London is amongst the worst places in the EU for air pollution. A report for the London Assembly, published in May 2009, produced evidence that air pollution in London contributes to over 3,000 premature deaths in the capital each year. What action has the Labour government taken over this appalling risk to life? Nothing. Rien. Nada.
When leaded fuel was the norm, the most shocking evidence was produced that those living long-term in the shadow of London's Westway had accumulated such high levels of lead in their bodies that some actually exhibited symptoms of lead poisoning, but this wasn't the most horrifying impact. The effect of accumulated lead in young children, many of them of West Indian origin, had caused irreversible brain damage manifested in mild cases as learning difficulties and in severe cases as severe behavioural disorders. Did Labour legislate to ban lead from fuel? Did they re-house everyone living under the Westway? Did they horsefeathers.
Kids don't get a choice, of course, as to where they live, but I do. I know the increased risk to my health of living in London with its polluted air, and the visible signs of this pollution are evident when I remove a shirt after ten hour's wear or in the fine coating of soot that gathers in door and window embrasures.
My only satisfaction is that London's most vociferous anti-smokers are breathing the same filthy air.
The idling engine of a 2 litre diesel vehicle produces more air pollution in two minutes than a smoker produces in a year of smoking. It's actually possible that a child locked into a sealed vehicle with a smoking driver is less exposed to polluted air than one standing outside the vehicle in a traffic jam. Opening the window to let the ciggie smoke out lets in the far more polluted air outside.
So let's not pretend that Burnham's proposed smoking reforms have anything to do with health or child welfare. They don't. It's pure Labour bile and spite towards a cohort of the population least amenable to Labour's Levaithan Statism, where smoking is a proxy for civil disobedience.
I shall continue to be civilly disobedient, and watch with pleasure Mr Burnham breathing Europe's most polluted air in the Commons.