller, people standing chatting and the girls handing out free newspapers. Belfish bods should move up the wall a bit...

    But back to the smoking thing, I have no objection to smokers feeding their addiction anywhere they like, in stations, offices, pubs, restaurants, hospitals etc, *but* I think they should have to wear gas-masks with the cigarette/cigar/pipe *inside*. Or maybe big bubble helmets like Tomorrow's World used to push as solutions for hayfever sufferers like me.

  10. At 01:40 PM on 29 Jun 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    As someone who gave up smoking a year ago, I can see that for some people it'll be hard, as it IS an addiction, and like any addiction, it's hard to break. That being said, for years most people haven't been able to smoke inside their offices, factories, etc; instead they've had to go outside to a shelter. Even if I still smoked, I wouldn't mind having to go outside to smoke at a pub. After all, if we aren't allowed to smoke at our workplaces, why should we be allowed to smoke at someone else's? This legal challenge by Freedom2Choose is a publicity stunt, no more. After all, if it was a serious challenge, why wait until the last working day before the ban to submit a challenge. You only have to see that the person whoi set up the group is the MD of a tobacco vending machine company. To those who believe that this ban is an "infringement of their civil liberties", I say "don't infinge my civil liberties by smoking in public spaces". It goes both ways, folks...

  11. At 01:45 PM on 29 Jun 2007, Peej wrote:

    I agree with RJD (5) the experience of going into a pub or restaurant in Ireland north or south has been transformed. And all implemented without a murmer of protest. I spend a couple of nights a week in England on business and I can't wait for the start of the ban. But then I'm an ex smoker and therefore legally entitled to be a sanctimonious old g*t.

  12. At 02:21 PM on 29 Jun 2007, whisky-joe wrote:

    wtf - I shall take snuff.

  13. At 02:37 PM on 29 Jun 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Two comments, one frivolous (well, sort of) and the other serious.

    Smoking ban kills: if the murdered nurse on the news today had not had to go outside the building to have a cigarette, the nutcase wouldn't have been able to kill her. (No, I know, this isn't funny, but it is a thing that might be a bit of a worry.)

    I note that there now seems to be evidence that the carcinogens in cigarette smoke may have an effect even as 'secondary smoke', though this is contrary to the original research on smoking and cancer, which used the secondary smokers in the smokers' families as the 'control group'. I'd like to see research studying the possible differences in levels of carcinogenic material in pipe-tobacco smoke, cigar smoke, ordinary 'ready-rolled' cigarette smoke, and hand-rolling tobacco smoke. I know that the idea is to say 'all smoking is evil', but it does seem likely that there are degrees of risk, and in the blanket furore that isn't being mentioned. I'd also like to know what difference the chemicals added to ready-made cigarettes make to the level of risk: their function is to prevent the cigarette from going out as a hand-rolled one will if left sitting in an ashtray, and some of them are simply poisonous as far as I can make out.

    I'd also like someone to start research into the effects of 'secondary benzine'. Benzine is a known carcinogen, one of the worst as far as I know, and because lead in car-fuels has been found to be dangerous benzine has been being used to enhance the performance of cars since using lead for that purpose was discontinued. I'd like to know how the risks from walking down my local main road into town during the rush-hour compare with the risks of standing in a smoky pub, in terms of carcinogens in my lungs.

    Once smoking has been eliminated, but people go on getting lung canceer, smoking can only go on being blamed for that lung cancer for a limited time: sooner or later the last of the smokers and secondary smokers will die. Before that, it might be an idea to start looking for other causes for the 'smoking-related diseases', given that it will no longer be possible to assume that anyone who ever had exposure of any kind to cigarette smoke during his or her lifetime died of 'smoking related disease'. Benzine does seem worth investigating, since the stuff is everywhere these days. There is already quite a lot known about radon, but benzine does worry me.

  14. At 02:57 PM on 29 Jun 2007, witchiwoman wrote:

    A stray thought - what % of the population does actually smoke?

  15. At 03:18 PM on 29 Jun 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Chris (13) I believe (though without any particular evidence) that the worst risk from benzine is when you are filling the tank.

    And how many people actually died from the lead in petrol? So it was banned. How many people die from cigarettes? A lot more than used to die (2,000 pa) from not wearing seatbelts, which were made compulsory. Let the changes begin.

  16. At 03:19 PM on 29 Jun 2007, Stewart M wrote:

    Here a thought. I, on occasion, do home visits. So I have to examine eyes of smokers in their own home.

    When I am there (or the distrcit nurse etc) that home is a workplace. So they and all the folk in there should stop smoking. Couls I be fined for allowing the smoker to smoke when I am there, Do I have to display my A5 no smoking sign?

    I have to be honest that The patient usually puts the cigarette out when I am doing my bits but often light up before I've left.

  17. At 03:40 PM on 29 Jun 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Vyle (15),

    I think you're probably right, but also without any particular evidence. The amount of benzene issuing unburnt from auto exhausts must be minimal. It has been suggested as a possible cause for the reduction in sparrow numbers, which have apparently fallen less in country areas.

    As a part-time lab technician in Uni, I used to have to fill bottles with benzene and other nasties in a poorly ventilated solvent room, and I can tell you it gave one a very heavy 'head' which lasted for an hour or so.

    It was quite another matter to be asked to fill several half-gallon bottles of 95% ethanol in an even less well-ventilated closet. I leaned dutifully over the funnel to make sure very little vapour escaped. ;-)


    Oh, I am malicious today! It must be the fumes.

  18. At 03:45 PM on 29 Jun 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Stewart (16),

    Does that mean a gamekeeper mustn't smoke?

  19. At 04:34 PM on 29 Jun 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    VH @ 15, I think the point about lead in petrol was that lead may cause brain-damage in children, rather than it actually killing them. Nastier in the long term, possibly.

    As for how many people per annum smoking actually kills, I don't think there are any figures on that, because anyone who dies of anything that has been linked in any way with smoking, whether they smoked themselves or not, can at present be said to have been killed by smoking, and nothing more need be looked for. Only when people no longer smoke at all will it be possible to establish that since cigarettes cannot be a factor, something else must have been causal in a patient's lung cancer. I have doubts that if a smoker gets lung cancer anybody looks any further for a cause, though I may be doing an injustice to dedicated medics who have time to go past an obvious, easy answer and make sure it's correct rather than just assuming.

    Which was my point, really. People got lung cancer before cigarettes were invented... not in such high numbers, but it did exist. So no matter how bad smoking may be, it can't be the sole cause of lung cancer, and other potential causes still need investigation.

  20. At 05:18 PM on 29 Jun 2007, Stewart M wrote:

    Ed. Not sure. Aparrently man in van can't smoke as van is work place.

    Can churches use insense. That produces smoke!

  21. At 05:35 PM on 29 Jun 2007, Wonko wrote:

    Re the point about how bad respective types of tobacco product were.

    I have been told, though I cannot verify this information, that pre-made cigarettes are the worst for you. This is because they burn at a higher temperature than cigars, pipes or roll-ups. The higher temperature liberates more toxins. Cigarettes also have other chemicals in them to keep them burning, which again liberates more toxins.

    I would be interested to hear if there is any published scientific data to support this theory.

    I smoke an occasional cigar (currently about once every three to four months), usually at home. I'm rather ambiguous towards the ban itself as it won't affect me that much.

  22. At 06:20 PM on 29 Jun 2007, Gillian wrote:

    My sister and two colleagues (all non-smokers)share a small office. Up until now she has been able to declare it a smoke-free zone and refuse admittance to anyone who came in with a cigarette. No-one ever complained.
    A smokers shelter has now been set up - right outside her one and only office window. She has asked for it to be moved, but her request has been treated as a nuisance and she has been made to feel very uncomfortable.
    She is in a far worse situation now than she was before.

  23. At 07:12 PM on 29 Jun 2007, DI Wyman wrote:

    I am an ex smoker....having suffered one heart attack...and having bits of stainless stell stuffed into mit art's to keep me going. i have no sympathy with any smoker now.......

    ...if u smoke just u wait...it's gong to get u....or your kids...just be prepared for the pain and agony...believe me it REALLY HURTS WHEN YOUR HEART STOPS!!

    ..so start counting down now....1001, 1000, 999, 998, 997, ........and I am not taking the pi** it really does hurt, like nuffin you have had before...go on give up....u can if u try I did!!

  24. At 07:58 PM on 29 Jun 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Well done DIY! :-)

  25. At 08:33 PM on 30 Jun 2007, Val P wrote:

    Well done DIY.

    I agree with RJD, all the furore that's going around at the moment is exactly what we went through in Scotland when the smoking ban was introduced (is there anything that isn't tested out here first??), but it will all die down. The fewer places where other folks' smoke is inescapable, the better.

  26. At 05:55 PM on 01 Jul 2007, Gillian wrote:

    Val P (25) I hope you don't see yourself as a Guinea Pig, but rather as a privileged person who benefits from sensible and laudable innovation, leaving the rest of us lagging behind in your wake! And this does not only apply to the smoking ban ;o)

  27. At 07:34 PM on 01 Jul 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Good to know that DIY and others will now find it much easier to (a) resist temptation (in the case of those trying to give up smoking); (b) breathe more easily (particularly if you suffer from asthma or other breathing disorders); (c) go home from the pub without reeking of the smoke of others; (d) not have preexisting conditions exacerbated by tobacco smoke; (e) risk developing health disorders due to passive smoking .............. The list is not exhaustive, but does, I hope, illustrate that Joe Public and his mates should, on balance, benefit significantly from the ban on smoking in public places.

  28. At 10:28 PM on 01 Jul 2007, Val P wrote:

    Gillian - well there wasn't too much that was sensible or laudible about the Poll Tax was there ;-)

  29. At 12:53 PM on 02 Jul 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Val P (28),

    I always thought the poll tax was a clever plan on the part of the Tories to boost the SNP vote and thus eat into the Labour vote in Scotland. At present, it seems that Labour's and LibDem's pettiness is doing a good job in that respect.

    Bravo Wee Eck's wisdom on the distinction between criminals (individuals) and communities! The best soundbyte of the month!


    Malicious, eh? You ain't seen nuthin' yet!

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