Tag Archives: Smoking ban Scotland

Small boys smoking fags…

When I was a small boy still at primary school in the 60’s my friends and I used to pop into the sweetie shop and buy some fags. Yes you read that right. Packs of ten they were and sometimes you got wee cards with them and you saved them up.

If you really wanted to push the boat out you could buy wee pouches of chewing tobacco. I know. You don’t believe me. Well we did. They were of course sweets. The wee cigarettes had a red bit at the end of them so it looked like the fag was being lit. I liked them. You could swagger with a sweetie fag. It looked cool.

I wasn’t much of a fan of the chewing tobacco though. It didn’t taste great and it was pretty dry. I do believe that my Grandfather had learnt his trade as a pipe smoker from the chewing tobacco like sweet. My Grandfather was an Olympic class spitter. He could spit from his chair into the fire or sometimes onto the metal fire basket thing that held the fire itself. My Grandmother wasn’t a fan of this. So he had to spit, smoke his pipe and take dogs abuse all at the same time. What a hero.

Now I’ve noticed that there are gadgets you can buy if you are a smoker. You can buy elctro fags. It’s the latest craze to hit the High Street. Small shops, dedicated to these electro fags are popping up as I speak. The electro fags don’t all look like actual fags and whilst some give a wee hint of nicotine not all of the others do. Bear in mind that nicotine in various guises are in our food and our bodies and pretty much everywhere in fact.

When people smoke an electro fag some of them emit steam. Not smoke, just steam. Water vapour, just like the stuff that comes out of your kettle or out of your ears when the EU say they’re going to ban them.

I don’t smoke even if I did practice with sweetie ones, which I’m sure, will have been banned years ago. I don’t mind if people smoke. I don’t know why its been banned in the first place and don’t say its for health reasons. Can’t people just do their own thing along with people with similar interests? Like golfers, politicians, journalists, people from the BBC… feel free to add your own.

As a teenager at secondary school my year group went to the gym hall one afternoon and we were shown a short film which was suggesting we should never, never, never, smoke unless we were on fire. Just to force the point home the film had shown a man in a white coat show the difference between a smokers lung and non-smokers lung. The smokers lung was black and all horrible. That’s a technical term by the way.

It turns out that it takes an expert who knows about lungs and stuff to use a microscope to identify if the person whose lung it was smoked. It was propaganda. It was a disgrace. There is the other small issue with cancer deaths growing whilst the number of smokers drop. Second hand smoking? Where are the bodies?

If people want to smoke carry on. Are we non-smokers so nasty that we cant give them the space to do their thing like we used to?

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Posted by on February 7, 2014 in Equality, Health, Smoking, The NHS


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Reducing the drink driving alcohol limit

It was reported yesterday that the drink drive legal limit is to be reduced to 50mg% from 80mg%, which brings Scotland into alignment with the majority of countries in Europe.  Personally I’m in favour of 0mg% being the limit which a few countries in Europe already have but having said that changing the drink drive limit should always be based on firm research in depth which is clear and based on empirical evidence which shows numbers of lives which will be saved.

Of course things are never as straightforward as they seem. Police regularly test drivers for alcohol levels when they have been stopped for something else. They even do it on spec later in the evenings at weekends. Good idea I hear you say. For whom? Certainly not the people who are driving without any alcohol in their system but are still forced to take the test.

Now I am not a supporter of this “deterrence” by the police. They use the same tactics in other ways where they can arrest people on the basis that they may have gone on to do something illegal. If you are being threatened by someone and you go to the police they will say they can do nothing because no crime has been committed which means that you’ll have to put up with it until that someone thumps you in full view of a number of impeccable witnesses. Good system.

Anyway, you might want to cast an eye on the government statistics on drink driving casualties and convictions here. You’ll see that the numbers have fallen dramatically over the years although there have been ups and downs.

The figures show that the Scottish statistics are below the 10% of population level, which in itself needs more investigation. The message coming from the Scottish Government is that the Scots drink way more than the rest of the UK and beyond. Do these figures mean that although we drink more we don’t get in our cars and drive?

There are two further significant blips in the data. Firstly the number of female convictions has grown and continues to grow and secondly 52% of convicted drink drivers are under 33 and predominantly in the 20-24 age group according to the Institute of Alcohol Studies.

The number of deaths in Scotland due to drink driving is 30 although these deaths include passengers. 30 is again under the normal Scottish population ratio of 10% of the UK as a whole. Will the new limit reduce deaths? You would like to think that it would. However, it’s not a given and whilst 30 is a lot of dead people it’s a very small number statistically making it more and more difficult to reduce.

There is one further issue to consider. Drugs. Whilst statistics do not seem to be available as yet it also seems obvious that drug driving related accidents also contribute to both the alcohol related driving accidents and non-alcohol related driving accidents.

The Scottish Government don’t have a good track record of introducing increased restrictions such as the ban of smoking in public places. The claims that were made following the introduction of the ban were not confirmed by the NHS statistics. The ludicrous claims for “second hand” cigarette smoke are baseless. Have you known anyone at all or anyone who knows of anyone who has died of second hand cigarette smoke inhalation? No.

All governments seem to have only two tools when dealing with issues. Either they try to heavily tax the activity they want to stop and/or they fine and convict people. Hardly the work of intelligent and gifted politicians?

Cultural change, although difficult to achieve in the short term, is the best route to changing behaviour. Alcohol abuse and drink and drug driving will only be effectively tackled through culture change. Doing anything else is sadly only a side show.

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Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Health, Justice, SNP


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Anything and everything is possible.

This article was originally written for the Subrosa Blog and is published here with permission.

Last weeks post “SNP Worries” resulted in various comments, which questioned if the SNP were dealing with issues in an acceptable manner. Furthermore, do they have the intellectual depth required to deal with, not just with the central issue of gaining independence, but the thornier issues, which will require a more strategic response.

I would appeal to the SNP to follow a single approach which, if carried out in the true spirit of it’s aims could well make the difference between gaining independence or not. That sounds arrogant. There are far better minds employed on working out the best way for the SNP to proceed. However, we are all entitled to our won opinions.

How about giving “anything and everything is possible”.

Okay so how about applying that to a few wee issues which have been bothering the SNP?

Alcohol abuse. Let’s start with this gem. The truth of this issue is that it is culturally based. No amount of minimum pricing and preaching from our medical friends will do the job. That’s the same medical profession who are who are, lets be honest, far from being paragons of sobriety.  The culture change required will take time, maybe more time that we would all like but it is the ONLY way to sort this out.

Smoking. The truth of this is that secondary smoke doesn’t harm anyone. Get the truth of the available real science out to people. Let them make their own decisions. Let pubs, restaurants, and all other places where people might want to smoke make their own decision to be a smoking venue or not as is there right. Non-smokers can make their own decisions about whether or not they will frequent those establishments.

Renewable power. The truth on this one is simple. It doesn’t work. It is the most expensive way to generate electricity bar none. Demonstrate to the Scottish people how much of their electricity bills go to subsidising windmills and the like. Then give them a get out clause. If some people are happy to pay more for windmill electricity carry on if others don’t they should be able to say no thanks. The burden of funding power generation is for the generators, not for governments using tax payers money.

Sectarianism. Integrate our communities including education. A state school is a state school. If people want their children taught a particular religion they can have that done by their church, which might actually get more people to go to church. School is for educating children, not for any form of indoctrination, awareness of religion, yes but nothing stronger.

Everything and anything is possible.

Now the reply to that would be “but it has to be realistic”. Well no. The higher you aim the higher you achieve. We could do with increasing the confidence of the Scottish people. Not the football flag waving type of mock confidence though complete with doom and gloom waiting in the wings.

Well Alex, when do we start? Now is a good time for me.

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Posted by on November 25, 2011 in Politics, Scottish Independence


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