The prime mover behind the proposal is the chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council's Public Health Committee, Joyce Bosnjak. She pushed for the authority to ban smoking and vaping from all council buildings, land and vehicles. It also includes employees smoking or vaping while commuting to and from work if they can be identified as council employees. It is claimed that the move will boost employee health, increase time spent working and reduce sick leave rates.
Interviewed on BBC 5Live on Thursday, Bosnjak was asked why on earth vaping was included in the ban when millions are using electronic cigarettes to quit smoking and is much safer than smoking. She replied: “the jury is out on whether it’s safer.” Many vapers will be incredulous at such a claim. Public Health England have declared vaping to be at least 95% safer than smoking and countless studies have poured cold water on the notion that second-hand vape poses any danger whatsoever.
She was asked if she saw her role as stretching to dictating what other lifestyle choices council employees make. Will she, for example, begin to instruct them what they may or may not have during lunch breaks? Bosnjak became really evasive on whether restrictions should also be placed on what types of food employees eat. “They’re allowed a comfort break,” she continued, “they just can’t smoke or vape during it.”
On the same program, Simon Clark of FOREST said: “We defend the right of people to smoke, I’ve never smoked but I do think smokers need to be defended. Tobacco is a legal product, and smokers pay a huge amount of taxation far greater than the cost of treating smoking related diseases. We all get through the days in different ways. Some people like to have a coffee, a chat by the water cooler – and some people enjoy a cigarette. It is not up to the council as their employer to enforce lifestyle changes.”
One listener, going by the name of Paddy, got in touch with the show to say: “This woman is a patronising health fascist and she thinks she is god!”
Joyce Bosnjak responded: “I think that’s a compliment.”
Paul, another listener from South Shields continued the attack: “I’m a non smoker but I’m flabbergasted at what this woman is trying to do. She is stepping beyond the bounds of her authority.”
Simon Clark continued: “This isn’t a public health issue, the smokers are smoking outside during their break. It’s a private health issue. Electronic cigarettes are being used by millions of smokers to cut down or quit – so banning vaping during breaks has absolutely nothing to do with health and everything to do with politicians trying to micromanage our lives.”
Bosnjak’s final comment was: “Common sense should prevail.” It appears that she is the worst arbiter to decide what constitutes common sense.