ISIS Survey Report

Synopsis

Smokers have stayed home and stopped spending.

Genesis

The ISIS International Social Impact Survey grew out of an online survey of smokers conducted by Simon Clark in May 2012. Nobody ever seems to ask smokers how smoking bans affect them, and so a few days later on my blog I wondered aloud:

“…whether we could use the power of the internet to carry out such a study ourselves.”

Events flowed pretty rapidly from there, and about 20 people volunteered to get involved, and within a few days a discussion forum had been set up, and draft questionnaires began to be discussed, which at the end of May resulted in a checkbox questionnaire which anyone could rapidly complete:

v12-shadedThis was simultaneously translated into French, German, Spanish, Greek, and Dutch in a variety of different formats that could be easily printed and duplicated. The plan was for volunteers to conduct a survey of smokers’ experiences of smoking bans in Britain, America, Canada, Holland, Germany Spain, and Greece over a period of a few months, and then collate the results centrally, and draw up a report.

After the initial flurry of discussion, matters then went quiet for several months as the various volunteers set about conducting the survey. A website was set up to allow results to be entered online from the different participating countries.

During this period, several of the volunteers dropped out for one reason or other (including the death of partners, the need to care for ageing parents), and in the end only about 10 of the volunteers managed to get some completed questionnaires. And it also took a little longer to get the results gathered and collated, because some people had difficulty using the online data entry system, and had to post or email completed forms.

By the end of November 2012, nevertheless, we had about 410 completed questionnaires (which was almost exactly what I’d started out aiming for in May 2012), with about 380 responses from smokers, and 30 from non-smokers. Analysis of the results then began. For this purpose I wrote a computer programme that would allow me to display the results in a variety of ways, and to otherwise interrogate the database. The current document is the first draft of this report.

The ISIS survey is a remarkable example of “citizen science” being conducted by concerned citizens (most of whom had never met each other), using the power of the internet to reach around the world.

Results

ALL_COUNTRIES3One way of displaying the results is as a series of pie charts showing the answers given to each question in each country (see right, and click on image for larger view).

A separate table below gives a clearer breakdown of places adversely affected.

Most results were obtained in the UK, with smaller numbers in the USA, Germany, Spain, Greece, Belgium, Canada, and Netherlands. On average two thirds of respondents were male, one third female, both mostly of working age.

adversely-affected21Smokers experienced adverse effects principally in pubs or bars, but also to a slightly lesser extent in cafes, restaurants, hotels, stations and airports, and on public transport.

About 70% of smokers reported that, since smoking bans had come into force, they went to pubs and cafes and restaurants either less often or hardly ever.

Nearly half of all smokers reported that, since smoking bans had come into force, they saw less or much less of friends and family.

Over half of smokers reported that, since smoking bans had come into force, they spent more time or much more time at home.

About 80% of all respondents (including non-smokers) reported that they had become more distrustful or much more distrustful of experts and the mass media.

About two-thirds of respondents reported that, since smoking bans had come into force, their quality of life had got worse or much worse.

Three-quarters of respondents reported that they disapproved of hospital and care home bans. Half of respondents reported that they strongly disapproved.

There was no noteworthy difference between the responses from different countries.

As might be expected, most positive responses to smoking bans were obtained from non-smokers, but even so on average non-smokers did not report going to pubs and cafes and restaurants more often. Perhaps surprisingly, a number of non-smokers reported adverse effects as well, for example as a result of having to accompany smoking friends outdoors.

Not all smokers reported negative outcomes. A small minority reported that as a result of the smoking ban, they were smoking less, or that the ban helped them to cut down on smoking, or that they approved of the ban.

None of these results should come as much of a surprise, since they are in accordance with numerous anecdotal reports. Although the collapse of trust in experts and the mass media in both smokers and non-smokers, and the lack of enthusiasm for smoking bans expressed by non-smokers, might be regarded as surprising.

Further Findings.

Social Isolation:

Nearly half of respondents reported that they saw less of friends and family, and about a quarter of  respondents reported that they saw a lot less of friends and family after smoking bans came into force. This suggests that some smokers may have become socially isolated as a result of smoking bans.  And in this respect one might bear in mind a BBC report that

A study of 6,500 UK men and women aged over 52 found that being isolated from family and friends was linked with a 26% higher death risk over seven years.

Entertaining at home:

About one fifth of smokers reported that, while they went to pubs and cafes and restaurants less, and stayed at home more, they nevertheless saw the same or more of friends and family. It might be reasonably inferred from this that many smokers began entertaining at home, where they could continue to smoke in the company of friends and family. Such people clearly have not become socially isolated, but have formed a new social splinter group.

impactIn total, then, nearly two thirds of smokers either became socially isolated in some degree in the aftermath of the introduction of smoking bans, or else met up with friends and family in a new separate “home culture”. The resulting social disruption is displayed in a pie chart (right) in which UK smokers are shown in shades of red, and non-smokers in green, with degrees of social isolation shown in radial distance, and degrees of social fragmentation shown by scattering.

Economic impacts:

Many smokers report that, since smoking bans have been introduced, they hardly ever visit pubs and cafes and restaurants. In the UK, according to our survey, about a quarter of smokers reported hardly ever going to pubs and restaurants after the UK ban. Given that about a fifth of UK adults are smokers, and that non-smokers don’t report visiting pubs and restaurants more frequently, then it should be expected that the UK hospitality businesses would have suffered a 5% or greater loss of trade. And in the case of the UK, some 10% of UK pubs have closed down since the UK smoking ban was introduced in July 2007, with many pub landlords complaining that the promised influx of non-smokers to replace the departing smokers “never materialised”.

But it might also be reasonably inferred that, since smokers who are adversely affected in pubs and cafes and restaurants visit them less or hardly ever, much the same is likely to apply with smoking bans everywhere else, including hotels, clubs, beaches, theatres, art galleries, museums, etc, and that smokers will have been spending proportionally less time and money in all these places as well. And if they have been meeting up with friends and family less, they will spend less on transport, clothes, shoes, make-up, hairdressing, perfume, and everything else associated with such social occasions. And also it may reasonably be inferred that, if smokers are staying home more, they will also be spending less on transportation of every kind, while spending more on home decoration or other improvements.

It is sometimes suggested, by advocates of smoking bans, that if smokers stop spending in pubs and cafes, they will simply spend their money elsewhere. But if smokers are staying home, it’s rather hard to see what else they can be spending their money on. Most shopping in Britain is done on its streets and shopping precincts, and when smokers visit such places less frequently, they are likely to spend less on everything on sale there.

In this sub-study, only the responses of the 150 or so UK smokers interviewed have been used to produce an estimate of the net economic impact of their reduced spending in the UK, using data on Consumer Trends from the Office for National Statistics. In many cases – e.g. food, housing, medicine – it has been assumed that there has been no change in spending at all. But in other sectors of the economy, such as hospitality and transport and  it has been assumed that there has been a proportional drop in spending.

The data from our survey suggest that there has been a 10% reduction in spending by smokers in the UK economy which has resulted in a 2% – 3% fall in smoker spending across the whole economy. This figure would need to be multiplied up to reflect the knock-on effects of reduced smoker spending, as would happen when pubs and restaurants buy in less food and drink, and employ fewer staff. Using a multiplier of 2, this results in a net fall in demand of between 4% and 6% across the whole UK economy. And using a multiplier of 3 or more, this results in a 10% or greater fall in spending.

And in fact, demand in the UK economy actually did fall by some 8%  in the years after 2007, with the sharpest downturn in the first quarter of 2008 when smokers no longer enjoyed summer outdoor temperatures, suggesting that the UK smoking ban probably did have a strong negative impact on the UK economy, although this was masked by the “credit crunch” that began almost simultaneously.

uk-household-expenditure

If so, this would suggest that, where smoking prevalence is higher than in Britain, such as in Bulgaria or Russia or other eastern European or Middle Eastern countries (40% prevalence or higher) the adverse economic impacts and accompanying social fragmentation due to smoking bans are likely to be correspondingly greater. Russia is set to introduce a smoking ban in June 2013, and with a reported 60% smoking prevalence demand in the Russian economy may be expected to fall by 20% or more, if the ban is enforced as tightly as it has been in the UK.

These results also suggest that all attempts to boost consumer spending and stimulate economic activity are likely to be nullified while smokers, who represent 20% or more of the economy, continue to stay home and stop spending.

Conclusions

Smoking bans are socially divisive. Smokers respond by staying home and stopping spending. For some smokers the result is social isolation, and for others the emergence of a new “smoky-drinky” home culture. The result either way is social fragmentation and a fall in consumer demand across the whole economy.

And since, in the UK at least, these are results recorded five years after the introduction of the UK smoking ban, it suggests that smokers don’t ‘adapt’ or ‘get used’ to smoking bans, and continue their lives much as before, but instead radically and permanently change their social behaviours and spending patterns.

A responsible government would conduct a larger, fully randomized, and independent study to investigate the matter further.

That said, science requires accurate measurement. Human beings are not accurate measuring devices, like rulers or scales or clocks. Their responses to their circumstances do not vary linearly. And they cannot be calibrated. So the responses that human subjects provide in questionnaires cannot be treated as accurate measurements. It should always be borne in mind, both with this survey, and every other one like it (which would include almost every single published study of smoking), that it is not science.

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About Frank Davis

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85 Responses to ISIS Survey Report

  1. Klaus K says:

    Very interesting, Frank – but isn’t it possible to put the graphics directly in the article for everyone to see? Or maybe open up the possibilty to see it for non-wordpress users? (must be quite a bunch of people)

    — 403: Access Denied —
    This file requires authorization:
    You must be logged in and a member of this blog.
    Log in to proceed.

    • Frank Davis says:

      The files are on the Social Impact Survey site. I’ll move them over to my blog tomorrow, which should make them accessible.

      Should be fixed now. There’s only one image that expands.

  2. junican says:

    Excellent, excellent work Frank. Google Chrome would not allow me to access your charts, but that does not matter – the percentages are enough.

    I am (I think!) typical of the ‘ideal’ person your survey describes. A couple of years ago, I would go to town and shop and, afterwards, drop in at a pub or cafe and relax for a little while, with a beer or a coffee and a cig, before going home. I no longer do so. I buy stuff that I need via the net. But that means that I ONLY buy stuff on the net. I do not spend elsewhere. Also, of course, I do not spend on petrol, which cost has a heavy duty element. Also, I only go to the pub three times a week rather than nine, which also reduces my spending on duty goods. That this practice of not spending on duty goods (and also on VAT goods and on wage income tax) is common is visible for all to see. My local pubs have lost masses of custom AND CONTINUE TO DO SO.

    Are we spending on other things? Certainly I am not – unless you include certain ‘plant’ seeds. Further, I had certain quite expensive hobbies like golfing. Now, that hobby has been replaced by growing certain plants. What is the point of going to the golf club and being ‘exiled to the outdoors’ when you are paying upwards of £500 per an to be a member of the golf club? Golf ADDICT though I might have been, I draw a line somewhere. My critical decision to resign from the golf club was much influences when I went to the club for some reason and decided to have a beer. I was astonished when the barperson REFUSED to lend me a cig lighter (mine had run out of gas) unless I took it outside to light my cig – and this in an empty clubhouse. I had already stopped playing, but, out of affection for the club, I had continued to pay my £500 per an fees. I did so because I liked the club and the people and the course needed to be maintained. When the barperson insisted that I take the lighter outside, I realised that my affection for the club was misplaced. The Club was a THING, and not a person. When I dissociated, I dissociated from a THING.

    This philosophical idea has repercussions. Tobacco Control are, and have been for the last several years, destroying a cultural ideal. Thus, anyone who voluntarily gives his time unpaid to hospital service is STUPID, since, if he is a PET (Person who Enjoys Tobacco), he is a DISGUSTING, FILTHY, STINKING SUB-HUMAN.

    Just like the Jews…………..

  3. harleyrider1978 says:

    Frank you can add in 500 smokers from tenn entering ky each weekend to our small town to get a taste of freedom from prohibition………………….easily 500!

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      I can count you the tags alone! in restaraunts,bar,gamblng houses……………lower food tax rates on groceries…………

  4. junican says:

    Government is sick. It must be so.
    There are things which ought no way to be taxed. Such things are food, water, shelter, clothing AND ENERGY. Also, DUTIES (tobacco, alcohol, etc) are very ancient thinking. They hark back to squabbles about who owns which Caribbean Island and stuff.
    But Government is not organised to think. It is organised to shout (propaganda) and to compel (laws).

    Government is sick.

  5. waltc says:

    Great job of both statistical and sociological analysis. My (unsolicited) suggestion would be to just pare the history of the survey’s genesis to a single businesslike paragraph (and skip the 10 dropouts– you had 10 working volunteers, period– the dropouts make it sound haphazard) and send the rest of it, exactly as is, as a press release (maybe on ISIS letterhead?) to various newspapers, journals, sympathetic reporters/ columnists/ radio talk hosts, and also to select academics (hoping they’ll get the hint to conduct a wider study).

    Ideally, it should also be made available to smokers’ rights groups around the world to use to in their (okay, often futile) efforts to combat ban talk on their local levels.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I haven’t thought about press releases. I don’t know how one sets about making them, or where to take them. It’s not that I’m not interested, but that I don’t know where to begin.

  6. Graeme says:

    Q5 seems like a poorly worded question – or perhaps one that would return a result that is skewed unintentionally. “Experts” and “mass media” are two entirely separate things – the media report (accurately, or inaccurately) on evidence from experts. Given the mass media’s inability to a) understand scientific results and b) report it accurately and in an unbiased way, this will clearly influence the participant’s answer or perceptions of any information from an expert – and it’s impossible for a person to (eg) trust the media less and experts more, or vice versa.

    I find the article’s wording a little odd too – starting off with:

    “The ISIS survey is a remarkable example of “citizen science” being conducted by concerned citizens”

    and then ends with:
    “It should always be borne in mind, both with this survey, and every other one like it … it is not science.” ?

    The following claim that any smoking study is not science seems plain wrong – by asking non-subjective questions it is possible to make scientific judgement (with large numbers of participants providing more accurate confidence bounds) – perhaps this is harder in the realm of social aspects like the effects of the smoking ban, as in this case where human emotion may be at play, but certainly in analysis cause of disease, death, etc.. (where results are consistent whenever any study is taken place)

    • Frank Davis says:

      Re “citizen science”, I agree if it seems a bit contradictory. But I think it is quite remarkable how people from all over the world have helped to put this study together. Perhaps I could have expressed that another way.

      As to whether questionnaires can produce “science” or not, my answer is very firmly NO, and for the reasons I give. Human beings are not accurate measuring devices. They are ‘black boxes’, with a whole series of inputs, and a whole series of outputs, that are constantly changing. They will produce one answer one day, and another the next. They are in no way comparable to the measuring devices employed in physics or chemistry, that measure mass and length and time and charge.

      So I think that all questionnaire-driven ‘science’ is just bad science. It shouldn’t be regarded as science at all. I think that about the most that can be said about any questionnaire-driven study is that the results are “interesting”, but prove nothing one way or the other.

      Having large numbers of participants just means having large numbers of black boxes. It doesn’t help at all. It doesn’t increase the accuracy to try to measure something with lots of elastic bands instead of just one or two. And human emotions are always in play: they’re one of the inputs/outputs of the black boxes. Asking people questions can never provide answers as to the cause of disease or anything else. At best such studies might point in the right direction now and then.

      If this means closing down lots of pseudo-science departments in universities, then I’m all for it.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Re the questions, I take your point, but as far as I am concerned “experts” and “the mass media” are all just one amorphous mass.

      You could equally well say that “bars”, “cafes”, and “restaurants” are all quite different places. You might even say that one restaurant is quite different from another restaurant. But I think that when you draw a circle around a collection of things, people usually understand what you’re driving at.

      • margo says:

        I agree wholeheartedly – and ALL the so-called science on smoking has been of this kind.

        • Rose says:

          It’s the science they either don’t know or choose to leave out, that I find fascinating.

          ENVIRONMENTAL TOBACCO SMOKE –
          ESTIMATION OF ITS CONTRIBUTION TO RESPIRABLE SUSPENDED PARTICLES –
          METHOD BASED ON SOLANESOL DETERMINATION

          “Many plants of the Solanaceae family, which includes the genus Nicotiana, of which the tobacco plant is a member, contain solanesol; particularly those that contain trace amounts of nicotine.
          These include the tomato, eggplant, potato, and pepper.

          The potential interference due to these sources is negligible, cooking being the only likely potential source of interference. An interference of this type would bias results high, overestimating the contribution of ETS to RSP.
          http://www.coresta.org/Recommended_Methods/CRM_52.pdf

          SOLANESOL

          Powerful Health Agent
          “Solanesol, extracted from tobacco leaves, is used in synthesis of high-value bio-chemicals such as vitamin-K analogues and Co-enzyme Q10 Co Q10 . Solanesol, the starting material used in the synthesis of Co Q 10″
          and Vitamin K analogues, is also a potentiating agent in these medicines. Studies indicate that by introducing solanesol radical into the structure of some medicines, the effects increase noticeably. With solanesol as its primary material, Co-enzyme Q 10 is useful in the treatment of heart diseases, cancers and ulcers.”
          http: //www.novoagri.com/prod_solanesol.html

          CTRI wins patent for using tobacco as medicine – 2008

          “New Delhi (PTI): Tobacco will now be used for manufacturing cancer and cardiac drugs with the Central Tobacco Research Institute (CTRI) bagging the patent for ‘solanesol’ — a medicinal substance extracted from tobacco.

          Solanesol, a white crystalline powder derived from tobacco’s green leaf, has curative effects against cardiac insufficiency, muscular dystrophy, anaemia, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and liver injury. “Many pharmaceutical companies have approached us for carrying out clinical trials for the usage of solanesol as anti-cancer and anti-diabetic drugs,” CTRI Director V Krishna Murthy told PTI.

          Solanesol is rich in Coenzyme Q10 — a physiologically active substance with high pharmaceutical value. “Solanesol has excellent prospects in future as drug and CTRI would soon distribute the rights for production of drugs in the market,” Murthy said. A letter granting the patent for solanesol was received by CTRI in October last year from Controller of Patents.”
          http: //www.hindu.com/holnus/008200802171223.htm

          Chinese turn cigarettes into medicine – 2006

          “Beijing – A city in China, a country that’s home to the world’s most enthusiastic smokers, is crushing fake cigarettes to make medicine, Xinhua news agency said on Sunday.

          The northwestern city of Xian is using the counterfeit cigarettes to extract solanesol, a compound found in tobacco which is used to treat cardiovascular disease, it said”

          A kilo of solanesol is worth about $200 (about R1 200), and 30 tons of tobacco leaf can produce up to 120kg, Xinhua added”
          http: //www.iol.co.za/news/world/chinese-turn-cigarettes-into-medicine-1.269897#.UYpw20o5geM

          How come anti-tobacco don’t seem to mention this? After all, the public can’t come to any proper conclusion without knowing all the facts.

  7. Rose says:

    380 responses from smokers rang a distant bell.

    Try 831

    New Poll Shows Public Back Health Select Committee Amendment on Smokefree Law
    31st January 2006

    “An all-Party group of ten members of the Select Committee, led by the Chair of the Committee Kevin Barron MP, has tabled an amendment to the Health Bill that would ensure that all workplaces and enclosed public places, including all pubs and membership clubs, would be smokefree. The Bill as it now stands would allow smoking to continue in clubs and in pubs that do not serve prepared food.

    The Government has now announced a free vote for its MPs on the issue, as has the Conservative Opposition. The Commons Report Stage of the Health Bill may take place in the week beginning February 13th.

    Asked whether they support the Committee’s proposal 70% of those polled said yes, with only 18% saying they were opposed”

    [1] The survey was conducted by BMRB International using the BMRB Access Omnibus (telephone) survey between 20-22 January 2006. It involved 831 adults aged 16+ in England.

    The survey asked:

    “A Government Bill in parliament will make enclosed workplaces smokefree, with exemptions for pubs not serving food, and private members clubs. The Chair of the Health Committee supported by committee members from all parties has tabled an amendment to make ALL enclosed workplaces, including all pubs and clubs smokefree.

    How strongly would you support or oppose this amendment to make ALL enclosed workplaces smokefree?”
    http://www.ash.org.uk/media-room/press-releases/new-poll-shows-public-back-health-select-committee-amendment-on-smokefree-law

    Reported as –

    ASH poll shows public support full smoking ban
    31 January, 2006

    “An opinion poll published by anti-smoking group ASH reveals that 70 per cent of the public support smoke-free legislation.
    The poll asked 831 members of the public whether they supported a full ban rather than a partial ban based on food.”

    “ASH director Deborah Arnott said: “The message to MPs could not be clearer. The public wants smoke-free legislation. They want it in England, just as they do in Scotland, Wales and in Northern Ireland.”

    We are delighted that the Heaqlth Select Committee has led the way on this important issue and we are increasingly optimistic that comprehensive smoke-free legislation will get a big majority in the free vote”
    http: //www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/General-News/ASH-poll-shows-public-support-full-smoking-ban

    Confidence trick

    “It is essential that campaigners create the impression of inevitable success. Campaigning of this kind is literally a confidence trick: the appearance of confidence both creates confidence and demoralises the opposition.

    The week before the free vote we made sure the government got the message that we “knew” we were going to win and it would be better for them to be on the winning side.

    But it was only five minutes before the vote that the political adviser to the health secretary phoned us to let us know Patricia Hewitt was supporting our position, and we only found out after the vote that the prime minister and Gordon Brown had followed her through the lobby.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2006/jul/19/health.healthandwellbeing

    2013
    “…several years later he (Tony Blair) agonised about the smoking ban in public places and finally justified the move by suggesting:
    “The public gave us permission to introduce the ban.”
    http: //www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/iraq-10-years-on-so-you-think-you-know-why-blair-went-to-war-8500265.html

    The stupid thing is, if the MP’s had voted for the governments bill, banning smoking in places where food was served, I think most of us would have just accepted it as we always do.

    ASH could have waited a bit and got the rest but no, they just had to smack a fifth of the population in the face by banning them everywhere simultaneously!

    Being suddenly smacked in the face, is a Big wake-up call.

  8. Rose says:

    Incidentally

    Nigel Lawson calls time on the three-pint Eurosceptic heroes

    By Nigel Farage

    07 May 2013
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/ukip/10041502/Nigel-Lawson-calls-time-on-the-three-pint-Eurosceptic-heroes.html

  9. Now watch the ways in which this is spun (if “they” choose to do so). Fewer meetings with family and friends? Well great! This means they are protected from “second hand smoke” which is, of course “wonderful” for “public health.” Oh and don’t worry about the reduction in spending. It means that er… government has to erm… pay less benefits as people have saved rather than spent money, and that uh…money saved… uh… yeah. Anyway we don’t want an economy with pubs, we want a GREEN economy where people spend their money on socially beneficial things like baseball caps with miniature wind turbines on. Yeah…

  10. margo says:

    Well done, Frank – a pretty good achievement. As for that sentence that starts “A responsible government would …”, well, a responsible government wouldn’t lie to its people, wouldn’t pander to lobby groups without carefully checking the facts, wouldn’t conduct pretend-consultations, wouldn’t tolerate MPs faking their expenses – well, there’s no end to it, is there.

  11. Frank Davis says:

    My apologies.

    I wrote the report over on the private ISIS WordPress discussion, and copied it over to my blog yesterday. It all appeared fine, but only for me, because I have the necessary permissions. But for almost everyone else, who did not have the permissions, the images did not appear. So this morning I’ve had to copy the images over to my blog too.

    Everything should appear properly for everyone now.

  12. Sheila says:

    Well done Frank. Smoking bans are socially devisive as smokers stay at home and stop spending.
    There is an article in the mail today about pubs closing.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2321010/Were-giving-pubs–beer-Number-closing-week-reaches-26-sales-lager-fall-year-low.html
    They need reminding exactly why this is.

  13. harleyrider1978 says:

    It appears we need another Winston…………………perhaps Nigel can ‘GET-R-DONE’ for you Brits.

  14. martin says:

    I congratulate you on the integrity you display by noting the shortcomings of a survey like this. That Tobacco Control ‘facts’ are rarely advertised with such a caveat suggests an element of dishonesty in their claims.

  15. harleyrider1978 says:

    Derisory and distasteful to threaten smokers with blindness
    STOP that or you’ll go blind!

    Surely no health warning in history has been more disregarded, more laughable … or more utterly inaccurate – as generations of eagle-eyed adolescents testify.

    But blissfully ignorant of how derisory and distasteful it is to threaten people with blindness, the zealots of the anti-smoking brigade have chosen this as one of the ridiculous slogans to fly at the masthead of their rabid campaign.

    I don’t smoke but I am deeply dismayed that government policy has been hijacked by health fanatics and absolutely appalled by the treatment of my fellow citizens who choose to smoke.

    The government endlessly harangues them with anti-smoking propaganda; shamelessly extorts huge and highly regressive taxes from them; threatens them with death and dreadful diseases; morally blackmails them by accusing them of harming others; bullies them with countless pointless and petty regulations; conspicuously separates them from other citizens and herds them into ghettoes; taunts them with slogans like “$16 a pack is not all that smokers cough up” and with revolting cruelty and incredible insensitivity undermines any sympathy for smokers who happen to be in the dreadful position of having cancer by saying it’s their own fault.

    Now they are chortling with sanctimonious glee because (in Australia) they’ve forced smokers to buy tobacco in plain packs adorned with gruesome and grotesque images of ill health allegedly caused by smoking.

    This may play well in the health community but it’s gratuitously offensive to non-smokers like myself who do not wish to get caught in the crossfire and get grossed out by such vile images.

    No other section of society is so vilified, bullied and discriminated against and it can only be a matter of time before smokers are forced to wear a yellow star like German Jews.

    If this seems far-fetched, Australia’s archbishop of anti-smoking, Professor Simon Chapman came close to this recently with his chilling call for smokers to be licenced.

    The whole bullying, hectoring, discriminatory campaign is unacceptable in our modern, free democratic society.

    But what is even worse is that the whole anti-smoking campaign is thoroughly fraudulent, disgracefully dishonest and scientifically unsustainable anyway.

    Though the fawning media never ever question or criticise them, the anti-smoking saints often trip themselves up.

    A classic example of this was president of the Australian Medical Association’s Brendan Nelson’s thunderous threat that two out of three smokers will die.

    Neither Dr Nelson nor anyone in the media seemed to notice that this gave smokers pretty fair one in three odds of immortality.

    Then there is the wild and totally unscientific claim that “there is no safe level of exposure to passive smoke”.

    There are tolerable levels of exposure to all sorts of toxins, even radioactivity but not apparently to passive smoke in any concentration which is thus by far the most dangerous substance on the planet.

    The wonder is that society seems to have somehow survived and even thrived despite being exposed to this deadly danger for the last 300 years.

    But it’s not just the patently ludicrous claims we should deride and dismiss.

    Anti-smokers should be actively prosecuted for scaremongering.

    They can issue any death threats they like.

    Take their slogan, “every cigarette brings cancer closer”.

    Issued with the authority of the Australian Government, people would innocently assume that cancer is an inevitable, imminent and unavoidable consequence of smoking.

    They would therefore be surprised to learn that in reality smokers have a high 90s% chance of not getting cancer.

    They go on to claim, “at any time (ie. imminently) smoker’s cough (a myth in itself) can become lung cancer”.

    Well why shouldn’t we believe the claims of the anti-smokers?

    There are many reasons but to take just one, the highly respected British Doctor Study ran for 50 years and repeatedly reported that over 20 years of active smoking did no harm.

    These findings are not disputed and bizarrely, even Prof Chapman once admitted this in an obscure corner of his otherwise virulently anti-smoking website.

    It follows that if 20 years of active smoking does no harm, the effect of passive smoke must be somewhere between infinitesimal and zero but one would never gather this from the anti-smoking hysteria and we are surely entitled to ask why we are never given a balanced picture.

    If we allow the Government health advisers continue persecuting the poor old puffers we are endangering our own liberties because their campaign is also downright dangerous to the fabric of our free society for it is fundamentally repressive, regressive and discriminatory.

    The real warning on cigarette packs should read: “Caution! Anti-smoking is a humbug hazard!”.

    David H. Lewis is an Australian skeptic who writes as a private citizen and has no affiliation with any tobacco interests.

    http://www.news-mail.com.au/news/derisory-and-distasteful-threaten-smokers-blindnes/1859995/

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Any bets on when the rats will start jumping ship!

    • beobrigitte says:

      Very interesting, Harley!

      This may play well in the health community but it’s gratuitously offensive to non-smokers like myself who do not wish to get caught in the crossfire and get grossed out by such vile images.

      This guy isn’t the only non-smoker who comments along these lines. Even non-smokers have their doubts about the truth content of anti-smoking propaganda.
      I have heard countless times comments from non-smokers that they themselves are not bothered by the smoking ban but they resent the treatment the anti-smoker’s designed for smokers and being pulled on this anti-smokers’ bandwagon.

      But it’s not just the patently ludicrous claims we should deride and dismiss.

      Anti-smokers should be actively prosecuted for scaremongering.

      Actually, perhaps anti-smokers could start repayment of the funds scrounged from Governments to implement actions based on fraudulent claims. Fraud is Fraud, isn’t it?

    • margo says:

      That’s really good.

  16. harleyrider1978 says:

    The war is won,its time for mop up actions around the globe. I suggest each and everyone of us attack every story that appears upon a headline……………..We have prevailed,ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK!

  17. harleyrider1978 says:

    In the darkest hours of mankinds lost freedom we rose to the fight,to the challenge and dared the world governments and their cohorted sock charities. We fought when we were criminalized,marginalized and evicted from our rightful places at the public table. We did not stutter,we did not cower,we did not fear! We fought on and on with every battle we sustained ourselves in the knowledge of right versus evil.
    We are citizens patriots preserving freedom for our generations to come!
    Be proud,you have earned it.

  18. Rose says:

    Well done, Frank.
    Apart from the economic aspect, those images denote a lot of unforgivable and unnecessary human misery and loss.

  19. mikef317 says:

    Off topic. Some good news from America. Maybe.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2013/05/obamas-cigarette-tax-proposal-goes-up-in-smoke-91043.html?hp=t2_3

    Scroll down to read comments.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      With no help from the White House to push its own proposal, anti-smoking advocates say they are on their own to build public momentum for the new tax — especially a struggle in an environment where the House and Senate have each passed their own budget bills but have shown no intention to send to a conference committee.

      “Unfortunately, the budget process now is not a process,” said Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society’s political arm, the Cancer Action Network. “If this had happened 20 years ago, I would expect that the entire budget process would move forward and that this would play out within that process. Under the current circumstance, the reality is that the proposal is out there and it’s incumbent on groups like ours to pick that up and advocate for it.”

      Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/05/obamas-cigarette-tax-proposal-goes-up-in-smoke-91043.html#ixzz2SjLLlQPB

  20. cherie79 says:

    Not one of my never smoking friends object at all and most dislike the ban as much as we do as it has ruined their social life too, one says she is always left holding the coats while we all go our for a cigarette.

  21. harleyrider1978 says:

  22. harleyrider1978 says:

    Europeans Rebel Against EU in Ever Larger Numbers

    by Peter Martino
    May 7, 2013 at 3:00 am

    http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3700/european-union-unpopularity

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      This wave of protest certainly is not short-term – it is lasting,” Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) said last Thursday, after his party became the third largest party in the British local elections. UKIP is a party that wants to take Britain out of the European Union (EU).

      All over Europe, the popularity of the EU, the supranational organization of 27 European nations, is plummeting. A recent poll conducted by Eurobarometer, the EU’s polling organization, in the six major EU countries, found that public confidence in the EU has fallen to the lowest level ever. Since May 2007, distrust of the EU in Poland rose from 18 to 42%, in Italy from 28 to 53%, in France from 41 to 56%, in Germany from 36 to 59%, in Britain from 49 to 69%, and in Spain from 23 to 72%.

  23. smokingscot says:

    You’ve done good – all of you. It takes guts to seek out strangers and ask them to complete a form. It’s a fine example of (international) networking and it’s it is a perfectly legitimate study.

    Frank, I’d be very interested to see how the ISIS study compared to the readership survey you conducted as a preliminary. I believe it was to assist you in forming the questions that went into ISIS.

    You raise an extremely interesting point with respect to Russia. You say there’s a 60% smoking prevalence there. I came across this puppy a couple of days back where the writer claims that 60% of Chinese males smoke – and they too intend to roll out a nationwide ban! (It’s mixed into the text at the preamble and conclusion).

    http://www.thebeijinger.com/blog/2013/02/23/no-ifs-no-butts-are-no-smoking-bars-rise

    Consider. There’s been a change at the top in both countries. It wasn’t democracy as we know it – certainly not in the case of Mr Putin it wasn’t. I suspect we may well see far more in the way of demands for regional autonomy in both countries.

    Of course a free Tibet would be quite wonderful and, with 300 million smokers all very likely to be seriously miffed, well they may well go along with the idea just for the sheer heck of it! Ditto Chechnya. Come to think of it, Russia’s just a mess of places that sort of got sucked in over the years. Same as Mongol, Hui, Zhuang & Uyghur aren’t really that fussed about remaining in The Peoples Republic of China.

    Re the spending elsewhere should we quit. I’d have thought that someone might have had the courtesy to explain that of £2000 spent on smoking, roughly 90% is tax. If the reformed smoker then applies his/her £2000 saved to getting a slightly upmarket 2nd hand car, the tax take is naff all if its a private sale.

    For smokers who have reduced their discretionary spend by not going out as often the situation is very similar. The tax on alcohol is close to that on tobacco, hence if they are part of the reasons why pubs are closing, then anything they chose to do is much more likely to result in far less revenue for the government.

    It a fascinating sub study in its own right, though I suspect that’s the last thing you want to hear right now!!

    Oh, to cheer you up. Another female celeb – Lindsay Lohan. She refused to enter rehab on account they don’t allow smoking!

    http://www.bubblews.com/news/456913-lindsay-lohan-changes-rehab-facilities-over-smoking

  24. waltc says:

    Press releases:

    There are online press release services that allow you to reach wide,. Suggest you get in touch with Audrey Silk who can tell you the How To’s and What’s since she uses them to advantage. If you make the subj line to her “From Frank Davis” I’m sure you’ll get a fast response. nycclash @ nycclash.com

    For the rest, and/or as an alternative or supplement, a little research should turn up email addresses for the people you want to reach and to whom you can either send the url of your online release (NOT the address of your blog) or an attachment. Short of that, snail mail. And I do suggest you look for academics, too. I think i’ve mentioned some UK ones to you before and will again if you’re interested.

    The format is pretty simple. Under your letterhead, flush left you write FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. Under that, CONTACT: (your name) and a phone & email address.

    Good idea to give it a headline that sums up the subject: something along the lines of “International survey shows smoke bans economically, socially, costly” or find a catchier way of saying that.

    Since you’re doing it in the form of a release, you can even, in the 3rd person, quote yourself. Again, along the lines of: “Frank Davis, research coordinator, (or whatever you want to call yourself,) commented that “…………”) but you don’t have to. You can also stick with the telling summaries and omit the charts; simply tell them, at the end of the thing, that they’re available, along with more details, when they contact you. With a lot of luck, some may, and then you could find yourself quoted in a news article (these releases are often the fodder for articles) or phoned for an interview.

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