Another Bid to Ban Smoking: Consulting the Public

Thanks to Dick Puddlecote for reminding me about some more shenanigans from “public health” – this time in Sheffield. I had spotted this in my feed last week from Simon Clark but sadly work and my everyday life got in the way of putting finger to key.

Council chiefs are considering whether to ban lighting up outside hospitals and other NHS buildings, universities, council offices and leisure centres – and they are seeking the public’s views on the proposal.

Why am I not at all surprised about yet another attempt to impose draconian measures on an already heavily ostracised group? After all, it isn’t as if Sheffield Council have more important things to worry about is it?

As usual, these proposals are out for consultation – though I highly doubt anything those vehemently opposed to such measures do will sway the Council to change their minds:

Smoking is still the biggest killer in the UK and is the biggest cause of health inequalities between rich and poor. We have made good progress in tackling tobacco both nationally and locally however we cannot say the job is done when we still have approximately 79,260 smokers in the city.  Tobacco kills 16 people per week in the Sheffield – those who smoke can expect to have shorter, less healthy lives.  900 women smoke at the time their baby is born. Addiction to tobacco begins in childhood and takes hold into adulthood.

Wait, almost 80,000 smokers in the City of Sheffield? Let’s have some context to that shall we?

  • Estimated Population of Sheffield: 569,275
  • Estimated proportion of smokers in Sheffield: 79,260

That’s a smidge under 14% of the total population of Sheffield. That’s a relatively insignificant number when compared with reports on obesity in Sheffield. To be fair, I don’t really want the Council to be issuing new proposals to force folk to conform to a State ideal of weight either, but let’s be honest here. If the figures are accurate, then wouldn’t it be a smarter move to launch programmes designed to encourage the over-half to trim up a little? Of course not, this is smokers we’re talking about. Devil Spawn. Apparently.

If the proposals are allowed, this is what they plan to do:

  • Reallocate £220,000 from Stop Smoking Services

Wait. They plan to strip Sheffield’s stop smoking services of almost 1/4 of a Million quid? That’s a little daft doncha think? Given that Sheffield really wants smokers to quit. Mind you, the entire budget for tobacco control in Sheffield (according to their own figures) is a whopping £1.1 Million. That’s a teeny tiny drop in the ocean of their overall annual budget of £1.4 Billion.

Of course, that cash has to do a lot of things – drawing parallels with Bradford, Simon Cooke elaborates on the difficulties of spending here and it’s quite an eye opening read – such as road maintenance, general council “services”, park maintenance, council salaries, youth programs and so forth. It would of course be a little easier if the Council spend less on nannying smokers (or ‘obese’, or any other group they want to bully), but that would mean actually being responsible – why spend cash on education and other – shall we say – more useful services when you can use it to bully, in the name of “public health” of course, smokers?

By stripping cash from SSS, which is a good & bad thing (I say that, ‘cos I’m no real fan of SSS – they do good work for those that want to quit – but they spend too much time beating up on smokers), Sheffield Council are looking to:

  • Invest in prevention work with all Secondary Schools and begin a primary school programme (think we know what those will entail – indoctrination of The Cheeeldren)
  • Increase the number of outdoor smokefree sites and events (let’s face it, they’ve had indoor bans since 2006/7 which hasn’t really done much, now they want to ban smoking outside ‘cos they can and not because it’s for “public health”)
  • Increase investment in communication and media campaigns (oh great, more bullying propaganda. Wonderful.)

What a joyous bunch they are!

The consultation can be found here and I would highly recommend completing it, after all if they can ban smoking outside, how long do you think it will be before they turn their attention to vaping – we’ve seen how Councils treat vaping already.

Dick Puddlecote has kindly provided a thorough breakdown of the questions in his post here. Do have a read.