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Smoking Ban in Cars? Why Can't They Just Leave Us Alone

by Keith Wildman
16 November 2011 35 Comments

They're at it again, the health fascists aren't content with banning smoking in pubs, now they want to stop you smoking in your own car.

Soon to be a thing of the past?

A smoking ban in all cars, yes even private ones just like you and I drive, and even if you’re driving alone, is the latest brainwave from doctors’ trade union the BMA. It’s something they threaten us with every so often and this week, in a nanny state double whammy, it coincides with the temperance movement’s ‘Alcohol Awareness Week’.

The misinformation, half truths and downright lies are being peddled out by the usual, often publicly funded, cleverly acronymed-up suspects. We just don’t know what’s good for us, see. How can we, as lowly members of the public, be trusted to make our own decisions about our own lives. We must, it seems, be told what’s good for us. Whether it’s the truth or not.

The obvious lie, trotted out again by a woman from the BMA on BBC Breakfast this morning advocating the car smoking ban, is that ‘research shows the level of toxins in a car can be up to 23 times higher than in a smoky bar.’ Now aside from the very flimsy definition ‘smoky bar’ this figure was discredited some time ago as an unsubstantiated quote from a local Canadian newspaper in 1998, without any medical or scientific evidence. Still it’s not stopped the untruth becoming ‘fact’ by simple process of repetition. Something the BMA seem either completely unaware of, or chose to ignore, indeed it’s just been trotted out on the radio again by them as I type.

So, before you can say ‘won’t someone please think of the children’ a ban from smoking in public slithers towards a ban on smoking by yourself. In your own property

Predictably, the precedent of the smoking ban in pubs has been used. Its worked there we’re told. It’s been a success. Well that depends on your definition of success. If success is the catastrophic effect it’s had on the pub trade, then it was a belter! On average more than a thousand more pubs closed each year after the ban than before  (an average  of 331 pre-ban 1990-2006 and 1550 2006-10). Ask anyone in the pub trade or any of the regulars left in the tap room and they’ll tell you what the British public really think about the smoking ban in pubs. They don’t like it, they’re staying away, smoking at home instead. The disincentive is the fine for publicans, not the line peddled by the health lobby. It’s just another nail in the coffin of the traditional British pub. Part of the last government’s – and seemingly this too despite the good work of the likes of Gregg Mulholland MP – war on pubs.

Another porkie and trumpeted ‘success’ for the ban on smoking in public (which includes pubs) was a claim  by the Department of Health of  a decline in heart attack rates of 10%. But as Christopher Snowden shows this is trend that existed before the smoking ban. But the spin placed on statistics like this shows a success. And success sets a precedent. And politicans and the health lobby love a precedent. It gives them carte blance to chip away just that little further at our private lives. So, before you can say ‘won’t someone please think of the children’ a ban from smoking in public slithers towards a ban on smoking by yourself. In your own property.

We’re told the NHS  spends £5bn a year on treating smoking related illnesses. That smokers are a burden. That they should feel guilty. It’s their own fault. Smokers might have some sympathy were they not providing the government with £8.8bn (as of 2009/10 and presumably in excess of that now) a year.

Cost is the stick the temperence movement has been beating drinkers with too this week as part of Alcohol Awareness Week. An unassuming name  for something which is more or less saying ‘you lot shouldn’t drink at all.’ We’re told the cost to the NHS in 2006/7 for example was £2.7bn and the the NHS is unsustainable if this carries on, yet the same year the revenue raised via alcohol duty was £7.913bn. A figure that continues to rise. Drinkers, like smokers, are keeping the NHS funded, and the very (well paid) doctors who criticise them, and expensive think tanks and research groups who compile reports condemning them, in jobs. They should be thanking us.

If we’re demonising unsustainable expenses to the NHS, why not look at sport? After all 30% of the nation pick up 22 million sporting injuries each year, that’s 250,000 hospital admissions a year. What cost to the NHS is that? Why isn’t there a tax on the dangerous activities of these people needlessly putting themselves in harms way? Then there’s the long term affects of participating in sport. I can point you in the direction of plenty of ex professional footballers for example with premature arthritis. But of course, they brought it on themselves didn’t they?

The pomposity of some doctors knows no bounds. Forgetting a past of advocating grave robbing, opposing the foundation of the NHS and counting Harold Shipman as one of their colleagues

The pomposity of some doctors knows no bounds. Forgetting a past of advocating grave robbing, opposing the foundation of the NHS and counting Harold Shipman as one of their colleagues, they seem to have an inflated opinion of their role in society. They feature in articles provocatively bracketing alcohol with ‘battles’ and ‘wars’. Take Dr Chris Healey, claiming Britain is ‘sleepwalking’ towards a ‘tragic’ situation with ‘alcohol becoming a major killer.’ But his figures show 17 in 100,000 ‘dying as a direct result of alcohol in the Bradford area.’ Going by the national figure of 896 deaths per 100,000 in total in 2009 it doesn’t appear to be something that merits the type of prohibition that Dr Healey is alluding to. Note he says: “We are trying to capture people before they are damaged by alcohol. Everyone who attends A&E is asked if they drink alcohol.” Not ‘drink to excess’, but ‘drink alcohol’. And yet these are the type of people who we are supposed to unquestioningly bow down to despite their often out and out lies. This isn’t the thin end of the wedge. The wedge has well and truly been hammered under the door til it’s hanging off its hinges.

The likes of Alcohol Concern, the lobby group behind Alcohol Awarenes Week, rarely balance their criticism with research that shows moderate drinking is beneficial or that the ludicrous weekly ‘recommendations’ that have somehow become ‘weekly limits’ were ‘”plucked out of the air” in the absence of any clear evidence about how much alcohol constitutes a risk to health’. Yes, those units you see on adverts, and on bottles, that made no sense anyway were completely made up.

They claim alcohol is cheaper than ever, when was the last time they were in a pub? A pint of ale is edging towards the £3 even in Bradford, and London prices give me a cold sweat just thinking about them. The fact is alcohol is actually 20% more expensive in real terms now than it was in 1980 in the UK. The UK has the fourth highest spirits duty in the UK, the third highest beer duty and the second highest wine duty. And despite the claims from Dr Healey, alcohol consumption has dropped by 9% since 2004. Still, if you’re getting paid a wedge to demonise alcohol, and normal people, for a living then why let facts get in the way.

the ludicrous weekly ‘recommendations’ that have somehow become ‘weekly limits’ were ‘”plucked out of the air” in the absence of any clear evidence about how much alcohol constitutes a risk to healt

This type of puritanical mass bullying was typified in an error filled report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, that hilariously labelled those over 65 who drank over a pint a day as ‘invisible addicts. A report superbly rebutted by The Nottingham Drinker’s Steve Westby: “…now we seem happy to treat them [our elders] with patronising contempt. Well, I for one am not putting up with it, I am having a beer when I fancy one and will drink a much of it as I like and if they don’t like it they can shove it where the sun doesn’t shine!”

Just as drinkers are finally standing up this puritanical mass bullying, it’s up to smokers to do the same. It’s your body, your car and you’re paying well over the odds for the privilege of both. The government, the doctors and the nanny state can keep their noses out and let us enjoy life’s simple pleasures in peace. We know best, not them.

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

griff 7:09 pm, 16-Nov-2011

oh come on keith, smoking is a nasty habit that makes you stink. and kills you. its incredibly addictive (i know, i've been addicted to it) and it has no place in an enlightened modern society. most poeple who are addicted want to be freed from the shackles. i gave up smoking when i had to go and stand outside the pub in the rain and cold to find myself forced to have foot shuffling conversations with strangers. it was almost impossible to quit in a smokey pub environment when booze weakens your resolve. if this next step to another nail in the fag coffin then this is a good thing surely! hopefully by the time my kids hit their teens it will have been relegated to a habit for morons, to be ridiculed, that can only be done in the middle of a field somewhere. good article though mate.

Dave 7:41 pm, 16-Nov-2011

Griff you are prove that ex-smokers temd to become the biggest fascists! What has it got to do with your kids when i smoke in my car?

Tom 7:50 pm, 16-Nov-2011

Persecution of drinkers and smokers does my head in, I dont smoke I do binge drink on a weekend. I dont break the law I pay my taxes and if I want to drink myself to death young as opposed to sitting in my own shit in a nursing home in a long drawn out undignified and probably just as expensive affair. then I dont see why I shouldnt be allowed. Good article

cliff vicious 9:10 pm, 16-Nov-2011

Tobacco is a shit drug. Especially at this time of year. Get it off the shelves, get the taxes off more exciting drugs instead

Ron 9:12 pm, 16-Nov-2011

"if this next step to another nail in the fag coffin then this is a good thing surely!" - Looks like we've got a homophobe! I enjoy smoking, love it, and will still be sparking up in my car.

Knappa 9:28 pm, 16-Nov-2011

You've got more chance of being poisoned by vehicle emissions than by smoking in your own car - but instead of pouring the ridiculous amount of cash they've spent on anti-smoking/drinking campaigns into their much hyped "reducing the carbon footprint by 2020" turkey the government are actually back-peddling and cutting funding for it - thereby rendering the UK bottom of the eco league table and effectively helping to create a poisonous hellhole for future generations. Idiots.

Holden Caulfield 9:36 pm, 16-Nov-2011

I wonder if I'm the only one who, when undecided on which way to go, is more convinced to go 'for' something by a poorly constructed 'anti' rant than anything either side can do for themselves.

Nick 9:39 pm, 16-Nov-2011

Good article! I have to say, that whilst tobacco is a dangerous and incredibly addictive passtime to partake of. It is not the government's business whether or not I partake of it. If they want to tell me to live live live, then perhaps they shouldn't be sending good people to Afganistan to die die die, death is detrimental to your mental and physical health. It's all bullshit obviously as this article states. And the pub ban thing could have been dealt with by letting us CHOOSE to go to or work in a pub which allows smoking or not. We're not stupid and it's so annoying how the UK government is trying its best to amke us into a nation of obedient patsies. I personally am capable of thinking for myself and making my own decisions. For goodness sakes, Winston Churchill smoked. Fancy going up to him and telling him off.: )

Jabba De Hutt 10:22 pm, 16-Nov-2011

Smoking is incredibly unpleasant but these people need to calm down a bit. Next they'll be banning any mentions of the words "cigarette", "tobacco" and so on. Then they'll ban anyone from thinking about them. Aaargh...thought crimes!

Keith Wildman 11:16 pm, 16-Nov-2011

Rant. Yes. Poorly constructed? I'd like to think not. I'm a non smoker by the way, can't stand the smell, but it's the principle that's the issue here. Cliff, I'd legalise all drugs and get the tax in, but no politician will ever do that.

Nigel 11:25 pm, 16-Nov-2011

Even when I smoked, I didn't do so in my car for very long. It only took one lit fag dropped under my bollocks whilst doing 70mph to cure me of the need.

Robbo 11:58 pm, 16-Nov-2011

If smoking is a problem socially then ban pregnant women smoking too, and schoolkids, and politicians, and ........ everyone

Bazualdo 12:26 am, 17-Nov-2011

It's the people who smoke in cars when they have the kids in the back that sicken me, an for that reason, I'm for it in theory. In reality it's unpoliceable, and if that's not a word it bloody well should be

scooterslag 2:17 am, 17-Nov-2011

As a motorcyclist for 20 years I'm more worried about the DVD players, SAT NAVs and other distracting pieces of kit that will kill me a lot quicker than passive smoking. I still regularly see car drivers either on their mobile, eating a Mc -shite meal or even reading a paper! The Police must be thinking ' oh for fuck sake...' at the thought of trying to enforce another law. As for the 'health' advice dished out by numerous over paid NHS experts well what utter gash! the shite pumping out of the tail pipe of a 4x4 and other four wheel vehicles will kill the kids, trees and dolphins a lot quicker than a B&H at the traffic lights Oh by the way I smoke as well and I'm not some sort of tobacco nazi who will smoke without considering others.

griff 9:29 am, 17-Nov-2011

nick, you say we are not stupid. i disagree. i think on the whole people are stupid. risk for reward is hardwired into our brains. in the contest between nicotine high and possible death, the high wins most of the time. completely irrational. removing the passion from the argument for one second, if you look at the facts: highly addictive product, lethal to the user, very accessible. how do you ever break that cycle? the measures are being taken to stop the new adopters and aid the quitters by distancing the committed few from everyone else. i don't actually agree with the car proposal to be honest. you should be able to do what you want in the privacy of your motor. i was being argumentative.

Mick Jones 9:34 am, 17-Nov-2011

Not only should the NHS be thanking smokers and drinkers for the tax cash they receive, the world in general should be thanking us, do we really all want to live longer? The population is rising to silly amounts and the strain on resources is gonna sink the planet. We should be held up on a pedestal for doing our bit for population control!

Beverly 6:17 pm, 17-Nov-2011

"a ban from smoking in public slithers towards a ban on smoking by yourself. In your own property." I am assuming you think this would be a bad thing?

Holden Caulfield 7:33 pm, 17-Nov-2011

If people aren't responsible enough to protect their own kids should the government intervene? They obviously do in some cases, so the question really is, is smoking a special case? If the parents were taking presccribed methadone for their heroin addiction and they were giving a small amount to their children, is that any different. Obviuosly the 1984 question is lurking in the background and I doubt anybody really wants to start handing more elements of our free will over to the government but sometimes it's worth asking how any descision will be viewed from the future, will anybody look back in 100 years and think that, having asked the question, the government of the day actually decided it was better that parents were able to force second hand smoke on their children than to request them to stop.

Soul Girl 9:32 pm, 17-Nov-2011

I managed to finally quit smoking almost a year ago but know how hard it is. There is a danger from smoking, we all know that but it has to be an individual decision as willpower is required. CO2 emissions? Smoking contributes but nowhere near the same level as traffic. I am fortunate enough to live near my work place and walk to work and back but know I am still inhaling carbon monoxide. What should I do? Wear a mask? Now that I have quit smoking I have noticed that the petrol fumes are astonishing. Don't they affect everyone whether they drive/smoke or not? Even new born babies going home from hospital are subject to CO2 emissions from the moment they leave the hospital. This is a major issue which is being conveniently overlooked by those having a go at smokers. We will all, always have a CO2 reading because of this issue even if we have never smoked. Additionally, the cost of stop smoking products is a joke and it's a stretch of the imagination to say that the powers that be are trying to actually help people to stop. Too many people making too much money. I for one am not convinced by the intentions of these do gooders.

Keith Wildman 12:42 am, 18-Nov-2011

Well the BMA have had to retract their 23 times claims and amend their press realise removing 'realistic conditions'. As Jeremy Clarkson said the other day, maybe they should stick to putting their fingers up people's bottoms.

SavEcig 6:57 am, 18-Nov-2011

Unfortunately, smoking bans are inevitable. The busy-body politically correct crowd won't stop until they stop all smoking. Then they will wonder why their taxes have gone up to cover the loss cigarette tax revenue. I was against smoking bans until I switched to electronic cigarettes. I don't really care if they are safe or not. They are safer than burning tobacco leaves. No second-hand smoke, no tar, no smell, no cigarette taxes...and no smoking bans. To learn more

Bob 2:10 pm, 18-Nov-2011

Why do people say "I love to smoke and won't be stopping anytime soon"? - That is b*ll*cks! You are addicted to nicotine - so be honest with your self and all of us and just say that! I enjoy losing all my money at the bookies - I'm not addicted to gambling - honest! lol

Rhonda 6:25 pm, 18-Nov-2011

Back in 1988 I wrote a short story about the smoking being banned everywhere - even at home. There were "Smokeeasys" like in prohibition times. I did not realize I was seeing into the future! Good article!

Mr A 3:20 pm, 19-Nov-2011

Has anyone here actually read the article or looked at the links?! There IS no harm from smoking in cars. Commenters here going on about "harming children" and "giving methadone to children" and "it's sickening to see smoking in cars"... Let me just repeat. THERE IS NO HARM! The BMA lied. Not fudged the truth or told a half-truth or blurred the edges. They lied. There IS no report. There IS no evidence. They plucked that number from an anti-smoking press release from a 90s local newspaper. And now they're using this nonsense, aided by a generally stupid and/or complicit media to push their agenda. When they start saying that "one glass of wine can kill" (and they HAVE started saying that - I saw one of these fake charity fascists say, "There is no safe level of alcohol" only a few weeks ago - something which again is a palpable lie as demonstrated in every bar across the world every day), will you just sit back and say, "Meh, drinkers are smelly and belligerent anyway. Good."? It's not about smoking. It's not the fact that it's unenforceable. Hell, it's not even about civil liberties. It's about people blatantly making things up to advance an Establishment agenda, and a supposedly free Media that is utterly complicit with them. Presumably you'd be happy if some fake charity started saying gays were all peadophiles who could kill you with a touch? And yes, they have the compelling new evidence to prove it! And presumably you'd be equally laissez faire that few in the Media would bring them up on it despite the fact that their evidence was provably nonsense? Undoubtedly someone will chime in and say, "But gays and smokers isn't the same. It's a good thing, if people stop smoking." My answer is, who are you to judge that someone's lifestyle choices are good or bad? I could probably walk out my front door and find a lot of people who would say the same thing about gays "stopping gays from doing what they do" would be a "good thing", too. Show some tolerance and think about the bigger issues, for God's sake.

A-non smoker 4:18 am, 20-Nov-2011

“Just as drinkers are finally standing up this puritanical mass bullying, it’s up to smokers to do the same.” What a surprising comment at the end of such a good article! In my experience, most drinkers seem to be blissfully unaware that there’s any mass bullying going on at all, still less “standing up to” it! “Passive drinking.” “No safe level of alcohol.” “Drinking kills.” “Just one drink.” “Alcohol-free zone.” It’s all out there already and most of you haven’t even noticed – not really. That’s how “green” drinkers are when it comes to persecution. Take a look at the figures this very article quotes: “alcohol consumption has dropped by 9% since 2004.” Does anyone honestly believe that none of that drop – in ALL consumption, you’ll note, not just in pubs – is due to the steady drip, drip, drip of health scares and alcohol-related horror stories which have begun to pepper the mass media over the last few years?? None at all? Honestly? Jesus, to smokers – been there, seen the movie, got the tee-shirt – it’s like a big red alarm signal with bells on, but drinkers just go on, burying their sozzled little heads a bit further in the sand and saying: “It couldn’t happen. It won’t happen. We’re not smokers. We’re not hurting anyone else.” It can happen. It will happen. You’re the “new smokers.” And even if you aren’t hurting anyone else, believe me, these zealots will make damned sure that pretty much everyone else in the population thinks that you are. Just take a quick read of many of the comments on here to see how good they are it; then, if you are one of those commenters, stop and ponder for a moment the fact that if they managed to convince you about the harm smokers were doing to you (and, be honest, how much did you look into any of these "studies" when they were first announced?), then who says they can’t convince other people about the harm that YOU are doing to THEM ….? Standing up to mass bullying? I don’t think so! It takes a lot, lot more than a few angry blog rants, a few internet articles and a few supportive comments to form a meaningful defence against a foe which, whether drinkers are aware of it or not, is massing quietly in the wings, largely – for the moment – out of sight of the unsuspecting drinking public, specifically coached and tutored by those most seasoned campaigners of all, the anti-smoking movement, with their 40+ years of battle-hardened experience. Bullying? It hasn’t even got into first gear yet! Drinkers have got to get a lot more organised and they’ve got to do it fast, even if, for now, it seems like it’s premature. It isn’t. And they’ve got to spread their net a darned sight further than just the internet and their mates at the pub – those should be just the start. And – sorry to say it – but they’ve got to join forces with beleaguered smokers (particularly the non-drinking ones) if they want to succeed, because once all drinkers have been classified as “addicts” (yes, that’ll happen, too) then their opinions will be oh-so-easily brushed aside because, of course, all their arguments are “just the addiction talking,” not real people with real lives and real, valid opinions. Just don’t leave it too late because the consequences of that are … well, just nip outside and ask any smoker.

Keith Wildman 4:46 pm, 20-Nov-2011

Some great comments there. Maybe I was being slightly optimistic with the last paragraph but I'm probably looking at it from an ale drinker's perspective, where some small victories have been had recently, and there's an awareness of just what's going on.

The Baron 11:00 pm, 20-Nov-2011

Keith, that Moncler Maya bubble coat of yours looks like a Quality Street wrapper, but I agree with this article 100%. And I don't even smoke anymore.

Keith Wildman 11:28 pm, 20-Nov-2011

*nervously checks round pub*

Michael J. McFadden 10:49 am, 21-Nov-2011

SOUL GIRL: In terms of "emissions," I did some research several years back using SGR, EPA, and FAA figures on cigarettes and airplanes. In brief: A standard large airport with 500 takeoffs per day will produce the air pollution (NOx) of EIGHT AND A HALF BILLION cigarettes ... per day! And that nice "fresh" air will get sucked into the smoking banned passenger terminals where a few dozen smokers off in a corner "smoking pub" were blamed for poisoning everyone. Sheeesh! . . . . . . . NON-SMOKER and KEITH W: In terms of "them" coming for drinkers: the final Appendix in "Brains" is "Beyond Tobacco...." where I looked at the future plans for alcohol. . . . . . . . JABBA: you talk about them coming after mentioning the word "cigarette" and you think you're joking. You're not: the SmokeFreeFilm folks count the word as a "smoking event" and want it to force an R-Rating on movies. . . . . . . Yes, drinkers SHOULD get together with smokers and anyone else who wants to keep intrusive levels of government out of our lives. Check out, SmokersClub, and for more. . . . . . . . Michael J. McFadden, Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

Marie Sykes 1:02 pm, 26-Nov-2011

I must admit I hate to see people smoking in cars when they have kids in there, but if someone wants to kill themself while driving then it should be their choice surely? I smoked for over 20 years but never smoked near my kids, but now I use electronic cigarettes so I can smoke anywhere I like :-) see

Beverly 5:20 am, 2-Dec-2011

"but now I use electronic cigarettes so I can smoke anywhere I like" well there is your trouble!... You have bought the e-cigarette media hype that this is safe and OK...and you want to believe this because it has helped you to stop smoking tobacco rod cigarettes. But here is the reality of your choice... If you use the electronic cigarette around your children they are more likely to become tobacco smokers. At the every least they are more likely to become nicotine addicts no matter what the delivery system is. All research indicates that this probability is much higher for your children than for children from non smoking parents who make it clear that they disapprove so smoking or nicotine delivery of any kind..

Jesper 5:23 pm, 16-Dec-2011

Great piece! :) I'm working on an iPhone app to help smokers locate public places to smoke. Take a look here - Maybe it could be helpful? :)

Kayla 9:48 pm, 10-Jan-2012

"Smoking kills you!" Whine, whine, whine. Yes, but you know what else, Sparky? Living kills you. Yes, your cells are dying every day, and even though the cilia and alveoli in you lungs may be perfectly healthy, you may die in a car crash tomorrow, while I'll be happily puffing away for the next couple of decades or however long I'm cursed to be around. You know what it is? It's mostly other women who heckle me about smoking - WOMEN. Because they can't mind their own BUSINESS. Men leave me alone, and if I can tell they don't like it they just swing a wide berth ...or I'll move away.

Kayla 9:50 pm, 10-Jan-2012

Alright alright. If you all get to call smoking a habit only for "morons" I get to heckle fat people and call them "losers" for choosing to eat publicly at burger king when they clearly need to be hitting up their local 24 hour gym instead. What's the difference? I don't want my children influenced by this fattie and what they're eating. By the way, I'm being totally facetious for those of you who don't have a sarcasm radar.

bruce fisher 6:03 pm, 10-Feb-2012

great article.. glad the words are out there and people are nodding!.. and you make me laugh too... and soo happy Griff was the 1st comment or I'd have missed it (translated:I stank I was dying fast.. but being cold & wet that time was worse)

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