Thursday 21 July 2011


As you may have read elsewhere, Paul Bartlett's outdoor smoking ban was crushed on Tuesday evening. None of the nine other councillors were prepared to second the motion and only Bartlett was prepared to speak out in favour of it.

One speaker asked for a show of hands to see how many people in the room supported Councillor Bartlett's proposals. There were around 150 people in attendance and only 2 people raised their hands - one of those was Councillor Bartlett himself.

When it became apparent that nobody was prepared to second Councillor Bartlett's proposals, there were calls from some members of the public for him to also withdraw the proposal that had been moved to the 20th September. Other people were calling on Councillor Bartlett to resign from his position on the Town Council.

148 votes to 2. Ouch. The proposal may or may not re-emerge on 20 September. If it does, it looks certain to be rejected.

When Cllr Bartlett stood up to speak on his motions, he was heckled by the crowd on several occasions.

How very unfortunate.

Following this, several members of the public called for Cllr Bartlett's resignation.

Excellent. As I mentioned in a previous post, such was the degree of public interest that the meeting was held in the church, rather than the town hall. Hence this amusing announcement from the vicar:

This prompted Father Ross Northing, who later spoke out against a ban, to remind people where they were, and ask them to refrain from swearing and using the Lord's name in vain.

Sounds like a heated, if one-sided, debate. The majority made themselves heard, Bartlett was put in his place and all is right with the world.

What can we learn from this little episode? Firstly, I think, it tells us that we in Britain have not yet succumbed to the hypochondria and misanthropy of those few parts of California that have banned smoking outdoors. This is no great surprise—California is in a league of its own when it comes to health hysteria. The next phase of the anti-smoking crusade depends heavily on smokers being regarded as second- or third-class citizens and it's pleasing to see that this kind of bigotry is not thriving, at least in Stony Stratford.

Secondly, and more importantly, while Bartlett is a strange and risible fellow, his initiative brought out the true colours of the Department of Health and their astro-turf group ASH, both of whom came out in favour of the idea. Those of us who have been following the tobacco control movement have known where these people are heading for some time, but it is only in the last week that the public has seen beyond doubt that they are—properly defined—anti-smoking fanatics.

Most nonsmokers have not been adversely affected by the 2007 smoking ban and they are entirely indifferent to issues such as the display ban and plain packaging. Why wouldn't they be? Regardless of whether they buy into the passive smoking panic, it is easy for them to believe that the 2007 ban was a legitimate health and safety measure, albeit one that went too far.

But the outdoor ban is an entirely different animal. As brazen as they might be, none of the anti-tobacco extremists have been able to bring themselves to pretend that smoking out of doors poses a health threat to others. Bartlett's talk about germs on cigarette butts and children being burnt in the street has rightly been dismissed as the ravings of a lunatic. Instead, the case was made on the openly authoritarian grounds that this is for your own good.

It hasn't worked—on the contrary, it has induced a wave of revulsion—but it is a watershed moment insofar at it marks the point when all pretense of this being about nonsmokers' rights was finally dropped and the paternalism became overt. I would expect ASH et al., to regroup and revert to the Fabian tactics of infringing liberties incrementally, but the cat is out of the bag. We know where they stand.


James Higham said...

There were around 150 people in attendance and only 2 people raised their hands - one of those was Councillor Bartlett himself.

Any idea who the other one was?

Anonymous said...

I think Bartlett had both hands up!

Christopher Snowdon said...


The only person any journalist has found who supports it is one Helaine Whiteside. From The Guardian...

Though none of the people against the ban had ever met anybody who was in favour of it, I did find one. Helaine Whiteside said: "I think it would be good. Because of the nature of the town the pubs don't have gardens. Many are old coaching inns so the outside space is filled with the coaching houses, which people live in. So smokers have to stand on the street and they don't clean up after themselves."

Perhaps it was her?

Fredrik Eich said...

'The likelihood of developing the disease rises 16 per cent for every extra four inches in height among women - and a similar pattern is also seen in men. ...
Sara Hiom, director of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: "Tall people need not be alarmed by these results.
"Most people are not a lot taller (or shorter) than average, and their height will only have a small effect on their individual cancer risk.'

I can't wait for CRUK to assure us that passive smoking is nothing to be alarmed about.

Anonymous said...

It couldn't be a work related objection, could it?

Anonymous said...

ASH will sink without in the first wave.
(Well it usually does when I smoke in the bath) .-) !

Anonymous said...

Bartlett must be an embarrassment to Ash. He went too fast. The idea is to bring in outdoor bans where they are least likely to affect anyone in reality and where children are involved. Bartlett tried to bring in children, but in a very stupid way.

Hakney are apparently intent upon bring in a ban in children's playgrounds in parks, but not elsewhere in the parks. Very clever! How many will be affected? Males dare not approach playgrounds unless they have children there, for fear of a mother with a mobile reporting a suspicious looking man loitering. Thus, a precedent will be set.

But we must think about the question: "What precedent?"

If there are no objections (and there almost certainly will not be), then a precedent has been set which ENTENDS THE LAW. Without Parliament debating the matter. THE LAW will change itself to include the open air, rather than 'substantially enclosed places'. The Sec of State for Health has the power to agree to these extensions according to the Act - maybe. Thus, if more councils adopt such a rule, the Sec of State will be simply rubber-stamping the 'status quo' - no problem.

What has amazed me over these last few weeks has been the depth of infiltration of Tobacco Control into national institutions. They are all over the place. How much is this costing? No wonder people are talking of hundreds of millions, nay, even billions, of pounds.

Anonymous said...

WTG 150-2 an excellent outcome!

Hard for ASH to try and use one of its BOGUS POLLS NOW!

Magnetic said...

Was on a General Practitioner website and noticed a very recent comment (24 July) posted by Herr Paul Bartlett seeking advice. The Herr is unrepentant and hasn’t given up the “cause”; he still wants “to make history” with an outdoor smoking ban. He doesn’t seem to have a clue concerning what he refers to as “so-called” civil liberties.