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Letter to Jeremy Clarkson

Dear Mr Clarkson, Please forgive me for having to write to you at your home address, I just wanted to be certain you would receive this letter.

I am currently part of a group trying to raise awareness and fight the erosion of civil liberties under Labour, the main focus point being the undemocratic smoking ban.  I am aware that you have spoken out against the ban and the destruction of the British pub in general and, as such, thought you may be able to help our cause.  Please allow me to state right off the bat that neither I nor the rest of the group is trying to “use” you for your status, rather I am contacting you because you are a figure I have much respect for, for your level of intelligence and persuasive style of talking, and after many others offering the idea of asking you to get involved I felt I had to try.

According to articles featured in The Publican and Morning Advertiser last year between four and six million people stay in each evening because of the smoking ban - people that would otherwise have gone out to pubs and clubs.  This year Mintel have stated the figure is at least two million people.  Whether there were simply less respondents or people are becoming complacent with the ban I do not know, but the fact is millions of people are having their lives directly figured.  The two million number is certainly lower than the real figure because not every person was asked, and I can state for a fact that many people from pro-choice groups like Freedom 2 Choose and Forces were not respondents.  

Although many of those in their twenties have adapted to the change, for those that have always smoked in pubs the change is almost impossible to get used to. Most people now make far fewer trips to the pub resulting in thirty nine pubs closing per week; many have stopped going out completely because of the ban and rising alcohol prices, and the idea of standing outside in the cold and rain. Some members of the public that are single in their thirties and forties living alone, according to makefriendsonline.com are so put off by the ban that they have only the internet as a way of meeting others.Elderly smokers living alone are suffering worst of all; the ban means their only places ofcontact the pub or working men’s club for many have become totally off limits. People that fought in the war are expected to brave sub zero temperatures in order to spend an evening at their local pub.  I am sure your local, like mine, had an elderly man who kept himself to himself in the corner, sipping his drink, reading the paper with a smoke.  For people like that going to the pub is their only manner of socialising, and these people have had their lives torn apart, nowadays opting to stay at home.  Of the people surveyed by The Office of National Statistics, more than sixty percent voted for a choice of smoking and non smoking areas or restrictions on smoking both in 2006 and in 2007 as opposed to a total indoor ban and their preferences were ignored. The question was removed in 2008, this is no democracy.

The EU are dealing with the issue as if it is closed, indeed The TICAP conference, hosted in Brussels with Godfrey Bloom of UKIP, was literally blocked from taking place in the EU building, only days before the event took place, simply because the views of this group differed from that of the tobacco control groups represented there, despite this venue being booked for a long time in advance. According to Florence Berteletti of Smokefree Partnerships, the conference was denied because “it violates the spirit of the International Framework Convention on Tobacco Control”.  Despite this, smoking is permitted inside public buildings in Brussels and no law prevents smoking inside Westminster Palace and the bars there. We have become a group of people ignored, silenced and persecuted by those in power.

Smokers are now being treated like criminals; in York a landlord has just been sacked and is about to be evicted from his pub because he was found to be smoking there after hours. We are now living in a police state. It’s a disgusting way to treat people, twenty four percent of the population smoke; they should not be punished and treated like criminals for using a perfectly legal product where they always have done, in a pub of all places.  For a while now, smoking has been banned in most places: trains, planes, buses, shops, shopping centres, cinemas, and indeed non-smoking areas of pubs and restaurants.  The public house is, first and foremost, a privately owned establishment that the government has no right to interfere in.  Secondly, it is a place for adults – it is neither a leisure centre nor a children’s playground, and as such there is no need for government legislation to ban an adult’s activity, especially in an establishment where adults are legally allowed to literally poison themselves.

Labour should listen to its people and amend the ban or risk losing more than two percent of the public vote. The people will end up voting for a party that provide for this choice, in their manifesto and that leaves UKIP or The BNP. It is not just our civil liberties lost here, but the social lives of millions of people who choose to no longer go out because of this.  Our specific aim is to gather as many people as possible to write letters to Gordon Brown.  We are under no illusion that this will change legislation, the aim is to raise public awareness so more people know where to turn and, as is the backbone of democracy, if enough people challenge the legislation changes can be made.  More information is available from my website at www.smokescreens.org/therevolution.htm

Please could you help raise public awareness of the many problems caused by the smoking ban? I would like to arrange a meeting with you in person. If you could please help, in anyway at all, we would be extremely grateful.  

I look forward to your reply.