Yes, It Always Starts Out ‘For The Children!’…

A New York-style smoking ban will be brought in at children’s play areas in one of London’s biggest parks.

Today, the playground, tomorrow the whole park?

And then, Stony Stratford, here we come?

The borough of Hackney, which suffers some of the capital’s worst lung cancer rates, said it decided to introduce the measure at Clissold Park to protect children’s health.

If the pilot is successful, the Labour-run borough could roll out the ban to other play areas in its 62 parks.

And how do they plan to measure this success, given that they admit they can’t actually enforce it, in law?

But Hackney is powerless to enforce an outdoor ban.

Good grief!

Instead it will be “self-policing”, relying on park wardens and parents challenging smokers.

Challenging them, and then what? What are they going to do, if smokers point out that their ban is unenforceable?

Caroline Millar, chairwoman of Clissold Park User Group, said: “With so many children and families coming for fresh air and exercise, it is good to know the air really will be fresh and there will be no more cigarette butts in the sandpit.”

Yes, the air will still stink of diesel from the vehicles and the sandpit will be full of dog and fox crap and rat urine, but hey, we can all pretend it’s sparkling fresh as a household cleaner advert, since those awful smokers are (theoretically) banished…

These people are mad, all stark, staring mad.

The council denied plans to extend the measure to areas not used by children.

Of course they did.

Naturally, they never have any trouble finding some deep thinkers to enthusiastically embrace their ideas:

Helen Maltby, 38, a teacher, said: “If the ban is just in children’s areas, then I think it is a good idea. I’m not sure you can ban people from smoking everywhere in the park, but in children’s areas it certainly makes sense. The total smoking ban in New York parks does seem quite harsh.”

Yes, it makes perfect sense, because we have no weather in this country, and smoke outside the play area will never, ever drift in. Similarly, nor will other things (like the aforementioned diesel fumes).

And she’s a teacher. Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

Claire McClafferty, 41, a full-time mother, said: “Children should not be exposed to adults who smoke. I used to work for a park department in Islington and we were very concerned with the impact smoking had. We put up signs requesting people not to smoke but a ban would enforce this properly.”

They’ve already pointed out they have no power to enforce the ban. Did you not understand that bit?

Maybe motherhood really does do something to your powers of comprehension?

30 comments for “Yes, It Always Starts Out ‘For The Children!’…

  1. Maaarrghk!
    July 21, 2011 at 10:15 am

    As I have mentioned before, fourth hand smoking turned me into a NEWT! (I got better)

    Now I realize that some of you lot may not believe me, but I pretty much guarantee that those nutcases would.

    After all, we can’t have our kids turning into newts left right and centre can we?

  2. July 21, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Maybe motherhood really does do something to your powers of comprehension?

    Makes you believe in the power of Signs. They work like a crucifix on a Hammer-era Christopher Lee and repeal the evil smoke, which from that point on dare not pass the Chain Link Fence of Righteousness. Or something… 🙄

  3. Budvar
    July 21, 2011 at 11:54 am

    “Instead it will be “self-policing”, relying on park wardens and parents challenging smokers.”

    I can picture it now, Young “Stabby” +2 of his mates, politely passing round the white lightning, sat there with roll up clenched firmly between his teeth and flick knife in hand carving his moniker on the bench seating, and young “Fang” when not cocking his leg on the see-saw, is taking a dump in the sand pit.

    So which one of these “Self policers” are going to be first to clear their throat with that irritating fake cough they do and point to the no smoking sign and say “Would you kindly put that out, this is a no smoking area!”?

    Yeah that’ll happen, well maybe only once…

  4. Paul
    July 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    What are they going to do, if smokers point out that their ban is unenforceable?

    It’ll be one of those divisive policies that will thrive on confrontation. It wouldn’t be enforced otherwise.

    The ‘self-policers’ will only pick on people they know will acquiesce. i.e. People they know already. They won’t pick on people who they suspect will respond… unfavourably, shall we say.

    • July 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm

      Like Budvar’s group above..? 😛

  5. Chuckles
    July 21, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Based on my recollections of the place, ‘challenging smokers’ in Hackney parks would definitely fall into the ‘courageous’ category.

    http://hackneypost.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Hackney-dangerous-dogs.jpg

  6. July 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Yes, the air will still stink of diesel from the vehicles and the sandpit will be full of dog and fox crap and rat urine, but hey, we can all pretend it’s sparkling fresh as a household cleaner advert, since those awful smokers are (theoretically) banished…

    Nicely put.

  7. Budvar
    July 21, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    “The ‘self-policers’ will only pick on people they know will acquiesce”.

    Only then when the “self policers out number the smoker though.

    I remember once back in the early 80s coming home on leave on the teatime train out of Kings Cross one friday. It being standing room only, I threw my kit down and sat on that at the end of the carriage by the doors. I lit up a cig, and the scrawny student type sat next to me began with the irritating fake coughing. I asked if my smoking bothered him, and he muttered something about it being a non smoking carriage. I said (cutting a long story short) he was free to fuck off somewhere else if he didn’t like it, so he did.

    Almost immediately someone else lit up, then another, and before long we had a nice little smokers corner going. Nobody said a word, not even the ticket collector.

    Like all bullies, they just scurry away the minute someone stands up to them.

    • Paul
      July 21, 2011 at 9:19 pm

      Only then when the “self policers out number the smoker though.

      Or the self-policer is stronger than the smoker. In many occasions, I suspect it’ll be one on one. It’ll be some thug trying to tell a lone person – nice, middle-class, perfectly law-abiding – what to do.

  8. Budvar
    July 21, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Another time I got on the train at the Spanish/French border with a girl who still had a lit ciggy. This Swedish bird who also got on, flew into a right hissy fit, the flecks of foam spewing from her mouth was hitting everyone, going on about filthy habits, 2nd hand smoke, and I have the right… etc.

    I said to the girl to just put it out, and I then said to this Swedish bitch, (rather loudly) “You happy now?”, and she mumbled “”Well yes”, I then said “RIGHT THEN STFU!!”.

    She slunk down in her seat all quiet, but the best bit was all her friends/aquaintances took the piss out of her for the next 20 mins.

  9. July 23, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Therefore, when Muslims put up signs around the streets of Hackney to obey Sharia and will be policed by their version of the socialist taliban, this is OK too?

    Where-oh-where are single mothers to take their kids and drift off to fantasy in a smoke for a few minutes? This timeless reflection that the world could be a better place if it were not so anal.

  10. Caroline Millar
    September 11, 2011 at 3:02 am

    Get your facts right. It is not a ban. The Council is just asking people not to smoke near kids in the play area. Where is your evidence that there is any plan to extend this to any other part of the park? If you care about liberty why not go and find some more important battles to fight.

    • September 11, 2011 at 4:57 am

      “Get your facts right. It is not a ban.”

      Tell that to Hackney Council, who use the word ‘ban’ whenever this is discussed.

      “Where is your evidence that there is any plan to extend this to any other part of the park?”

      It’s in human nature; these people are never content with an inch, their plan is always for the mile.

      “If you care about liberty why not go and find some more important battles to fight.”

      Which ‘more important battles’? Don’t you think this one is important?

  11. Caroline Millar
    September 11, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Rubbish. I have been to several meetings where this has been discussed and the Council has not used the word ban once. And it is not in the press release. Certainly journalists and bloggers have used it but they would wouldn’t they? It makes a better story and gets people wound up much more effectively as demonstrated here.

    • September 12, 2011 at 5:36 am

      Those journalists and bloggers have also pointed out that the only reason it can’t be called a ban is that the council has no power to enforce it.

      But you wish they did, don’t you?

      • Caroline Millar
        September 12, 2011 at 11:20 pm

        No

        • Thornavis.
          September 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm

          So if there was a proposal for such a ban you would oppose it ? If so there’s something of a contradiction in your position, if it’s so pressing a health matter that people are being asked not to smoke in the presence of children then wouldn’t a ban be justifiable ? If not why is a voluntary abstention necessary ?

          • Caroline Millar
            September 13, 2011 at 1:58 pm

            I probably would oppose a ban but it would not be up to me. I think it is unlikely that the people who come to our meetings would support anything being banned in the park. Hence the fact that smoking is not BANNED in the playground as I said above. We have many debates about this sort of thing, most recently about where, if at all, people should be asked/encouraged to put dogs on leads. This is another example of the way in which one man’s freedom to enjoy his liberties can impinge on another’s: my right to let my dog exercise freely against your right to sit on the cafe terrace without having a dog lick you feet. We do have dog free zones and everybody is happy to respect those as it allows one group to exercise their liberties in one place and another to exercise theirs in another. The playground is the only place in the park where people are asked not to smoke and it is only a very small fraction of the whole park. So it is a place where people who want to be in a area where people are not smoking can go. Perhaps we should build a playground for people who want to smoke and want their children to play near smokers but I don’t think there would be much demand. I’ll ask the user group what they think.

            • Thornavis.
              September 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm

              So you would probably oppose a ban, that sounds just a little equivocal to me, you haven’t really answered my point about why a voluntary abstention is necessary if a ban isn’t justifiable, you say below that not asking people to smoke near children isn’t an infringement of their liberty, it is if there is no real reason for asking them to do that, unless somehow children have greater rights than the rest of us. Actually framing the thing as a matter of rights is where the problem lies, as your response above makes clear, if you start off from a supposition that my liberties may infringe on yours then you inevitably end up with chasing your own tail trying to decide what activity takes precedence over another, how did we ever manage without user groups and constant appeal to our rights in the past ?

              • Thornavis.
                September 13, 2011 at 3:30 pm

                I meant asking people not to smoke above, not the other way round as I’ve put it.

  12. Caroline Millar
    September 11, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    And frankly, no. I don’t think asking people not to smoke near children is an infringement of anyone’s liberty.

    • Thornavis.
      September 11, 2011 at 10:17 pm

      Define ‘near’, define what things are acceptable to do near children and what aren’t and why should the possession of children give anyone a veto over another person’s freedoms ? Oh and that users group you chair, who appointed them guardians of everyone else’s wellbeing ?

    • September 12, 2011 at 5:38 am

      Anyone would think that – without those horrid smokers – the wee kiddiewinks would be breathing in pure oxygen.

      In fact, they will have walked through a soup of petrol and diesel fumes to get there!

      • Thornavis.
        September 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm

        I wonder how many of these concerned parents ferry their offspring to the park in 4X4s ?

  13. Caroline Millar
    September 12, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    It’s not the “possession of children” I am talking about. I don’t tend to see my children as possessions. It is children themselves and, guess what, they have rights too and we have responsibilities towards them. “Near” means in the fenced play area – which means in the sandpit, and on and around the equipment they play on. Anyone can be a member of the user group and we hold six meetings a year in the park. Why not come to a meeting or visit our website? I was elected by the people who came along to our last AGM. We have no powers whatsoever. We just provide a forum for park users to talk to each other and have their views heard by each other and by decision-makers. You might find it provides you with an interesting insight into the complexities and challenges of the overlapping and sometimes conflicting interest of different people sharing public space, assuming this is something you are interested in. I get the feeling you guys have already made up your minds so this is turning into a rather pointless conversation.

    • September 13, 2011 at 5:23 am

      “You might find it provides you with an interesting insight into the complexities and challenges of the overlapping and sometimes conflicting interest of different people sharing public space…”

      Because no-one will have that insight without seeing and hearing your group in action..?

      “I get the feeling you guys have already made up your minds…”

      Indeed. The clue is in our title.

      • Caroline Millar
        September 13, 2011 at 11:37 am

        So a pointless conversation to continue, clearly. Much easier just to sit and agree with others who share your prejudices and presumptions.

        • Thornavis.
          September 13, 2011 at 1:12 pm

          Well I expect you would know. Yes we have made up our minds about liberty and have decided we’re for it which means that we make very few exceptions regarding its erosion, inventing a health threat to the kiddywinks and hectoring others to give up a lawful ( still just about ) activity is not one of those exceptions. I’m rather amused by your defence of your user group “…the complexities and challenges of overlapping and sometimes conflicting interest of people sharing public space..”, yes messy business that sharing the world with other people, no chance that we might be left alone to sort such things out for ourselves I suppose ?

          • Caroline Millar
            September 13, 2011 at 1:29 pm

            I think we agree on this more than you might realise. Sorting it out for ourselves is exactly what we do. That was my point. Users of the park come together to sort out how to enjoy their liberties without, where possible, depriving other people of theirs. Can’t really see why you have such a big problem with the concept.

            • Thornavis.
              September 13, 2011 at 2:31 pm

              I don’t think we do agree on this, when did we start to need user groups to sort things out amongst ourselves, how do such groups become recognised as a repository of the collective will ? If a simple thing like a trip to the park has become subject to what are, in effect, conflicting special interest groups then there’s not much hope for us as a society.
              An example of where this kind of thing can lead is photography in public places, something I like to do and which used to be completely free of restrictions and suspicion. Now thanks to another invented threat to the children, a middle aged man taking pictures on his own on a beach is regarded at best with hostility and at worst stands a good chance of being arrested. The same thing has happened with photography of ‘sensitive’ areas, such as bus stations for god’s sake, again an invented scare has triumphed over liberty. Still I dare say it’s all just a matter of sorting out conflicting freedoms, perhaps we need a beach users group, they could liase with the ‘wardens’.

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