Friday, 25 July 2008

Smoking ban law is stupid

Although a fervent non smoker I've ranted before about the stupid approach of the authorities at trying to reduce smoking and its effects in this country. I had bridled at the suggestion that cigarettes be placed out of sight under the counter; this to me was an interference in the liberty of the shopkeeper to sell a perfectly legal product to those above a certain age in the manner he or she saw fit. Now we have a chap, a Mr Gordon Williams, being fined for smoking in the workplace. Let me fill in the background to why Mr Williams received his on the spot fine.

Gordon Williams is a painter and decorator and also a smoker. The police and local council were doing a safety spot check on vans, builders vehicles and the like at a lay-by near Aberystwyth in Wales. That was fine. Mr Williams and a companion in the van were both smoking cigarettes as they waited their turn to be checked. Mr Williams' van was his own vehicle, not a company van and he wasn't at that moment using it for work but going out to get some teabags for the wife. It was decreed by the jobsworth at the lay-by that the van was Mr Williams' place of work and that therefore he shouldn't have been smoking and was issued with an automatic penalty ticket for £30! Now I know that conflict can occur between a rule for the good of the community and a person's individual liberty but this incident just goes to show how patently ludicrous a law or its interpretation can be.

Mr Williams understandably paid up not wanting to see the fine increase to £50 because of non payment. Now though he wants to appeal over the matter; I wish him well in his endeavours.

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