Thursday 22 March 2018

An Outbreak Of Common Sense In Sheffield

When people talk of 'austerity' in this country, especially towards funding of public sector organisations and local authorities, it never really rings true to me considering that - daily - we hear of widespread public sector interference which is completely unnecessary.

One perfect example of this is local authority restrictions on vaping in taxis. Transport for London have a shameful policy - which they tweet regularly - saying that vaping is not allowed in a licensed vehicle at any time, even when the driver is alone and/or off-duty.

Considering taxis and private hire vehicles in London are all privately-owned property, what business is that of TfL? Even worse, why the blithering fuck do TfL think they have the authority to fine passengers £50 for vaping in a cab when it is not harmful; isn't against the law; and the vehicle is not TfL's property?

They are forced, sadly, by law to ban smoking but when they ban e-cigs they are making the taxpayer pay for their pure ignorance and spite.

Councils have this power - which they get some perverse kick out of - because of how debilitating it can be for their licensees to be denied a licence. Since the authority it gives them can deprive someone of their livelihood - and there is no competitor to move to if you think their rules are shit - they should exercise their power wisely. But, as we can see from TfL, many don't. Instead they micro-manage issues that they have no right to get involved in. It's a control freak's wet dream.

In your blog host's humble opinion, any authority which spends time and taxpayer resources banning vaping in taxis - for which there is no health or road safety justification - is proving that they have plenty of funding so can stop bloody whining about austerity. If anything it tells us they are too well-funded and that there is plenty of scope for them to be starved of even more cash. The discussion should solely extend to "is it against the law?", "no", "then let's move on".

Of course, that is London where bureaucracy pumped out by Metropolitan elitists is a plague, so it was interesting to see that Freedom to Vape submitted FOI requests to find out taxi policies in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. Their report is here and it makes for interesting reading.

In short, 8 out of 27 councils ban e-cigs in taxis so can shut the fuck up about funding cuts, another 2 are considering it so obviously also have plenty of cash spare.

But shining like a beacon out of it all is Sheffield City Council. Their policy is absolutely perfect and puts the rest to shame. It is what a model policy should look like, respecting taxi owners, passengers and taxpayers alike, while respecting property rights and public health into the bargain.
Sheffield City Council, through its Licensing Committee who set the policies for our licensed drivers does not currently have a ban on Vapour cigarettes in Licensed vehicles. The policy is reviewed on a regular basis and this may be part of the consultation in the next review. 
We currently follow the legal guidelines around smoking in public vehicles and as of yet Vapour/E-cigarettes are not covered under the current laws. 
If this changes we will of course enforce the restrictions as strongly as we do the current smoking restrictions on our licensed drivers. Where passengers decide to use the E-cigarettes this would currently be down to individual drivers, and would be for them to ask passengers to refrain from use of the cigarettes in their vehicle if they wished them not to use. 
We would also advise drivers that use these types of machines to refrain from using them whilst passengers are on board, unless they have received permission from the passenger at the time, which should be common courtesy for both the driver and the passenger to ask such a question.
A policy built upon common sense and mutual respect? Well, fancy that!

Sadly, councils are stuffed full of pompous blowhards for whom liberties are just something that get in the way of their own self-importance, and Freedom to Vape is cognisant of that.
I would like to strike a note of caution. Just because a council has said that it doesn't plan to ban vaping in taxis and private hire vehicles, doesn't mean that it won't change its mind tomorrow.
As we all know, the ratchet almost invariably only goes the one way.

None of this, of course, would be anything local authority licensing boards would have bothered about too much before tobacco control embarked on the hysterical denormalisation of smoking, and now, nicotine. We've seen some fine words from them on e-cigs occasionally, but I don't see much by way of missives to councils to stop being monumental dicks towards vaping.

When I see a 'public health' NGO ripping publicly into arrogant, monolithic shitgoblins like TfL about damaging and illiberal bans on vaping in taxis - or anywhere else come to that - I'll start to believe they're not just playing us like fools. Might have to wait a while though.

In the meantime, Bravo Sheffield! Don't let the bastards grind you down. 

1 comment:

Penseivat said...

"An Outbreak Of Common Sense In Sheffield". Don't worry, it won't last.