There has been a fair amount of comment in the blogosphere regarding the six month jail sentence given to Nick Hogan for flouting the 'no-smoking ban'.
Outrage has been duly expressed, here, there, and everywhere. Perhaps we can do better than just express outrage?
Nick was actually jailed for non-payment of the fine originally imposed for a 'mass smoke-in' on the day the ban came into force in 2007 in his pub, the 'Swan and Barristers' in Bolton. He no longer has that pub. He was fined again when council inspectors walked into his present pub and discovered a group of customers smoking - Nick wasn't even on the premises.
His wife, Denise, is now managing their present pub in Chorley herself. Their trade is so low that they don't even bother to open the downstairs bar. Nick is bankrupt, and had gone to court intending to argue that he could not afford the £500 a month payments demanded by the council towards their £11,600 bill for prosecuting him. He has already paid off £1,600. The court gave him a six month sentence instead, and he is currently in Forest Bank prison in Pendlebury, unable to help to earn the money which would ensure his release.
Denise has not even been able to speak to him since he was sentenced. She has merely been told to phone the prison on Monday to enquire when she might see him. She is confused, frightened, and feeling very lonely.
If all the people who disagree with the no-smoking ban contributed a few coppers, then Nick would be released. If you can't afford £1, then at least drop Nick a line and let him know he is not forgotten - not surprisingly, he is feeling very depressed.
Denise has just said to me 'all the people who disagree with the ban - where are they now? - and my Nick is in prison'. Quite.
Denise has no idea how to use the Internet, she has no idea how many of us are against the no-smoking ban. Let's show her.
£1 each - just 10,000 of you - let's see if the blogosphere can do more than merely rant in unison. Once the amount received totals the outstanding fine, they have to release Nick.
Nick's address is:
HMP & YOI Forest Bank
OH UPDATE: Under the health act of 2006, it is the responsibility of the owner or the controller of "smoke free" space to uphold the law. It is not illegal to smoke in a shop or on a train. It is illegal for the owner or controller of the space to allow you to smoke.
NOT TRUE: It is illegal for the OWNER to allow you to smoke in these premises
So smoke everywhere you like and the most that can happen is the owner can ask you to stop. He is not a policeman, he has no legal powers to physically stop you smoking and no one can be prosecuted for smoking a cigarette in a smoke free area*
For example, it is not permitted for BT to allow smoking in their phoneboxes, but it is THEIR responsibility to stop you from smoking in one.
I make a habit of lighting up everywhere and simply waiting to be told politely to go outside. I've been abroad you see......
* You can where naked flames are banned, for example a Petrol Refinary or inside an aircraft.
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