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Stony Stratford set to ban smoking in all public places

By jon-q, Jul 1, 2011 | | |
  1. jon-q
    A campaign has been launched to outlaw smoking in all public places in Stony Stratford near Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.

    If passed, the new bylaw would mean anyone caught lighting up in the historic market town would face a fine.

    Senior politicians on the town’s council have indicated their support for the scheme, which comes after the mayor of New York banned smoking from parks and beaches in the US city last month.

    The town’s council will discuss the concept next month before Milton Keynes Council is likely to be asked to use its powers to introduce the ban.

    Stony Stratford Councillor Paul Bartlett, who is leading the campaign, said: "When you walk through the high street in any town, smoke is in your face and harming you and any children there.

    "Smokers then get their butt, which is full of saliva, and chuck it on the floor. It costs millions to clear street rubbish.”

    The ban, which would be the first of its kind in the country, would be enforced by Police Community Support Officers, traffic wardens and members of the public.

    Cllr Robert Gifford, chairman of town’s council, described the ban as "appealing".

    "A result of the smoking ban is that smokers now go outside and drop their cigarette butts all over the streets," he said.

    "In principle the idea of a street smoking ban is appealing, but there may be other solutions to the problem of second hand smoke and litter."

    The idea has received mixed reactions, with some smokers in the area complaining that fining people for lighting up outdoors is excessive.

    Anne Gregory, 56, a smoker from Stony Stratford, said: "I agree that it's disgusting when cigarette butts get thrown on the floor but it would be nice to see more bins around instead.

    "A smoking ban is taking it too far. Saying there is a risk of passive smoking when you're walking down the street is ridiculous.

    "Nobody likes a smoker in your face but it's no bother if you're outside."

    Amanda Sandford, spokeswoman for Action on Smoking and Health, said the move in Stony Stratford would make it the first place in Britain to impose a total ban on smoking in public.

    She said: "Passive smoking is very unpleasant and we are already seeing the health benefits of the indoors ban with a fall in heart and lung disease.

    "An unintended consequence of the indoor smoking ban is that more smokers are on the streets dropping litter and this ban would prevent that.

    "We have heard of councils banning smoking on play parks and beaches but this would be the first blanket ban on smoking in Britain."

    Murray Wardrop
    The Telegraph 29th June 2011


  1. jon-q
    Smokers and Non-Smokers Alike Should Unite Against the Petty Authoritarianism of Stony Stratford Councillors

    It's been four years since the sight of smokers huddling together outside pubs in order to enjoy a cigarette became the norm as a result of the illiberal ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces being introduced in England. Far from being satisfied with this infringement on peoples' freedom to smoke, anti-smoking campaigners are still making vociferous calls to extend the ban, with councillors from a small Buckinghamshire town proposing it becomes the first place in the country to impose a blanket ban on smoking on its streets.

    It's remarkable how the rhetoric used by anti-smoking campaigners shifts. Unable to use the dangers of passive smoking - which was one of the primary reasons given for banning smoking in pubs - as a particularly convincing argument for restricting smoking outdoors, they instead hunt for other reasons to clamp down on people's ability to smoke.

    A whole barrage of arguments have been tried and tested: people smoking in public are effectively advertising their habit to children, cigarette butts are covered in diseases, outdoor heaters outside pubs lead to climate change, smoking areas outside pubs lead to congestion on pavements and noise pollution. Campaigners even want to ban smoking outdoors simply on the grounds that it's smelly (What next? People with BO being unable to leave their houses?) In a move that shows just how puritanical campaigners are, some are even so offended by the sight of cigarettes they want to ban the smoking of e-Cigarettes, which produce relatively harmless, odourless steam.

    Certainly councillors in the market town of Stony Stratford in Buckinghamshire are marshalling many of these arguments to call for a bylaw that would clamp down on smoking in public places. The Daily Mail quotes local councillor Paul Bartlett, as wanting to implement the ban because: 'Why should people have the freedom to smoke in my face, pass on diseases and spoil the environment? ... Smokers then get their butt, which is full of saliva, and chuck it on the floor. It costs millions to clear street rubbish, and goodness knows what a child could pick up from them.'

    Following this dodgy logic, would Bartlett also favour bans on chewing gum and drinking from bottles, cans and cups which contain people's saliva in case they chucked them on the floor? Why single out smoking? Surely, if littering is such a problem, then the solution should be to tackle that rather than trying to ban the sources of rubbish.

    Bartlett's contempt for the idea that people should have the 'freedom' to engage in a habit that he dislikes is also of great concern. Who does he think he is to deprive other people of their own freedom to choose? Certainly if people blow smoke in his face, he should feel perfectly free to challenge them about it. (As a non-smoker myself, I find that smokers are usually extremely polite if you ask them nicely to blow their smoke in a different direction.) But such irritants should be dealt with informally, not through legislating to ban smoking outside completely.

    It's worrying that there has been little furore over the proposed ban in Stony Stratford, despite the fact the Independent seemed hard-pressed to find a single person who supported such a ban during a recent visit to the town. It suggests that, while public opinion isn't in favour of such a blanket ban - as it wasn't before the smoking ban in enclosed public spaces was implemented - policies pushed forward by those with authoritarian tendencies, such as Councillor Bartlett, may be met with a reluctant shrug rather than strong opposition.

    Which is why it was heartening to attend an event at the House of Commons organised by the Save Our Pubs and Clubs campaign as it lobbied MPs at last week. Four years on from the smoking ban, you might expect campaigners to be dispirited, but from the fighting talk of Simon Clark, director of Forest (the Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco), alongside artist David Hockey and others, it's clear there is plenty of fight left in the pro-smoking lobby.

    Even if, like me, you don't smoke, there are important reasons to oppose the smoking ban and attempts to further expand it. The smoking ban is just one example of an increasing trend by the state to interfere in our private choices and restrict the freedom of public spaces. We are perfectly able to make decisions for ourselves and negotiate relationships without the need for laws to do this for us. People should be free to smoke in public spaces, but the government's nasty habit of creeping petty authoritarianism needs to be stubbed out completely.

    Patrick Hayes
    Huffingtonpost 7th July 2011
  2. Yail Bloor
    I swear to christ if this ever happens in Canada I'm going to loose my fucking mind. I'd definately go out of my way to see if it's worth the fuckers time to chase me for a ticket. Whats next? You know what? Lets put all the smokers on an iron barge and send the fuckers out to the middle of the ocean, hell, we're not welcome anywere else anyway.
  3. Terrapinzflyer
    having waffled between smoker and ex-smoker my whole life (currently a smoker) I obviously have some mixed feelings. But ultimately- tobacco is one of the most addictive and deadly drugs, with remarkably little benefit to the user. And having spent most of my smoking years smoking roll your own, organic, additive free tobacco I will say I find the smell of smoked mass produced cigarettes absolutely disgusting.

    While I don't think tobacco itself should be banned per se, I do not see any reason tobacco companies should be allowed to foist the convenient addiction on folks, and I really have no problem with controls on tobacco use in public spaces- the rights of those who have avoided the addiction trump that of those who have succumbed.
  4. [tanarilla.]
    We might as well just ban ugly people from going outside. Children see ugly, do ugly!
  5. jon-q
    Is this the Britain of Victor Meldrew or Withnail and I?

    I can't work out what the British public is most wedded to – civil liberties, private enterprise or fags. Paul Bartlett, a Tory councillor in Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire, has introduced a motion to ban smoking in all public places. Even outside. If it succeeds, Stony Stratford will have the first smoke-free high street in the UK.

    "Everybody who lives in Stony, everybody who shops in Stony, truly loves Stony," Susi Whittaker told me from the gallery she runs in the high street. "Hence the bunting, baskets and flowers. Everybody wants to keep this a thriving market town. Nobody supports him. People who don't smoke don't support him. People who have kids and don't smoke don't support him."

    Bartlett is well known for his zero tolerance views. He's a kind of mayor Giuliani for Milton Keynes or to put it another way "a total twat". So said Stony resident Gina Sherwood. "I think it's absurd. There are too many people against it. I don't know one person who is for it."

    Bartlett's rationale is that walking up any high street you get smoke in your face which harms you and your children. It's an argument that has already worked in some part of America. The first city to go nuclear on the issue was Calabasas, California, which has had a ban on smoking outdoors since 2006. New York banned smoking from its parks and beaches last month, around the same time it legalised same-sex marriage. But such legislation sticks in the nicotined craw of British smokers, who point out that when you're outdoors there's a proliferation of fresh air.

    Resistance is not limited to smokers, however. Whittaker doesn't smoke nor does Zoe Bridgewood, who also ticks the parent box. She said: "This is just victimising people. Can't we just be non-smokers? Why do we have to be anti-smokers?"

    Matthew, who works in an estate agency in the town, said: "It's quite la-di-da around here. Not many people smoke. So it might send house prices up a bit.

    But they're too high anyway. I think it's a bit silly."

    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."

    This is a pub-centric and strangely familiar place, partly because it features the famous Cock and Bull pubs, from which the phrase "a cock and bull story" derives, and also because this is where the film A Cock and Bull Story was shot.

    It's also where Withnail and I was filmed, and everyone here seems extremely proud of this.

    The town represents a dichotomy of two very distinct strands of Britishness – the Victor Meldrewish tendency to find everybody else annoying, especially when they're doing something noisy or smelly, and the Withnail Britishness of drinking until you're sick and finding it really amusing.

    The purity of this war makes everybody's position more robust, and as certain as the local councillors are of success – many from both parties support the ban – so the opponents are sure they will overturn it, if necessary, with sheer attitude.

    Tim, a 62-year-old smoker, said: "There's a groundswell of outrage about this suggestion." But will this be enough? What does a groundswell even look like? "Petitions have already gone around. We'll go on Tuesday and protest outside the meeting."

    It's hard to say at this point how the division looks, whether all the people in favour of the ban are are councillors, and will have a vote on it, while all those opposed are outside the process, with only as much sway as a banner and a sense of outrage can provide.

    Perhaps this is what such decisions looked like in America; the non-smokers on one side of the process – possibly having better access to the corridors of power because they don't waste time standing around outside smoking – and a load of baffled onlookers, wondering what just happened.

    Zoe Williams
    Guardian 15th July 2011
  6. jon-q
    The latest on the Stony Stratford smoking ban

    A warning from a vicar and calls for resignations were all part of an extraordinary meeting of Stony Stratford Town Council last night (Tuesday).

    The meeting had to be moved into the main part of St Mary and St Giles' Church, on the High Street, to accommodate more than 100 members of the public who turned out to hear Councillor Paul Bartlett move two motions related to the proposed smoking ban.

    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.

    Although any motion for an actual ban is now expected to take place at the next meeting on September 20 after being postponed by Cllr Bartlett, he made two motions which stated 'the town council does not condone smoking and its health risks', and for the council to encourage businesses to prevent disease, injury, litter, smoke and illnesses.

    Several members of the public spoke in opposition to the motions, including Steven Simon, who had travelled from Leeds for the meeting, and Ross Ellens, treasurer of the town's business association.

    Mr Ellens said: "We have undertaken research as to the public views on the ban, we have canvassed our members, and the response has been 82 per cent against the ban.

    "We have had comments that it would be the death knell to many businesses in Stony Stratford.

    "The business association is absolutely against this ban."

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

    He said: "I think that this can be a unique opportunity tonight to actually say that we are committed to the good health of our residents."

    But when he officially moved his motions, none of his nine fellow councillors were willing to second either of them, so they both failed.

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

    MK News 20th July 2011
  7. jon-q
    Votes of no confidence at Stony Stratford Town Council

    Councillor Paul Bartlett, who proposed a controversial blanket ban on smoking in Stony Stratford's streets, lost a motion of a vote of no confidence in the town council's chairman, Rob Gifford, on Tuesday night.

    Cllr Bartlett withdrew the motion with regards to the smoking ban until a later date, as he believes it should be broadcast for those not able to make the meeting.

    But this would be in contravention of the council's rules, or standing orders, and so has been initially blocked - something he has accused Cllr Gifford of breaking the standing orders by doing.

    So on Tuesday night, he motioned a vote of no confidence in the chairman, which was voted down by eight votes to one.

    But at the same meeting, Cllr Richard Skellington motioned a similar vote in Cllr Bartlett, due to 'his behaviour in recent weeks which has placed unreasonable demands on the council's staff, and caused undue stress to council members'.

    This motion was passed by eight votes to one.

    MK News 22nd September 2011

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