H/T Harley for this little bit of good news from Massachusetts:
WESTMINSTER, Mass. (AP) — Only a handful of people were able to speak on a proposal that could make the tiny Massachusetts town of Westminster the first in the nation to ban all sales of tobacco products when boos and shouts from the crowd shut down the public hearing Wednesday night.
But amid shouts of “America!” and “Freedom Now,” Board of Health chairwoman Andrea Crete gaveled the hearing to a close just 25 minutes into it instead of taking comments.
“The crowd’s getting out of control and the room’s filled to capacity,” she said. “We don’t want any riots.”
Crete and the two other board members were escorted out by police, and the crowd dispersed. She said the board would accept written testimony until Dec. 1 and would vote later. She didn’t specify a date.
“I’m disappointed that we didn’t get to have the hearing,” she said. “We’re trying to save lives and prevent children from being future users.”
Joyce McGuire, a Westminster resident and nonsmoker who opposes the ban, also was disappointed the hearing ended early.
“I think people are really angry because they feel this is being shoved down their throats,” she said. And with the proposal drawing national media attention, she added, “I think we all feel really embarrassed. I don’t think this is the way our town is.”
The decision rests solely with the board, which says it is fed up with bubblegum-flavored cigars, electronic cigarettes and other new products that appeal to young people. Board members say the easiest course of action is to enact a total ban on all sales within town lines.
It reminds me a bit of the protest against Stony Stratford‘s proposed outdoor smoking ban.
But what happens if the Board of Health just goes ahead and bans tobacco products anyway? After all, these people always think they know what’s best for everyone else. Are they going to change their minds just because a bunch of people show up with placards and US flags?
In other related news, I’ve been reminded of Alan Auld:
A furious smoker wants to sue the government for £1 million — claiming the ban on lighting up ruined his social life.
Alan Auld says he has been forced to give up his regular trips to the pub and has lost friends because of the law.
And the 69-year-old is asking for donations from other smokers to fund his court battle against ministers.
Dad-of-one Alan, of Aberdeen, said: “The smoking ban finished my social life. I’ve been going to pubs since 1961 and have smoked ever since I’ve been at school, but the smoking ban killed the pub experience for me.
“I used to go two or three times a week and it was a great way to see all my friends. I’ve only been in a pub five or six times since it’s been voted through. I’ve decided that it’s time to act.”
Well, I’m very sympathetic. I’ve had the same experience, after all. And I imagine there are about a million other people like us in the UK, judging by the ISIS survey.
What had been always been a welcoming pub for smokers up until 30 June 2007 became horribly unwelcoming on 1 July 2007, when, as Deborah Arnott predicted, smokers were “exiled to the outdoors.” That was always bound to shatter communities, and sever friendships. Never mind all the pubs that have closed their doors since then, I think that the real (and in my view, irreparable) damage caused by the ban has been the social damage.
I wish Alan Auld well, of course. But I can’t see how you can prove in a court that it was the smoking ban, and the smoking ban alone, that cost you your social life. Are you going to call upon former friends to testify on your behalf? Lost friends, in my experience, can all too easily become enemies.
Furthermore, even if I did think I knew how to prove it, I don’t think I would pursue the matter in court if I didn’t have the money to hire lawyers to fight the case. And I can easily imagine that something like this could run up hundreds of thousands of pounds in costs. Which is why I’d never dream of doing it. I just don’t have enough money.
All of which means that there is no justice, except for the rich.
Nevertheless I noticed that, in the comments under Simon Clark’s article (linked to above), quite a few commenters seemed more than happy to bung Alan Auld a few quid. So I’ll direct them to Handymanphil and his link to justice4smokers’ PayPal donations page (assuming that is the right place for donations to Alan Auld’s fighting fund).
I’d be interested to hear what my readers think about this.
Meet America’s oldest living vet. He smokes cigars, does yard work, drives and drinks whiskey. And he’s 108.