Coffee House

David Cameron has set a precedent on smoking in cars with children

11 February 2014

12:36 PM

11 February 2014

12:36 PM

What next after Luciana Berger’s victory from the opposition benches on smoking in cars with children? Yesterday MPs were making all sorts of dire warnings in the House of Commons about what might happen next and supporters of the ban are dismissing them as trying to find a slippery slope when this is just a sensible public health issue. But a precedent has been set here of the Prime Minister initially saying he’s ‘nervous’ about what passing laws on what people do in a private space, then being forced to fold when legislation is thrust upon him by a member of the opposition. He made last night’s vote a free vote, and it passed.

What if Berger or one of her colleagues decides to push for a ban on smoking in a house where children are present? Or indeed, when they aren’t? There is research that ‘third-hand smoke’ lingering in carpets and other furnishings could damage human cells, too. So why stop at cars?

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At this morning’s lobby briefing, the Prime Minister’s Official spokesman said:

‘Well, when it comes to choices people make at home, it’s a matter for them… Well, because I think there is a particular issue there around vehicles being a particularly confined space, with associated public health concerns.’

Asked what the Prime Minister would do if Berger or another MP tried to force a vote on smoking while pregnant, or smoking in a room with children present, the spokesman said ‘if it’s OK, I’ll avoid straying into hypotheticals’. But chances are that the PM would follow the same pattern, which is why, as James said yesterday, it wouldn’t be surprising if we see a ban on smoking in a room with children present became illegal within a decade.

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Show comments
  • mandelson

    Why dont they stop pussyfooting around and ban cigarettes if they have the balls.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    The correct decision is to totally ban smoking, but sadly there’s not the support for that from the chain-smoking chumps known as Members of Parliment.

  • ebriolus

    No self-respecting parent with young children would dream of smoking in a car with their children strapped into the back… not that many reasonably well-educated parents now bother to smoke, given all the life-threatening consequences that are attached to such indulgences.

    No, it is only the moronic lower orders who continue to puff away, thus shortening their own insignificant lives and the results of their bored copulations, a future generation who might well have been left better off, parked on a zebra-skinned sofa in a Peckham high-rise, whose best hope of an education was to be given a catechism of all the correct questions and answers dahn the social… that fairy godmother who sustains the products of all the inadequates who infest modern society…

    Got to go… my dealer is banging on the back door and has promised me some hypersonic Skunk….

  • ebriolus

    Luciana Berger has a very fine smoke detector !

  • Smithersjones2013

    Has anyone bothered to consider how practical this legislation will be? What is the cost of policing this? Is it nothing more than this Government;s hunting ban?

    • Slim Jim

      It doesn’t matter how practical it is. The Bubblers will be slapping each other on the back and feeling most virtuous. Meanwhile vast swathes of the country are submerged…priorities, Dear Boy, priorities!

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Indeed I have. I suspect it will involve malicious, leftist prigs photographing ‘illegal smoking’ on a camera phone posting the ‘evidence’ on social media and then ordering the police to make an arrest and organise a hanging. These are the Stalinesque depths to which we are descending.

    • Tim Reed

      I imagine our modern police ‘service’ will love this latest wheeze (forgive the pun). Another reason to wait on the roadside to pull over more motorists, and another chance to act as the nation’s social conscience and lecture the little people about their personal choices.

      So much easier than tackling real crime.

      I loathe smoking, but I detest these intrusions with a much greater passion.

  • Two Bob

    So lets get this straight, I go on holiday to Wales, light up a cig whilst at the wheel and its legal. As soon as I cross the river severn my first name becomes lucifer?

  • Two Bob

    Soon they will ban having a cigarette after making love due to being harmful for your partner….

    • Smithersjones2013

      Don’t forget to sign the consent form and the insurance liability waiver (in triplicate) beforehand……

  • Smithersjones2013

    And they wonder why support for Conservative and Labour has fallen from over 80% of the eligible population in the 1950’s to less than 40% over the last decade. These ‘individuals’ invade every part of our lives. That is not the purpose of government. We are not their slaves to be dictated to. Its matters not what the issue is. They are not elected to interfere as they do

    • Two Bob

      Next time I take the kids bowling I will light up my e-fag in defiance!

    • AnotherDave

      Modern governments seem to be obsessed with meddling.

      I was hoping we’d see more of a repealing government this time round.

      “When the Whigs came into power … They worked steadily towards curbing the government’s coercive power over the individual; and with such effect, as historians testify, that by the middle of the eighteenth century Englishmen had simply forgotten that there was ever a time when the full “liberty of the subject” was not theirs to enjoy.

      In this connexion the thing to be remarked is that the Whigs proceeded by the negative method of repealing existing laws, not by the positive method of making new ones.

      They combed the Statute-book, and when they found a statute which bore against “the liberty of the subject” they simply repealed it and left the page blank.

      This purgation ran up into the thousands. In 1873 the secretary of the Law Society estimated that out of the 18,110 Acts which had been passed since the reign of Henry III, four-fifths had been wholly or partially repealed.

      The thing to be observed here is that this negative method of simple repeal left free scope for the sanative processes of natural law in dealing with all manner of social dislocations and disabilities. These processes are slow and usually painful, and impatience with them leads to popular demand that the government should step in and anticipate them by positive statutory intervention when anything goes wrong. The Liberals were aware that no one, least of all the “practical” politician, can foresee the ultimate effects, or even all the collateral effects, of such interventions, or can calculate the force of their political momentum. Thus it regularly happens that they bring about ultimate evils which are not only far more serious than the specific evils which they were meant to remedy, but are also wholly unexpected.”

      http://alumnus.caltech.edu/~ckank/FultonsLair/013/nock/liberalism.html

      • arnoldo87

        That “liberty of the subject” presumably included the freedom not to vote, and the absolute right to steal a bottle of milk and be transported to Australia as a result.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Idiot.

  • Two Bob

    Clearly he has never been on a seven hour car journey with a premenstrual wife and two young children.

  • Tony_E

    It seems that parliament is willing to do just about anything to ‘ameliorate the risks’ of tobacco in society apart from the one thing they know will cure us of all our ‘problems’ with it.

    Simply stop licensing the sale of all tobacco products in the UK.

    But of course, they can’t do that, because it’s such a cash cow, and stopping free choice isn’t a vote winner.

    When they vote themselves the power to simply enter your home to determine how the health of your children is affected by your activities, will you all realise then that it’s ‘gone too far’?

    The truth is that this is not about smoking, or about children, it’s about extending state control, inch by inch, until every behaviour is regulated.

    There’s always a ‘good argument’ for intervention.

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    Hang on a minute – Luciana Berger is in the position to ‘make’ policy? What is going on! Is there one last punter out there who will require it hammered into his/her cranium that Britain no longer has a government? What else would you need to hear to finally grasp the evident reality?
    I hereby retract my confidence from this leftist fascist centralist ineptocracy devised to *dictate* irrelevancies whilst failing on the (non-existent) grounds of Somerset and Berkshire.

    • HookesLaw

      Parliament makes policy. Ever heard of private members bills? Legalising abortion law was created under a private members bill.
      Your hysteria runs riot.

      • BarkingAtTreehuggers

        I like getting all excited about sh*te…erhm…women in politics. This one nailed it – right here, right now. So what are we left with? The question whether that Luciana lass is a Claire Perry type.
        The answer is, she most emphatically is!

        • HookesLaw

          You are a rambling hysteric.

    • mikewaller

      Does it even penetrate your limited perspective that (a) the crises in Somerset and along the Thames, whilst open to some degree of amelioration, are largely beyond human control and (b), are almost certainly confirmatory of what the “Treehuggers” have been banging on about?

      • HookesLaw

        In terms of tree huggers beliefs, I would say that the current weather is all part of the normal cycle of weather rather than some significant climate change event, but I would agree with your point (a).

        • BarkingAtTreehuggers

          …’beyond our control’ (the point made in a) whilst all part of a normal cycle? The implied logic is impenetrable.

          • HookesLaw

            No you are dim.
            We cannot control extreme excessive rainfall and there are limits to how we can minimise its effects.
            Our current weather is down to variations in the jetstream. It will vary its way back to what we consider ‘normal’ in due course. I do not see these variations in ‘weather’, no matter how long lasting, as opposed to ‘climate’ as being man made.

        • mikewaller

          Your capacity not to think the unthinkable puts me in mind of the 19th century American ornithologists and other avian experts who spent about 20 years coming up with ever more bizarre “natural” explanations for the disappearance of the passenger pigeon before finally accepting that human beings had shot and eaten it out of existence! [:-)]

          • HookesLaw

            I can think 20 unthinkable things before breakfast. In terms of real things I can view the weather record in the past.

      • BarkingAtTreehuggers

        I just cannot make sense of how your post was a response to my contribution. Perhaps it will enter your mind that you are indeed barking up the wrong tree here.

        • mikewaller

          Fortunately Hookeslaw could make sense of it, even though we disagree regarding global warming. Regarding that, to me “natural variability” comes a very poor second to the simple notion that if you cause the sun to put more heat energy into the Earth’s atmosphere, that additional energy is going to express itself in increasingly extreme ways.

          Beyond that I can think of two other compelling reasons for seeking to reduce our carbon footprint.First, the amount of filth that the emergent economies are putting up into the atmosphere might be decreasing the effects of global warming by reflecting sunlight back, but it risks creating the effect known as nuclear winter. If we do not clean up our act, how can we possibly expect them to clean up theirs?

          Second, what recent events have yet again revealed is that loss of electrical power has a devastating effect on the way we now lead out lives. As natural disasters including solar storms and pandemics, war and terrorist action could all bring this about on a massive scale, it is insane for almost everybody to have no back-up supply to meet such basic needs as recharging batteries and maintaining minimum light levels at night. From this perspective solar panels, local windmills, heat pumps etc. ought to be very much on the agenda of all clear thinking right-wingers.

  • Mynydd

    Smoking tobacco is addictive and damages your health.
    Smoking cannabis is addictive and damages your health.
    Why not outlaw both.

    • Alex

      Ever heard of Prohibition in the U.S.?

    • HookesLaw

      Cannabis is shown to create mental health problems. It is not as analogous as you make out.

      • Two Bob

        So does alcohol. Gonna ban that too?

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          No. They are all far to busy trying to ban freedom of speech but give them time.

    • BarkingAtTreehuggers

      Getting tanked is addicitve – ban it.
      Too much w*nking is addictive – ban it.
      Gangbanking taxpayers is addictive – ban it.

    • Two Bob

      Living is addictive and damages your health.

      Why not outlaw that as well?

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Please don’t give that Labour troll ideas.

  • Ian Walker

    If a parent spooned arsenic into their child’s food, would you object to any action being taken on the basis that it was a private matter in a private space?

    Second hand smoke is provably dangerous in confined spaces. The children subjected to it in these cases have no say in whether or not they are exposed, and therefore it’s right for society to act to protect them on their behalf.

    • Hello

      The health effects of heavy consumption of fast food are far worse, but we don’t legislate to dictate what parents feed their children. The children do not really have a choice. Should we legislate?

      • HookesLaw

        I think you are stretching a point.

        • Hello

          How so?

          • HookesLaw

            You are stretching a point by saying ‘heavy’ consumption of fast food. And then equating it with the affects of tobacco smoke, indeed saying it is’ far’ worse.
            We are of course told that obesity is a problem. But people can change their diet but once smoke has done its damage then the damage is done.
            Yes there is a point but I think its stretching it.

        • Count Dooku

          The point is well made and valid. It’s a ridiculous intrusion into our private lives and the government should have nipped it in the bud.
          We are in a ridiculous situation were nannying labour are allowed to pass law from the opposition benches!!!!!

          • HookesLaw

            See my point about the abortion act. Labour did not pass the law – it does not have a majority – parliament did. There are private members bills. Its not unusual.
            Driving a car is a public activity.

            • Count Dooku

              So is freedom of speech. Should gov ban that too because it offends others?

              • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                Well they are doing their very best in that department. Please do not encourage them.

      • mikewaller

        Fast food has considerable calorific value and is OK if only forming a small part of a balanced diet. There is no healthy level of passive smoking and – in my view – the punishment of adults who expose children to it should be severe. Action should also be taken against parents whose choice of foodstuffs or lack of control results in seriously obese children. Not only does this wreck the kids’ lives, it leaves us to pick up the medical pieces. These are not the kinds of freedom for which anyone with any brains ever died in a ditch.

        • Colonel Mustard

          And so it goes on. The trouble with selectively fascist busybodies like you is that there is never a line not to cross. ‘Child protection’ as a trump all in this country is reaching endemic levels of ridiculous hysteria and people like you are responsible for that.

          Do you really pick up the medical pieces, do you? Go to an A&E and see all the forms of harm that affect people, accidental, deliberate, negligent, from tattoos to alcohol. Ban the lot. Ban the lot and chip everyone, with CCTV in their homes to make sure they don’t do anything you might disapprove of. Read Orwell’s 1984. You will enjoy it. It is exactly the society people like you want to create.

          • mikewaller

            Calm down dear! I have already replied to another of your hugely over-wrought fulminations so I will keep it brief here. As I see it, your central problem is a burning need to strike a pose preferably behind some line drawn in the sand, the critical importance of which you alone determine. Sadly, you inevitably go astray simply because the world beyond your cyber-bubble is rather too complex for the limited cerebral processing capability you have at your disposal.

      • Ian Walker

        Yes, we should legislate companies to prevent them from bulking out foods clearly marketed at children with modified starch and corn syrup.

        • HookesLaw

          Well arguably we should legislate on packaging to make these things more obvious.

        • Hello

          You mean like legislating to put warnings on the front of cigarette packets? What if it doesn’t work though?

    • Alex

      “The children … have no say…”.
      Have you met any children recently?

    • HookesLaw

      Its sad that you have to legislate for this when it is a clear common sense matter. But whether it is a serious widespread activity seems a moot point to me.
      But I do not see what Ms Hardman is on about really. We elect politicians they go to parliament and they pass laws. If we do not like how someone votes we can vote them out.
      I see no ‘precedent’ being set. Parliament can vote how it likes and can be as contrary as it likes.

      • Hello

        Political arguments are won on precedent.

        • HookesLaw

          You think so? parliament can vote who it likes on issues. Composition of parliament changes over time.

          • Hello

            Yes, parliament can vote how it likes, but generally if an MP disagrees with a position but doesn’t feel they can win the argument they choose to abstain.

            Precedent is required to sell it to the public. Something that doesn’t have precedent has to be established. You try establishing something from scratch and packaging it up into a soundbite that’s simple enough. You’ll fail. Parliament votes on precedent or it doesn’t vote.

            • HookesLaw

              ‘generally if an MP disagrees with a position but doesn’t feel they can win the argument they choose to abstain.’ — I think that is a totally wrong analysis.
              And I think the rest of your point is confused as well.

              • Hello

                It’s not confused at all.

                • Wessex Man

                  Hooky has deliberately not ventured in Call me Dave abject surrender to the Lords, unelected, appointed failures placed in the Lords by the Tories, Labour and the Lib/Dums. Whose last trick was to talk out the fabled private members bill that would have given us a referendum on EU membership, if Call me Dave had won the election in 2015.

                  Hooky was very keen to remind us that only the Tories could bring it about but has stayed quite quiet since it was done away with.

                  Hooky well knows it was never going to happen and now hopes we all forget about it!

                • HookesLaw

                  I think Hello’s comments are confused – so there it lies.
                  We are still getting a referendum on the EU if you vote Tory. If labour were to be elected they could have repealed the private member’s bill anyway.
                  Meanwhile thick tory backbenchers voted against reforming the lords, not Cameron.
                  Your rambling comments are facile. Indeed disappointingly ignorant.

                • Hello

                  I’ll try again.

                  Abortion. No one is arguing that it should be banned anymore. Abortion is great. The right of every woman.

                  Gender equality is great too. The right of everyone.

                  What’s this? Abortion because of gender? God! That’s awful!

                  Precedent determines the direction of a debate, you’ll find it difficult to change that direction unless you find an overriding and conflicting precedent. People that want to actually change things do not want to discredit themselves by being completely on the wrong side of an argument. Precedent is the grounds that the public accepted before for a particular course of action, it’s safe to assume that they will accept those grounds again, so you try to repurpose them. Even if people disagree, you’re far less likely to be discredited.

                • HookesLaw

                  Precedent does not force a parliamentary vote. Your abortion camparison again seems confused. What might or might not happen on any issue in the future depends of the opinions and mood at the time.
                  Passing this vote does not tie any parliamentarians hands on an issue in the future.

                • Hello

                  I never argued that it bound hands, or that parliament was incapable of doing something radical.

                  In any case, I think you understand me perfectly well.

      • Two Bob

        Why did it not go to a referendum then?

        My god you sound like Harry enfields Toryboy.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      An utterly fatuous comparison. There is a difference between actively attempting to murder somebody and smoking a cigarette in their presence which may, or may not, have harmful consequences. By society, I assume you mean those sanctimonious hypocrites at Westminster who many feel have destroyed quite enough of our liberties already.

      • HookesLaw

        I agree the comparison is fatuous. But the issue of exposing children to smoke is an emotive one and I think its a bit knee jerk to berate parliament for its vote.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          And it is blatantly hypocritical for Westminster politicians to claim they are going to consult the public, trust the public, let them get on with their own lives etc a la Miliband yesterday, while seeking to control our behaviour at every opportunity.

          • HookesLaw

            Miliband is an idiot spouting dissembling rubbish. But health issues and children is an emotive one and indeed an important one. I can only repeat I think its a bit knee jerk to berate parliament on this issue. For my part I find it offensive to see people (often mothers) smoking in cars with children. Is it worthy of legislation? I am not sure.

            • Nicholas chuzzlewit

              I find smoking a disgusting activity, particularly in front of children. This vote in parliament however is just a kind of displacement activity by people dedicated to controlling other people’s lives and without due consideration of very hard one civil liberties. Civil liberties which in my estimation are diminishing with every passing year.

              • HookesLaw

                As has been said elsewhere, children have civil liberties as well.
                With liberties, with freedoms, come responsibilities. Is this issue of lack of responsibility so important as to warrant legislation. I repeat I am not sure, but it is an obvious area where public health is a legitimate concern.
                I do not see it as yet another excuse to rant against politicians. There I must leave it.

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  Fine. I will be fascinated to learn how they propose to enforce this idea if it becomes law.

                • HookesLaw

                  Well I suppose I must not leave it – if only to be able to agree with you. I still see people driving and using their mobiles.

                  But I would suggest the comparison lies with drinking and driving and the law reflecting what we think is socially acceptable.

                • Slim Jim

                  Here lies the heart of the problem – enforcement. I am reminded of the Smoke Alarm Act 1986 (?) which the government of the day passed following a series of tragic domestic fires. They realised it was unenforceable, but I don’t think the Commencement Order was ever enacted, indeed this Act may still lie on the statute book. Of course, it makes sense to fit a smoke alarm in one’s home, but to use the crude cudgel of legislation is not the way. Education was (and is) the answer. They are compulsory in new builds under building regulations. Most people have a smoke alarm in their houses nowadays, just like most people have given up tobacco. Once again, the state is trying to be responsible for the individual. The politicians should think harder about these matters, rather than knee-jerking.

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  Thank you for reminding me that the voice of common sense still exists.

                • Slim Jim

                  You are welcome Nicholas. What disturbs me is that through all the stages of this legislation, politicians of all stripes chose to over-ride common sense. Can we expect their Lordships to point this out to the Commons?

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  Perhaps, but would they listen?

                • Slim Jim

                  La-la-la – can’t hear you!

                • mikewaller

                  Does your notion of commonsense extend to the reporting of sexual abuse within families. This,too, largely relies on dear old Nicholas’s “Stalinesque” reporting by concerned citizens on the behaviour of others. I also suspect that the detection rate is very much lower than the actuality. Are we to assume that it would be abandoned as an area for legal remedy under the new Nicholas/Jim commonsense approach?

                  BTW, a perfectly harmless response of mine to Nicholas is now awaiting moderation. This it seems to me is something over which a genuine libertarian would be seriously exercised.

                • Slim Jim

                  Goodness, your cage seems to be well and truly rattled! If you knew anything about the law, you would know that it tends to stay away from inside the threshold of the private family home, in most cases. I do not support smoking in front of children, in any situation, and to bring up the issue of child abuse within the family is not helpful. Nicholas and I agree that the issue here is practicality of enforcement, and I cited trying to force people to fit smoke detectors as a parallel. The other issue is the state’s intervention yet again in matters it really shouldn’t be, especially when it still sanctions the legal use (and taxation) of a toxic weed. Incidentally, I was moderated in a previous post, but my host has the right to do so.

                • mikewaller

                  The only way in which bringing up the issue of within-family sexual abuse is “not helpful” is that it discomforts your wholly simplistic argument. There are no hard and fast rules, things like sexual abuse must have the full backing of the law even if they raise problems of enforcement and heavily rely on Citizen A reporting Citizen B. With other much more trivial examples, problems of enforcement and neighbour on neighbour reporting cause more problems than they are worth. It was originally said that what became the Dangerous Dogs Act was just such a trivial example. Then there were a spat of small children being killed by dogs, and – quite rightly – the view change and the Act was bought into being. Now another such case has occurred and the police may well catch it because it has been suggested that they ignored several complaints about the dog concerned. And if this is proven, with the death of a baby involved, quite right too.

                  It’s fine to address up on your John Bull outfit and bang on about the old English liberties and the practicalities of enforcement; but remember, important though these considerations are, they led to centuries of wife beating and worse because earlier generations endlessly repeated the oh so smart mantra: “Never get involved in domestics”.

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  Get yourself a copy of 1984. It is clearly the type of society you are longing for. You could apply for the job of Commisioner of the ‘thought police’. I bet you would just love to arrest people and imprison them without trial for having thoughts of which you disapprove.

                • Two Bob

                  ‘With liberties, with freedoms, come responsibilities.’

                  That is for the individual to decide.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Don’t ever try that politician’s weasel scam of coercing responsibility through legislation to “send a message”. Our parliament is churning out far too much law, much of it bad law, as though the statute is the answer to everything.

                  “Whatever will they think of next?” has never had a more sinister ring.

              • mikewaller

                We are talking about the kind of irresponsible parent who impairs the health of his of her child by forcing that child to ingest a noxious substance, leaving us to pick up the health and employment consequences . If you think that they have an inalienable right to do so, yours is the libertarianism of the madhouse.

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  Well you just sit back and enjoy being an unquestioning, sanctimonious prig. Nobody would argue that smoking in a car is bad for children. Further, why not ban smoking in the house if children happen to be living there why is this proposed law limited to cars? Have you given so much as a moments thought to how such a law would actually be enforced in a manner which was not random and thus unfair on the few that might be caught while the vast majority are not penalised. Please do not march out that new Labour clap-trap about ‘deterrence’. No this law, if enacted, will be policed by sanctimonious busybodies with a camera phone posting images on social media and then ordering the police to prosecute. How very Stalinesque with neighbour betraying neighbour. It is the rule of the mob and not what this country stands for. When you can frame a law which both protects children and is practically enforceable then you can indulge in cheap jibes about mad houses. Until then, think before you type.

  • AnotherDave

    I’m looking forward to the elections in May. I’ll be voting for UKIP.

  • ButcombeMan

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/10516810/Nigella-let-her-children-smoke-cannabis-says-assistant.html

    Cannabis is known to have a very profound and damaging effect on vulnerable teenage brains

    • Two Bob

      What about happy go lucky retirees?

      • ButcombeMan

        Bad for them too, smoking anything is really stupid.

        Nigella is of course, not retired.

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