I’ve not written anything here about the West Lancs Council smoking ban that has been reported in the press recently. This is partly because it has yet to go to full council in December. That said, I did attend the cabinet meeting when it was discussed. Unfortunately, all that we mere-mortal non-cabinet-members can do is sit and listen, but it can be fascinating.
All the press coverage seems to have been about the report that was on the agenda, but on the night, Cllr Bailey introduced a number of amendments that drastically watered down the smoking policy. Where once there was to be no smoking at all on council premises, smoking outside the buildings would be permitted (just not “near” the doors, whatever that means).
There were other changes too, which meant that a radical non-smoking policy put forward by officers was trashed. Weirdly, it seems that the council then went on a media offensive pushing the story of the no smoking ban without reference to the u-turn on the night. Probably to spare the blushes of those who had trailed the policy as unique.
The ban that we have is no more radical than that announced by Welwyn Hatfield council back in 1998. It certainly isn’t unique. Since 2000, other councils have implemented such bans and West Lancs is now tagging along. Liverpool’s plans for a smoke-free city were way more radical, and in Scotland they actually got on and implemented it.
Of course, next year there will be a ban in England too, which will make this re-written policy in West Lancs irrelevant.