Tuesday 30 August 2011

Sweden: Showing The World How To Dictate Your Personal Choice

August is panning out much as I had anticipated, with many plates needing to be kept spinning in Puddlecoteville. Hence the lack of burblings here of late.

A story from elsewhere demands highlighting, though. This, from the model 'progressive' nation that is Sweden.

Landskrona municipality in southern Sweden is mulling introducing a ban on staff smoking during working hours, even if they are working from home.

The ban under consideration by Landskrona will mean that staff are not allowed to go outside onto the street during, for example, the group coffee breaks in the morning and afternoon which are common practice in many Swedish workplaces.

Causing further controversy is that the ban is set to cover those working in open spaces and even staff working from home.
Sadly, it's the inevitable end product of delegating rights over private property to any state body. They will eventually take the piss.

Such a scenario being played out in the UK isn't too far off, either. The opening salvo was fired a few years ago.

Sutton's policy, which will come into effect in February, will ban smoking from anywhere in or near council buildings and council vehicles, car parks and parks. The policy also puts a stop to cigarette breaks and forbids employees smoking anywhere in publicwhile wearing the council symbol or identity badge.

Sutton had originally included a further clause banning employees from smoking in their own cars while driving to and from work but this was amended after opposition.
In the current climate, does anyone doubt that such proposals will be far more likely in the future than less?

In fact, here is one area where alcohol is already on equal footing with tobacco. I've mentioned before that public sector competitive tendering conditions now routinely insist on private companies committing to a 'drugs and alcohol policy' which insists on total abstinence during lunch breaks, and advising of the same outside of work too.

And this is the easily-transportable part of the Swedish initiative - it isn't based on preventing harm to others, it is solely to prevent the employee indulging in behaviour which they, personally, enjoy, but of which the employer disapproves.

"We think that working hours should be completely free of tobacco and should also include snus. The most important thing is that adults set a good example," said the education committee chairperson Lisa Flinth to the newspaper.
Once clauses like this become ubiquitous - which they will - employers will be able to dictate their staff's lifestyles on a whim.

One wonders when the first lunchtime McDonald's ban will be considered ... if it hasn't been already.


Anonymous said...

Hey, in Sweden you can only name your baby from an approved government register, so hardly the bastion of personal freedoms.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Anon @ 18:22: Indeed. Yet we're told that Sweden is a prime example of how 'progressive' politics improves life beyond all recognition.

I suppose it all depends on who is deciding the definition of a 'good' life.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

"The initiative, which will not apply to politicians in the municipality,"

How come you appeared to miss that little snippet, DP?

Mind you, Sweden is an odd country with odd people - can't see this happening here and as for any rule not applying to our politici......Oh!

Dick Puddlecote said...

On the contrary, WfW. Tobacco control searches the globe for examples of how to stamp on smokers. Sweden is fair game as a high-ranking OECD country so will come in quite handy as a reference.

Remember that hiding tobacco displays was implemented after observing such global heavyweights as Iceland and Thailand.

Trooper Thompson said...

Hey, what happened to the cavalier rebellion that was being touted a while back?

At the time I had a few (historical) reservations, but I've dealt with those.


Moose said...

Dear Witterings,
How is it that so often with these draconian rules they dont apply to politicians?
Like smoking rooms in the House of Commons.
How can they get away with this???

WitteringsfromWitney said...


Well they make the bloody rules, don't they? The sooner we change things round the other way, the better!

Ian B said...

I know I keep saying this, but is it just me, or does anyone else feel like they fell into a parallel universe?

From a detached perspective, it's interesting to see how, in this endgame, the narrative is so blatantly moralist. "We think people should set a good example" is the pure justification. What's astonishing is how far, as a society, we have been dragged down the rabbit hole, that such statements are not remarkable.

Ian B said...

Jesus. Just posting that comment took me down Google's rabbit hole where they tried to wheedle my mobile phone number out of me!

Anonymous said...

If they can do it in Sweden, then anti-tobacco can use that as "good example" of a "big success" then steam roll it everywhere else. When I read of these things in far-flung places, I know it could as soon happen here next, citing there as "successful". It's astonishing how this latest says blatantly not to apply to the pols too, which is a different issue regarding corruptability of the political class.

Anonymous said...

Dick -- It's like a sci-fi story in the unbelievable 'storyline'. The thinking is absolutely soulless and scary. Typical that it wouldn't apply to politicians. Hmm -- second career, anyone? Sounds grand! Laissez faire!

Anon (30 Aug., 18:22) -- there is a reason why Sweden and other European countries have a register of approved names. It's so people don't name their child anything bizarre (as we see on some reality TV documentaries and such). Sorry if you object, but, having seen some of the names which pop up in news articles and teachers' fora, perhaps a similar register would be useful in the UK. Some American mothers are so ignorant that they name their children after STDs; they just don't know any better -- it just 'sounds nice'.

Anonymous said...

Nannies,Know-it-alls,all squeezed
into one gigantic Satanic shed.
Is there not one Englishman who
can flush out that cesspit of
I've seen it all before in the
Socialist "Paradise" the DDR.
no faith,no hope ,no tomorrow
a lifetime of pointless servitude.

Can be stopped

Anonymous said...

It's weird that officialdom in its manifest forms, national, local, quasi-autonomous and educational, is a natural habitat for these Daleks. The more that so-called democracy is created - through devolution for example - the more they proliferate. By now they're thoroughly established in the mass media, once the refuge of the individualist and the independent-minded outsider. There's only the blogosphere.

Anonymous said...

A little bit off-topic, I admit, but sort of linked – something which has been swirling about in the back of my mind for some while which some of the more legal-y types on here might like to comment on.

If a person is obliged to adhere to workplace rules and regulations outside of their working hours or during their “free” time (such as during breaks or lunchtimes), then doesn’t that mean, essentially, that they are still “working” during those times – albeit at a much less busy level than normally? And thus, aren’t employers who enforce such rules in danger of exceeding the legislation on working hours? The legislation, after all, specifically states that employers must allow their employees to take their statutory breaks away from their normal workstations – thus giving the nod to the fact that a break should mean just that – a break, not just interrupting the flow of work by swigging down a quick coffee or a hastily-purchased sandwich from M&S at your desk.

So surely, then, imposing any workplace rules in free time that should be demarcated by a contract of employment (which has to state specific starting and finishing hours) must surely be the same? Insisting that employees are “non-smokers” or – as will no doubt shortly be the case – “non drinkers” (i.e. that they don’t undertake those activities in their private time in the evenings and at weekends) must surely be tantamount to insisting that they stay “working” for 24 hours a day? Even if they wouldn’t normally want to undertake such activities voluntarily, it’s still a violation of their right to genuinely free time to deny them the choice to do so if they wish. I’m sure there’d be a case if employers started insisting that employees be “on call” at all times, or if they insisted that employees maintained the same standards of dress at home as they did at work (such as wearing makeup or a suit or wearing their hair tied back etc), so there’s no reason why other workplace rules shouldn’t be the same.

Just a thought for the future which might get round the fact that whereas it is illegal to advertise using discriminatory wording and to employ using discriminatory policies in any other area than race, age, sex, religion etc, it is still legal to discriminate in any other areas, including lifestyle ones ...

Thoughts from legal types welcomed!

Dick Puddlecote said...

Ian B: I fell into a parallel universe earlier, oddly enough. Just got back from a night out where someone usually sane said that collective punishment of adults was perfectly acceptable to ensure ultimate safety. He coupled this with the payoff line "I hate everything authoritarian, but ...".

And get this! The reason we were talking about it at all was the fact that the guy was grumbling about having to possess 5 different CRB checks!

Anon@23:10: I'm sure they're way ahead of you with that. Nice idea, mind.

Woodsy42 said...

"was grumbling about having to possess 5 different CRB checks! "

And how long will it be before smoking or drinking prohibits you from getting one of those?

Dick Puddlecote said...

Woodsy: he was necking a beer and smoking as he said it. I'm guessing he won't link the two when they come after him. He did agree with what I caled 'infantilism' of the public, after all.

I'm looking forward to the day I can throw it back in his face. ;)

Anonymous said...

I was going to ask how the hell they could enforce such a thing in the home, but we already know the answer to that don't we? The computer's inbuilt video camera. 1984 has arrived.

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX Hey, in Sweden you can only name your baby from an approved government register, so hardly the bastion of personal freedoms. XX

Na, so what? Britain and colonies are probably the only countries in the world where you DON'T have such a list.

Your comment is NOT evidence.

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX Anonymous said...

If they can do it in Sweden, then anti-tobacco can use that as "good example" of a "big success" then steam roll it everywhere else. XX

You BET they will.

Strange how they tend to ignore the OTHER "Swedish case" though, that raising the retail alcohol prices, and severely restricting where alcohol could be purchased, to "defeat" alcoholism in the sixties and sevetys, actualy lead to a near DOUBLING of the alcoholism rate.