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Should smoking be banned in London parks?

Should smoking be banned in London parks?

Lord Darzi is proposing that smoking should be banned in outside areas including all London’s parks and famous landmarks like Trafalgar and Parliament Square.

A report, called “Better Health for London“, has been put together by the former health minister and cancer surgeon Lord Ara Darzi.

The Independent reports: Smoking should be banned in parks and public squares in London, a major review of health in the capital ordered by Mayor Boris Johnson has recommended.

Councils throughout England are also understood to be analysing how the proposals could be applied locally, paving the way for potentially the biggest crackdown on smoking since the Smoke Free legislation of 2007.

In radical proposals which received the backing of England’s chief medical officer, former Health Minister Lord Darzi said that Trafalgar Square, Parliament Square and London’s Royal Parks should all restrict smoking.

Leading cancer surgeon Lord Darzi was appointed by Mr Johnson to chair the London Health Commission, which will present its findings to City Hall today. He said that the Mayor should use bylaws to ban smoking at international landmarks like Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square.

“It would be a powerful message for the iconic centre of our city and the political heart of our country to become smoke free,” he said. “What better way to show our city’s ambition to be the healthiest major global city.”

He also said that Mayor should use his influence over the Royal Parks – including Hyde Park and Regent’s Park – whose board is appointed by the Mayor, to enforce bans. London has 20,000 acres of parkland and if bans were enforced by Royal Parks and local councils, huge swathes of the capital would become no-go areas for smokers.

Mr Johnson said he would need to see “pretty clear evidence” that such bans could save lives, but also added it was “time for London to have that debate”.

The Guardian reports both points of view with Lionel Shriver saying that outdoor smoking bans are just spiteful.

The reasoning behind laws that restrict a citizenry’s liberty is important. The pub and restaurant smoking ban was justified by solid medical data. The proposed ban on outdoor smoking is justified only with self-righteous disapproval. The reasoning runs: “We don’t like smoking, so we’re going to make the smoker’s life as unpleasant as possible.” This measure would be purely punitive, like giving smokers a smacking.

Moreover, apparently in public spaces we grown-ups are now obliged to exhibit exemplary behaviour for children, and lighting up sets a bad example. So I guess the next laws will dictate that on walks through Hyde Park you have to maintain good posture, say “please” and “thank you”, and smile at strangers. Anyone in a bad mood will be subject to a summons. Because the all-hallowed children must learn from their elders to exercise, every adult entering Hampstead Heath must hit the dirt for a set of 25 press-ups…….

So long as smoking remains legal, politicians should limit this activity only when it infringes on the rights of others. If Boris is concerned with London’s air quality, he’s better off banning lorries and black taxis from the capital – because there’s evidence that, even coughed into the open air, diesel fumes are carcinogenic. By contrast, outdoor smoking bans aren’t sound public health policy. They’re merely spiteful.