“Although I happen to be one of the people favouring a concerted move to limit smoking in enclosed public spaces, I have always believed that a great deal could have been achieved through voluntary measures, rather than the sweeping powers taken by the Government in the recent legislation.
“Some of these powers, for example on enforcing the smoking ban in vehicles, are in my view unworkable and therefore likely to bring the law into disrepute. The detailed regulations ensuing from the Health Act 2006 are extraordinarily draconian – from the rules on signage in pubs and other buildings to the heavy fines which may be imposed on law-breakers. In all sorts of ways, the Government have gone over the top in this legislation and I fear that we may hear before long how they plan to extend the scope of the anti-smoking laws even further.
“Personally, I am absolutely clear that any such extension of the ban, if it is proposed, must be fully consistent with civil liberties and backed up by rigorous scientific evidence. If it can’t be, it should be abandoned.”
— Earl Howe
5th April 2007