I’ve been out today doing the ISIS survey. And once again I came across no smokers at all. In a pub garden with about 15 people in it, none of them were smokers.
Actually, there was one. But I recognised him as someone I’d already surveyed.
I’m beginning to think that there are a lot fewer smokers around than 25% of the adult population. Or even 21%. 10% seems more like it. Maybe not even that.
Perhaps they’ve all died of lung cancer?
I did manage to find a couple yesterday though. And a very strange pair they were. Both filled in the questionnaire. And then one of them declared that tobacco was the most addictive thing in the world, and even more addictive than heroin, and that it should be completely banned. And this despite the fact that he had just ticked a lot of adverse impact boxes, and was actually smoking one of the damn things.
The other one agreed with him about the addiction, but didn’t think it should be completely banned. But, as if not wanting to be outdone in the shocking truths stakes, he declared that smoking a shisha pipe for an hour was equivalent to smoking 600 cigarettes.
“That’s not true,” I said.
He looked at me in blank amazement.
“But I read it in the paper!” he said.
“Well, you shouldn’t believe everything you read in newspapers,” I replied.
Tobacco isn’t actually burned in shisha pipes, so they don’t produce combustion products like cigarettes or pipes or cigars. They’re more akin to e-cigs than anything.
Anyway, it’s half the problem these days: people believe everything they read in newspapers, or see on the box. They absorb it all uncritically. And then proceed to repeat it.
Which means that, if you can get any old fabrication or lie into a newspaper, or onto some TV show, people will swallow it, hook, line, and sinker.
I expect when they get round to banning alcohol, I’ll find people sitting in pubs drinking beers, and holding them up and saying: “Did you know that just one pint of this stuff is enough to give you terminal elbow cancer? It’s true! I read it in the paper! They ought to ban the stuff!”
Leggy calls them drones. And it seems that quite a few smokers are drones too.
Also it was a bit of a job to get one of them to fill out the questionnaire. He wanted to smoke his cigarette, and do it later. I eventually managed, but it was such an uphill struggle that I came away from the encounter a bit drained.
It takes a bit of nerve to go up to complete strangers and ask them to fill in a questionnaire. It’s fine if they just quickly agree and do it. But not all do. Some ask lots of questions. Some ask questions about the questions. Some ask who I am, and what I’m trying to do. Some of them think that I’m the police. It can all be a bit wearing.
Incidentally, I should soon be able to say where my readers can go to fill in the online version of the survey. But I’m not entirely sure if Wiel Maessen has got it working perfectly yet. Perhaps if he’s reading this he’ll be able to advise.