This is how freedom dies

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This is how freedom dies

Category : rants

Ever heard of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health? No, I didn’t think you would have. It sounds respectable enough, of course. “Chartered Institute” suggests a sober, responsible organisation that maintains professional standards across an industry. My father’s a chartered surveyor, for example. My mother is a chartered accountant. All highly respectable.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health is a bit different. It’s a registered charity and, like so many other registered charities in our brave new world, is basically just an extremist pressure group. That was probably to be expected because “environmental health” is a pretty nebulous term. It’s easy to nail down what a surveyor does. The same goes for an accountant, an architect or an engineer. But what does an environmental health professional do?

It turns out they’re the Thought Police.

Early this morning the CIEH issued a demand for “voluntary smoking bans” to be imposed on any location in the UK “wherever children play or learn”. This would cover not just children’s play areas but also all public parks, zoos and theme parks. To support this crackpottery they’re citing a YouGov survey that says 89% of adults in the UK would support a smoking ban in play areas, and 57% would be happy for parks to be made smoke-free.

Now, I don’t for one minute support making children breathe tobacco smoke. While I’m sceptical of the wilder claims made about secondhand smoke it certainly isn’t good for you. Also, in my experience, children smell bad enough already without lightly marinading the little brutes in stale Lambert & Butler fumes. But there’s no possible objection to smoking outdoors. Any exposure to toxins would be almost homeopathic; a cigarette is small and the atmosphere is very large. It’s absurd to claim that a faint whiff of fag smoke is even remotely as harmful as the pall of diesel exhaust that hangs over most parks and play areas.

So the CIEH haven’t claimed that. Instead, in the absence of any actual risk to health – you know, like environmental health, the stuff that’s supposed to be their fucking job, they’ve opened the doors of the Ministry of Truth. This is what these heroes of IngSoc have to say about their reasons for this insanity:

Children should be able to have fun and enjoy themselves without seeing someone smoking and thinking this is normal behaviour

Except smoking is normal behaviour. Over 16% of adults in the UK smoke; that’s a lot more than the number of people who, for example, go to a mosque. It’s more than the number of people who are LGBT. It’s more than the number of people who vote Liberal Democrat. Are CIEH saying all those things are abnormal, too?

It is not up to the government to decide what is, or is not, normal behaviour. It’s up to them to decide – with our approval every five years at a general election – what’s legal behaviour, and to make sure nobody breaks the law, But as long as something isn’t actually illegal then it does not matter one tiny speck of shit whether it’s normal or not. We all get to decide what’s normal for us, within the bounds of the law, and we do not need the Thought Police to make sure we aren’t harbouring unapproved opinions.

And if it isn’t up to the government to decide what’s normal or not, it certainly isn’t up to some gang of unelected busybodies like the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. It’s time the whole tribe of parasitic pressure groups, fake charities and other slime of the “Third Sector” were reined in, before their arrogance turns the UK into a sort of organic Airstrip One, a North Korea with kale smoothies. These shitpuffins have far too much influence over government policy and, by extension, our lives. Look at the absurd sugar tax, a useless and regressive measure that’s only being introduced because a handful of screaming morons demanded it. Look at how the execrable harridan Deborah Arnott of ASH is writing the UK’s official policy at the World Health Organisation.

Enough. We didn’t vote for these people and, barring measures that are very illegal indeed, we can’t get rid of them. Why should we continue to fund them with our taxes and get nothing in exchange but their shrill, joyless hectoring? It’s time for CIEH, ASH, CASH, EPHA and all the other alphabet associations to STFU.