FAGS fighting back

Don’t look at me like that. In this case FAGS stands for Fight Against Government Suppression (it’s also Brit slang for cigarettes), and is the name of an English political party established by pub-owner Hamish Howitt, the first pub-owner in England to be prosecuted for violating the country’s new smoking ban for pubs and restaurants. Howitt, a non-smoker himself, pleaded guilty but vows to continue to allow smoking in his pub and to not pay the fines.

From Scotsman.com:

I’ll still ignore smoking ban, vows publican fined £500
KIM PILLING

A SCOTTISH pub landlord vowed yesterday to continue to allow his customers to flout the smoking ban in England after being fined for offences at his bar in Blackpool.

Hamish Howitt, 55, who was born in Glasgow, was fined £500 and ordered to pay £2,000 prosecution costs after he admitted flouting the ban, which was introduced in England in July.

The owner of the Happy Scots Bar is the first publican south of the Border to be convicted of breaching the law. Howitt, a non-smoker, has been a staunch critic of the ban and set up a political party called Fight Against Government Suppression, or FAGS.

However, District Judge Peter Ward, sentencing Howitt at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court, said his campaign had been “silly, misguided and pointless”.

Granted, it’s not exactly William Wallace mooning the Brits, but Howitt has definitely set out to pick a fight as the signage on the outside walls of his pub demonstrate in these Flickr photos here and here. (Normally I would download the images and post them here rather than poaching bandwidth by linking to the site but the images are copyrighted and I don’t want to stretch the “fair-use” doctrine, especially when I don’t know who to credit for the originals).

Howitt doesn’t risk losing his head (merely his pub license) for his violations, though judging by the comments from readers at the end of the article, there are some who wouldn’t mind seeing him drawn and quartered.

As a dedicated non-smoker myself (never smoked, in fact) and someone who has deliberately avoided public places that are too smokey, I nevertheless side with the rights of private property owners to manage their legal businesses (and customers using legal products) as they see fit, free from government encroachment, especially when dubious science is involved. (I’m sure it won’t be long before some study links the number of smokers being forced outside to man-made global warming.)

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