ISIS Survey Update

The ISIS social impact survey is now moving into its data analysis phase. Though there are still more results to be added.

I spent a while this evening entering Walt’s completed questionnaires, which he has emailed me, since he was having trouble entering them at the ISIS website. Oddly enough, I experienced the same problem he had, which was the screen getting filled by an error message. It turned out that it was caused by having a single quote in one of the fields (as in people’s homes). Removing that resulted in the error message not being displayed.

And it didn’t take long to do Walt’s 25 completed questionnaires, largely because I could lift whole blocks of text and copy them straight over. In the next few days I’ll do Dogstokes’ 35 or so  completed questionnaires, which he mailed to me. I’m hoping for a dozen or so by mail from Iro Cyr. And that Leg-iron finds the ones he’s got scattered around his house.

We’re looking at a bit over 350 responses in total, including 40 or so received online. I was hoping we’d get something like 1000 responses, but of our 20 or so initial volunteer pollsters, 8 more or less dropped out for one reason or other, so we had a “labour force” of about half the size we started with.

The main body of responses is from USA, Britain, and Germany. But there are some from Greece and Spain and Canada and Holland too.

The database is available to download from the ISIS site by registered pollsters in comma or semi-colon delimited text. These are, I believe, suitable for spreadsheets. So if any of the pollsters wants to fool around with them, they’re welcome to do so. I don’t have a spreadsheet (maybe there are free ones online?), so I’ll adapt a Java programme I’ve written to read in the data, and total things up, and maybe draw some tables and graphs.

The main thing now is to figure out what it all means. Looking at Walt’s NYC data this evening, it seemed to me that it was much the same as my own English numbers. Some smokers were hardly affected at all by smoking bans, and some people were affected a lot. Nobody said they actually liked smoking bans, although one or two thought they helped cut their smoking.

What also needs discussing is what’s to be done with the survey once the analysis is done and the conclusions drawn. We’ll probably be trying to get some media attention. I have my doubts that we’ll get very far in an ASH-dominated media environment. The ISIS study is almost certain to be roundly trashed. But we can try.

I think that soon it would be a good idea for interested pollsters to get together with me on the invite-only Social Impact Survey blog/forum to share some thoughts. That forum has been pretty inactive for months.

And there are other surveys we can consider doing. Now that we have an online survey working, we can do more, asking more different, detailed questions.

For myself, the ISIS survey has been about me wanting to find out how other smokers have been affected by smoking bans. Did they welcome them? Were they not much bothered by them? Were they severely impacted (like me)? The answer looks like it ranges from Not Bothered to Severely Impacted, and (judging from comments on the questionnaires) there are a lot of angry smokers out there.

And this is kinda good news for anyone looking to raise a global army of smokers. The necessary anger is out there. It’s just being stifled and hidden by media inattention.

I think the next stage may be to try and unite these angry smokers all over the world. Because that seems to be the most important thing, if Tobacco Control is to be defeated and destroyed. This is already happening online. But there are lots of smokers who aren’t online. How do we reach them? How do we teach them that there are a lot of angry smokers just like them all around the world? Is there a task that we can give them to do? And how can we do this with next to no money at all?

My first thought tonight about this is that there should be something printed up, giving advice, encouragement, website addresses, email addresses, maybe even box numbers and telephone numbers, and just littered everywhere. In pubs, in cafes, in restaurants, in trains, in buses, in waiting rooms, anywhere. Maybe it would have “Hey Smoker!” in red letters on it. And part of the advice to anyone finding it would be to reprint it and scatter it. And that would give them something useful to do. And if that happened not just in Britain, but also the USA and Europe, the message would gradually percolate outwards.

Maybe small ads in newspapers could do the same. Ideally we’d take out full page ads in newspapers, but that would probably be far too expensive.

Those were just some instant ideas.

For the army is out there. Angry smokers just need to find out that they’re not alone, and that there’s a huge, angry swarm of them already. They just need to hook up with them.

It’s something that’s going to grow exponentially. First 1 person, then 2, then 4, 8, 16, 32 and so on. It already is. We’re probably already up in the thousands already. Soon it will be tens of thousands, and then hundreds of thousands, and so on up.

And they will be invincible.

About Frank Davis

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30 Responses to ISIS Survey Update

  1. harleyrider1978 says:

    Frank you think Carl Phillips might analyze the ISIS for us.

  2. Wiel Maessen says:

    What field caused the error, Frank?

    • Frank Davis says:

      The “other” field in the “Affected by” question 1.

      To be more exact: The words People’s homes. Won’t go if they ban it. in WC 2012-08-16 16:30

      I took out one single quote (maybe both, because there’s two), and stopped getting the error message (which filled the whole page).

      (In fact, I left out “won’t go if they ban it”, and put that in remarks elsewhere. So there’s only one single quote.)

      I can’t replicate the problem now. Maybe it was another questionnaire.

      Yes, I can. ID:280 In the “other” field put a single quote in peoples to make it people’s and the error message comes up.

      And what this New Yorker is saying is that she won’t visit people who ban smoking in their own homes. Which is pretty much my attitude these days!

      • mtoal52601 says:

        The apostrophe has a special meaning in the mysql database used to store string data, in the sense that the phrase ‘george smith’ is a single data item, as delimited by the two apostrophes. By introducing an apostrophe as in ‘george smith’s’ this throws off the pattern and can result in an error. Database input can be parsed and apostrophes replaced with an acceptable substitute for storage in the database, but this increases programming complexity.

        I have since become aware of open source OMR software. This will allow for scanned “bubble sheets” to be automatically tallied by detecting variance in a scan of a document with filled in answer-circles, versus a “master” document where no answer-circles are filled in. This might be a better approach for a future survey as opposed to entry on a web based form.

      • Wiel Maessen says:

        Fixed it. I had overseen that field being a free text field.

  3. Walt says:

    First, thanks for uploading the surveys. Never would’ve guessed that apostrophe was the problem. And sorry there were only 25. As I’ve said, it was a blistering and rainy summer which left local parks empty; bars here don’t have gardens (and if they did, like most outdoor cafes, they’d ban smoking anyway) and the days I was downtown, I was there on business and couldn’t survey….

    OT: Yesterday’s discussion of Romney’s stand on the issue is somewhat countered by this screed in the Huffington Post (which also, LOL, tries to call him a greedy lackey of Phillip Morris– an all-purpose smear that never gets old.

    First, it complains that as governor, Romney halved the funding for TC and had wanted to cut it more but was stopped by his 85% Dem legislature which then proposed a statewide indoor ban. Excerpt:

    “”Romney had little enthusiasm for the [ban] legislation, lawmakers and anti-smoking advocates recall. Sbarra said that his administration essentially sequestered the state’s public health officials while the bill was pending. They were “hardly allowed to leave the building,” she said. “They weren’t allowed to testify or talk to legislators about it.”….When it came time to debate the smoking ban Connolly [the Boston version of Stanton Glantz and then in the Health Dept] said the Romney administration didn’t let him testify for the bill. “He didn’t want us [the DOH] involved in it,” said Connolly…..

    “Then under Romney, Connolly’s ad campaign had to be shuttered. “What was left [in the budget] was not enough to put posters in high school gyms,” Connolly said. The final blow came in late 2004, when Connolly received yet another invitation to speak before Congress at two different hearings. The Romney administration refused to let him go. “He sent me a clear message,” Connolly said. “It was my time to leave.” Connolly could never gain an audience with Gov. Romney.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Thanks for that and its getting reposted over at the smokers club right now verbatum with a link!

      • smokervoter says:

        Great news item snag there Walt, you’re like a cleanup hitter in the lineup. Now I’m even more assured about voting for Romney. Between you and Steve I’ve learned a lot about the guy.

        Frank, you’ve got the story on Michelle Obama absolutely correct. I cite as my sources my own two eyes and ears. I watched the interview in which she stated that if he didn’t stop smoking she wouldn’t campaign for him. And with shoulder muscles like she’s got, I think he capitulated out of fear. She also went on to state in the same interview these three words, one sentence: I hate smoking. I don’t need to get into a long winded, over-intellectualized semantics debate with anyone over what that translates to.

        Obama is the quintessential Reformed Ex-Smoker from Hell. His dream team of hardcore health Nazi’s (Sebelius, Hamburg, Corr, Frieden, Benjamin and DeParle (RWJF board member) is all the proof I need.

        And it’s a missed opportunity in my opinion. Who better than an African-American to speak out about the obvious discrimination in housing, job, education and the regressive taxation (almost poll tax-like) of smokers. I just know that he and Michelle are aware of What’s Goin’ On with smokers. In one sense they’re the Uncle Tom couple in their silence and not Herman Cain.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Never would’ve guessed that apostrophe was the problem.

      Well, old computer programmers like me have encountered these sort of problems many times, so we’re on the lookout for them.

      I haven’t read the HuffPo piece yet, but it sounds like Romney may hate the antis as much as we do.

      In fact, I’d guess that there are a lot of pols out there who hate their guts, and are just itching for a chance to bury them. And that might include Barack Obama, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, and a very long list of other people which won’t include Hillary Clinton.

      • Wiel Maessen says:

        Nisakiman: Yes, great news. Our minister really knows what is going on in the Public Health sector. I know her for some 10 years already and have been working with her when she was still an MP.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I keep meaning to download this, but never seem to get round to it.

    • smokingscot says:

      AB’s bang on, however it’s a massive download and comes as a bundle with word processor.

      If you only want a spreadsheet, this one’s stand alone (though it can be had with abiword) and doesn’t take very long to download.

      • Frank Davis says:

        I took your advice, and downloaded Gnumeric. It was only 17 Mb. I installed it, and opened one of the ISIS data files I’ve got, and all the data promptly showed up nicely in neat rows and columns. Amazing.

        Now I need to figure out how to make it total up columns and draw graphs and tables.

  4. Mike_Iver_Village says:

    The single speech mark will cause a big problem, and you really must filter OUT single speech marks for ALL fields (it could be replaced with the reverse single speech mark perhaps ie `). The single speech mark is used in the SQL command and can if left unfiltered hackers can cause havoc with your database. This is commonly known as an SQL Injection Attack. Frank please do look it up, otherwise nasty people can wipe your whole ISIS database with relative ease

    • Frank Davis says:

      Thanks. I’ll pass that on to Wiel. It’s his database. But clearly it’s catching the problem, and coming up with an error message, rather than failing catastrophically.

  5. Frank Davis says:

    I couldn’t find Michelle Obama’s “I hate smoking” remark online. But I came across this from Feb 2011:

    Michelle Obama: Barack Obama has quit smoking
    President Barack Obama finally has kicked the smoking habit, Michelle Obama said on Tuesday.

    “Yes, he has,” the first lady told reporters at the White House when asked whether her husband had finally done what millions of Americans cannot seem to do and quit smoking. “It’s been almost a year.”
    She said she did not know exactly when he quit “because he never smoked a lot” and she never saw him light up.
    The issue of Mr Obama’s smoking last surfaced in December, when press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about it and said he had not seen Mr Obama smoke in nine months. That would have put Mr Obama’s final cigarette somewhere in March.
    At the time, Mr Gibbs stopped short of asserting that the president had quit outright. But the president’s wife was a bit more direct on Tuesday.
    “He’s always wanted to stop,” the first lady said, explaining that daughters Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9, are getting to an age where he wants to be able to look them in the face and deny it should they decide to ask him whether he smokes.

    Do most wives speak for their husbands like this? Why didn’t they ask him?

    Also, it seems that nobody had seen him smoking, and they all seemed to think that this was proof that he’d given up smoking. It isn’t. There’s lots of people who’ve never seen me smoking. Like more or less everyone reading this. But that doesn’t mean I don’t smoke.

    Maybe Obama still smokes. Just never when Michelle is around.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Found it!

      At a news conference the following day he copped to sneaking an occasional puff.

      “I constantly struggle with it,” the president said. “Have I fallen off the wagon sometimes? Yes. Am I a daily smoker, a constant smoker? No.”

      Obama said he didn’t smoke in front of his kids or other family and had declared himself “95 percent cured.” But he also acknowledged times “where I mess up.”

      “Once you’ve gone down this path, then it’s something you continually struggle with,” he said.

      Obama has said that he used to light up about five times a day but that stress sometimes drove him to smoke more often. He promised his wife he’d quit if she agreed he should run for president.

      “I hate it,” Michelle Obama told CBS’ “60 Minutes” early in the campaign. “That’s why he doesn’t do it anymore, I’m proud to say. I outed him – I’m the one who outed him on the smoking.”

      She said one of her requirements for entering the race was that “he couldn’t be a smoking president.”

      Based on her comments Tuesday, he is no longer that.

      The first lady said she was proud of her husband but had not pressed for details. “When somebody’s doing the right thing I don’t mess with them,” Mrs. Obama said.

      And when somebody’s not doing the right thing, she’ll mess with them.

      Anyway, there it is: “I hate it.” And also how he had to quit before she’d help out with the race (for the presidency).

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        • harleyrider1978 says:


    • smokervoter says:

      Oh, I remember it well. I was really taken back by it, and especially by her delivery. I was at my computer and I immediately opened up a Notebook file and started typing away to document my thoughts. There’s an article I wrote that day about it on smokervoter.

      I just couldn’t believe my ears, where were her media handlers? That’s a pretty radical statement when you think about it.

      She could have said “I hate gluttony” and millions of stout people would have read between the lines.

      It would be a little like my saying “I hate Africa”. Of course, I might be referencing the recent caning of smokers by the Afro-Taliban in Timbuktu, Mali.

      There, I managed to work in my semi-annual “Can you even smoke in Timbuktu ?” update.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Obama has never himself ever admitted to quitting.

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