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Friday, July 06, 2007 

No smoking. It is against the law to smoke while reading this blog.

Ignoring all the arguments for and against the smoking ban, which I personally oppose but as a non-smoker don't really care that much about, I'm sure there's one thing we can agree on, and that's the pointless, idiotic and perplexing bureaucracy that's meant to be enforcing it.

Can anyone even attempt to justify the need for every "smokefree premises" to display notices reminding the general public of the smoking ban? This isn't just extended to shops, pubs etc; these signs are appearing absolutely everywhere, including on open plan bus shelters where's the only a roof for cover, churches, and public toilets. Why every single shop eshould have to display such signs in the first place is completely ridiculous, and will doubtless soon be forgotten about in the years to come, but the need to stick them up in bus shelters ought to also point attention to the drafting of the ban in the first place. Are all acts of parliament this badly written and impenetrable to all but the most experienced of decipherers? This is the section on " Enclosed and substantially enclosed premises":

Enclosed and substantially enclosed premises
2.—(1) For the purposes of section 2 of the Act, premises are enclosed if they—

(2) For the purposes of section 2 of the Act, premises are substantially enclosed if they have a ceiling or roof but there is—

which is less than half of the area of the walls, including other structures that serve the purpose of walls and constitute the perimeter of the premises.

(3) In determining the area of an opening or an aggregate area of openings for the purposes of paragraph (2), no account is to be taken of openings in which there are doors, windows or other fittings that can be opened or shut.

(4) In this regulation "roof" includes any fixed or moveable structure or device which is capable of covering all or part of the premises as a roof, including, for example, a canvas awning.

The most sensible way to introduce the law would have been to distribute the signs (as has been done, but not enough have been provided in some cases) and then leave it up the proprietor/managers as to whether they actually need to be put on display. Instead we now have these ugly, ubiquitous signs staring back at you wherever you happen to be. Doubtless the reasoning behind it is so that those who do light up can't then come up with the excuse of ignorance if challenged, but like so much of this government's legislation it treats the public like idiots who can't either remember anything or who need to be knocked senseless with the omnipresence of the ban in order for it to sink in. Treating the public like ignorant children is something that Brown additionally needs to change.

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