Smoke and mirrors behind the U-turn…

THE fiasco over the introduction of a smoking ban in the UK doesn’t just show how the Government is in complete disarray on the issue, it demonstrates the level of contempt it has for Northern Ireland. Announcing the ban here earlier this month, the Health Minister (a heavy smoker until recently) said “no-one has a right to subject colleagues and workmates to the dangers and hazards of second-hand smoke and passive smoking. No-one has a right to subject members of the public who do not smoke to those same dangers in enclosed public spaces.” So if that’s true, why not introduce it in England?And odd that a former (Scottish) Secretary of State (a heavy smoker until recently) should keep his powder dry when complete bans were proposed for Northern Ireland and Scotland, but create chaos in the Cabinet when the same was proposed for England and Wales.

I wonder how the ban will go down in Ballymena. The DUP is all in favour of a ban, but one of the biggest employers in Ballymena is the tobacco manufacturer Gallaher’s – in the heart of the DUP leader’s constituency and strongly opposed to the ban. How will he explain all those lost jobs?

And aren’t the DUP the least bit paranoid that they are party to an all-Ireland policy on smoking – one that doesn’t exist for the UK! ;o)

And contrary to the BBC’s repeated reporting that a ban was “agreed in Northern Ireland”, it certainly wasn’t – it was imposed. Remember Direct Rule? You only thought you were consulted.

  • Dualta

    Well, it’s hardly a vote loser for them in the wee six, is it?
    Still, the sooner it’s introduced the better.

  • Pete Baker

    Yeah.. Gonzo.. I know..

    When Democracy gets in the way

  • Yep – there was a consultation and most people (3/4?) voted in favour of an outright ban. This is in marked contrast to the consulation on the 11+ were 60-70% favoured retention of Academic Selection and the minister responsible decided to ignore the findings of the consultation he organised when he found the results weren’t the ones he wanted.

    If that’s your idea of democracy …

  • Slapnuts

    I would have thought it was quite simple.

    Scotland, big Labour heartland, vote loss minimal.
    Wales, big Labour heartland, vote loss minimal.
    Northern Ireland, no seats fought, direct rule, we can do what we want.
    England, think of the votes!

  • I wonder what position Gordon Brown took on the smoking ban?
    It can’t be a comfortable debate for him, given that his position on the Westlothian question (as relayed by Charlie Whelan) is don’t ask it.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Yeah Pete, but I put it so much more elequantly.


  • Pete Baker

    More elequantly, maybe.. but not more eloquently..

    *kidding too*

  • Belfast Gonzo

    *slaps self on wrist*

    Pete, thy name is nit-picker.

  • Jo

    John Reid and Gordon supported the fudge exlcusing working mens clubsm, which will compund the health inequalities between the betetr off and the poorest. 8000 of 90000 locally were against the ban – far mroe than 60-60% in favour. I carried some pieces on JOBLOG.

  • pakman

    Actually the fiasco relates to the introduction of the ban in England – the rest of the UK has managed this easily enough.

  • Brian Boru

    No-one has the right to give someone else cancer. This ban is also welcome in that it means that there is less incentive for Southern pub-goers to take their custom to Northern pubs so they can smoke there.

  • stu


    I suppose that means we’ll have to stop chemists selling deoderant, because that gives you cancer, or fishmongers selling salmon because it gives you cancer.

  • ‘I suppose that means we’ll have to stop chemists selling deoderant, because that gives you cancer, or fishmongers selling salmon because it gives you cancer.’

    Stu, be sensible, its your choice to buy salmon,smoked or otherwise, if it does give you cancer its you alone who is affected, whereas those who smoke can affect those around them, who i presume don’t actually want to obtain cancer.
    Its like someone shooting a gun, your freedom to shoot in the countryside, maybe a few clay pigeons but you shouldn’t be able to shoot it off in a pub.
    Hopefully that will be the end of senseless analogies..

  • stu


    I’m not disputing that smoking is harmful to people’s health but I take objection to Brian’s view that ‘No-one has the right to give someone else cancer’ because it’s a silly blanket statement that comes from fuzzy logic, just like my own conjecture. I don’t think that a state has the right to stop groups of people from consenting to smoke indoors if they wish; what about someone who wanted to open a smoking club?

    Let’s not forget exactly how harmful drinking is; anytime you get more than tipsy, you’re binge-drinking (ask your doctor), plus you have all the anti-social problems, yet it’s the smokers who have to pay for it.

  • Hi stu

    Ok, smoking clubs could by-pass the gist behind the laws to protect others from harmful smoke and smokers would have a debatable point.
    You mention alcohol, of course in excess its dangerous and i’m sure there are many who would have smoking and alcohol lumped in with illegal drugs and ban them all. Smoking groups say we can’t curb smoking, well why do we curb cannabis? Society has consented to this ban and out of alcohol and smoking then smoking is the only one that affects others directly, so its the softer target for those who want a drug-free society.
    Its the role of society leaders to ensure there is foundations for a healthy society, if you say we can’t ban smoking in public places then we shouldn’t really be able to ban ecstasy in private usage? If alcohol let off poisonous fumes that affected others around them, then it too would be in the firing line, its not a smokist thing.
    I look forward to going to a pub and not having smoke in me eyes and lungs and having a benign pint..