Coffee House

Could smoking around children be made illegal in the near future?

10 February 2014

5:21 PM

10 February 2014

5:21 PM

The most remarkable thing about the ban on smoking in cars when children are present, which will pass the Commons later today, is how quickly minds have changed. There’ll be ministers and MPs voting for it today who were dismissing it as absurd nanny-statism just a week ago.

What has happened is that MPs, particularly Tory and Lib Dem ones who have a genuinely free vote on the matter, have reflected on how far the state already restricts liberty when it comes to smoking. Once you have decided to ban smoking in pubs, where adults go voluntarily, and even private members clubs, then it is very hard to defend allowing people to smoke in a confined space when a child is present. Indeed, as David Willetts argues given that passive smoking does do harm and children are not free to choose whether to travel in a car with an adult who is smoking, the ban is justified on philosophical terms.


Even those such as the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling who will vote against the ban are doing so reluctantly. Grayling fears that the ban is close to unenforceable and so should not become law.

Some sceptics of the ban wonder where it will all end. But I think there is a difference between legislating to stop harm and legislating to make people do things, like feeding their child healthy food. I would, though, not be surprised—given the rate of change—if smoking in a room where children are present becomes illegal before 2025.

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Show comments
  • Adam Master Shortpants Perry

    People complain about dictatorships and nanny-states when you try to ban smoking around kids. Meanwhile, trade agreements are being passed that will end everything and they aren’t even aware of it. You’re sheep. Just as much as the statists.

  • RavenRandom

    Yes Smoking around children will be made illegal. Then we’ll be issued with ration cards for alcohol units, then sugar units and so on.
    Democracy can eventually become a tyranny if too many laws are passed that begin with good intentions.

  • harleyrider1989

    The fact that no harm can be shown to anyone exposed to second hand smoke!

    The fact that 20 year and more heavy smokers lungs are just as good if not better than non-smokers lungs in transplant operations with better survival rates! Destroying the myth of second hand smoke based on thousands of years to get equal doseage in non-smokers!

    The fact that second hand smoke in the homes of children reduce and leave a protective effect on both smokers and children to atopic disorders by a whopping 84%.

    The fact that even OSHA couldn’t find any levels of harm to anyone inside a smoking establishment!

    Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels …(PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)…It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded.” -Letter From Greg Watchman, Acting Sec’y, OSHA.

    Really Sen, Denton whatever Mystical crystal ball you’ve been looking into has lied to you and everyone else.

    Perhaps your now a believer of thirdhand smoke and its magical properties to kill children!

    Or maybe its just that your a Prohibitionist that simply hates smokers and the Obese and well drinkers too.

    Or maybe you hate freedom and property rights of the owners of private businesses.

    Or maybe just maybe your out to destroy the parental autonomy of parents in likely another push to ban smoking in cars or even in our homes!

    Maybe you also want to ban smoking in the parks or the shoreline of kentuckys rivers and lakes.

    But mostly Sen. Denton is it that your getting great campaign donations from the likes of Big Pharma and Obama government grants to push the lies and push the bills illegal lobbying put in your hands by non-profit groups backed by Pharma activists.

    Or could it be your small PR firm in Louisville is making money pushing this hype and propaganda for the smokefree activists too!

    Truly Sen. Denton you have plenty of provocation and cash incentives to push this anti-freedom prohibitionist Bill!

    Come Clean you owe it to the public! Admit who has been pushing you to push these smoking bans!

  • AndrewMelville

    Smoking is foul and the authorities were right to ban it from pubs and restaurants. But this latest “law” is beyond absurd. How have we sunk to such a level. We are free Britons – not European slaves.

    • harleyrider1989

      Free people aren’t told what to do with their traditional liberties like smoking!
      We regard smoking not as a liberty but as a right any freeman who chooses to indulge has the right to do be it wherever. These zealots are PROHIBITIONISTS and its time we all called them what they are!

      • Lisabelle

        Yes it is time!

    • Lisabelle

      No they do not have that right! Especially when you realize it’s based on JUNK SCIENCE! Individual businesses can state in a simple sign at the door, that smoking or vaping is permitted on their THEIR premises. The public is free to choose where to be or not to be. It is not the Nanny tyrants right to enslave (thank you inspired me) the citizens and ever call it a free democratic society!

      • AndrewMelville

        Yes they do. Smoking is foul. Regulation in public facilities is fine. In private it is tyranny.

        Do you remember how foul aeroplanes, trains, buses, offices as well as pubs an restaurants used to be?

        • James Strong

          Imagine that there were no smoking ban, why not just go to a pub or restaurant where smoking is not allowed by voluntary measures of the landlord. then?
          And if there isn’t one then open one yourself. If you are right you will make an absolute fortune.

          • Davidh

            Sometimes, a push is needed to achieve beneficial results. I opposed the smoking ban in bars and restaurants myself at the time, on libertarian principles. But now I wouldn’t go back. Remember getting home after a night out reeking of smoke? Yuk. Even friends who smoke don’t seem to miss it now and say they save money on not puffing as much.

            Grayling is right about the car ban, though – unenforceable and thus bad law.

            • Klaus K

              It’s hard to take your libertarian principles seriously when you only want to allow your own preferences. You say: I’m for democracy – but only when my party is ruling.

              Lifting the smoking ban in private businesses will not make smoking allowed in more places than the customers want it to. If non-smokers are a majority, most restaurants will be smoke-free. Without the ban however, a minority of restaurants will allow smoking – enough to supply the smokers demand for them, mostly in areas where there are many smokers.

              That’s how supply and demand works in free societies, and it’s amazing to see how often British people don’t understand this – even people who claim to be libertarians.

              • Davidh

                Principles and consistency are fine things, of course. But apply them too consistently and one starts to sound like a broken record. I’m just saying that in the particular case of smoking in bars and restaurants, a small authoritarian push has created an improvement for most of us that would not have happened if people had been left to their own devices.

                And yes, the same would be true of democracy – a fine principle for sure but not to be applied mindlessly to every situation, note Iraq.

                • Klaus K

                  Nothing should be imposed on others against their will, I agree. But that was exactly what happened in the case of smoking bans. The “small authoritarian push” was imposed on smokers, bar & restaurant owners against their will – not to mention on all the suppliers to the hospitality industry.

                  If it was true that restaurant smoking was such a horrible experience to non-smokers before the bans, more restaurants would have banned smoking at that time. The truth is that non-smoking restaurants *were* provided voluntarily, and that pre-ban there was no dissatisfaction in any group.

                  Evidence for that statement comes from the EU “happiness-index” surveys where it is possible to measure the populations life satisfaction before and after the bans: Non-smokers’ “life happiness” didn’t improve post-ban in any country, while smokers’ overall life satisfaction declined post-ban(s).

                  Sometimes non-smoking people tend to forget they were not dissatisfied before the bans. They may remember a few horrible smoke experiences from many years back, busses, cinemas, in childhood etc. – but in the years up to the bans, life satisfaction was high in both groups.

            • AndrewMelville

              Well said.

          • AndrewMelville

            Why not allow restaurants where the staff don’t wash their hands? Over time the patrons that survive food poisoning with take their custom elsewhere and the bad restaurants will close. No need to governmental interference.

            There are few folks less tolerant of the nanny state than me. But the state is useful for some things – defence, courts, weights and measures and SENSIBLE health and safety. Banning smoking in public is a pragmatic deviation from generally liberal principles.

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          Cinemas, too.

    • James Strong

      ‘Smoking is foul’ ?
      Well, some, or many people, certainly find it unpleasant but the authorities were absolutely wrong to ban it from pubs and restaurants. All that was needed was to require pubs and restaurants to prominently display a sign saying whether or not smoking was permitted. (Even that might be a requirement too far for some.)
      But that wouldn’t have satisfied the desire of so many people to interfere with others and impose on them.

      • AndrewMelville

        Gresham’s Law applies – the foul drives out the fair. You’ll notice that there were no non-smoking bars and restaurants despite a majority of non-smokers!

  • Colonel Mustard

    Fascist scum. Lots of Tommies hearing about this would think we had lost the war.

  • harleyrider1989

    This pretty well destroys the Myth of second hand smoke:

    Lungs from pack-a-day smokers safe for transplant, study finds.

    By JoNel Aleccia, Staff Writer, NBC News.

    Using lung transplants from heavy smokers may sound like a cruel joke, but a new study finds that organs taken from people who puffed a pack a day for more than 20 years are likely safe.

    What’s more, the analysis of lung transplant data from the U.S. between 2005 and 2011 confirms what transplant experts say they already know: For some patients on a crowded organ waiting list, lungs from smokers are better than none.

    “I think people are grateful just to have a shot at getting lungs,” said Dr. Sharven Taghavi, a cardiovascular surgical resident at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, who led the new study………………………

    Ive done the math here and this is how it works out with second ahnd smoke and people inhaling it!

    The 16 cities study conducted by the U.S. DEPT OF ENERGY and later by Oakridge National laboratories discovered:

    Cigarette smoke, bartenders annual exposure to smoke rises, at most, to the equivalent of 6 cigarettes/year.


    A bartender would have to work in second hand smoke for 2433 years to get an equivalent dose.

    Then the average non-smoker in a ventilated restaurant for an hour would have to go back and forth each day for 119,000 years to get an equivalent 20 years of smoking a pack a day! Pretty well impossible ehh!

    • Baron

      Good stuff, harleyrider1989, but you’re pi$$ing against the wind here, nobody gives a quarter hoot about reason, evidence. This is a crusade that feels good, in a society that’s governed by feeling good.

  • harleyrider1989

    Hitler’s Anti-Tobacco Campaign

    One particularly vile individual, Karl Astel — upstanding president of Jena University, poisonous anti-Semite, euthanasia fanatic, SS officer, war criminal and tobacco-free Germany enthusiast — liked to walk up to smokers and tear cigarettes from their unsuspecting mouths. (He committed suicide when the war ended, more through disappointment than fear of hanging.) It comes as little surprise to discover that the phrase “passive smoking” (Passivrauchen) was coined not by contemporary American admen, but by Fritz Lickint, the author of the magisterial 1100-page Tabak und Organismus (“Tobacco and the Organism”), which was produced in collaboration with the German AntiTobacco League.

  • JonBW

    Why not make smoking legal in dedicated smoking rooms from which children are barred?

    • Lisabelle

      He plays the “for the childreeeeennnnnn” card and admits that what really horrifies him is the prospect of smokers being considered normal again.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Smoking and non-smoking lavatories, anyone?

  • Alex

    Although a borderline libertarian I would have a small sympathy for this if the risk was significant; i don’t believe that people should be able to behave in a way that directly harms others.
    However, as someone in my 50s I would bet that most people around my age have spent hundreds of hours in smoky cars, and thousands of hours in smoky pubs, offices, stations, homes etc.
    If second hand smoking was dangerous, there would be nobody alive in this country over about 40. So the propaganda about the risks of 2nd hand smoking is garbage. So this ban is wrong. But then when even Clegg finds it illiberal I think that’s pretty obvious.

  • Freebornbriton

    There is no evidence regarding passive smoking. What does it mean? Being in an enclosed space with a smoker? For how long? How big is the space? Hitler would be all for this… gods, what on earth is going on?

  • Lady Magdalene

    I’m disgusted by this.
    This used to be a (relatively) free country. It’s fast becoming a dictatorship.
    I’m not smoker – never have. But smoking is legal and there is no evidence that smoking in a car – particularly if a window is open – is any more “dangerous” than smoking in the house.
    So I guess they’ll want to ban that next.
    I LOATHE the dictatorial incompetents in Westminster.
    They can’t govern the country – having given power to the EU. So instead they want to micro-manage all our lives, to justify their inflated salaries and expenses and so they can claim to be doing something.

    • Baron

      Seconded, every word of it, Lady Magdalene.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Puff up, m’lady. Compromise the future health of your children.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Or compromise the future liberty of everyone’s children.

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          Better dead than Red.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Which is a decision for her to make not a group of sanctimonious, self-serving hypocrites at Westminster.

  • Andy

    Usual tripe. Ban everything. Why is it these scumbags do not understand the basic concept of LIBERTY.

    • Crying out loud

      The aim is to de-normalise smoking. I personally know no one who smokes in their home anymore (notice that has happened not due to a law trying to force that to happen, it has happened as adults have realised that it is just not pleasant). I am against any law that forces people to not smoke in cars with children but we can stub out the practice with greater awareness and the old fashioned way – public pressure and shame.

    • Adam Master Shortpants Perry

      The kid who grows up with COPD and has a heart attack at 30 because his parents smoked around him probably has something to say about his/her liberty. Telling people what they should and shouldn’t do with their own bodies is one thing, but something so obviously amoral as exposing innocent children to the chemicals present in tobacco smoke does not strike me as nanny-statism in the least. Banning it in bars? Maybe. They could have the fact that an establishment is smoke-friendly blatantly obvious to anyone who applies for the job. In that case, they’re an adult making the decision to work there. The kid in the car or house inhaling the equivalent of a few cigarettes per pack does not have that choice.

  • London Calling

    Whatever next Banning Cars because they pollute toxic fumes around children? or banning swearing around children and banning children from playing computer games……I could go on but the list is endless………..I’m all for a healthy lifestyle, however enforcing rules on what you do around your children is an infringement against your human rights, Ban Car fumes and I’ll start listening………………:)

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    A MSM journalist in favour of a smoking ban? That’ll be the day.
    Jack, Kathmandu

  • Jackthesmilingblack


  • Frank

    This reminds me a little of the time when Parliament was discussing joining the ERM. My memory is that they discussed the ERM for 45 minutes (all a bit beyond most MPs) and then turned to discussing licenses for dogs (a 5 hour debate).
    As someone else put it, first they came for the smokers, then…..

    • Hello

      You’ve missed the subtlety of the victory here. Smoking was banned in pubs because passive smoking is harmful, here the principle being established is that children don’t have a choice.

      • Tony_E

        The smoking in pubs issue was one purely of employment law – that employees could not exercise free choice over whether they would be exposed to smoke.

        The issue of free will has not really changed then in this case.

        The point is really about how much interference the state should exercise on behalf of those groups who might be exposed to anything which they might not feel able to object to.

      • Baron

        When the holy grail of anti-smoking got going seriously, ASH commissioned a survey on secondary smoking from the same US agency that did the initial surveys on the dangers of tobacco. The agency concluded that being in a smoke filled environment for a year equals to smoking one single cigarette that year. It was promptly sacked, the report suppressed.

        London Calling above has it right, let’s ban everything kids shouldn’t be exposed to like life, shoot the smokers, but only after they’ve bought the weed. The tax revenue is useful.

      • JonBW

        Passive smoking is not harmful.

        The pretence that it is based on a massive and systematic manipulation and distortion of science.

        • harleyrider1989

          About 90% of secondary smoke is composed of water vapor and ordinary air with a minor amount of carbon dioxide. The volume of water vapor of second hand smoke becomes even larger as it quickly disperses into the air,depending upon the humidity factors within a set location indoors or outdoors. Exhaled smoke from a smoker will provide 20% more water vapor to the smoke as it exists the smokers mouth.

          4 % is carbon monoxide.

          6 % is those supposed 4,000 chemicals to be found in tobacco smoke. Unfortunatley for the smoke free advocates these supposed chemicals are more theorized than actually found.What is found is so small to even call them threats to humans is beyond belief.Nanograms,picograms and femptograms……
          (1989 Report of the Surgeon General p. 80).

      • Lisabelle

        It’s a failure of of corrupted democracy, not a victory, and dictatorship is never subtle!

  • AnotherDave

    This is ridiculous.