No Smoke Without Fire

Although much beloved by every sane person on the planet, the smoking ban still manages to fuel debate and generate the odd story or two. These used to be along the lines of non-compliance or defiance, but seem to have mainly died up. So it is even more surprising, and disappointing, to find someone in trouble simply for trying to comply with the law.

Dawn Lemm, of the Judge and Jury, in Colwyn Bay, was given a fixed penalty fine of £350 for breaching regulations. Her crime? While waiting for official “No Smoking” signs to arrive, she put her own up. Sadly for her, these didn’t show “a graphic representation of a burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle with a red bar which crosses the cigarette symbol’.

Dawn’s impromptu signage was also the wrong size: the law requires them to be rectangular and with the shortest side at least 6.3in long. Now this all seems very petty to me, and it’s not surprising that Ms Lemm refused to pay.

However, although the long arm of the law may not be able to reach the likes of Colonel Gaddafi, Llandudno magistrates had no such problem in dealing with Dawn and her heinous crimes. They fined her £150, with £120 costs, and £15 victims’ surcharge.


Fredrik Eich said…
The smoking ban will always be a problem until it is either repealed or at the very least amended. I find it hard to grasp that I live in a country that likes to think of itself as tolerant and fair but will quite happily put someone behind bars for failing to pay a fine for putting ashtrays out for his customers in his pub. I can not remember a law preventing anyone from makinbg their pub smokfree and I don't remember the people that did make their pubs smokfree going to prison for it.
RedNev said…
Fredrik Eich: let's get the facts right. He was jailed for refusing to pay a fine. He was not jailed because of the reason for the fine.

Also, the reason for the fine was that he allowed his customers to smoke illegally in his pub, NOT because he put ashtrays out. Surely you knew that ashtrays aren't illegal?

But you're right about one thing: no one went to prison for making their pub smoke-free. That's because smoke-free pubs have never been illegal. Didn't you know that either?

Is there anything you do know?
Fredrik Eich said…

"let's get the facts right. He was jailed for refusing to pay a fine. "
Incorrect, he was unable to pay the fine in the time the court required, when his fine was paid he did not object. Which would indicate to me that he did not want to spend time
in prison ie if he could have paid the fine he would have done.

"also, the reason for the fine was that he allowed his customers to smoke illegally in his pub, NOT because he put ashtrays out. Surely you knew that ashtrays aren't illegal?"
Agreed. The law does however state that it states that

It is the duty of any person who controls or is concerned in the management of
smoke-free premises to cause a person smoking there to stop smoking."

Removing the ash trays will help.

So for example say it became illegal to drink in pubs and restaurants, it could way heavily against a person that failed to removed wine glasses, wine racks, beer pumps and the beer cellar. It would not look good in court.

"no one went to prison for making their pub smoke-free. That's because smoke-free pubs have never been illegal."

Correct. I avoided both smokfree restaurants and pubs before the smoking ban. I would use places where smoking was permitted. In the many pubs that I knew that had smokfree designated areas and non-smoking areas, I confined my self to the places that were reserved for smoking in.
If the law made it illegal for a place to go smokefree then these places would dissapear overnight. I beleive this would be wrong because I do not need so many places to smoke in. I would be unhapppy to think that I am making
my fellow drinkers unhappy by insisting on bieng able to smoke every where. I do not care if a pub goes smokefree, I shall just use another pub. I do not care if a pub has a designated smokfree area , I shall just sit in another part of the pub. So from my perspective there is no need to ban smokefree plaes - it would only make people unnhappy for no good reason.

"Is there anything you do know?"

Yes I know plenty. I know for example that if the government banned drinking in pubs (say to cut down on violence for example), and someone allowed their customers to drink, and they got grassed up they would be fined. If that person could not pay their fine then they would go to prison.
The reason is very simple, there has to be an ultimate sanction otherwise no one would pay the fines and the fines would be meaningless. So for example
Say a pub/restaurant wanted to go smokefree and the law said that no places can be smokefree, and that person was caught putting up no smoking signs and refusing to allow their customers to smoke. There would be no point in fineing them if there was no
ultimate sanction, prison, because otherwise that person would just not pay the fine and not remove the no smoking sign.
RedNev said…
Can you explain the point of your strange hypothetical examples?

I cannot foresee a situation where there would be a law stopping pubs or restaurants going smoke-free, so what you describe could never arise. And while the government is going down an anti-alcohol line, an outright ban is not on the cards, if only because people remember what prohibition did in America. Assuming for the sake of argument there was such a ban, most pubs would simply go out of business and close, with a few perhaps becoming alcohol-free restaurants that wouldn't risk what business remained to them by openly flouting the law. In this extremely unlikely situation, illicit alcohol sales would be driven out of sight underground. So that one doesn’t work either.

The point of an example is to illustrate an argument, not invent fanciful scenarios that can have no basis in reality.
Fredrik Eich said…
"Can you explain the point of your strange hypothetical examples?"
Yes. It is an attempt to point out how surreal it is that someone can go to prison for allowing their customers to smoke in a context that
someone that does not maybe want to smoke in pubs may understand. I also can not forsee a situation where someone could go to prison for making thier pub smokefree but then I never forsaw that a publican can
could go to prison for doing the opposite. But wether a prohibtion works or not is irrelevent to the prohibitionists because all they want to
do is make life as difficult as possible for the people that the prohibition is aimed at. I don't think it coinsidence that the many of the people that pushed for a ban on smoking in pubs are often
the very same people that are now calling for a ban on booze advertising and price and availabilty controls. This was how it started with tobacco.
Fredrik Eich said…
Loose link was supposed to be
Dave said…
What nonsense. I supported the smoking ban but don't support a ban on booze. You are desperatley tring to make a connection between the two. One is government gone mad and the other is sensible public policy.
Fredrik Eich said…
Dave, but they are connected, connected by the people. The author of the "Passive drinking" pdf I posted
above is the CMO that said he would resign unless the government abolished all non-smokfree pubs and restaurants.
They trying to remove the drinks industry from public consultations so that they can get their way, they know this works because it is what they did with smoking. Consumer groups and industry are excluded from such meetings.
RedNev said…
FE: you've twisted the facts to suit yourself. The Daily Mail article stated that he was jailed for REFUSING to pay his fine, and neither the Mail nor the blog link suggested he couldn't afford to; that's merely your assumption, which is probably wrong.

He was jailed for non-payment of his fine, and not for infringments of the smoking ban. Yes, one thing led to the other, but that doesn't mean they are the same thing. You are blurring the distinction to make this person into some kind of smoking ban victim, but he's not; he deliberately broke the law, and then didn't pay the penalty. That's not as dramatic as your fantasy of his being punished for "putting ashtrays out for his customers in his pub", but it is rather more accurate.
Fredrik Eich said…
I am not twisting anything, I stick to the facts. Maybe, the Daily Mail was a poor choice! It's not my cup of tea.

Nick Hogan had already paid money when he was put in jail.

He had managed to pay off £1,600, but incomprehensibly to the State, he was not able to put his hands instantly on the £10,000 balance."

Clearly, paying £1,600 of a very large fine is pretty poor way demonstrating that one has no intention of paying. I belive that he was having trouble paying but the courts were not having it and chose
to imprison him. What would you think if a publican was treated in a similar way for defying a law that prevented publicans from going smokefree but even if they made a portion of their pub non-smoking?

I suppose the moral of this story - is don't believe everything in newspapers - especially the Daily Mail!
Alan Statham. said…

It is you who is mistaken. I live in Bolton and used to frequent Mr Hogan's hostelry. He was visited several times by Environmental Health and blatantly refused to comply with their requests. They were left with no choice but to take him to court. He was given a final chance to comply but chose to go to court. He was subsequently fined but refused to pay the fine. He could have, but chose not to. The situation continued to escalate until he claimed he was unable to pay the final amount. The court then had no choice but to jail him. This was his choice all along and to make him out as some kind of martyr is a travesty of the truth.
Fredrik Eich said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fredrik Eich said…
Yup. He was even told to remove his ashtrays Ashtrays banned from pub.
But I assume you are not disputing that he did pay at least some of the fine?
The way I look at is that if the boot was on the other foot, and a publican took a principled stand against a law that prevented a pub from going smokefree
then I would be appalled that they would be fined+costs £10,000 and I would be apoplectic if they went to prison for taking this princpled stand. I would fully support them.
For me not to support them, I would have to engauge so much cognitive dissonance that I think my head would explode!
Fredrik Eich said…
I don't know why the ashtrays banned from pubs link is playing up
but here is the unembedded link.
RedNev said…
Now we have the truth: first he refused to pay, THEN he said he couldn't afford to. If he genuinely couldn't afford to pay the fine in one go, and had said so from the start instead of refusing, he could have arranged to pay by instalments, although that would be far less newsworthy, of course.

I understand you disagree with the law, but twisting the truth as you do is a form of deception. As for your comment that you'd support a licensee breaking a hypothetical law which banned pubs going smoke-free: that's easy to say, seeing that the situation will never arise. Another of your fanciful examples that proves nothing.
Fredrik Eich said…
"but twisting the truth as you do is a form of deception."
No, I am not engaging in deception. I go to great lengths to back up my statements
with sources (see above posts). I try to argue my points using reason, evidence (empirical and logical). I would not twist the truth on any subject for two reasons but with one caveate.
1. When it is demonstrated that I have been twisting the truth I would loose credability among my peers. So there is no point in doing it unless there is no way my peers could prove
that I was being misleading. Which brings me to point 2.
2. Even if my peers could not prove that I was bieng mis-leading I would not mislead my peers. If I were to deliberatly go out to mislead people, I would consider that a form of sociopathy and I am neither a sociopath or a psychopath. Although , arguably both are the same, the point is that I would
never mislead people out of respect for myself.
3. I am prepared to lie and use deception so long as I can satisfy myself that it is to save another. I would not have to lie to save myself because I would rather fight and die.

These seemingly contradictory points may not hold true for you but I have no problem with constructs being both boolean true and boolean false.

So if the law were to forbid smokefree pubs, I would not grass someone up for making their pub smokefree, someone making a stand, and would be deeply unhappy if they went to prison.
RedNev said…
Okay: you've just said that you'd never twist the truth - except when you would. That doesn't make you a psychopath or a sociopath; it just means you're rather like a lot people on this planet. Prosaic, I know, but true.

Throwing phrases around such as "boolean true and boolean false" and "I would rather fight and die" in a discussion about a licensee being jailed for not paying a fine is really very pretentious.

I don't think anyone is going to demand your life to defend the right to put out ashtrays.
Fredrik Eich said…
have you noticed that your entire focus is now on me?

"really very pretentious"

In what way? I was just defending myself against your accusation that I was bieng misleading, the word "boolean" is a legtimate in the context that I used it. You may notice, if you google "Fredrik Eich" that I rarely (I think never) engage in ad hominem (apart from a bit of leg pulling)
"I don't think anyone is going to demand your life to defend the right to put out ashtrays."

Agreed. But that was not my point. I had to be honest and state that I would be prepared to lie to save others because otherwise I would be being mis-leading and violating rules 1 and 2. That is what I meant by seemingly "contradictory points".

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