Friday, May 31, 2013

Can't Take It

Smoking ban inspectors facing agression

Government inspectors are too scared to check the smoking ban is not being flouted in cafes and bars and are now travelling in pairs with police back-up, according to media reports on Thursday.
The food safety body NVWA says inspectors are afraid of agression from cafe owners and clients and have been working in pairs since last year. 

The new legislation will see smoking prohibited within 15 meters of entrances to stations, airports, metro stations and ports, workplaces, entrances to apartment blocks, and in children's playgrounds and beaches from tomorrow.
In June 2014, the ban will be extended and enforced on long-distance trains and shipping journeys, hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and markets and on suburban railway platforms.
Tasmanian authorities are scrutinising legal advice that indicates Launceston's smoke free areas are invalid.
It now appears that the regulations have not been finalised, which a court might consider if a fine or power was challenged.
The Launceston City Council says it has received legal advice that the Public Health Act regulations are not complete.
The Launceston mayor Albert van Zetten says that has called into question the smoking ban in the city and means plans to extend the bans have been deferred.
"We thought we had the legal ability to do that but what's happened is apparently there's some by-laws that we were relying on under the DHHS which hasn't quite been done," he said.
Launceston City Council discovered its smoking bans in two malls and two bus stops where in trouble when it tried to extend the bans to other areas.
The bans have been in place for two years but the council has legal advice they are not valid because it is not the "occupier" of the affected streets.
Smoking is legal. It is totally inhumane to tell a sick person that, by fiat, they are not allowed to do something, that they must have "therapy" imposed on them when that has little to do with their immediate condition, when they are not harming others. It can be hard enough to get a person to seek necessary help. It can become impossible unless they are forcibly detained when they are provided with a powerful reason for refusing help.
There is no health gain from this. It is a cruel infringement of human liberties that really benefits no one, it is (and I accept that this is a bias) another blind application of universal rules based approaches that has become so prevalent in what is called social policy. In pursuit of goals and targets, in the desire to control, we have become inhumane, censorious, lacking in fundamental human empathy.    

In this new debate, however, the focus of legislators’ interest has narrowed considerably, and now includes some of the spaces we might naturally regard as our most private – namely the interiors of our homes and cars.
Legislation that determines what we can and cannot do in our own homes simply does not fall into the same category as a law to stop you lighting up a cigarette in a crowded bar. The health lobby might present this new push as simply a natural progression from existing legislation, but the fact is that this crosses a significant line, and is in danger of setting new and unwelcome precedents.
And there are other issues over how this will be policed. Will police have the resources (given the cuts in their budget) to effectively prosecute this; and given the finite resources they have, is this where we want them spent? Look at the number of drivers still seen on their mobile phones. And what if the windows are open? What if the roof is down on a convertible?
Perhaps the biggest concern, however, is precedent. If the state has the right to stop parents smoking in front of their children in the car, why not the living room? Does it also have the right to control what they feed to their offspring at the kitchen table? Does the state have the right to determine what levels of saturated fat children ingest? Or what TV programmes they are permitted to watch?
The urge to protect children is an honourable one, but it cannot be a carte blanche for illiberal laws.

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