Bucko‘s local council, Blackburn and Darwen, has been clamping down on litter louts. He decided to investigate:
I fired off an FOI request to B&D council and asked exactly what they had issued fines for in the last six months. The results came back this morning
“FROM next week litter louts and owners who let their dogs foul the streets in Blackburn with Darwen will face ‘on the spot fines’ if caught.”
Fines issued for litter – 137
Fines issued for dog fouling – 26
“They are like secret police. They appear from nowhere and just slap you with a fine.
Fines issued for cigarette buts – 4113
It seems to have been aimed squarely at smokers, since they’re the ones who’ve been hit hardest.
According to my calculations, 4113 times £75 is £308,475 in 6 months, and £616,950 per year, extracted from the citizens of Blackburn and Darwen. The population of Blackburn and Darwen at the 2011 census was 147,489. Assuming a 20% prevalence of smoking, I make that £21 from every single smoker in Blackburn and Darwen. Or about one smoker in every four will have been hit with a £75 fine.
It’s just organised theft, really. There may as well be a bunch of muggers on the streets, robbing anyone they see smoking a cigarette. Or anything that looks like a cigarette.
But that’s what Tobacco Control is: Organised theft. Organised Crime.
I asked in the comments which parties controlled the council. The answer I got was: 37 Labour, 13 Conservative, 1 Lib Dem. Why am I not surprised? And maybe at the next council elections, smokers will stop voting Labour.
But if they do, and the Conservatives win, isn’t it likely that they’ll do the same as the Conservatives at Westminster? They’ll do nothing. They might even increase the fine to £100. What politician is going to turn down a new source of income? It’s all theft in a good cause, isn’t it? Surely it’s a vitally needed Public Health measure! Shouldn’t it be extended to include anyone who drops chips outside any of Blackburn and Darwen’s chippies? Wouldn’t that be another Public Health measure? The possibilities are endless.
And I’m wondering whether Tobacco Control is now moving globally to not just ban smoking (and anything that looks like smoking) in indoor public places, but also outdoor public places.
After all, a few weeks back, New York City councillor Peter Koo proposed a ban on smoking while walking on the city streets. And then Ireland’s James Reilly proposed a smoking ban in eating areas outside restaurants. And now our attention is being drawn to an English local authority targeting smokers who drop cigarette butts outdoors.
In each case there’s a different justification for the attack on smoking outdoors. Smokers are a nuisance, or they’re litter bugs, or maybe just bad examples to the ubiquitous chiiiildren that invariably front these campaigns.
And Tobacco Control is a global organisation, operating out of the World Health Organisation. They hold regular conferences, at one exotic location or other, much like the climate scientists in the UN. And these conferences now seem to be conducted in complete secrecy, with the world’s press excluded. It seems entirely plausible that they’ve now decided to push to extend smoking bans to ever-expanding outdoor areas, so that already-excluded smokers are excluded even more. And that’s the order that’s gone out to all their activists around the world: Start pushing for outdoor smoking bans. Do it locally. Push for them using any possible justification you can dream up. Ban smoking in cars. Ban smoking in parks and on beaches. Ban smoking while walking. Ban smoking while eating. Extend the bans from hospital grounds into surrounding streets. Extend them around schools that are full of chiiildren. The chiiiildren are your infantry: nobody can defeat them.
The politicians won’t get in their way. As we can see in Blackburn and Darwen, they’ll just be glad of a new income stream of fines from smokers.
But we smokers can band together. And we’re beginning to do so. In the past couple of weeks I met up with several people just because they were smokers like me. And Bucko was one of them. He drove a long way to meet up with us.
There’s a network of smokers slowly emerging around the world. They’re talking to each other. And they’re doing things for each other. I wrote this post today because Bucko asked me to, and I’m more than glad to help. Legiron in Scotland has done the same. And so has Grandad in Ireland. That’s four blogs mentioning it. (And now a fifth, Dick Puddlecote) What happens when there are 40 or 400?
The larger and more extensive the network, the more powerful it becomes. And I think that in a few years time this loose, informal network will become a new global superpower with millions of adherents. And they’ll destroy the organised crime syndicate of Tobacco Control.