Armistice 100: No-smoking debate from 1918

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Dateline: October 9, 1918: We might think that the ‘no smoking debate’ is a relatively modern affair and even if it does have some longevity, one might not expect that to reach all the way

back to 1918. An article in the YEP from October 9 of that year says otherwise.

Entitled ‘A Smoke Room Comedy’ with the sub-heading ‘Amusing Discussion At County Council Meeting’, it details a disagreement, of sorts, between smokers and non-smokers.

It seems that some members of the West Riding County Council too exception to smokers lighting up whenever and wherever they chose.

Alderman P H Booth, chairman of the General Purposes Committee, moved that smoking “be not permitted in the Council Chamber and Committee Rooms, other than Committee Room C and the smoke rooms.”

After one member vigorously appealed to his fellow members to reject the proposal, the Rev Canon Phipps asked: “Where is the smoke room?” He added they were shown into a smoke room recently “and found ladies there”, which brought about much laughter. He went on to say he did not know whether the ladies present were “supposed to smoke (more laughter).”

Ald Booth said he thought “in the interests of gallantry” the council should approve the resolution but agreed the present smoke room was not suitable, adding he would arrange for one to be made available if the resolution was passed.

Ald Rec B Morris declared: “Let us have the room first!” and the motion was soundly rejected, after which Ald Major Dent quipped whether this mean “promiscuous smoking all over the place?” Members were urged to use their “good sense” when smoking.