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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Smoking gun

Tomorrow sees the first meeting of the 'Smoking in Public Places Committee'. This body has been charged with investigating the practicality of a ban on smoking in public places in Wales. It is a bit of a fruitless exercise in many ways as we do not really have the powers to carry out a ban, however at least it will add to the sum of knowledge for that time in the future when we do have the powers to implement it. Things are already starting to get out of hand however. The BMA for example have clearly employed a spin doctor or something as they want to set up camp in the Assembly before the meeting so as to engage members of the Committee in a photo stunt of some kind. I would happily go along to this (I am a politician after all) except that I have a Voluntary Sector Partnership Council Meeting at the same time. However, the following e-mail from the clerk to the Committee does indicate that perhaps certain Assembly Members are getting a bit carried away with their new role:

"The Chair will be very happy to accept the letters from the BMA, but has asked me to remind you that it would not be appropriate for Members to engage in any activity (such as jumping on a giant cigarette packet) that might be construed as pre-judging the issues that the Comittee will be taking evidence on in the coming months."

As this Committee does not have a semi-judicial role of any kind then I think that the fears of the Chair are both unreasonable and unfounded. If I want to jump on a giant cigarette packet then I will do so. I am also happy to pre-judge the issues. As far as I am concerned this Committee exists to determine how we can implement a ban not to see whether one should be introduced.

To suggest that the BMA need to spin the fact that smoking in public places is a bad thing is rather naive of you Peter. To suggest that the BMA employs a spin doctor "or something" is rather rude is it not? One might consider that their Public Affairs Officer was rather ingenious in getting publicity for a committee that would otherwise sink into obscurity before it even began to swim. I always thought that the Welsh Liberal Democrats were the arch spinners of political life!

Judith Cogbill 23 July 2004
It seems that irony is not dead after all!
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