Friday, July 25, 2008

Fined For Smoking In Own Van

As someone who drives a van, this article worried me slightly.

I consider the van to be my own private space. Anything I do in it that doesn't harm anyone else outside of the van, I consider to be reasonable behaviour. I would extend that to "has the potential to harm anyone outside the van" to rule out me drink driving or under the influence drugs, but as the emissions from the van would probably cause some people to have an asthma attack, I can't fully commit to that proviso.

However, Ceredigion Council would appear to think somewhat differently.
Gordon Williams, a painter and decorator, says he had popped to the shops earlier this month, when he was pulled over by council officials carrying out spot checks on the safety of vehicles. "I was told that because my van is my place of work I had broken the smoking laws," he said. His vehicle, an unmarked blue Suzuki Carry van, is "not my place of work - I decorate houses not vans."
Good point that man.

He believes it is the first ticket of its kind handed out by the council since the smoking regulations came in last year - the fixed penalty notice was number 0001. Mr Williams' wife Sue has already paid the fine - of £30 - fearing it would increase if not settled promptly. Which it would, to £50.

Simon Clark, the director of smoking freedom group Forest, condemned the fine as "absolutely ridiculous". He said:
"It smacks of some jobsworth council official interpreting the law to the most extreme level. This surely is not what the change in the law was intended for - it was not meant to harass and persecute people going about their ordinary lives. It is ridiculous that someone should be fined for smoking in their own private vehicle away from any workplace."
Ceredigion Council said they could not comment on individual cases. Which is a shame as I'd just love to hear the justification for this.

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