Where there’s smoke there’s ire

Okay, so I put my grumpiness down to extreme nicotine withdrawal (I’ve given up for the umteenth time), but a story in London Lite (which I was reading while waiting for Richard Dawkins to begin his lecture last night) had me spluttering with rage.

Well, the London Lite story isn’t online, so here’s a similar report form The elegraph.

The gist of it is that the government is considering proposals to allow councils to ban smoking OUTSIDE of pubs!

Why? Is it that the smoke from cigarettes is more harmful than that from passing cars and busses? Nope? They fear that smokers may make too much noise when they step outside of the pub (in which they may no longer light up) for a quick drag.

Has our government gone completely insane?

Funny thing is, the council behind the move is the Tory-led Westminster council. “I thought the Tories were against ‘the nanny state’…” said my partner this morning (as I was still huffing – if not exacly puffing – over breakfast).

Well, it turns out – if the Telegraph story is anything to go by – that the Westminster council put in this proposal as a reductio ad absurdum, because they actually opposed the ban on smoking INSIDE the pub in the first place. Their argument was that driving people outside to smoke would lead to an increase in on-street drinking, leading to noise and similar public drinking related antisocial behaviour.

Did they count on the government taking their request seriously? I really don’t know, but they apparently are.

What kind of law allows for the punishment of a person, not for causing an offence, but engaging in an activity which potentially may (or may not) lead to an offence? It’s like saying anyone keeping their engine running while stationary in the proximity of a bank should be punished as an accessory to armed robbery, regardless of whether they actually were driving a get-away car, and, indeed regardless of whether any bank had been robbed!

If someone goes outside for a cigarrette they could soon face a spot fine for *smoking* – EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT CAUSING A PUBLIC NUISANCE!

Forgive the CAPS, but I am soooo angry about this idiocy!

Surely logic says if noise is the problem, you fine the noisy. If litter is the problem, fine those who litter. If people who drink get rowdy, then – if you really must ban something – ban drinking on the street. Make those who want a quick ciggie leave their ale inside.

Do the nitwits and morons who run our government and our councils lack imagination to such an extent that the kneejerk answer to everything is to impose a ban of some sort or another?

Where would the “smoking exculsion zone” begin? on the pavement outside the pub? Wouldn’t that just force patrons to cross the road for a smoke and make a noise there? What if you made it 100 metres of a pub. Does that mean the guy two doors down, who doesn’t want to smoke indoors, now loses the right to step oustide his own house for fag? (Maybe he can get a special permit from the council). Does this mean that someone who is simply walking past must extinguish their cigarette before walking past a pub or risk having their collar felt?

Has anyone thought this through?