10 August 2009

FOREST Spending Millions On 'Amend Smoke Ban' Campaign

FOREST are funded almost exclusively by the Tobacco Companies, they have little grassroots support. The Tobacco companies are spending millions on a campaign through FOREST, they say 'will save pubs and clubs'. It is sad to see 'amend the smoke ban' videos on labour party sites like BLOGGERS4LABOUR.

This is one of the reasons why I do not take advertising on this site - messagespace and google ads are full of right-wing campaigns funded by big business and rich individuals who all support the Tories.

The truth of the matter is that this is all about saving tobacco company profits. And with a Tory government on the way (increasingly funded by tobacco company donations and therefore onside), all they have to do is shift public opinion a little to accepting an 'amendment' of the ban. They are getting increasingly confident.

The Tories will tread carefully on this one, because a lot of their voters support the present ban. It is an issue that crosses party lines like no other.

The way I think the Tories will do this is to change the law so that Local Authorities (mostly Tory because of first-past-the-post), will be able to amend the ban - allow smoking rooms and the like, or maybe scrap the ban altogether. And central government will try to stay aloof and wash their hands of it - claiming local 'democracy' at work. When these councils stay Tory for decades with just 30% of the vote under our present system - they can get away with ignoring a lot of voters wishes on this and other issues.

All of us, who care about our health and about being able to enjoy a night out without stinking of smoke and coughing our lungs up have to fight this. Especially for the sake of the millions of people who suffer from asthma and lung diseases.

Join ASH or pledge them a donation to fight the tobacco company millions.

By the way, if FOREST really did care about saving local pubs, wouldn't they be donating this millions of advertising money directly to the pubs they want to save?

The truth of the matter is that most pubs are suffering because of the recession and supermarkets absurdly cheap alcohol promotions. This is the view shared by publicans:-
"As a publican myself, I know many of the problems facing the industry, but I do think that the main issue is the disproportionate price differential between pubs and supermarkets. Over the last couple of years I have seen a huge increase in customers “pre loading” which is to consume quantities of drink at home before visiting the pub, so that they do not have to spend so much. This means that the publicans who are spending the money creating the environment for a safe and enjoyable night out are not benefiting from the sales to recoup this investment. This is forcing many pubs out of business, and costing the country not only money in the form of jobs and income tax, but more importantly in terms of loosing the community aspect of the trade. As for the city centre venues which are constantly being blamed for the “binge drinking” culture, you will find that most of the offenders have drank heavily before leaving home, and trouble is instigated when they are refused entry to the pubs and clubs, who then get blamed for the trouble as it is outside their venue.
I feel that a simple but effective solution to this would be to increase the tax on packaged alcoholic products such as bottles of beer, cans of cider and alcopops whilst reducing it on draught products such as beer, lager and cider. This would not stop people drinking, but guide them by price what to drink and where to drink it.
The benefits of draught are that firstly it is sold in a controlled environment (I have never seen a fridge ID someone or tell someone that they have had too much to drink), whereas supermarkets sell in bulk and have no control over who the end consumer is and how much they drink. Pubs do not allow people to wander the street with pints in their hands. Another huge implication for this is the green issue. Kegs and pint glasses are always washed and reused, bottles and have to be melted down and remade, repackaged and shipped out again. This would save millions of tonnes of landfill (not everybody recycles) and huge amounts of energy.
Side effects of this would be increased jobs, (because supermarkets and off licences don’t employ as many people per customer as pubs) therefore increase income tax. People would drink more locally brewed drinks which is better for the countries economy. Any place people meet creates community, that is something we are sadly lacking in this country at the moment, people would have a place where they belong, mixed ages in pubs creates respect for one another and people who have more respect tend not to behave antisocially and are more inclined to ensure their own children behave themselves".
Put an extra tax on off licence sales and increase the age of off-licence sales to 21 and the pubs would be heaving. The smoking ban has had a marginal effect. I think it has changed pub culture for the better. Far more families and women with children are coming back to pubs and this will continue while the ban is in place - all this would be lost if the ban was reversed.

Pubs are now cleaner and more inclined to serve food and have provided more decent outside seating. This is better for all customers. Pubs that are dirty and not willing to change have been the ones that have closed. A lot of these pubs would have closed anyway, the ban might have just speeded this process up. Reversing the ban more than four years into it, will not bring back these pubs, nor would most customers really want to return to these smelly establishments.

The million plus people who work in pubs and clubs (mostly young people) are now having their health protected and not being forced to breath in smoke just to have a livelyhood. This alone is worth the ban, but the benefit to customers is also the clincher.

The Torie are not going to amend or scrap the ban due to any principle or liberatarian concern (ridiculous though this claim is). They are doing it for their party's bank balance as the Tobacco companies have traditionally bankrolled the Tories and will continue to do so because they know the Tories will deliver them regressive policies like this. The Tories love big business when it gives them money.


  1. My kids really enjoy listneing to the adult songs on the jukebox, getting involved with the adult conversations, playing the poker machines, and using the vending machines in the mens room until 4:00 AM now that the bar is a safe "public" place that kids cannot be denied entry to. Way to go ASH.

  2. Oh, how outraged you are, so your kids will never hear any of this music on the radio? Will you never go to a football match and hear choice language? Your kids would hear all of this. By families taking their kids for a meal in a pub, I mean people who accompany AND importantly SUPERVISE their kids during the day. In which case no parent or publican would let kids hang around to 4am and play on the vending machines etc. You are just being ridiculous to try and make some point that doesn't actually exist in reality.

  3. Jonathan Campbell17/8/09 8:11 pm

    Given that they are only trying to get it ammended to what was in liebours manifesto, I cant really see the problem.