Friday, 13 March 2009

Do as I say, not as I Do - or maybe not

The UK Labour Government has once again shown itself to be incapable of passing a law and then applying it. For nearly two years now smoking in public places in England has been illegal. This means that the person enjoying a pint of beer and wanting to smoke whilst doing so, has to stand outside and smoke. Some places however are exempt.

Prisons are exempt, they have special smoking rooms. However, Old People's Homes are not allowed to have smoking rooms and any Nursing Home owner who provides a place for his elderly residents to have a smoke, can be fined. This therefore means that elderly and infirm people who want to have a smoke need to be outside (possibly in the cold) to enjoy a cigarette, but prisoners can smoke in warm smoking rooms.

Palaces are also exempt. Because the Houses of Parliament in England is officially the Palace of Westminster, this means that the same ministers who passed the smoking in the workplace ban, are the only people who are not affected by that ban themselves.

The Guardian now reports that for the G20 meeting which is to take place in the UK at the beginning of April, the smoking ban will be lifted and special rooms will be set aside for G20 members who want to enjoy a smoke. Now, this may not be true. Apparently the rumour was first circulated in that much respected newspaper The Sun (more known for its bare-breasted beauties on page 3 than for reporting on the news), taken up by another newspaper and circulated as fact, and now the Guardian, a broadsheet newspaper no less, has taken up the story. The MailOnline reports the story and quotes Anne Widdecombe, MP (Cons) as saying 'It is one law for one, and one for the other, and I think that sums up this Government'. This makes me think that there possibly is some truth in the rumour that is circulating about this temporary lifting of the smoking ban.

I doubt whether we will ever be told whether or not the G20 meeting venue provided rooms for those who wished to indulge, but I think it may be quite likely. How do you tell the Finance Minister of another country that he has to step outside to have a smoke? Apparently, it is easier to stop an old person from smoking and facing the fact that they have to go outside to do so, than it is to stop a Minister or a prisoner from smoking in comfort. Double standards anyone?

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