I wrote a piece earlier warning readers that the smoke-haters were flexing their muscles.
This turned out to be pretty prophetic as, first, Cork County Council proposed to ban smoking in playgrounds and then Health Minister Dr James Reilly proposed a ban on smoking in private cars.
I debated the playground issue on several radio stations and many contributors took the time to phone in and voice their opposition to the move. There are no scientific or health grounds for the proposed ban but supporters hinted darkly that the "sight of someone smoking" was giving bad example to their precious children. The justifications for restrictions on smoking are becoming more dubious and shrill.
Anyway, I'm grateful to 96FM in Cork for the following update on the status of this most odious ban proposal.
It's now emerged that Cork County Council may not have the money needed to implement the proposed ban on smoking in childrens playgrounds. A motion was put before councillors at a meeting earlier this week and as expected received the support of a majority of the 48 members .. However there were concerns about the resources needed to police a ban ... The local authority is likely to erect signs asking people to refrain from smoking.
I argued strongly that the incidence of smoking in playgrounds was probably quite small, it was not harming the children and a law was unnecessary and unworkable. What I think happened was that they costed employing the phobic snitches to police such a ban and estimated the few paltry euro they might collect in fines. They then decided that they didn't really care that much what adults did around children in their playgrounds if it cost the council money. So much for that nonsense.
On the national front I also argued on the smokers' behalf that a ban on smoking in cars was unnecessary nonsense. There is some confusion here because the Irish Times reported correctly that Dr Reilly was actively considering a ban on smoking in cars when children of 16 or under, were present. But the article went on to claim that if they decided to proceed with it but found that it was too difficult to enforce they might decide to place a blanket ban on smoking in cars regardless.
Dr Brian Maurer of ASH, on a late night radio debate with me, supported the ban where children were present but opposed a blanket ban on the grounds of civil liberties. But like the playground ban it is unnecessary, unhelpful, unenforceable and there are many more urgent and pressing problems that are being avoided in favour of diverting public attention to this non-issue.
So our detractors are not only flexing their muscles, they are demonstrating their crass, ignorant intolerance.