Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Invented English: "smokefree"

In order to create publicity material to accompany the implementation of a law making it illegal to smoke in enclosed places, the UK Department of Health (DoH) have invented a new word: "smokefree".

In fact they have an entire campaign going on about "Smokefree England".

I am in despair about this. Not, let me explain, about the legislation. I am all in favour of banning smoking in pubs and restaurants as well as in the workplace. But I am in despair at this new word, and the way the DoH have chosen to use it.

It appears to be an adjective, and to mean "free of smoke". But in their literature and on their web site the DoH have applied this adjective so widely as to make it meaningless. For a start, will the entire country of England be free of smoke of all kinds and in all places for 1st July? In fact, it will only be free of tobacco smoke in designated places. So "smokefree England" doesn't make sense.

The literature prepared by the DoH refers to the "smokefree law". Does that mean the legislation itself was free of smoke?

And don't get me started on the new verb the DoH have introduced: "to go smokefree"!

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