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Smoking ban (Read 209601 times)
Belinda
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Re: Smoking ban
Reply #15 - Nov 4th, 2005 at 3:21pm
 
Friday

You are a lawyer. Even better.

I never disputed a significant association between smoking and ill health. I am disputing it in the case of second hand smoke.

I am not defending any attempts by the tobacco company to cover up the harmful effects of tobacco smoke. But that does not happen to be relevant to any discussion about a smoking ban, which is largely justified by the harms allegedly caused by second hand smoke.

You will be telling me next that there are no big financial interests in smoking cessation sponsoring health authorities.

Since you view the humanity as ‘stupid’, I suppose you will not accept any evidence that does not coincide with your obviously firmly held views. Exaggeration and distortion of the facts does matter to most of us even if we are stupid. Look at the mess in Iraq!

I am still concerned by your tendency to trot off subjective impressions as if they are fact. Though I am not a smoker I can still tell you quite categorically that smoking is not offensive. The most you can say is that many find it offensive, but this does not justify a ban either

For the record, I have no training in law, and I came to this site because I was worried about the human rights implications of the legislation.






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snooks
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Re: Smoking ban
Reply #16 - Nov 4th, 2005 at 7:40pm
 
I assume you have no training in statistics or biology, either? Your “calculations” are at odds with the findings of the vast majority of researchers in this country. The commonly accepted estimate is that several hundred people die each year of lung cancer that has resulted from passive smoking. Sure, it’s not a statistically significant cause of death but I would argue that just one person dying so that others can carry on with their anti-social hobby is indefensible. I think Roy Castle, were he here today, would have a fair amount of scorn to pour on your position.

The invocation of “human rights” arguments in this context revolts me. It is an affront to the very concept of human rights.  After you have viewed the horrendous smoking-related ailments in Princess Analia’s hospital, you might want to take a trip to Zimbabwe or Chechnya or Iran (or Belmarsh?) etc etc ad nauseam to gain a little perspective on real human rights abuses.

Your argument in relation to freedom of assembly is frankly risible. Smokers can easily meet in public places without smoking. They might be grumpy and provide poor company (although I would argue that they will still be better company than they would be with a cigarette in hand) but they have only themselves to blame for their reliance on nicotine. Those vulnerable to cigarette smoke (of which there are many – you may wish to note the article in today’s Guardian regarding the British asthma epidemic) cannot enter places where cigarettes are being smoked. You argue that there are plenty of places for non-smokers to go, but I have yet to find a pub in Edinburgh that genuinely enables me to avoid other people’s smoke. Non-smokers are treated as an afterthought.

You should be aware that many things are legal but have necessary restrictions on their use. Would you argue that the ban on drink driving restricts freedom of assembly because it prevents drinkers who are reliant on their cars from getting to the pub and back?

Your comment regarding “big financial interests in smoking cessation sponsoring health authorities” is poorly worded. Do you mean to say that the health authorities have a vested interest in discouraging smoking? Of course they do. This is because smoking ravages the body and places an enormous burden on the taxpayer.

Assuming that we define “offensive” as being something disagreeable to the senses, smoking is unquestionably and objectively offensive. It smells foul (and causes those exposed to the smoke to smell similarly noxious), it causes the eyes to sting and throat to close up. Certainly, some people have a greater ability to tolerate these effects, but human beings all share the same physiology, which responds poorly to the inhalation of airborne poisons.

Finally, please don’t bring Iraq into an unrelated discussion.

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Belinda
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Re: Smoking ban
Reply #17 - Nov 5th, 2005 at 2:13am
 
Friday

Several hundred deaths from an annual mortality of over 600,000 are not 'statistically significant' and do not demonstrate a causal effect. Saying 'even one' person dying is just emotive talk. Roy Castle was one of thousands upon thousands of performers who worked in smoky environments, so why is he the only one who is ever quoted? I really find it extraordinary how a trained and presumably practising lawyer expects us to draw conclusions from slender numerical evidence, and to say that exaggeration doesn't matter.

You express so much contempt for my feelings about human rights, that I can only say I disagree with your approach to arguments, and if I were faced with you in a courtroom, I would be certain to have to endure a combative if not insulting approach. We are not in a courtroom now and I see no need for such tactics here.

You also display almost complete contempt for smokers, blaming them for their addiction when many started before they were old enough to appreciate the dangers, discounting their rights. I don’t see that enjoying a legal product in public is a trivial matter in the context of human rights. I know things are worse in other parts of the world, but what have you to say to immigrants from some of these countries who have left home in fear of their lives, are traumatised and perhaps separated from their families, and expect to be able to enjoy a coffee or beer and a f*g. Sorry guys, step outside the door. You are not allowed to smoke. That is not the kind of country I want to live in.
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Gasdoc
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Re: Smoking ban
Reply #18 - Nov 5th, 2005 at 3:37am
 
Snooks can't have read much of the thread. Extremists will not be tolerated and I'm sure no-one would disagree with the label this time.

I am actually a doctor, TOP DOC! What does Top 4 mean? Sounds like it was supposed to impress..it always helps to be ignorant when resisting arrogance.

Smoking kills..yes OK..but only smokers..and probably not to the extent we are made to believe. Other than that the only questionably obnoxious thing is the smell and plenty of people would protest that that is a subjective issue.

I object most strongly to your tone.
The best I can come up with is I don't know who you think you are!

Your understanding of statistics is nonexistant, who is this one person dying of passive smoke. Statistics say he probably doesn't exist.

You either know no smokers or some very boring ones.

The "reliance on nicotine" thing is a little overstated. People who want to give up have very little difficulty doing so. I have no thoughts of giving up as I enjoy smoking and do so in the knowledge that I am not hurting anyone but myself. I can now do it knowing it really annoys you and that will make me feel so good.

"The commonly accepted estimate..." so are all "Top 4's" as easily taken in as you? That would be a very sorry state. In fact while I'm there, "commonly", that's a popular word of yours, what does that mean? Doubtless you are aware of the meaning of the word "estimate". To be helpful I will explain that estimates are based on assumptions. If the assumption is flawed then the estimate is hogwash.

The drink driving analogy is sick. Drunks are killers in cars. There's no proof smoking kills non-smokers. That's a fact.

Hear Hear Belinda!
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Belinda
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Re: Smoking ban
Reply #19 - Nov 6th, 2005 at 3:00pm
 
On a more technical note (because I know nothing about law) does the fact that the police are not enforcing this have any bearing as to whether smokers and their patrons are committing an offence under criminal or civil law if smoking occurs after a ban is passed.

If it will be a civil offence to smoke does this have any bearing on the weight of evidence required to impose a fine? For instance can an enforcement officer take action for finding ashtrays stored on the premises of a pub? I believe this has happened in New York.

If it is actually a crime to smoke, that means smokers and/or licencees who contravene the ban will have a criminal record.

There is much talk of trying to empty prisons of non-violent offenders. It seems imposing fines without the possibility of imprisonment if fines are not paid, would render the ban unenforceable. 

Imprisoning people would go against this welcome direction in public policy. This seems to demonstrate that the law itself contravenes other areas of public policy for the sake of a social engineering goal that will be extremely unpopular in many UK districts, especially Scottish ones where there is no exemption for wet-led pubs.

This is especially disturbing if (for example) two smokers are caught together, one in the act and the other making a roll-up, ready to smoke outside. The enforcement officer decides on the available evidence that the rollup maker intended to smoke inside too.

Michael, do you know about the US situation here (or the Irish one for that matter?) Any help on this would be appreciated.
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Re: Smoking ban
Reply #20 - Nov 6th, 2005 at 8:39pm
 
Actually, I'm not a lawyer either, so that probably puts me in the Bottom 4 Wink but I am aware of the old legal maxim that "hard cases make bad law".

I note that some respondents here are prepared to indulge any instance of a "hard case" in support of a bad law, as long as it supports their pro-ban instinct.

Here in Ireland we have had bad law for the past eighteen months. The central issue is most certainly a human rights one: not alone have people who smoke been relegated in society to second class or worse, there has also been a frightening rise in open and hostile contempt of people who happen to be smokers, because - amongst other things - the state has given licence to the intolerant and the hateful.

In an era where the world at large is moving towards being more inclusive and respectful of minorities, it is quite unbelievable that any modern state should be in the business of creating a new social apartheid and permitted to do so - albeit by default - by its citizens (and lawyers). I can assure you that is what has happened here. And it happened because we were caught sleeping, too ready to assume that the government would treat the rights of ALL citizens as its prime concern, making provision for all in an acceptable way.

Unfortunately, none of this may become apparent to my Scottish friends until AFTER your bad law has been introduced. When you wake up one morning to find that another piece of your freedom has been stolen, the penny may begin to drop - but by then it will be too late to put any genies back in their bottles - you will have succumbed through disbelief, or indifference, just like we did.

There are other ways of resolving the smoking/non-smoking issue to the satisfaction of all, without demonising one-third of society and taking their lives away. I urge you, smoker and non-smoker alike, to unite and find it - and not see your beautiful country ruined by social division -  freely, but perhaps unwittingly, accepted.
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snooks
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Re: Smoking ban
Reply #21 - Nov 7th, 2005 at 2:11pm
 
Smokers aren't an oppressed minority! They are a selfish and anti-social one. As far as I can see, short of an outright ban in public places, there is no way of ensuring that a non-smoker will never be unwillingly subjected to a smoker's pollutants. If you can suggest a feasible alternative I am happy to hear it. A "voluntary" system will never work because pubs favour smokers, who tend to drink far more.

Gasdoc, if you are a real doctor I will eat my hat. You are a bad fake.
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Belinda
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Re: Smoking ban
Reply #22 - Nov 7th, 2005 at 3:17pm
 
Gasdoc

I am puzzled by what you said in your earlier post about it not being difficult to give up smoking - so why does everyone say it is difficult?
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Princess Analia
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Re: Smoking ban
Reply #23 - Nov 7th, 2005 at 7:23pm
 
This has certainly turned into a heated debate!  Despite not being a fan of smoking - Note I said smoking not smokers!  I have after reading other's opinions attempted to keep an open mind regarding this argument.  I have had a look at both sides of the fence here and have still to find any major doubt about the research showing that passive smoking harms people. This is the point that I have the biggest problem with.  I had a conversation with a close friend of mine who is a research scientist in cell biology and she was aghast that people doubted in any way that passive smoking was harmful.  Couldn't conceive of how anyone could come to that conclusion.  Obviously this is not convincing for any of you guys who's opinions oppose mine but I just can't see the big conspiracy here although I have looked.

While as I said before, I don't believe that smoking in public is a "right" and am very uncomfortable with smoking being linked to any human rights talk at all,  that said I'm not entirely comfortable with smokers being criminalised.  Is there no middle ground? Does anyone have any suggestions of compromise?  Obviously this is rather a moot argument since the legislation has recieved Royal Assent but it would be interesting to hear everyone's views.

Am also as puzzled as Belinda regards Gasdoc's comment on smoking cessation, I obviously have no personal experience but was under the impression that it was a bit of a nightmare to quit!  You must have incredible willpower Gasdoc!!
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Princess Analia
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Re: Smoking ban
Reply #24 - Nov 7th, 2005 at 7:29pm
 
Sorry Belinda, I forgot to answer your previous question. It doesn't make any difference that the police are not enforcing the ban.  It is still criminal sanctions that apply.  The criminal law regulates the relationship between the individual and the state. Civil law regulates relationships between individuals.  
Oh and "top four" are the four biggest most succesful law firms in Scotland -  Dundas & Wilson, Maclay Murray & Spens, McGrigors and Shepherd + Wedderburn I think!  You have to be good to get a job there - competition is pretty stiff it seems.
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Belinda
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Re: Smoking ban
Reply #25 - Nov 7th, 2005 at 8:00pm
 
Princess Analia

If you read Professor Hole's report (Health Education Board for Scotland), you will find that in a year he attributes 44 deaths from lung cancer to second-hand smoke, and the total deaths from second hand smoke at 865. He is vague about years but I take this to be an annual figure. It is one and a half per cent of Scottish mortality, spread across four vastly different conditions. It proves nothing in statistical terms. This does not take into account morbidity but one also has to ask how these figures are collected. When people are ill, is a person's smoking/non-smoking status all that is relevant? Is the information always given truthfully?

I am not sure about why you feel the smoking should not be a human rights issue. Do you associate human rights exclusively with issues such as unfair imprisonment, torture and so on, in conditions where people are not free to join unions or express themselves politically?

Smokers are people! Many of them with considerable and onerous responsibilities either in the family or in their employment, or the armed services or whatever. They pay duties to consume a product that is acknowledged to be damaging to their health. This legislation is announced, that disrupts their social arranegments and (if they happen to be licencees) their livelihoods, and means that they can NEVER sit with their friends or family and smoke in a public environment again. If they do they will face a fine and if they don't want to pay the fine because they DISAGREE with it and refuse to pay they will be IMPRISONED (I suppose or there is not a lot of point in fining them).

My concern is that they have a legal product, they want and need to be with people, and I want my interactions with my smoking friends not to be policed for all eternity. I love being with them and I don't want to see them standing outside in the rain.

I am not a smoker but it would really challenge my tradition of behaving like a law abiding citizen.

You do seem to want to treat smokers fairly without acknowledging a human rights issue. It does seem strange.
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Belinda
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Re: Smoking ban
Reply #26 - Nov 7th, 2005 at 8:07pm
 
Princess

Thanks for the civil/crinimal offences post. So parking offences are crimes, I thought they were some sort of offence against the municipality rather than the Crown or something like that.
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Re: Smoking ban
Reply #27 - Nov 7th, 2005 at 8:59pm
 
Belinda:
My views on addiction are flavoured by experience. I naturally being a puritanical scientist listen to the theories. However I always remain open minded as I believe we understand the workings of the human body in a very limited way. I believe the function of understanding is limited by our current ability to harness the infinite potential power of the brain/mind.

An example of this limited understanding is the function of the neuro-muscular junction. This is the join between nerve endings and muscle cells. We analyse what happens at this miniscule site on the molecular level and have a very detailed knowledge of what happens there. Its status depends on a balance of the levels of many chemical elements inside and outside the cell membrane, importantly calcium, and many hormones and neurotransmitters. All are controlled by the level of other elements and chemicals. To have an overal understanding of just how we are able to maintain a standing position for example is not possible with our brains current information processing ability. The individual components have many different effects on the site and are changing in concentration at a rate unimaginable and instantaneous. This process is one of millions occuring simultaneously throughout the body all of which are in a continuous state of flux. Neurological components including the higher control of these functions by the brain are also occuring simultaneously. Our mind can understand individual components and effects of multiple factors on these components. More agile minds might even manage to imagine the overal function a single component. Mostly science as assimilated by the human mind relies on isolating these components in order to attempt an understanding, if you like, simplifying or producing models. This isolation itself hinders the understanding of the whole process.

The function of nicotine receptors is a similar model and to adopt a simple understanding of such a system is naive. Nicotine receptors have important functions within the body and receptor science is still an expanding area. That is we continue to find out new things about the milieu within which receptors function. Addiction itself is a complex area which firstly can be broken down into physical and psychological. There is little doubt that extrinsic nicotine ingestion will have an effect on nicotine receptors and that physical addiction occurs. There is little doubt that the problem when it comes to withdrawal of any substance is the existance of the phenomena of "craving". The sensation that makes you feel you wish to indulge in that substance.  This craving and how it is produced is also a complex physiological process with many factors involved including physical and psychological.

So to say that addiction is an overriding and all powerful unsurmountable force is too simple to be true, I believe.

My experience is with alcohol, where I became aware that it was mucking up my life and making me unpleasant. So my need to give it up became so important as to make the cravings and withdrawal effects insignificant. I was driven to continue my abstinence.

I have no such force to assist my giving up smoking as I enjoy it and it doesn't make be horrible. There is no fundamental need for me to give up. If I thought giving up was going to guarantee my longevity and a pleasant method of death I might give up but it won't! People say its hard because they try to give up when they are in fact not motivated to do so. If you want to give up you simply have to decide that's what's going to happen. Addiction is not as powerful as the mind.

Well that's the end of the Gospel according to FakeDoc.

Snooks:
Do fake solicitors where hats or just real lawyers?
Anyway hope it tastes nice, it might be more flavoursome with some humble pie!
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Princess Analia
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Re: Smoking ban
Reply #28 - Nov 7th, 2005 at 9:31pm
 
Hi Belinda,

I think that for statistical purposes, things like parking tickets are categorised as "offences" rather than crimes, but it amounts to the same thing, just less serious.  I do appreciate very much what you are saying about friends and family being smokers and the new laws being onerous in terms of smoking in public.  I think this will be difficult for a lot of people but I can't think of a compromise.  Can anyone else?  I appreciate also what you are saying about 865 deaths being attributed to passive smoking not being statistically significant but forgive me for again being emotive about this but thats 865 too many.  I can't be objective about it, I keep thinking of the human cost in terms of losing friends and family, the suffering of the people who died weighed up against the inconvenience and upset to people not being allowed to smoke in enclosed spaces.  

As regards human rights, again, I think the legal way of thinking about these is a bit different from the laypersons way of thinking about them.  Please don't think that this is a patronising statement, it is by no means meant to be!   I agree smokers are people, with no less status than anyone else, but are rights automatic???? Where do rights draw the line?  Do people have a right to employment?  I think so, does this mean that the government has to provide everyone with a job? I don't mean this analogy to transfer to the smoking debate, all I am trying to say is that some things are not automatically "rights" and the ECHR is there to protect fundamental rights.  I don't think that smoking in public is a fundamental right which should be enshrined in law.  I mentioned before about the reason the ECHR came into being in the first place after the world wars.  I'm aware that things evolve over time and so should the law, this has happened by way of the jurisprudence of the ECtHR but I very much doubt that they would agree that anyone's rights under the convention were being breached.  You stated freedom of association as being a possibility, I still think that you are looking at this Article too broadly.  

But I'm still a lowly student!  So what do you think Snooks looking at things objectively?
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princessanalia1974  
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Gasdoc
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Re: Smoking ban
Reply #29 - Nov 7th, 2005 at 9:38pm
 
Sorry, I forgot...
Snooks you can find me in the Medical Register under Philip Donald Button. If you really want to get angry you can visit my blog at:
www.pro-choicesmokingdoctor.blogspot.com
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