Sunday, October 30, 2005

Health warning

I'm not going to make a habit of this, but I must award full marks to the council for their plans to make Birmingham a smoke-free city - kudos to Sue Anderson, the Liberal Democrat cabinet member for Social Care and Health for getting on with this.

While this is the logical extension of the current government proposals, it should be noted that Liverpool (run by the Liberal Democrats) is trying something similar. It requires a private bill to pass through parliament. This isn't a quick process and there are strict time limits, so I hope that the council can get the bill readied for the end of November and that this isn't just a cheap publicity stunt. Liverpool started this last year and the bill is waiting to go to committee, having passed the second reading in the Lords in July. The bill is opposed by a number of petitioners, so isn't facing an easy passage.

If only the government had been prepared to follow this path, it would be a whole lot easier. Banning smoking in every workplace isn't about personal choice, it's about protecting those around the smoker. Just as we have rules and regulations to protect those who choose to work in industries where they are exposed to toxic materials - asbestos, radioactive sources, chemicals - we should offer the same protection to bar staff.

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