Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Ihre papieren, bitte

The country may be in the grip of a fierce recession as public services are being cut back to the bone, but thank goodness there are some frontline public sector workers out there still carrying out vital work. For example, the brave council wardens and officers of Essex Police who are planning random inspections and roadblocks across the county to look for evidence of illicit cigarette use. They will even hunt for cigarette butts in the ashtrays and smell the air inside vehicles in order to clamp down on people smoking in commercial vehicles..

When the Health Act was introduced in 2006, workers were banned from smoking in their company cars. Vehicles used primarily for business purposes by more than one person must be smoke-free zones. Anyone caught breaking the law faces a £50 fixed penalty fine or a possible court conviction, which carries a £200 fine. The culprits’ employers will also be informed and also be heavily fined.

Chris Kitchen, acting head of environmental services at Tendring District Council in Essex said: “Police together with council officers will be stopping lorries, vans, company cars and public transport vehicles on the highway. We have noticed that people are smoking in commercial vehicles where in fact it's banned and we will be looking for evidence that people have been smoking." He added: "We will be looking for ashtrays and whether the vehicle smells of smoke."

Ian Wilkins, environmental officer at Tendring District Council, explained that the scheme was intended to raise awareness of the law. He said: "When the new legislation came into force on July 1 2007, it became illegal to smoke in virtually all enclosed public places and public and work vehicles.

"I think it is fair to say that most people understood the rules when it came to public buildings, but there was some confusion over the rules about smoking in vehicles. We will use the month of March to carry out inspections, offer advice and generally try and make sure people are aware of and compliant with the legislation. This is primarily about raising awareness but, if we feel the case is appropriate, we will take action where contraventions are observed."

The scheme which is being carried out throughout March has been organised to coincide with National No Smoking Day which takes place on March 9.

I'm not a smoker but this sort of thing makes my blood run cold. How long before we hear those words: "Halt! Ihre papieren, bitte"?


  1. It makes you wonder "who actually won the war?"

    Wasn't common sense was it?...

  2. Now I use an ex-London Black Cab as a private vehicle.

    What's the betting that if I was to travel thru Essex I would be stopped and searched, asked for my papers, identity, intrusive personal questions etc even though my cab is a private vehicle? And if I refused to answer would I be guilty of some offence, hauled into court for a fine and a public lecture?

    Oh - and I've never smoked.

    Wasn't it to escape government oppression and the political correctness of the day that many emigrated in the past? Where could we run to nowadays?

    The UK is now Stasiland!


  3. The next step??


  4. Good to know the crime rate in Essex is so low that the police are having difficultly finding people to bust.

    The Essex police force looks like a prime candidate for a large budget cut.

  5. Thank God i live abroad.

    The UK has gone insane,,!!!

  6. Does the law allow an employer to choose to reserve a "smoking vehicle" for use only by employees who smoke?

    Bob from Australia (non smoker)

  7. I used to drive a mini bus, it was our family car seeing there are 6 of us, the day the law came out I was sat in Wrexham town Centre waiting to pick up the wife and kids, when this bloke starts tapping my window... as soon as i wound it down he said " your smoking2.. yes, i gave no denial as a toked back the smoke, you want one I asked.. he was busy writing something on a pad.. then he said, your being reported for smoking in a commercial vehicle... his face was a picture when I told him It was a private mini bus and blew smoke in his face.

  8. What about the clampdown on those useing mobile phones? practacaly every 4th car the driver is on the phone... the countries gon potty.

  9. @Bob. If a vehicle is used exclusively by one person and never carries anyone else then they can smoke... but for how long? I don't think it will be too long before smoking is banned in all vehicles (to make it easier to police) and then it will be private homes. However, you will still be free to buy tobacco but simply not able to smoke it anywhere. Next items on the agenda: meat, alcohol, salt, gambling and sugar. In fact, anything that gives pleasure. We'll all live to be 100... it'll feel like 200, though!

  10. Scene: a lay-by in Essex.

    "Yes, officer(s). What can I do for you?"

    "This cab smells of smoke"

    "Yes, I know. Nasty isn't it. Gives my chest what for. Bloody smokers".

    "And there's cigarette ends in the ash-tray".

    "Are there? So there are. Dirty bastards. Thanks for letting me know"

    "Er, right. Watch it, that's all".

  11. Yesterday was the 11th Anniversary of my giving up smoking, but news like this is enough to turn any red blooded woman back to the evil weed.

    I feel there's a market for a spray of eau de turd which people can use when they're stopped by the old Bill. I don't smoke but I would certainly buy it just to see their faces.

  12. I could argue against this on so many fronts but the most important I fear is that in he name of "rights" "equality" and "fairness" we have become a more intolerant society. What is the next step? and how long before Orwell was right? are some are more equal than others? what ever happened to tolerance?