Banning smoking in cars to demonise the poor? Not really, no

Writing in today's Guardian, Zoe Williams has interpreted the ban as yet another way of demonising poor parents.

On Monday MPs voted to ban smoking in cars in England and Wales when children are passengers. MPs voted in favour of the amendment by a majority of 269.

Not everyone is happy about it, though.

Aside from the predictable howls of derision from those who see this as a further encroachment of the ‘nanny state’ on personal freedom, some on the left are uncomfortable with the vote.

Writing in today’s Guardian, Zoe Williams has interpreted the ban as yet another way of demonising poor parents.

“In reality, this is not about child protection or civil liberties…They [politicians] are trapped time and again, by the apparently innocuous language of risk management, into positions that, designed to demonise behaviour, actually demonise a class.”

In short then, the banning of smoking in cars with children present has more to do with class hatred than it does with the protection of children.

Now this is quite an alluring argument. There is no shortage of class hatred swilling about at present, whether in portrayals of a fictional ‘Benefits Street’ or attempts to paint sociopaths like Mick Philpot as representative of an entire class.

But it’s also a bad argument as applied to this case, for there is very little evidence to suggest that the ban on smoking in cars with children present has anything whatsoever to do with demonising the poor.

Firstly because most people who are poor tend not to drive cars.

Running a car is prohibitively expensive unless you have a reasonable income (I recently had to get rid of my own car as I could no longer afford to insure it). If you do have enough money to put petrol in a car, insure it, tax it and pay for repairs then you probably aren’t all that hard up. Zoe Williams would do well to look into how the poor actually live, because it mainly involves buses, bicycles and lifts, not cars.

Secondly, the ban on smoking in cars was a Labour-supported amendment. Most of those who voted against it were Tories. As far as I am aware Labour has not moved so far to the right that it is seeking to demonise the poor while in opposition.

Were the motion really about class hatred, one might also assume that John Redwood, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Dr Liam Fox and Chris Grayling would not have joined Damian Green, David Nuttall and Douglas Carswell in voting against it.

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5 Responses to “Banning smoking in cars to demonise the poor? Not really, no”

  1. harleyrider1989

    Who owns CVS Caremark Corporation?

    FMR 63.47M $3.60B as of Sept. 30, 2013

    FMR owns CVS

    CVS CVS Caremark Corporation 0.55 -6.00% 63,470,077 SHARES 56.75 68.77


    CENTRAL INDEX KEY: 0000315066
    IRS NUMBER: 061209781

    SEC ACT: 1934 Act
    SEC FILE NUMBER: 028-00451
    FILM NUMBER: 131217882

    ZIP: 02210
    BUSINESS PHONE: 6175706339

    FMR LLC Company Profile

    FMR is “semper fidelis” (ever faithful) to its core business. The financial services conglomerate, known as Fidelity Investments, is one of the world’s largest mutual fund firms. It serves more than 20 million individual and institutional clients, as well as 5,000-plus financial intermediary firms. Fidelity manages nearly 500 funds, boasting some $4.2 trillion in assets under administration, including managed assets of $1.8 trillion. The founding Johnson family controls Fidelity; Abigail Johnson, CEO Ned Johnson’s daughter and one of America’s wealthiest women, is its largest single shareholder.

    They bought the biggest shares in CVS they don’t own it wholly but have the controlling interest and likely the stock proxys from several other share holders.

    The other biggest shareholders are the banksters on wall street that were bailed out. No doubt trickle down FED money bought up much of CVS at the direct orders of the whitehouse thru the connections of RWJF!

  2. harleyrider1989

    As we can all see the END GAME is to first ban car smoking and then follow it up with a ban in the homes,likely using the children for this purpose yet again. Then if they can get their final smoking rates at a certain level tobacco control plans on pushing the government for OUT RIGHT PROHIBITION ON TOBACCO PRODUCTS!

    Second Hand/ Third Hand Smoke: Trigger For Outrage –Catalyst For Change?
    •Smoke Free Public Places
    •Smoke Free Work Places
    •Smoke Free Parks/Open Spaces
    •Smoke Free Private Transport
    •Smoke Free Homes
    Positioning Tobacco Endgame In The Post-2015 Development Agenda
    UNSustainable Development Goals Or Expanded Millennium Development Goals

    Can tobacco control endgame analysis learn anything from …


    The thirdhand and second hand smoke MYTHS were created to create public fear and outrage. They are basically telling us that in the above! TRIGGER FOR OUTRAGE!

  3. Peter Bridgman

    Indeed. Running a car costs an average of £7K per annum, and smoking a packet a day costs £3K per annum. Poor people can’t afford either.

  4. Matthew Blott

    I recently got into the car of a colleague who is regular 20 a day man. I usually make the point of driving because I know he smokes but agreed to let him drive on this occasion. After sitting down and closing the door I felt so ill I immediately got out and insisted we take my car. He has two kids who do not have that option so I welcome this ban. I suspect it will be difficult to enforce which is why I would support an absolute ban on smoking in cars – it really is that disgusting.

  5. MoniqueBuckner

    My father used to smoke in the car and insisted that the windows be closed. It was torture. It’s been proven that continual exposure to poor air quality means children’s lungs do not develop properly. I wish there had been a ban on smoking in cars and homes when I was a child. Smoking in homes also linked to cot death. I suffer now from chest infections as an adult. Smoking around children is selfish. It’s not about freedom for the smoker- secondhand smoke does affect people’s health. Also, smokers smoke in bus queues and the rest of us have to breath in that stench. We cannot leave the queue or else lose our place. It’s selfish and disrespectful- and it ruins other people’s health.

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