Wednesday, 12 February 2014

For the good of your health...allegedly

Mark goes green!
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has said he is considering a ban on election posters. Mr Durkan said it was due to their impact on the environment. Now he does say his review would not take place before the Giro bike race in mid-May, but could occur before the forthcoming Westminster and Northern Ireland Assembly elections.

For more info click hereThis is interesting on a number of fronts, firstly it limits the ability of independent candidates to promote themselves as an alternative to the parties. After all whilst an independent can deliver leaflets or issue press statements they're not going to be in the position to get a party political broadcast. Secondly there seems to a certain amount of irony in an SDLP Minister wanting to ban election posters on environmental grounds when his party are spearheading plans to build an incinerator in Derry.

A few facts about party political broadcasts:
  • Each of the main parties is allowed to have party political broadcasts.
  • There are rules about their length and when they can be shown.
  • Party political broadcasts show the voters what each party will do if elected – they are like adverts.
  • Smaller parties can also show party political broadcasts as long as they are standing for one sixth of all the seats available.
With the SDLP on the wane over the past number of years and with the number of independent candidates standing for election could there be another agenda?

And on the subject of pollution, there's a current debate happening in light of legislation being enacted in England that will make it illegal for someone to smoke in a car with children present. Now I would agree that people should not smoke in cars when children are present, it should be common sense if nothing else, but I would be concerned at the advancing nanny state.

I am not a smoker or pro smoking lobby, however I would be one to advocate a common sense approach and educate people. Yet common sense is something that seems to be lacking when it comes to the thinking of some politicians. The dangers of smoking and passive smoking are well documented yet the DUP voted against this legislation. Not only did they vote against it, Ian Paisley Jnr accused 'Nationalist' politicians of attacking jobs at the Gallagher tobacco firm in his constituency.

Mr Paisley actually went as far to say 'It amazes me that the only people who come on and attack these jobs are from the nationalist lobby'. I don't know how Mr. Paisley can equate trying to limit the effect of passive smoking on children with a perceived attack by nationalists on jobs. But I suppose when MLA's pension funds have been invested in a number of companies who have been accused of human rights abuses and the nuclear weapons industry nothing would surprise me.

This is what the NHS has to say on children and passive smoking.

Breathing in secondhand smoke is particularly harmful for children. Children who breathe in secondhand smoke have an increased risk of:
  • cot death (sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS)– this is twice as likely in babies whose mothers smoke
  • developing asthma– smoking can also trigger asthma attacks in children who already have the condition
  • serious respiratory (breathing) conditions such as bronchitis and pneumonia– younger children are also much more likely to be admitted to hospital for a serious respiratory infection
  • middle ear disease, such asotitis media (a middle ear infection), which can cause hearing loss
Children who grow up with a parent or family member who smokes are three times as likely to start smoking themselves.
If you’re a parent who smokes, it will be hard to explain to your children why they shouldn’t start smoking. Try to lead by example and quit. As well as improving your health and theirs, your children may be less likely to start smoking later in life.

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