Saturday, July 2, 2011


PHOTOS copyright Maureen Whisker

The rise of Smokerphobia, the need for informed health information as opposed to health propaganda, and the downright silly places where bans are being enforced were all highlighted during our protest in Lincoln today.

I've never taken part in a protest before so I didn't really know what to do or what to expect but I hoped that if I could straggle together a handful of people to stand by my side in unison then it was a job well done.

As it happened several more people came to lend their voice to the protest and I counted 14 of our own and two bystanders who joined in which made our number 16. That included the lady below who was pleased to "see something being done and said at last."

I pointed out that smoking my small hand rolled cigarette - which went out on me as I talked - couldn't be worse than the fumes coming out of buses or cars in the indoor station and mentioned the ridiculous claims being made in the name of "research" and "science" to push forward yet more restrictions on smokers in their own cars.

People readily accepted the hand outs and one lady I thought didn't want one insisted that she did. I had few resources but 40 information sheets as copied in the post below. They soon went.

One older gentleman came up to ask what it was all about. I highlighted that smokers sacked from jobs was one of my biggest concerns and the fact that there was no law to protect them from discrimination. It even seemed to be encouraged by this new public health stasi. I said it had all gone too far. We recognised that non-smokers were the majority, and therefore should have the majority of facilities, but, I said, we were still somebody and we should have somewhere. He appeared to agree and was reading the sheet as he walked away.

One of the protesters said a little old lady who looked about 90 told her well done for remembering that freedom of speech is important and wished us well with the event.

A couple of members of my local UKIP branch came to lend support. I'm very grateful for it and welcomed it but I wonder if politics and a cause mix on the same stage. However, Nigel Farage, UKIP leader, was due to hold a protest in Stony Stratford and this policy is one that is dear to the heart of UKIP members.

As I said, I'm not an experienced protester but it felt odd as I was wearing my campaign as opposed to my party allegiance hat on. One bystander appeared to shout abuse at our branch chairman but he transpired to be the only anti we met on the day.

I think he called security on us.

They were great, actually. They asked what we were doing and I explained about the protest and gave them a hand out. Lots of smoker bus drivers over on the other side of the bus station looked on with interest.

We were very peaceful and polite and tried not to get in anyone's way. The anti was taking photos of us as the security man explained that the bus station was owned by the council and we should have sought permission to use it in that way. He said for reasons of health and safety and blocking the public walk way we'd have to leave.

I apologised and said I didn't know but our protest was almost over anyway. Our hand outs were almost gone and we'd made our point. We stayed on about 10 minutes longer or so. They let us finish without further comment.

Even if we had sought permission from the City Council, the answer would have been no. The leader is smokerphobic and thinks we're merely addicts. He told me himself and I don't see any change in him.

Mr Anti marched over to one of the protestors and reminded him that the bus station was no smoking. The protester said he knew that. The anti told him to put his cigarette out. The protester said no. The anti marched off mumbling something about that was what he expected from "your sort".

And this little chap, or chapette, above wondered what all the fuss was about while he or she waited for his mistress who joined our protest.

We all then piled into Lincoln's greatest, best ever, Pub of the Year, The Jolly Brewer for a celebration at a job well done. We realised as we compared notes afterwards that almost no one minded and most comments made by passers-by were positive.

Huge thanks to everyone who came. There was a reporter from the local online newspaper the Lincolnite who did interviews. The Lincolnshire Echo didn't attend but then it is the weekend of the Waddington Air Show so I guess they were otherwise engaged.

Let's hope that by next year the balance is at least on it's way to being redressed and then maybe we won't have to do it again. If not, I hope even more people will come along and join in to make their voice heard and question whether this is really about health or not.

* One final point is that my info sheet contained a warning that the black market was now rife and accessible to children because of over regulation of adults who smoke and the eye-wateringly high taxes on the legal product.

That was also demonstrated today by a dodgy looking man with a bag who offered baccy - two for a tenner. I asked where it came from. He said France. I asked if he bought it. He said no, his brother in law did on holiday. I was highly suspect of it and we all told him we weren't interested.

One of the protesters said the same man is in town most days selling his wares. I should have asked him that if approached if he asks children to produce identification that they are over 18 but in flash he was gone.