Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Exclusive: Patricia Hewitt to Ban Alcohol in Pubs & Hotels

In a surprise move the Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt is to announce that the Government will take the smoking ban one stage further and ban the sale of alcohol in public places at certain times of the day. She is said to have already drawn up plans which will see pubs and hotels go tee-total in a bid to curb Britain's ever growing alcohol dependency problem. The top secret document has been leaked to this Blog and will create uproar when the details become known. The Government says it is being totally consistent in its approach and cites 'protecting people from themselves' as one of its aims. Patricia Hewitt is said to be 'buoyed' up by the huge majority in last night's votes to ban smoking outright in public places (except House of Commons bars, natch) and believes that it would be possible to obtain a majority to ban the sale of alcohol in pubs. Asked for a comment this morning, a govermnet spin doctor said: "Patricia Hewitt believes that the health of the nation is her number one concern and that people have to be saved from themselves. They will thank her in the long run." Meanwhile, Rob Hayward, chief executive of the Beer & Pub Association reacted with outrage. "F****g hell," was his initial reaction.

Now, dear reader, you have presumably gathered by now that this is a little invention on my part, but it does have a certain 'nanny state' logic behind it, doesn't it? Alcohol kills, just as smoking does. If we were to ban everything that was bad for the population we'd not have much left, would we? I'm sick of being told by the Government what I can and cannot do. This is the most illiberal government in modern times. I hate smoking. I hate the stench it leaves on my clothes and kissing a smoker can be like licking an ashtray (but let's not go there), but I would defend people's right to smoke, just as I would defend their right to free speech, something the Government will be seeking to curtail today in the Terror Bill. A sad day for liberal democracy. Incidentally, this is a prime example of why David Cameron calls himself a liberal Conservative.

9 comments:

Bridgford said...

Iain - AFAIK you can't die through breathing in other people's exhaled alcohol fumes.

There is a slight difference here ...

Anonymous said...

Typical smokers argument: there is alcohol so why ban smoking at workplaces?

People die because of interolant smokers smoking at their workplaces.

People DONT die because of people drinking at their workplace in pubs or hotels.

Neil Craig said...

I had the honour to be the only person to speak at conference against the scottish LibDems banning smoking (a number of people spoke for a partial ban). I did this on the grounds that the claimed evidence that passive smoking kills is complete guff - all studies purporting to show this have been within their own statistical error limits & in any case modern extraction systems are able to remove +90% of smoke anyway.

russ said...

Anonymous is right, but it's also worth saying that alcohol in small doses is somewhat healthy. Smoking in any level or dose is not.

barbara worth said...

Iain

I don't follow your logic. I'm not sure what the official Conservative line on pub licensing is, but most of the right leaning press seem to want to kerb sale of alcohol by pubs and clubs by reversing the 24 hour licensing provisions.

I just don't see the distinction- the Telegraph et al seem happy to restrict the activities of young binge drinkers ostensibly for their own good or because they are a nuisance to ordinary people going about their business but smokers apparently have a fundamental human right to light up in public places.

Edmund Burke said...

As Bill Hicks once said, "I don't know anyone who's crashed a car or beaten his wife after having a smoke."

What's sauce for the goose...

Lady Finchley said...

Mr. Craig,

You know this how? Are you a scientist? A doctor?

Well Dr. Craig, can you explain why I cough and have a bad throat after being in a smokey pub?

Mmm, yes, I thought not.

Neil Craig said...

Think again your ladyship.

"...study also found no statistical significance at a 95 percent level. So the press release just ignored the whole issue of significance altogether.

The third meta-analysis, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), found slight statistical significance when 48 studies were combined. Looked at separately, though, only seven showed significant excesses of lung cancer, meaning 41 did not.

Further, the combined increased risk was merely 24 percent, also called a "relative risk" of 1.24.

Such tiny relative risks are generally considered meaningless, given the myriad pitfalls in epidemiological studies. "As a general rule of thumb," says the editor of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, Marcia Angell, "we are looking for a relative risk of 3 or more" before accepting a paper for publication."
from http://www.sepp.org/reality/pseudosci.html

That you don't like smokey pubs is perfectly reasonable. You may then freely choose not to visit them & only to go to non-smoking pubs. If enough people feel the same then profit maximising landlords will go non smoking, as almost all restaurants have. This is how freedom of choice works.

The fact that nanny insists on a ban proves it is unpopular.

Another alternative would be to make licensing rules require modern smoke extractors which can remove 90% of smoke & end any convenience or health question. That this is not proposed as an alternative shows that what we are dealing with is PC Puritanism not a genuine health concern.

James said...

I have been attacked 3 times, I've had my car vandalised many times, I've had abuse shouted at me in the streets, I've had my personal possessions stolen and during my time working in a bar I've seen bar staff and customers attacked.

All of these acts were done by people under the influence of alcohol.

People drinking alcohol is dangerous to people that work in bars, other patrons of the bars and the general population, not to mention it being highly unsociable.

People getting drunk in bars removes my freedom to sit and socialise with my friends without getting beer spilled on me, having to listen to peoples overly loud and crass conversations and risking getting assaulted either in the bar or on the journey home.

A ban on alcohol would also take a great deal of strain off the NHS, after all, why should *I* have to pay for the healthcare of someone that has damaged their own body with alcohol?