Tony Colman MP for Putney writes

In this week's diary for our MP covers Christmas, smoking, looking after your health & peace on earth.

Christmas is coming:

We are now most definitely in the festive period - the Christmas lights are twinkling down Putney High Street; my inbox is full of invitations from local organisations and groups for Christmas parties and I know that in our local schools our children are getting ready for their Christmas productions. I hope that everyone enjoys this advent period - in many ways one of the busiest (and sometimes stressful!) periods of the year.

Smoking in public places:

One thing that we all tend to do around Christmas is spend a lot of time in pubs and restaurants and we are lucky to have such a wide choice in Putney, Southfields, Roehampton and Wandsworth Town Centre. However, one issue that has always bothered me as a non-smoker is finding myself in a smokey environment that detracts from my socialising and my wife Juliet as an asthma sufferer has real problems. I am glad that in most restaurants these days it is possible to request a non-smoking table - personally I would be in favour of a ban on smoking in all public places but I know that at the moment that is still a contentious issue.

However, one place where I really think smoking should be banned as soon as possible is hospitals. Only a few hospitals currently have a total ban on smoking and I think this should be expanded. A Mori survey released by Smoke Free London on 3 December says that 84% of adults in Britain want to see hospitals completely smoke free. The health benefits of smoke free hospitals are clear for staff and for patients, who after all are in the most delicate state of health when they are in hospital. Smoking- free hospitals have a healthier and safer physical environment, better recovery times for patients, less time off sick for staff and fewer fires. On a recent visit to a Central London hospital it struck me that this is something that we should all push for.

Taking care of ourselves:

Along with the presents, the food, family and friends (and of course, if you are a practising Christian, religious observance) the festive season is known for overindulgence. This may be an item that I should keep back for after the New Year, but I have been reading many newspaper articles and parliamentary reports recently about the need to look after ourselves, whether it be a subject of rising child obesity or the dangers of not taking advantage of screening facilities for cancers such as those of the breast, lung and mouth. It is of course important to eat properly and to take moderate, regular exercise but it is also important to talk about our health and to take sensible steps when things are not quite right. Men in particular have historically been very bad at talking about their health - it does not fit into the 'macho culture' very well. The House of Commons Health Select Committee has been highlighting the

need to get men talking, especially on the areas of weight and sexual health and is currently exploring the idea of using traditionally male arenas such as sports clubs to
help get the message of talking about health across, and schools are helping to ensure the next generation of men is more comfortable talking about their health.

Peace on Earth:

Two weeks ago I represented the UK Parliament in Strasbourg at the first G8 + Parliamentary Conference dealing with Weapons of Mass Destruction. As soon as the minutes are available I will post them on my website ( for anyone who is interested.

I would welcome any input from constituents as to how they think the twin curses of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction should be dealt with. Perhaps we should give some thought to these threats to the future of our world at the season of peace and goodwill.

Tony Colman MP

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December 4th, 2003

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