Smoking, Human Rights and Inhumane Health ‘Cleansers’

Smoking Menta lllness

“For decades, mental hospitals have allowed—or even encouraged—their patients to smoke, but no longer.”

It has been a while since my last post. A lot has been happening; a lot has gone wrong and a lot has gone right, but it has been a rollercoaster ride.

I do not wish to go into detail right now, but after a truly bizarre series of events I ended up spending a month in hospital – actually a psychiatric hospital to my surprise (perhaps more on that later).

No, it doesn’t mean that I am crazy or that my opinions are worth less than others because all sorts of otherwise ‘normal’ people were in hospital with me for all manner of conditions. If you are imagining lunacy and bedlam, I have to disappoint you. Mental health these days covers a very wide spectrum of complaints.

What I want to talk about is the smoking ban. Now, I wasn’t smoking in hospital, but the majority was. They had to go outside into the attractive (even in Winter) garden, but the door was closed at 10pm.

If you wanted a smoke after that: tough (you could take the chance in your room). If any patients were still in the communal area at midnight, we were ordered to bed and the staff could smoke any time they liked, but it’s the patients I want to discuss (and a total ban on staff smoking at work is imminent).

Most of the nursing staff ensured that the smokers were made aware at about 9.50 that it was time for their last cigarette of the night. One night, this wasn’t conveyed and one young man missed out by five or ten minutes because he had been in his room and hadn’t been alerted.

I told the nurse with the garden keys that most of the other nurses are easy going about it and don’t mind an extra ten minutes, plus the patient should have been forewarned. I was basically told that rules have to be obeyed and that it is the responsibility of the NHS to reduce smoking prevalence. Of course, tobacco can worsen a mental condition, but that’s another matter. With hackles raised, I dismissed her insulting assertion that the State should dictate how people live. I apologised the following night, when the discussion continued, but I suggested we agreed to disagree, as this was one brainwashed case that was never going to be reached.

This is because they think they own us, have a captive ‘audience’ and up here in Scotland, the control freaks in power are looking forward to a Smoke-free Scotland, by 2034, which means moving fast and inhumanely, so along with the plethora of non-smoking areas, they have started on patients in mental hospitals and now prison inmates, despite the fact that the smoking rates among both groups of people are very much more than the average. For many it is one of their very few pleasures and as I have said, they are held hostage to the situation.

It is particularly disturbing that so-called health professionals fail to recognise (or more likely, choose to ignore, in order to keep in line, politically) the trauma that stopping cold turkey can induce. These individuals have designated those hospitals, prisons and other places totally smoke-free, not for health reasons, but to fit in with the global pattern of a “smoke-free world”…

Even in Hartlepool,

HEALTH leaders (sic) …have been at the wacky backy again thrown their backing behind ambitious plans towards making smoking history.

Smoking campaigners Fresh North East unveiled their aspirations to have no more than five per cent of the region smoking by the year 2025.

These days, psychopaths and sociopaths abound in the “caring” professions. We know this as so many are without empathy for those they are condemning to their “smoke-free” wonderland which is never going to happen, because one day the walls of these regimes, north and south of the border and everywhere else on earth, will be brought down, like the Berlin Wall and freedom and perspective will reign again.

In 2010, I wrote about how the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) actually gives all the rights to the state/EU/UN or whatever other agencies our successive treasonous governments have signed us up to, like carbon reduction targets agreed (surrendered) at international conferences.

The UK must have the most pathetically kowtowing bunch on earth, the way they seem to implement every aspect of the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Their website announces that Ireland has become the second country in the world to introduce plain packaging. Ireland are very close behind the UK in doffing their caps to the global planners, but the plain truth is that, far from “protecting children” (an excuse with an apparently permanent shelf life, regardless of the subject and regardless if it protects children or not), it is infantilising smokers and turning them into pariahas; more divide and conquer; more assaults on our freedoms; more demoralisation and denormalisation to lower our fighting spirit.

Surely the aforementioned European Convention on Human Rights should protect smokers? Their dignity? Their choice? Their comfort? About 20% of the adult UK population smokes and as I said it is far higher in prisons and mental hospitals. When you think of the far smaller minorities for whom enough cannot be done to satisfy their “lifestyles” you know it is politics at work.

Article 3 of the ECHR states that, No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

For many, being compelled to stop smoking by order there and then amounts to torture. I put it that many of our most vulnerable people are suffering contrary to the ECHR that the UK ratified in 1951. It does still apply, much as I would prefer to make our own arrangements based on Magna Carta and the 1689 Bill of Rights.

Article 4 states that, Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person (but not persons of unsound mind, alcoholics or drug addicts, or vagrants). Nothing about prisoners, though and not all people in mental hospitals have “unsound minds” by any means; in fact, many are there because of things like stress and depression and are often of above average intelligence. Anyway, if you do not have the liberty to smoke, you have no liberty. Again, I have to repeat that the UK is signed up to this document.

Article 8.1 states that, Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.  This is a biggie, tested in courts.

Whether in hospital or police or court custody, that space becomes their “private life” and “home”. The second part of the Article mentions, “There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except…for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

A smokers’ garden or room need not do any of these things. Policymakers who are obsessed with tiny amounts of secondhand smoke or “third hand smoke” residue on furniture or other surfaces should question what they hope to achieve in the area of health.

There have been many court cases. This one from September 2013,

The Scottish Court of Session has ruled that the prohibition of smoking and possession of tobacco products by patients at a mental hospital was unlawful. Whilst being careful to emphasise that this ruling did not spell out a specific right to smoke, the Court considered that the ban infringed the patients’ right to respect for home under Article 8.

The petitioner, a patient in a high security psychiatric hospital, sought judicial review of the policy adopted by the State Hospitals Board to ban smoking not just inside the hospital but also in the hospital grounds.  He claimed that the ban amounted to a breach of his right to respect for private life and home under Article 8, both as a stand‑alone claim and in combination with Article 14 (enjoyment of Convention rights without discrimination).

The petitioner further based his position on compassionate grounds, pointing out that there are few diversions available in the State Hospital; that he derived pleasure from smoking; and that as an individual with relatively few liberties the removal of his ability to smoke had had a disproportionately large impact on him.

The respondents countered that cigarette smoking was not an activity that attracted the protection of the Convention, and that even if it did, the smoking ban was a necessary and proportionate response in pursuit of a legitimate health aim.

The Court upheld the petitioner’s claim under Article 8, declaring the policy unlawful. The ban could not be justified as a legitimate response to the need to protect other patients from the petitioner’s cigarette smoke. In fact Lord Stewart went as far as to say that he viewed the decision to compel the petitioner to stop smoking as “flawed in every possible way”.

Implications of this ruling

Lord Stewart was at pains to make it clear that he was not endorsing the idea of a “human right to smoke”: there was, he said, no “right to smoke” in a legal sense. As such, this ruling should not be taken to endorse the smoking tendencies of future patients who are admitted to the State hospital in future.  The human rights issue was “about the petitioner’s human rights and no one else’s.”

Despite this caveat, it is difficult to see how this judgment can be so confined to its particular facts.”

Despite this ruling, from Lancashire last month,

COUNCIL chiefs and commissioners have backed a controversial move to ban smoking within the grounds of all the mental health facilities in East Lancashire.

The blanket rule, which was brought in last month across all sites run by Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, means patients detained under the Mental Health Act are forced to abstain from smoking during the course of their admission, as they are unable to leave the premises.

I don’t understand why more people don’t acquaint themselves with the law and so-called human rights legislation and take these brutish haters to the cleaners.

Picture and quote from here.

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4 Responses to Smoking, Human Rights and Inhumane Health ‘Cleansers’

  1. Jeff Wood says:

    Stewart, I had seen your absence from your blog, and from another where you often comment. Sincere sympathies for the problems or events which led to your stay in hospital.

    The best description for what is happening in Britain, and Scotland in particular, is soft Fascism. I am glad I am out of it now.

    I don’t share your religious enthusiasm, but hope it is a help to you. Best wishes.

    • Stewart Cowan says:

      Hello Jeff,

      Thank you for your comments. I can’t give too much away, but it might all come out at some future stage. I am looking at legal action.

      I haven’t been active on any blog until this week again.

      As a friend said to me a few days ago, “fascists” is too good a word for them (the politicians, etc., not the bloggers!). They are really Marxist-Leninists, but I suppose the end result is much the same.

      I was hoping that someone would pick up the baton from this post. I thought that the many smoking bloggers would be keen to examine human rights legislation, especially when there have been successes in court, but due to my light blogging, I don’t get the visitor numbers I used to.

  2. ValerieSol says:

    Hi Stewart

    I agree with everything you’ve said, and would like to pick up on your observation about the hateful Lancashire Care NHS Trust. First, though, I need to state that I am not a smoker, & when affected by second hand smoke in public it sometimes annoys me. But – I believe in civil liberties & that includes defending people’s right to smoke if they want to.

    I came across your blog when I’d entered the search term: Lancashire Care Trust fascist pigs, having learned about their “Smoke-free” policy. I know all about Lancashire Care Trust & can attest to the fact that bullying & coercion are endemic in this hateful organisation & so their smoking ban doesn’t surprise me. They’ve included a ban on e-cigarettes too just to show patients & staff who’s boss. My analysis of LCFT is that it is a truly diseased organisation. I am aware of dozens of good staff who have left LCFT as it was unbearable. The management in various parts of the organisation is sadistic. Some managers are decent, but they don’t tend to survive. What a transparently stupid & sadistic attack on vulnerable people’s civil liberties.

    Val

    • Stewart Cowan says:

      Hi Val,

      Yes, I think that probably everywhere, the decent staff leave, either because they cannot work within such a system any longer or due to total demoralisation or bullying.

      Many of the staff I encountered were of very low quality (some were excellent, but they were a minority). Even some of the low-grade nursing staff (male and female) took it upon themselves to act contrary to ‘doctor’s orders’ and really neglected to help the patients.

      The scary thing is that the staff who remain will be all the more keen to obey orders, however ‘fascist’ they become, because all they care about is their pay and I dare say that some get a kick from having power over vulnerable people.

      Myself and quite a few others intervened on behalf of other patients because the system is rotten to the core. In fact, one of the patients helped me more than the nurses. There was a real sense of them versus us and we stuck together.

      I like to think that, had a smoking ban been enacted while I was there, that we would have joined together and rebelled.

      But that should have happened years ago in this country since at least the pub bans, but we’ve been domesticated after years of being broken in at school and through the media, like you would train an animal to perform in a circus – except that that is frowned upon these days!

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