Well, today at least three people started asking smokers to fill out the ISIS questionnaire. Someone’s been pounding the streets of Torbay today in the bottom left corner of Britain, and Leg-iron’s taking it round to a smoky-drinky tonight in the top right corner of Britain. And I was out this afternoon in the middle of Britain. We’d all printed off copies of my compressed-format English questionnaire.
Meanwhile, it’s being translated into French*, Greek, Dutch, and Spanish. It’s already been translated into German, using a quite separate questionnaire designed by Reinhold. Emails are flying all over the world carrying little pictures and suggestions and advice. Text messages too.
In the background, progress is being made to enable the completed forms’ information to be entered into a remote server (two of them, actually) by pollsters using either their computers or mobile phones. It will actually be possible for pollsters to enter the data directly using their mobile phones, without any paper at all.
And an online poll, using the same questions, is going to be launched in tandem with the paper poll. We already have a domain name for this.
Here’s what the latest v.12 English questionnaire looks like:
This shading has been introduced partly to try to differentiate the ‘official use only’ top strip from the main body of the questionnare, and stop people trying to fill it in, but also to highlight the checkboxes – because most people seem to miss the Do You Smoke? question in the top right corner.
It’s not really quite professional quality (like Reinhold’s), but it serves its purpose. With four of these questionnaires on a single piece of A4, nobody found them in the least bit unreadable, and everyone zipped through the questions in under a minute.
And I’m not sure if my polling methodology is actually very professional either. It consists of driving to a pub, buying a drink, heading out into the garden, and keeping an eye out for smokers, and then asking them if they’d like to fill out a questionnaire about the social impact of smoking bans. So far, everyone that I’ve approached has readily agreed. And then I sit keeping an eye out for more smokers, until I’ve finished my drink, and head off to another pub. It’s the pub-crawl polling methodology. You keep at it until you end up under the table.
And it’s astonishing that it’s all happened so fast (and is still happening). After all, it’s only a little over two weeks ago that I had the idea that we could do our own poll. Since then something like 20 volunteers and advisers have huddled together in a private blog to thrash out the questions, and who does what, and what goes where. And now, two weeks on, we’re already hitting the streets.
And the main blog (i.e. this one) has been very helpful too in responding to my trial questionnaires, and showing what issues smokers seem to care about most. And there have been little jewels of advice dropped in the comments. You guys have been really helpful.
And as I was sitting with my beer and cigarette out in a sunlit pub garden, I wondered if Tobacco Control could move this fast. Almost certainly not. Theirs is a gigantic organisation, and you probably have to apply in triplicate just to use the toilet. Large organisations can’t move fast. What we’ve got is a small band of people who will improvise solutions to problems as they arise (and I bet we’ll be hitting plenty of problems over the months ahead).
And it’s all being run on a shoestring. My principal expenses so far have been the beers I’ve been buying myself, and will no doubt carry on buying. Well, somebody’s got to do it. We’ll no doubt be accused of being funded by Big Tobacco, or being a ‘front group’ for them, or something. But the evidence that we’re not is to be found in this blog, and also in the other private blog (which I can make public with the press of a button). There have been no stretch limos full of tobacco company execs handing us money or advice. We’re doing it all ourselves, using the resources we already have.
And we’re asking questions that Tobacco Control don’t ever seem to have asked. They’re pretty simple and obvious questions, most of them. So why hasn’t TC been asking them? Well, the simple answer is that TC doesn’t give a screw what smokers think. To them, we’re just vermin to be eradicated. You don’t ask vermin what they think of your Zyklon B, do you? No, I thought not.
Anyway, back to the serious questions. Iro Cyr rushed off without completing the French translation. So I throw it open to my readers to answer these questions:
*1. What is the French for ‘total’ (as in ‘total ban’)?
2. What is the French for ‘partial’ (as in ‘partial ban’)?
3. What is the French for ‘better’, ‘much better’, ‘worse’, and ‘much worse’?
I bet I’ll have the answers to these questions by tomorrow morning. That’s how the internet works. Mais oui! Bien sûr.