Thursday, 7 March 2019

A Ban If It's Law, A Ban If It's Not

In answer to a parliamentary question tabled by Liz Saville-Roberts of Plaid Cymru yesterday, the government's Home Office spokesperson, Victoria Atkins, gave us a small glimpse into how the choices of staff and the public are treated with contempt by the elites, and how they really only have themselves to blame for some of the abuse they receive.

Saville-Roberts asked which Home Office premises do not operate a no-smoking policy. It turns out that not only is the answer none, but that the Home Office has been massively gold-plating restrictions demanded by the smoking ban.
Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women 
The Home Office supports the right to work in a smoke-free environment. The Health Act 2006 and similar laws in Scotland and Wales ban workplace smoking. 
Home Office staff must not smoke or use e-cigarettes anywhere on Home Office premises including: 
• buildings, vehicles and land – this includes all walkways, access areas and car parks
• outside entrances and exits of buildings
• private vehicles parked on Home Office premises
I really don't know where to start with a policy as hideous and daft in equal measure as this.

Why Atkins bothers to cite the Health Act 2006 is baffling because that merely bans smoking in any building that is more than 50% enclosed, it has absolutely no bearing on all the extra restrictions she seems proud to boast about. The justification given in that Act was that there was {cough} scientific 'evidence' that passive smoking harms bystanders in enclosed public places, otherwise politicians would have never dreamed of removing the right to use legal products, oh no! It was merely to protect those poor bar workers. They had no choice, see?

So where did the idea that bans outside in "walkways, access areas and car parks" should be included come from? Where is the {cough} scientific 'evidence' for banning smoking "outside entrances and exits of buildings"? And how does banning an employee smoking in their own parked car, alone, "support the right to work in a smoke-free environment"? Surely, to borrow from one of the most clichéd anti-smoking tropes of all time, the Home Office's right to protect an employee from their own secondhand smoke ends at the door of their own fucking vehicle.

It's not really about health, is it?

What's more, how is also banning the use of e-cigs in all of those places conducive to a "smoke-free environment" when they don't emit any smoke? In the past year or two we have seen Public Health England advocating for vapers being afforded somewhere in the workplace to vape, the government's Tobacco Control Plan clearly stating that vaping "should not be included in policies which ban smoking", and the Science and Technology Committee recommending that "rules around e-cigarettes should be relaxed so they can be more widely used and accepted in society".

It's scary that a policy so devoid of common sense has been written by a department which is tasked with our security, because its terms mean that although soldiers can face live firing on Salisbury Plain, they'd better not even think about having a smoke or a vape while they're there or they could face disciplinary action. Utterly absurd.

It's like different departments of the government don't even talk to each other anymore. How can you take politicians seriously when, on the one hand, you have health departments giving out guidance and a Home Office Minister trumpeting on Hansard about how they are proud to be completely ignoring it?

It also tells us that the smoking ban was a quite hideous piece of legislation which lifted up a rock and let every belly-crawling prohibitionist maggot slither out and run riot. I am pretty sure that prior to 2006 the Home Office wouldn't allow smoking in its offices, but the green light the Health Act gave to civil service regulators desperate to regulate something - anything - has led us into this situation where smoking is banned even if you are sitting at nose level with a car's exhaust pipe, and every weapons-grade bigot with an axe to grind about other people's choices is encouraged to chip in their personal gripe and a policy will be drafted to ban it. It's becoming the national sport.

Whether there is a law against it, whether there isn't, and even when the very government itself would prefer the opposite.

There has been a lot of talk today about how politicians are receiving abuse on social media and how it's very, very bad. But those are just words. Politicians and the system they have administered - badly - in recent years are attacking the public like no other time in history. Their ratchet has gone only one way for the past decade or so, if they want to gain a bit of respect, perhaps they might consider recommending a relaxation of pointless and draconian bans and restrictions instead of forever dreaming up new ways to beat the public about the head for simply wanting to use legal products.

Where is the cabinet minister who will stand up and declare that, you know, the public is there to be served. Not a target to attack and be moulded into something they'd rather not be? And maybe that the public might appreciate not being told what to do. Every. Fucking. Day!

Further reading along the same lines today here: "This will leave the Government in the absurd position of officially advising people to drink pure orange juice as one of their five a day while banning adverts for it because it is junk."



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