As is the norm, things have been super-hectic here at Facts Towers so I have, unfortunately, missed an awful lot of stuff going on. I’ve also been absent from social media; mostly for good reason – it bloody annoys me.
Those of you that remember, The Freedom Association published some very interesting information about the various local authorities and their current smoking/vaping policies. Most of the councils are backwards looking, ignoramuses. However, one council, in particular, has taken things too far.
I saw this post from Simon Clark about Dundee City Council so I checked out what TFA found out about them from 2016/17.
Interestingly, the policy review date is March 2015. The initial PHE review was published in September of that year. Admittedly, this is a local authority we’re talking about and so, getting anything changed or updated has to go through various hoops. OK, fine, you say. It’s now 2018. What are they up to now?
Hold your horses’ folks.
This is the same council in 2017:
Notice anything different?
That’s right, in 2017 staff & visitors now have to leave the premises entirely to smoke or vape. So the column that says “has the policy changed since 2016?” is a flat out lie. It is also clear that Dundee City Council hasn’t even bothered to read anything from PHE or the Royal College of Physicians given the latest rubbish:
The policy has been created in response to the Scottish Government report ‘Creating a tobacco-free generation: A Tobacco Control Strategy for Scotland’, with guidance from COSLA, and explicitly bans council workers from smoking whilst outdoors, even while walking from one premises to another or during tea breaks. The ban also includes e-cigarettes, which the council does not consider different from cigarettes.
In this policy, the term ‘smoking’ means smoking tobacco in any form and by any means, the use of e-cigarettes and using any other form of substitute smoking device.
The council makes no distinction between ‘conventional’ smoking and the use of e-cigarettes. Any prohibitions described cover all these activities.
Ultimately, an employee, who does not comply with (the policy) will be subject to disciplinary proceedings.
Good grief! These people are so ignorant of both the UK wide Tobacco Control Plan, and, more locally, the updated “smoke-free local authority implementation guidance” which states, quite clearly, the following when describing e-cigarettes:
- Terminology – the use of smoking terminology should be avoided when referring to e-cigarettes. E-cigarette use is often known as ‘vaping’ and e-cigarettes users are often known as ‘vapers’. Make clear the distinction between vaping and smoking, and the evidence on the relative risks for users and bystanders.
- Supporting smokers to stop smoking and stay smoke-free – an enabling approach may be appropriate in relation to vaping, to make it an easier choice than smoking.
- Children and young people – e-cigarette use is not recommended for young people and legislation is in place to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s. However, in their role as aids to help adults quit smoking and stay smoke free, e-cigarettes can help reduce children and young people’s exposure to second-hand smoke and smoking-related behaviour, therefore any policy should balance the needs of guarding against potential youth uptake with the development of an environment where it is easier for adults not to smoke.
The most important one of which, in this case, is terminology. Dundee is completely ignoring the fact that they should be avoiding conflating smoking and vaping, yet blithely forge on regardless.
Further, there is no guidance to surrounding things like smoking/vaping on breaks (in or out of uniform), travelling to/from other council premises (or even home), yet Dundee have outright indicated that if you smoke/vape; even if you are out of uniform and travelling to/from work or to/from another property you are banned from smoking or vaping, as this brief excerpt (thanks to Simon Clark) shows:
Q: Does this policy mean that I cannot smoke at all while I am at work?
Q: Can I smoke when I am working out of doors and not affecting anyone else with my smoke?
Q: If my duties require me to go from one office or location to another, can I smoke on the way, i.e. in the open air in the street?
Q: Can I leave the workplace during a tea-break to have a smoke?
Q: I travel from location to location and don’t wear anything to identify me as a council employee, am I allowed to smoke when I am outside?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, and again, and again:
Banning smoking and vaping in the open air is fucking ridiculous. I’ve written about bans before on several occasions, most notably here. Not only have Dundee City Council completely ignored all the advice and evidence from Public Health England, the Royal College of Physicians, Cancer Research UK, ASH Scotland and ASH London, the British Heart Foundation, the British Lung Foundation and many others, they have also ignored the guidance from their own Government.
Dundee City Council, you have made, and continue to make, daft decisions based on nothing more than “I don’t like it”. You’ve had plenty of time – since March 2015 to properly revise your policy and you haven’t.
It just goes to show that, once again, it’s never been about health.
Now that the Dundee Evening Telegraph has published the piece, there are a few more points I need to make.
A spokesman for the local authority said: “The council has revised its smoking policy as we are working to protect the health of employees and also promote positive health messages across the wider community, in line with the agreed ‘Our People Strategy’ and health and wellbeing framework.
“The council is committed to helping achieve the national targets on reducing smoking in the Scottish Government’s ‘Creating a Tobacco-Free Generation’ strategy.
“A key part of that approach involves discouraging children and young people from taking up smoking.
“One way to assist that is to reduce the number of adult ‘role models’ who can be seen smoking in public.
Unsurprisingly it’s all about ‘denormalisation’, except these utter morons forget that the number of adult smokers they’ve exiled are more often in plain sight of “The Children™” that they’re trying to protect.
ASH Scotland’s chief executive Sheila Duffy said: “Policies like this aim to care for employees and the communities they serve. Two-thirds of smokers consistently tell us that they want to quit and with stopping smoking being the single best thing anyone can do for their health. We would encourage people to find their way to quit.”
ASH Scotland, as with the English counterpart run by Debs, are “fully supportive” of this policy. Thing is, where is the ‘care’ that Duffy mentions? People smoke for a range of reasons, for many, it’s an enjoyable pastime that is often an escape from the authoritarian world trying to impose its will on them.
Remember, we’re on the side of the angels here. Banning smoking in outdoor places only serves to make it easier for the illiberal twonks to extend the ban to vaping which is already happening. It is past time that these folks realise that being this illiberal will only lead in one direction – disobedience.
Wait! There’s More
From the Dundee Telegraph:
Organisations on both sides of the tobacco divide have called on Dundee City Council to support employees who want to quit as best they can.
Oh really? Are we going to hear Sheila Duffy complain that vaping is included in this totalitarian measure?
Anti-smoking body Ash Scotland has said that it “hopes and expects” the city council will properly support workers who want to quit.
Chief executive Sheila Duffy said: “E-cigarettes are a developing area of policy and employers have taken different approaches.
“Our hope and expectation is that the employer would provide the support required to help employees implement the policy successfully.”
That’ll be a “no” then.
Yet, Simon Clark gets it right – as you would expect from one who champions freedom of choice:
Simon Clark, director of the group, said: “Threatening employees with disciplinary action if they smoke during work breaks or while they’re working out of doors, out of uniform and between locations, is tantamount to bullying.
Thing is Simon, the policy is bullying. It’s not just ‘tantamount to bullying’ it is straight up, no-holds-barred bullying. It is, in fact, almost as bad as discriminating against smokers (and vapers) looking for a job – as is known to happen in the US. As Puddlecote rightly points out:
This is a quite astonishingly tyrannical policy. It effectively says that the council – as an employer – has the right to dictate what employees do in their spare time. It says that they have a right to demand employees do the council’s bidding even when they are not being paid.
Dundee Council, as a result, have catapulted themselves to the top of the UK league table of abusive employers. What next? Considering the ridiculous demonising of sugar, will Dundee’s vacant councillors soon ban their staff from buying a Coca-Cola while on a lunch break? A McDonald’s?
But then, the Council have form when it comes to vaping.