Do smokers have rights too?

Kim Stone, Landlady of the Barley Mow!

Kim Stone, Landlady of the Barley Mow!

Rather to my surprise, on Saturday May 31st I found myself addressing a meeting at the Barley Mow pub in Granby Street, Leicester, and calling for a review of the smoking ban which has led to a serious loss of business for many pubs and bars in the city .  The meeting took place in the up-stairs bar of the pub, which before the ban would have been full of customers.  It was organised by Phil Johnson of Freedom2Choose, a campaigning group, and attended by members of the licensed trade concerned about the impact of the smoking on their businesses.
Now of course I myself am a non-smoker, and I hate smoking.  But I believe that the decision to smoke is a personal choice that grown-up people are entitled to make.  There has to be a balance between the rights of non-smokers to fresh air, and the right of smokers to smoke.  A system of smoking areas or ventilated smoking rooms in licensed premises could protect the rights of both groups.  The current legislation challenges smokers’ fundamental right to choose their own life-style.
They tell us that smoking is dangerous, and I’m sure that’s true.  So is drinking.  So is driving, and mountaineering, and bungee-jumping.  Politicians have to learn that responsible citizens must be free to take risks.  The Nanny State must back off and let free adults make informed choices.
I had the opportunity to talk to a number of licensees whose livelihoods are under threat as a direct result of the ban.  There’s no compensation for them.  And half their customers are out on the pavement, or at the back under make-shift awnings like second-class citizens.  I can understand their sense of grievance.
I certainly don’t want to promote smoking.  But on this occasion, I was promoting freedom to choose.

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14 Responses to Do smokers have rights too?

  1. Malcolm Edward says:

    Er .. freedom. Thats not the New Labour way!

    Gordon is listening – he loves to hear our pain.

  2. mandyv says:

    Thank you for the article, I was at the meeting and enjoyed you talk. Why are they not compensating places like the Barley Mow? it was forced on them, they paid the prisoners compensation. Those people unfortunate to be in mental units have being forced a non-smoking policy onto them. I think it is cruel and inhumane and I am so angry about it all. I am angry that one of the longest studies ever done into smoking/passive smoking, never gets a mention, just because it does not conform to the anti agenda. Ventilation should have been one of the options also, I am married to a lifelong non-smoker, he will say the smoking ban has killed the pubs/atmosphere. No-one was ever banned from opening their own smokefree venues. Yet smokers cannot even have smoking venues, it is crazy, where it is going is scary. The truth it appears is unimportant to the Labour party, but very important to many of it’s voters.
    OK sorry rant over – thank you again, thank you for fighting for freedom of choice and looking at your links to the side, it follows my views also, so I will look forward to reading them. for tolerant non-smokers and smokers alike

  3. tug wilson says:

    I was also at the meeting in Leicester and would like to thank Roger for the chat we had before the meeting started,can i say that he shows something that our so called NuLabour Government does not, Common Sense,the meeting was about people in this Country who demand the right to make a free choice,adult smoking voters,the very people who put Labour in power,based on their pre-election manifesto,which we now know were lies,we all know the Hospitality Industry is in tatters thanks in no small measure to this total smoking ban and it is time for it to go.Talking to Roger was a pleasure and his talk to us all at the meeting just let us know that common sense is not dead and that there are MPs who listen,many thanks,Tug.

  4. Keyser Sose says:

    Before the smoking ban what choice did non
    smokers have? Freedom to passive smoke !
    Typical selfish Tory attitude, ‘I’m all right Jack
    and fuck everyone else.’

  5. Roger Helmer says:

    Keyser, before you get carried away with your own profanity, you might bother to read what I actually said about balancing the rights of smokers and non-smokers.

  6. Barney Breet says:

    Thank you for some common sense,fairness, and standing up for freedom of choice. There is enough meddling of governments in people’s personal lives!
    Keep up the good work of promoting tolerance and fair comprimise1

  7. Suz says:

    I too find myself an advocate for freedom except on the issue of smoking. Unlike other vices, smoking direct affects others who are in the vicinity. If you are healthy, your at risk if you are unhealthy, it creates a life or death situation. ( IE. my 3 year old asthmatic daughter or my 11 year old nephew w/heart problems.) Smoking is a vice that cannot be contain. Stanford University has proven outdoor second hand smoke from is just as dangerous as secondhand smoke receive from indoor use. its even worse than the emissions from a car. People and children who choose not to smoke need their freedom to be advocate. Cities, multi housing units, parks all need to be protected from the affects of second hand smoke. If there was a healthy way for the smokers to smoke w/out affecting their environment, we would be here discussing this issue. you may want to check out this you tube clip –

  8. UK Voter says:

    There should have been a balance here between the rights of smokers and non-smokers, instead, the government introduced a draconian law which penalised, not to mention demonised a significant proportion of the electorate. Few ‘considerate’ smokers would smoke when in the company of non-smokers and it was probably self-governing, this draconoan ban was in my view (as an ex-smoker) just too heavy handed.

    One other thing that should be consided, with some 85% of the cost of a packet of cigarettes going back to the government, if everyone was to give up smoking tomorrow, we would all witness a very significant rise in taxation. Yes, I know there are health issues, but truth be told, smokers make a massive contribution to tax coffers.

  9. Sharon Bandertan says:

    Smoke if you want to. I don’t smoke anymore, I’m not against anyone doing so. I prefer not to have smoke blown in my face so I’d say back to Saloon and Public Bars. People are really clever like that – choosing not to go to a smokey bar if they don’t like it.
    Once again this Govt. love to put one group against another – DIVISION – divide and rule. I feel very sorry for the unfortunate Lepers who huddle outside their place of work and made to feel unwanted and unclean. What are we allowing this Govt. to do to our own people.

  10. Irl Johnson says:

    When it comes to our freedom, well it is being taken away, with out even a fight. You can not smoke but you can drink. You can drink because the politicians are a bunch of drunks. No new taxes on there drinking or bans.

  11. Shakassoc says:

    Irl Johnson wrote:
    ‘…You can not smoke but you can drink. You can drink because the politicians are a bunch of drunks. No new taxes on there [sic] drinking or bans.’

    Actually, Irl, it is worse than you say. The only workplace in the UK where it remains legal to smoke is — you guessed it — the Palace of Westminster.

  12. kmf says:

    Those talking about health concerns for their asthma, please consider this: those that wear STRONG, OFFENSIVE perfume also take the breath of astmatics, right? Why not ban perfume & cologne…put a ban on strong smells, gas, exhaust..etc. There has to be a stop to all of this, a happy medium for all concerned. Smokers are willing to step outside (at least 25 ft now), so why can’t non smokers give alittle. Just my 2 cents.

  13. Political Noob says:

    I see no reason why the choice should not be down to the venue, apart from the fact that the majority would allow smoking as they are losing income otherwise, and that is not what the government wants. Does not really effect me as I rarely drink, I have not been in a pub at all since the smoking ban.

  14. William Ferguson says:

    Why does the EU give some of it’s CAP money to tobacco farmers?
    In some areas of London children have a 1/3 lower lung capacity that outside London. Car and Lorry emmissions.
    Before the ban on smoking in the workplace the tax from cigarettes paid for all cancer sufferers in the NHS and more, not just lung cancer. When all the smokers quit who is going to pay? Heck, with Labour lurching from crisis to crisis, who can afford to pay. I know the MP’s and bankers in Govt owned banks, but I doubt they would want taxed that high

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