This story came as something of a shock, and initially I did not believe it. I was first aware of it through a Sun article, and we all know how they enjoy fabricating stories. However, the story has been reported on Five Live, BBC Radio 2, the Daily Mail (but only the online edition, not the actual newspaper, which is a sure sign of the times), and Politics.co.uk. It is now impossible to dismiss.
Foreign dignitaries attending the G20 Summit, being held in London in April 2009, will be permitted smoking rooms rather than being shunted out on the streets like the rest of the British population. This is a clear sign of double standards, with one rule for the politicians and another for the common folk making up the population. However, it is also more than an indication of such double standards: it also shows that the government(s) have no problem lying to us and that their spiel on secondhand smoke is just what we always knew: bullshit. The Department of Health and 10 Downing Street have been quoting the 2006 Surgeon General’s Report that “there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure” – yet the threat is so great they are more than happy to permit themselves to be around it. Oh dear, the cat is truly out of the bag.
Aside from the negatives of this, such as the lies and deceit and utter contempt for the public, this news report is also a blessing in disguise. If we let it go ignored the government will feel untouchable, but if we act and refuse to take it lying down then we can make this the turning point we have been waiting for. If tobacco smoke is safe enough for the worlds most powerful men then it is safe enough for the average joe in the local pub or members club.
Take this story and run with it: write to every MP, every news outlet like Sky, BBC, ITV, Channels 4 and 5, all the newspapers, every website of relevance, and explain clearly why this is unacceptable – if these people do not want to obey the laws they create then do not create them in the first place. If the public unites on this and shows that we want our democratic rights back, we can instigate change. It will not happen if we remain apathetic, we must be proactive and demand change.