Letters, Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

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Inconsistencies over smoking ban

SMOKING is costing the NHS millions of pounds (Echo, February 2), yet MPs, Ministers, Governments and health departments continue to ignore a major contributing factor in society’s love affair with the cigarette.

Whilst MPs and Parliament claim to be at war with the tobacco companies via the smoking ban, advertising ban, health warnings on packets, plain packaging etc, the truth is they continue to be ruled by the pro-smoking lobbyists. For although some legislation has been passed by Parliament, a major part of everyday life (and a very important factor recognised by the cigarette manufacturers) is still being used to influence people.

In the years since the smoking ban I have written to several MPs (including Ministers) and government departments, enquiring why film/TV studios and theatres are “exempt” from the smoking ban (in England at least). Why are film makers and programme makers and stage producers allowed to include scenes involving smoking, which both glamorise and legitimise smoking and have such a bad influence on people (especially young people)?

Why is a substance (tobacco smoke) that is recognised to be hazardous to health still allowed to be inhaled by studio/theatre staff and the public? The vast majority of replies that I have received to both of these questions have been negative and full of excuses.

Film/TV/stage scenes involving smoking clearly contravene COSHH regulations in relationship to the workplace since film/TV studios and theatres are places of work. COSHH regulations require employers to protect their employees from harmful substances by either eliminating their use, containing them or by providing workers with personal protective equipment (PPE).

Smoking may be costing the NHS millions of pounds, but how much are our politicians earning via the tobacco companies?

G. Parkin, Hetton

No Labour Party

RECENTLY on the television Ed Miliband said that in the 2010 General Election the Labour Party had taken a bashing. The point is there was no Labour Party, in our Queen’s Parliament. I am sure John Bercow can confirm the membership of our Queen’s Parliament at the time.

Since 1997 there has been no Labour Party in England, same with the House of Lords. There are no Labour Lords in the House of Lords.

No one, none of the political correspondents ever told us who Gordon Brown borrowed nine billion pounds from. If it was the International Monetary Fund, then he was borrowing the taxpayers’ money. Let’s face facts, you don’t pay interest if you draw money from your own bank and certainly don’t give it to the banker and their families to keep up their style of living.  

The New Labour Party and New Labour Party councillors cannot be trusted.

P. Haswell, Deneside, Seaham

Parking problem

I AM filled with dread as a city centre resident if Dave Smith’s “big vision” is to see spending on a scale of Doxford Park.

How about thinking just a little bit bigger? Our neighbours think way bigger and look where it’s got them – in a class of their own.

Try implementing a simple strategy. First, people who work in the city centre shouldn’t pay parking charges. Second, any new build or extension of existing premises must have enough spaces for at least each potential worker. Third, buy the land in front of the Park Lane practice for a multi-storey car park to attract shoppers to the city centre. Fourth, use the land opposite the youth offending building for a multi-storey car park.

It doesn’t take a degree or a brain surgeon to work out the parking is too expensive for everyone.

The side streets nearest the city are crammed to capacity from morning till night because people cannot afford a pay space or are in premises that do not suit their needs, ie there is no parking, so they end up outside residents’ doors all day. How would they like it if, when they got home, they couldn’t park outside their homes?

Start thinking about the existing residents instead of trampling over them in the name of progress (not).

Dianne Elliott

Trust’s thank-you

I AM writing to say thank you to everyone from North East who supported the Meningitis Trust during 2011.

We need to raise more than £8,000 every day – that’s £3million a year – to continue our work helping people after meningitis.

We would also like to say a huge thank-you to everyone who signed our education campaign petition. We need a total of 10,000 signatures to take our fight to Downing Street. There are several ways you can get involved. Visit www.MeningitisChangesFutures.com to find out more.

Matt Clarke, Meningitis Trust