This Council calls upon the Government to heed calls by SOPAC and Freedom2 Choose to allow separate smoking rooms in working men’s clubs.
John Tobin, Vice President, speaking at the 149th CIU Conference held in Blackpool.
In moving the motion to install smoking rooms in clubs, Mr. Tobin spoke on matters familiar to us all: the widespread closure of clubs and pubs, the stigmatisation of smokers, returning freedom of choice to the clubs and giving ‘back to smokers the dignity and respect they deserve in our clubs.' However, he adds one more item that comes as something of a surprise, and raises some extremely pertinent issues …
So-called independent reports had been submitted to the Government to the effect that there was no evidence of overall financial damage being done to industry as a result of the smoking ban. “What a load of rubbish,” he exclaimed. Less than two years into the ban, local authorities had been instructed to consider claims for reductions in business rates directly attributable to the ban. Bissett Kenning & Newiss represented about 700 clubs making a claim. Ninety-five per cent were successful and the average rebate was 10 per cent of rates to continue on a year-by-year basis. There is your firm evidence of real and substantial damage caused by the smoking ban’.
And there you have it - proof positive that many local authorities acknowledged the damage inflicted on businesses in the wake of the ban and, significantly, within two years of its implementation. This unequivocally contradicts the 2010 government-funded drivel by Tobacco Control activist Linda Bauld, a ‘so-called independent report’ that ASH and the government continue to reference in fending off demands for an amendment permitting separate indoor smoking facilities (F2C response here)
Clearly, questions need to be answered. For example - If 700 clubs were granted business relief, are we to assume that pubs and bingo halls were offered similar discounts? If not, then why not? Who, exactly, were instructing local authorities to consider such reductions? And why was this evidence not used by Linda Bauld?
Opposing the motion, former National Executive member Keith Barrowcliffe offered the usual lame reasons. ‘Since smoking had been cleared from club premises, clubs were much better places to visit. People did not have the smell of smoke on their clothes' and – predictably - anyone opposed to anti-smoking measures was ‘a front for the tobacco industry’.
After he was interrupted by shouts from delegates, he continued by saying: There was no chance of turning back the clock … there was no question of smoking booths coming back or anything like that. Further, it was intended ultimately to dispense with smoking in its entirety — not an easy job to do. “Before you vote on this matter, think very carefully about what you are being asked to vote for,” said Mr Barrowcliffe, who added that the biggest factor affecting clubs was the sale of cheap alcohol in supermarkets all over the country.
We think most readers will agree, Keith Barrowcliffe epitomises anti-smoking hypocrisy. On the one hand, he is quite happy to see many of club members forced outside, on the other he was almost certainly aware of, and probably instrumental in, the negotiations for reduced business rates that John Tobin speaks of. He also seems to have used his position to justify the ban in clubs as a means of forcing smokers to quit. Furthermore, his suggestion that F2C may be in the pay of the tobacco industry is false and libellous. We have no links to tobacco companies whatsoever - the organisation is run and financially supported by private individuals on a wholly voluntary basis.
The fight continues. F2C congratulates the new guard at the CIU and thanks former F2C Clubs Liaison Officer and Ex-Chairman Phil Johnson for his tireless work in forging links with the CIU.