Tag Archives: smoking ban

A smoking ban isn’t “unconservative” – but it is illiberal

Oxford University Liberal Democrats graduate and worst prime minister ever, Liz Truss, raised eyebrows last week by describing the government’s Tobacco and Vapes Bill as “unconservative”. This is rather odd, because the Conservative instinct has always been to ban the things they don’t like. They didn’t like the idea that children might find out that gay people exist, so they banned teachers from talking about them. They didn’t like that people in Scotland might be able to self-identify as trans, so they banned the Scottish government from allowing it. And, most pertinent to what I am writing about now, they don’t like (most) recreational substances, so for the past several decades they’ve wedded themselves to the disastrous so-called War on Drugs.

Conservatives have a very shallow understanding of what freedom is, and when a conservative starts talking about freedom, alarm bells should start ringing. What these rebel Tories mean by freedom is the freedom for people like them to continue doing the things that people like them have traditionally done, such as hunting foxes, making racist jokes, or in this particular case, smoking tobacco. It generally does not include things that people who are not like them want to do, such as protesting peacefully, being transgender, or smoking cannabis. Unfortunately for them, Rishi Sunak has realised that he’s only got a few months left in Downing Street to scrape together some sort of meagre legacy, and so now Truss and her friends are experiencing the cognitive dissonance that comes from a conservative government approaching smoking in a conservative way.

So no, Liz, our esteemed former comrade, a smoking ban is not un-conservative. Banning a health risk and deploying our overstretched police in a futile forever-war against it is actually a very conservative thing to do (and also a very Labour thing to do, but that’s neither here nor there). Conservatives have never understood true freedom; that is the liberal domain. Which is why-…. Wait, what do you mean, the Lib Dems voted for this?!

Let’s backtrack a bit. I was raised with a pretty simple message: drugs are bad and I shouldn’t do them. I’ve still never done them. However, when I was seventeen, I discovered that some of my friends had smoked cannabis. The idea that they could be treated as criminals for this disturbed me, and it was a big moment in my teenage journey towards embracing liberalism. I joined the Liberal Democrats a few months later, and I’ve enthusiastically supported our position on cannabis ever since. Friends in the party have been campaigning for legalisation for far longer than I have.

To be very clear, the failure of the parliamentary party to oppose this smoking ban has possibly fatally undermined our campaign on cannabis. Watching the leadership tying itself in knots trying to explain how these positions somehow aren’t incompatible by means of weapons-grade centrist nuance was embarrassing.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 22 Comments

LibLink: John Leech – Smoking ban working

No smokingOn his blog, John Leech MP, reminds us that there has been a 12% decrease in childhood asthma since the smoking ban was introduced in 2007 (with Scotland leading the way a year earlier).

Smoking is an issue I feel passionate about; I have long supported campaigns to ban smoking in public spaces. However, I believe we need to go further and that research finding such as these studies should give us that impetus. In February of last year I signed an Early Day Motion (EDM 2724) that noted “the

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 10 Comments

John Hemming MP: Why I’m calling for a review of the smoking ban

The smoking ban was a good example of how the UK tends to make bad law.

The debate at the time was whether or not to pass a smoking ban rather than how to handle the issue of smoking in public places – hence people were either for or against.

I supported, and still support, a general smoking ban. However, at the time it seemed clear to me that there was a strong argument for having ventilated smoking rooms.

What has developed is a situation where a number of pubs and clubs have lost custom with people drinking and smoking at …

Posted in Op-eds | 76 Comments
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