Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Not equal under the law under smoking restrictions

The latest smoking story to hit the Scottish broadsheets tells how the Scottish Court Service has banned its employees from smoking in front of the court building. Sorry, was that a request or a unilateral change to conditions of employment? not too sure:
The Scottish Court Service has told lawyers and their staff to stop smoking outside the Court of Session, Edinburgh, and use a designated shelter.
Whatever. Solicitors working in the building are not obliged to follow the same rules as employees. Althouth they have been requested to accept the restriction on smoking in front of the building Donald Findlay, one of the better known local solicitors, gives his views: 'until somebody shows me a law which I am breaking, I will adopt my usual policy on these things and do what I like within the law'. 

Well, quite. 

And doesn't this show how anti-smoking restrictions divide those that have freedom from those that don't? Employees in a building are at the mercy of their employers, but those who are self-employed are not in a contract with an employer.

And before anyone points out that this is not about a law – no it isn't. But the law also hits those at the bottom of the income heap harder than those at the top. Who is more likely to be dismissed for transgressing the smoking ban? of course, it is the employee who is cheaper and easier to replace and probably less likely to sue for unfair dismissal. When you employ a successful professional, you won't want the expense of dismissing that person and having to appoint someone else because of what seems like a trivial issue. But for those at the bottom of the pile, isn't the smoking ban just another useful rule to keep them in order? 

It's supposed to be about reducing health inequalities, isn't it? but while the children of the stockbroker play outside in the garden, the children of the checkout worker get to go to the play park, if their parents can cope with not being able to smoke when they get there. This is making it harder, not easier, to iron out inequalities. 

The (so-called) Labour Party did its members a grave dis-service by supporting the war on smokers and pretending this was in the interests of workers. From destroying many of their social outlets, to treating them as drones who must stop smoking in order to address health inequalities, this and similar laws treat people, not as autonomous beings responsible for their own welfare, but as social statistics. 

Sheila Duffy, predictably, applauds the outdoor restrictions of the Scottish Court Service, claiming that they will protect the public from exposure, and praises them for going beyond the letter of the law. 'Nuff said. 

The Herald covers this story here.


Pat Nurse MA said...

well said!

Michael Davidson said...

Another excellent commentary on the deeply unpleasant tactics of the control lobby active in all branches of society.
Well done too pointing out the inequality in smoking bans. As always the working class are the ones who suffer most- though Sheila Duffy would no doubt point out it is for their own good.
How they must be revelling in it all, those who have never matured enough to see beyond an adolescent belief that their lifestyle is right and every other choice is unacceptable.