Much like our contributions to the plain packaging consultation (twice) and the one on minimum alcohol pricing, you may find it helpful to see the questions before you begin. So here they are.
1. The regulations make it an offence to smoke in an enclosed private vehicle when there is more than one person present and a person under the age of 18 is present. This offence would fall on the person smoking regardless of their age. Do you have any comments on this approach?The obvious comment is that this is just the latest proof that government funded 'charities' and other professional bansturbators are afforded far too much respect. Last I heard there was supposed to be a distaste from this coalition about "government lobbying government" but that is exactly what this is. No-one, but no-one, apart from state-financed organisations and fellow rent-seekers demanded this ban.
What's more, they have done so with some of the most disgraceful junk science the tobacco control industry has ever produced, which is quite an achievement. Only the hilarious nonsense surrounding thirdhand smoke (ha!) comes even close. We've seen smoky cars compared with smokefree bars; deliberate misrepresentation of 24 hour 'hazardous' levels as being applicable for a few minutes exposure; and, of course, blatantly fabricated lies, regurgitated by serial liars which are so appalling they're required the unusual step of quiet retraction. For that alone they should be ignored, but especially when they are trying to implement behaviour controls on privately owned property.
You could also point out that open-topped vehicles would be exempt, but not a car with every window open and a gale blowing through it at 70mph. Apparently, that thin piece of aluminium over the top has magical properties which demand tiny smoke particles disobey the laws of physics. A more silly law it is difficult to imagine.
There are other anomalies which big government will make a balls-up of too. Will a 17 year old smoker be fined for lighting up in their own car with their 18 year old smoking mates? Well, of course they will. Will police be tasked with stopping all cars containing smoking teens to see if one of them is underage so they can fine the driver? Of course they will. Will police be bound to stop cars with tinted windows just to check there are no asphyxiated kids in the back? Who knows? I'll bet the police are going to be over the moon at the confusion which will reign once dozy MPs have engaged their tiny brains and passed this into law.
By Christ, even Nick Clegg can see it's a pitifully pointless idea which hasn't got a chance of working! Why has so much time and taxpayer cash been wasted on it already in straitened times?
Which leads us neatly onto ...
2. Do you have any comments regarding the proposal for the new offences to apply to caravans and motor caravans when they are being used as vehicles but not when they are being used as homes?Doesn't that just make the entire thing a piece of sublime comedy?
Think about that. It's not dangerous to smoke in a caravan when it is stationary - or the government believe it is none of their business to intervene - but it is extremely dangerous when moving, or the government believe that private property ceases to be so when the wheels are moving. Of course, the same doesn't apply to a car, because the proposals state that even if the car is stationary on a grass verge or in a car park the smoke is still lethal ... err, unlike in a caravan. Got that? The mind boggles (or is it not really about health, whaddya reckon?).
Their wriggling over caravans is, of course, politicians still trying to pretend that they're not imposing on your liberties and that they wouldn't even contemplate banning you from smoking in your own home. Except when they debate in Westminster about doing exactly that.
3. Do you have any comments about the intentions regarding the enforcement of the proposed regulations?I don't know what the "intentions" are regarding enforcement except to pander to state-funded finger-waggers and advance their illiberal denormalisation campaigns, but if there was any other intention it could well have been to introduce the precedent of the police enforcing public health industry demands for the first time in our history, as I have mentioned here before.
The police, quite simply, should not be burdened by the increased workload of overseeing the career advancement of professional prohibitionist cranks.
It is also scandalous that local council workers are sniffing an opportunity for a new empire to build, presumably attracted by the possibility of more taxpayer funds with which to insert themselves into our lives. So much for public sector austerity and the end of "big bossy state interference", eh?
4. Do you want to draw to our attention to any issues on the practicalities of implementing the regulations as drafted?What, apart from their being unworkable; unenforceable; laughable; and a slippery slope to banning smoking in all cars, as has been the intention all along? That even the impact assessment admits that it will lead to smokers stopping more often (cars pulling up on the hard shoulder of the M6 on bank holiday weekends, anyone?) and that there is an obvious danger of drivers shifting attention from the road to smoking covertly? I'm wondering if MPs have ever even heard the term "unintended consequences". And for what? A zero improvement in the health of kids but a distinct possibility of handing even more power to anti-social smoke-haters and endorsing righteous road rage. Not to mention the fact that e-cigs will be included fairly soon afterwards - if not in the original drafting - to eradicate 'confusion' and aid enforcement.
The bully state at its most perverse.
5. Do you have any additional evidence that banning smoking in private vehicles when children are present would contribute to reducing health inequalities and/or help us fulfil our duties under the Equality Act 2010?The usual 'equality' question. Dear God! I remember when laws were assessed for efficacy, value for money, impact on freedom and whether it was really worth it. Now, a Tory-led government is wondering if a pointless law will unfairly affect one protected group over another.
And how banning smoking in private vehicles will reduce health inequalities is anyone's guess, even the impact assessment glosses over it with a sentence that basically says they haven't much of a clue. But then, 'health inequalities' is only a term used by prohibitionists to mask the fact their policy suggestions are almost exclusively regressive and designed to punish working class people. Sounds better than "attacking the choices of the less well off" doesn't it?
6. Do you have any evidence that would inform the consultation-stage impact assessment including any evidence or information which would improve any of the assumptions or estimates we have made in the consultation-stage impact assessment?The impact assessment is an incredible document which starts with all the aforementioned tobacco control junk science on this issue and simply runs it all through a Casio calculator from Poundland, I recommend you brew a cuppa and read it in its entirety. My personal favourite was the assertion that only 31% of under 18s are able to ask their parents to stop smoking - I wasn't aware that youth incompetence in the UK was so widespread!
I can offer no more advice than to pick out whatever makes you laugh/cry/scream and put that in writing in your response.
If you feel like making a submission, you can do so at the online form or by emailing email@example.com by midnight Wednesday (which reminds me, I think carriages are covered but not pumpkins).