Big Brother Britain & Civil Liberties
Fight against UK governments attack on our civil liberties with Big Brother Britain initiatives

Teenagers, thou shalt not smoke

Another pointless piece of tokenism by this control obsessed Labour government is the ban on displaying cigarettes, ostensibly to discourage under age smokers. A commendable goal, but surely even they can work out that it is not the display of cigarettes that encourages youngsters to smoke, but easy access, peer pressure and so on, none of which will be dealt with by this heavy handed, ill-conceived approach which will affect 9m people, whilst failing to achieve its objective.

I, of course, have absolutely  no issue with government or other agencies seeking to discourage children and teenagers from smoking, after all, we all know that it is a lot easier to start than it is to stop. Therefore, I would actively support any education programme that is designed to achieve this objective, but banning the display of cigarettes…..does anyone really think that this will have any affect on underage smoking? Well clearly yes, this out of touch, politically correct Labour government.

This is political tokenism at its best, removing cigarettes from display will not reduce the number of young people from smoking, in fact it may provide a perception of something illicit, which I feel sure, will appeal to some youngsters. The claim is that there are up to 200,000 11-15 years olds smoking. Okay, so given it is illegal to sell cigarettes to children of this age, where does the government think they get them from. Maybe it is via vending machines or an older mate, or perhaps a ‘friendly’ local store. Either way, it is claimed that some 200,000 youngsters have found some method of feeding their habit. So, what really encourages them to smoke, is it peer pressure, something to do, the fact that it is illegal or because it makes them feel grown up? Maybe it is a combination of all these factors, but it can hardly be said it is because they have seen them displayed.

The problem with political tokenism is the knock-on effect or consequences of the action. For example, did the banning of cigarette sponsors for Formula 1 lead to a reduction in smoking? I don’t think so. But now, at a time when the likes of Honda are looking to put as many as 800 people out of work because they cannot afford to continue their race team, cigarette sponsors could have been a lifeline.

Take a look at the pub trade. Some 5 pubs are closing every week in this country; many landlords have put this down to, amongst other things, the ban on smoking. Yes, I accept that it is also as a consequence of the alcohol duties and competition in the supermarkets, but many landlord place the lion share of blame at the smoking ban. So, at a time when people need jobs and accommodation, 5 pub businesses are closing every single week. And, of course, it is not just pubs that are being affected, even beermat manufacturers are finding it tough. A few weeks ago there were 4 Uk based manufacturers, now one has transferred manufacturing to Germany and another has closed its doors for good, halving the capacity overnight and placing people out of work.

What is not evident is whether this government simply couldn’t give a toss about collateral damage, or if they just didn’t bother to look any further than political tokenism and a positive set of headlines. Government should act responsibly, which means that if they intend to introduce new legislation, they should look at the potential consequences of their action, not just the headlines. A failure to do so, is a gross dereliction of their duty and of course, there have been many examples of this over the past 11 years. I am personally sick to the back teeth of this politically correct government, their sledgehammer to crack a nut approach to every problem and their insistence that stick is better than carrot. The bottom line is we are all being treated like children by New Labour, and I for one, have had enough.

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