By Calvin Palmer
“Land of hope and glory, mother of the free” is how Britain was once regarded. In those days, people enjoyed the right to smoke tobacco without let or hindrance. Sadly, that is not longer the case.
The anti-smoking lobby in Britain, as in the United States, has over the years wheedled its way into the minds of politicians, or what passes for a mind, using junk science to press home the case for tobacco bans and higher tobacco taxes.
And now those bans are in place, anti-smoking organizations monitor the compliance with a rigor and zeal that would put the Stasi to shame.
The Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), a British anti-smoking charity, although there is nothing charitable about the agenda of this organization, today called for Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn to be prosecuted for smoking a cigarette on stage on the first night of a tour.
The former Blur singer lit up a cigarette while performing at the Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth, England, last night.
Bass guitarist Paul Simonon, formerly of The Clash, also smoked during the show in front of an “intimate” audience of about 500 fans.
ASH wants both men to be prosecuted to make an example of them. Perhaps Roland Freisler could be brought back from the grave to preside at the trial.
Spokeswoman Amanda Sandford said: “There can be no excuse for that as it is an indoor place and the law is very clear.
“We are not allowed to smoke on stage unless it’s relevant to the act.
“They should be fined. It’s not just the artist, it’s the premises where the act is held. I would expect the local authority to take the appropriate action.
“It’s not just illegal but more importantly it’s about the message it sends out to fans.
“People in the public eye have a duty not to promote smoking. It’s very irresponsible — I suppose they think it’s rebellious and they may get some extra kudos from it and maybe some extra publicity.”
Who says people in the public eye have a duty not to promote smoking? The answer is of course the gauleiters of ASH.
A member of staff at the Wedgewood Rooms said they had not been made aware of the smoking during the show or received any complaints.
Gorillaz were on the first night of a “rehearsal” tour as they prepare to headline the Coachella Festival in California ahead of a series of shows in the UK in the autumn.
Paul Hunt, head of environment and public protection at Portsmouth City Council, said: “Making sure premises remain smoke-free is the duty of the management.
“If we receive complaints from the public we would contact the business first and issue a warning if we felt the complaints were justified.
“We haven’t received an official complaint about smoking during the Gorillaz’s performance but if this did come to light we would investigate further.
“Our approach is to always work with businesses to make sure they comply with legislation but if smoking is ignored on the premises we would then consider taking legal action which would start with the issuing of a fixed penalty notice.”
So if the people regulating the venue have not received a complaint, why is ASH sticking its nose in? Because that is what the people of ASH do.
People like Amanda Sandford make sanctimonious intolerance appear as if it is a virtue. Wrong! Intolerance in any shape or form is an affront to freedom and has no place in a civilized society.
If anyone deserves to be prosecuted, it is Sandford for vilifying tobacco smokers and waging a propaganda war to deprive them of their individual freedom.
In a different era, intolerance and discrimination of the kind displayed by Sandford and her ilk resulted in charges of crimes against humanity.
[Based on a report in The Independent.]