Saturday 1 January 2011

Smoking Bans In Homes - A Clue To Their Implementation

I've mentioned here, on a number of occasions, that anti-smoking obsessives are actively working on how to implement smoking bans in our homes.

Government aren't resisting them either. The Department of Health's John Tilley said this on the matter in October 2009.

“Action on smoking in the home will be a necessary part of future strategy on tobacco control."
Don't think anything has changed since the election, by the way. A new government makes not a jot of difference and John Tilley is still in the same job, doing exactly the same as before.

Whenever I raise this issue, though, the general response is that it can't be enforced. "It's my home, Dick, what they gonna do? Peer through the windows?", they say, "My home, my rules", etc etc etc.

Well, via Reason, we get a glimpse of exactly how such bans will be achieved in the future.

Last week the Minnesota Supreme Court agreed to hear a case in which the Institute for Justice is challenging a local ordinance that lets housing inspectors roam people's apartments to make sure they're up to code. Red Wing, Minnesota, began requiring the inspections in 2006 as a condition of granting rental licenses to landlords. If a landlord or occupant does not agree to an inspection, the city can ask a judge for a warrant. But because the visits are classified as "administrative inspections," the city does not have to show there is any reason to suspect that a particular building is substandard. Armed with administrative warrants, inspectors can poke their noses into tenants' bedrooms, bathrooms, closets, and even, until a recent revision of the law, refrigerators and medicine cabinets. Although they are ostensibly looking for hazards that need to be corrected, they are expected to report evidence of certain crimes—including methamphetamine production, child abuse, elder abuse, and pet abuse—to the police. Inspectors thus can serve as proxies for the police, who would not be allowed to search people's homes without probable cause to support a criminal search warrant.
No warrant. No permission. Nothing. It's not an isolated case, either, such arrangements are becoming commonplace in the US.

Now, two things are required before this is to be applied over here in support of a smokefree homes law. The first one is easy, and is also very much on the anti-smoker radar. In fact, more than that, there are 827,000 matches on Google at time of writing for "smoking around kids child abuse". This wouldn't even require legislation, merely an addition to the list of recognised abuses that social services should be looking for.

The second is more problematic and would require legislation, and they will probably do so under the environmental banner.

The example in America is for rented accommodation and revolves around licensing - a tool of the state I've also mentioned before - for ensuring the safety of the property (thereby interfering in a contract between two mutually consenting parties, it should be noted), but could be equally applied anywhere really, and for private homes as well.

We've already seen the requirement for Energy Performance Certificates enforced by the EU and omitted from the abolishment of Home Information Packs for property vendors. Considering the fact that our dozy MPs are already scared witless at the absurd idea that they may drown in their offices, it's not a big step towards inspections of all properties for the sake of the planet, is it?

Oh, and while they're in there, they may as well keep an eye out for ... well, exactly what the inspectors in Minnesota are told to have a sneaky watch for, really.

Hell, why even stop there? While checking the environmental efficiency of the fridge freezer, the inspectors could make a mental note of alcohol contained therein, or the prevalence of unhealthy processed food. Once the state is inside your front door, don't ever think that it won't be tempted to take the 'next logical step' and pry into other areas.

If the current political mindset is intent on enforcing smoking bans in homes, they won't let a silly concept like private property get in the way.


Shug Niggurath said...

Tell you one to watch out for, no smoking lease agreements on new social housing tenants. Then they'll extend that to existing leaseholders.

Politically it'll cost them nothing if brought in under the coalition as pretty much all social housing tenants are Labour voters.

On the first wave these are the very same people who'll match up on NHS intervention schemes, low income, above average family size and so on. Once that becomes normalised behaviour they can then use the 'success' of the policy to implement policy against private property in much the same way.

I've mentioned before about the Gold, Silver and Bronze certificates the NHS hand out in Glasgow?

Bronze - agreeing to smoke in only one room in the house, usually adults bedroom or kitchen

Silver - agreeing to smoke in that room only when there are no children at home

Gold - agreeing to smoke in the street.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I can see social housing residents of my town(insert rough northern town of your choice) standing for that.

george Speller

Dick Puddlecote said...

George: That's a false crutch to fall back on IMO. During this video (recommended by the way), Nick Gillespie talks about a travel writer who saw IRA members dutifully trotting outside for a cigarette. Willing to break every law going, they fell into line with smoking ones.

They believe the bullshit, as do most on climate change. People will willingly give up their right to private property when scared enough.

Discuss. ;)

Shug: Yes, that will happen too. In fact, I'd be surprised if some authorities aren't already doing so or already writing it into their tenancy agreements.

Anonymous said...

These anti smokers are sick, they should all, from the lowly secratary at ASH through to the politicians who will no doubt support these ideas be commited to insane assylums!

Any one who in good conscience is willing to brand parents who smoke as child abusers requires certifying, any MP who condones this needs to be fired from his or her position as a member of parliament as being unfit to hold that post due to insanity.

Anyone who believes they can violate the privacy of this, or any other country's citizens without a clear and present danger in place, without a warrant or information that a criminal offence is taking place deserves commital to an institution for they are unfit to live among civilised human beings.

It is a gross violation of every mans, every womans and every childs right to privacy in their own home, it is the ultimate violation of civil liberties, a violation of the last bastion of a free society.

It cannot be allowed to become law, it must be stopped using every legal option up to and including the ECHR, if that fails then may whichever God you believe in help us all as we will have returned to the serfdom from which we came.

I like the maxim 'Intolerance is the most preventable cause of inequalities' it is a good honest statement of fact but what happens when mankind becomes intolerant of inequality?

John Watson

Dick Puddlecote said...

Excellent rant, John, but MPs don't 'do' respect for the public or their property. The sooner people realise this, the better.

Anonymous said...

Oh well, given my only experience with MP's was meeting Edwina Curry what can you expect? Sadly my other solutions are all illegal, very gratifying but still illegal!

Thanks for reading my little rant, at least someone listens.


Anonymous said...

Private property landlords are quids in, already. I reckon that 75% of private rental properties are 'smokefree'.

Why couldn't 'social' landlords use the same grounds for justification?

Private ownership? Take your pick: where there are children, child abuse (scandolous); where there are no children but you're semi-detached, third-hand smoke; where you're detached, risk of fire.

The only people (if detached) are those who've paid off their mortgages.


As an aside, I've spent the day with friends. Despite there being six adults (four of whom smoked) and four children, we smokers 'voluntarily' decamped to the back door 'because the children don't like smoking'!!!!!

banned said...

"Shug: Yes, that will happen too. In fact, I'd be surprised if some authorities aren't already doing so or already writing it into their tenancy agreements."

It is fairly well entrenched that local councils cannot enforce rules against something which is not ilegal, smoking/drinking/fireworks/pets, in their tenancy agreements though they do try by putting up "it is illegal to smoke in (sic) these premises" signs outside blocks of flats without spelling out that it only applies to common stairs and landings.

As for the private sector they can ban anything they like because they are private property but do so at the peril of the free market.

@anon 22:13 "I reckon that 75% of private rental properties are 'smokefree'".
I'd like to know where you got that from.

Anonymous said...

@banned - Hi, looking in estate agents' windows.


nbc said...

Hi DP,

All four of the properties I've rented since 1996 have had no-smoking clauses in the rental agreements, and I can only recall one property I considered renting that did not. So on my experience I'd be tempted to back Jay's statement.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Jay: On private landlords, yes, they can stipulate whatever conditions they wish so it's entirely different from legislation demanding they do so. Again, it's the state interfering in a two party voluntary agreement. Government increasingly likes to do that.

And they will. You mention that mortgage-free owners of detached mortgages will be fine, but they won't either. There was a classic quote from Maureen Moore (ex-ASH Scotland supremo) stating that "even smokers need protecting from secondhand smoke". She was answering a caller who talked of a karaoke business run by two brothers in their own vehicle who were banned by law from smoking in it.

Unless your detached, mortgage-free owner lives on his/her own, the law will eventually apply. But even if they fulfill all those criteria, they'll find other ways, such as denying police/fire/health services, or making it an offence to allow utilities meter readers into a smoker's home.

Once the myth is ensconced, the world is their oyster.

All those 'libertarians' who liked the smoking ban, eh? They don't realise how many doors to private property they actually opened to the state.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Banned: "... spelling out that it only applies to common stairs and landings"

Not sure the Health Act says that, actually. It specified 'workplaces', not common areas in flats.

Belinda said...

I've heard that there are gas and electricity meters being developed that will be read centrally and that won't require the use of meter readers. As it is they are only in the house for a split second anyway.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Belinda: I know of at least one person who was told by a meter reader that he wouldn't enter the property (even for a few seconds) because he was smoking. He told him to fuck off till tomorrow then ... but he'd still be smoking. ;)

Anonymous said...

Belinda, I think you must be referring to 'smart meters' and the 'smart grid'. I wouldn't be in too much hurry to get one installed, since they can also be used to ration your supply (when the lights start going out !)

Anonymous said...

DP - you have forgotten something - insurance companies. There to be got at with the greatest of ease.

However, I don not think that such ideas are likely in the immediate future. If politicians have any brains whatsoever (which may be doubtful), they will realise that they are already getting plenty of flak from only those smokers who go to pubs. Ban smoking in cars or introduce no smoking clauses into insurance policies and you antagonise ALL smokers, which is a bit dangerous politically.

But I am sure that the suggestions will appear in the fairly near future.

Belinda said...

Really? I wasn't really thinking of getting one. But if they want to ration people's supply won't they just find a way to do it to everybody?

Anonymous said...

OT, I suppose , but... I was talking to a pal who's just come back from Las Vegas.

Smoking in bars and clubs was apparently banned but not when gambling.

Funny old world.

Anonymous said...

DP: I think the clause which applies to common parts of multi-occupancy buildings is this one:

Section 2, subsection (7): Premises are “open to the public” if the public or a section of the public has access to them, whether by invitation or not, and whether on payment or not.

But whether it applies if you can only gain entry to a communal entrance to a building using a key or a code or by being physically let in by a resident, I’m not sure.

Anonymous said...

I did a survey on You Gov recently, in the middle and totally unrelated to other questions was, 'Do you smoke?' followed by, 'Are there children in the house?'.
That's the direction they are heading.

Anonymous said...

The government has no right to ban smoking in private homes. Sure, smoking is bad for us, but so are a lot of things - too much sugar is bad for us. But the government doesn't care about what's bad and what's good (regardless of what they say) - they only care about control, control, control. And even if they did care about what's bad and what's good - it still isn't any of their business.

JuliaM said...

"The government has no right to ban smoking in private homes. Sure, smoking is bad for us, but so are a lot of things - too much sugar is bad for us. "

Give 'em time, they'll get there!

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

I see Pravda is cock-a-hoop about the new Spanish smoking ban.

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX Rate of Dissent said...

The government has no right to ban smoking in private homes. XX

You make one fundamental mistake; It is the very "government" that GIVES you that right.

"He who gives may also take away."

Mark Wadsworth said...

Oh dear, oh dear.

banned said...

"common stairs and landings", not because they are common but because they are workplaces, they have to be cleaned by cleansing workers.

@ Furor Teutonicus " It is the very "government" that GIVES you that right. Wrong, that is the European or Napoleonic tradition in which you are permitted to do what the law says you might.

Ours is that everything is permitted unless the law says otherwise.

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX in which you are permitted to do what the law says you might. XX

Bollox. That is an IMPOSSIBLE way to run a legal system. Otherwise I would be arresting people every day for starting off crossing the road right foot first instead of left, or booking people for drinking milk in paper cups...or.... because the law does not say they can do that.

And just WHOES law do you THINK is running Britain today any way?

dunhillbabe said...

Surely you mean 'when' - there's no 'if' about it... despite the assurance given by ASH that they 'only wanted some places for non - smokers to go....' yeah - right....