Taxpayer-funded ‘charities’ will soon be in severe financial difficulties.

These days I usually do a double-take if I see someone smoking in a car when there are kids in the back. Something that two decades ago was seen as completely normal is now so weird it sends a signal to the back of the brain telling the unconscious that something isn’t right. It’s so socially unacceptable that if you asked any of the yummy mummies around my part of the world if they minded if you smoked around their kids, they’d probably have you arrested.

Labour is backing plans to ban smoking in cars, with children or without

Labour is backing plans to ban smoking in cars, with children or without

And soon the law could be on their side, because smoking in a car (whether there are kids in the back or not) will join a long list of acts made illegal, at least if the Royal College of Physicians has its way. As The Telegraph reports:

Parks, play areas, outdoor swimming pools and all vehicles should be covered by an extension of the existing smoking ban, England’s oldest medical institution said.

The proposals, which have won the backing of Sir Liam Donaldson, the Government’s Chief Medical Officer, are outlined in a report showing the impact of passive smoking on children’s health.

More than 300,000 GP consultations and 9,500 hospital admissions result from children breathing second hand smoke each year, at an annual cost to the NHS of £23.3 million.

In fact, £23.3 million is not actually that much money when it comes to plucking figures out of the air – why, only last week Baroness Scotland said domestic violence cost Britain £23 billion a year (that’s according to the Mormons, who gave the Baroness an award last week. How she came out with that figure is mystery).

No doubt if you spend your life around cigarette smoke, your risks of developing cancer will increase – but being in the same park as smoke? Is there really a significant risk? I would guess that the health risks of being in a park with smokers are significantly lower than the risks of being in a city full of cars – but this is not about the theoretical health risks. Neither is it really about personal liberty and whether the Government has the right to tell people what to do in their own cars: the state has overstepped the mark on so many occasions that this is water off a duck’s back.

As this paper reports:

Martin Dockrell, director of policy at the anti-smoking group ASH and one of the report’s authors, admitted the ban on smoking in all cars would be an injustice to those who never carry children as passengers.

But he said: “That injustice is completely outweighed by the current injustice of the harm that’s done to kids.”

In fact the real issue here is Mr Dockrell. The group behind this paper, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) calls itself “a campaigning public health charity that works to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco”.

Really? ASH is overwhelmingly funded by the taxpayer: 98 per cent in 2008. It is a government-funded lobbying group which has helped to promote Government anti-smoking policy. ASH has been instrumental in changing the law in recent years, and yet, as the Devil’s Kitchen has reported before, the amount it receives from donors, as opposed to unwilling taxpayers, is tiny.

As he said: “If they were left to fend for themselves they wouldn’t have the money to rent an office. They would be hard pushed to send out a solitary press release, let alone change the law of the land every five minutes.”

Likewise, what offended me about the Robin Hood Tax was not that celebrities were involved, although that obviously grated; nor that their argument is for more of what’s caused our problems, Government spending; nor that they had misunderstood the point of Robin Hood. It was that several taxpayer-funded charities were openly involved in political lobbying. These are groups which take huge amounts for the taxpayer and then lobby the taxpayer for political change, change which often means more “resources” for them.

It was reported this morning that a quarter of charities will now find themselves in serious financial difficulty when public services are cut, so dependent now are they on the taxpayer. The BBC relayed this news this like it’s a bad thing. Hey, I don’t mean to sound uncharitable, but it’s actually a very good thing, because a charity that depends on the taxpayer for its funding no longer has the right to call itself a charity. And I hope ASH is the first in the firing line.


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