Bidding for the Smoker’s Dollar

If, in places like New Orleans (and the UK), politicians won’t represent smokers, then smokers are eventually likely to go live elsewhere.

For about 3½ years, between 2007 and 2011, I was thinking quite hard about buying a home in Spain. And if Spain hadn’t introduced its own smoking ban in 2011, I might well have been living in Spain right now. As it was, it didn’t really matter where I lived, smoking-wise. And on balance it was better to stay in England, where I could at least speak the language fairly well.

But if antismoking measures continue to multiply, and smoker persecution intensifies, smokers are increasingly likely to go and live in places where they’re either welcome, or less unwelcome than where they currently are.

If I wanted to live anywhere in the USA, it would be the little town of Westminster, Massachusetts. Because  a few months back the townsfolk protested successfully against a council-proposed smoking ban.

And if the War on Smokers continues, I think there will be little Westminsters popping up everywhere, with smokers arriving in droves, and antismokers getting out. And, if they weren’t already, all the town councillors would soon be smokers.

It’s called segregation. It’s what always happens when minorities are persecuted. People want to live with people like themselves.

And where little smoking communities emerge, they might even advertise for smokers to visit and come live. (I’ve just plugged Westminster, Massachusetts). What’s to stop them?

In fact, whole countries might become smoker-friendly. There are lots of smokers, and they’ve got lots of money they’d be more than happy to spend in bars and restaurants where they’re welcome. So there must be a growing economic incentive in countries with lots of smokers to relax their laws, and make a bid for the smoker’s dollar.

In Europe, most of the smokers are found in the southern and eastern regions. Let’s suppose that Corsica is one of these places. What happens if Brits and Germans see ads on their TVs saying “Come to Sunny Corsica”, showing smokers relaxing at a bar in Ajaccio, or sitting in a restaurant with a forkful of spaghetti in one hand, and a cigar in the other? It’s not an advertisement for tobacco: it’s a tourism ad, just like other countries produce. I think they’d get a lot of smokers flocking there for their holidays, and maybe even looking to buy property. Where else are they welcome?

It’s a bit like Israel for Jews, and Corsica for Smokers. And once the smoking prevalence in any smoker-friendly country had risen above 50%, it would be impossible for pro-smoking rules and regulations to be tightened up.

If not Corsica, then Greece. There are lots of smokers in Greece, and I’m told they habitually flout the Greek smoking ban. There’s an election in Greece this weekend, I believe, and more talk of its exit from the EU. What if a new Greek government simply rescinded its smoking ban on quitting the EU, and advertised the fact widely?

I think something along these lines is bound to happen sooner or later, if smoking bans don’t get relaxed or rescinded. Smokers will gravitate to places where they’re welcome. And as they gravitate there, they’ll make up an increasing proportion of the population, and one that politicians won’t be able to ignore.

And they’ll develop their own smoky new culture. Their TV station newscasters would smoke while they read out the news, and the weathermen gesture with cigarettes at approaching warm fronts. And there’d be tobacco ads everywhere. People might even smoke in church. Prospective immigrants would be  given a pack of cigarettes, and required to prove that they could smoke the whole lot, and shown the door if they couldn’t. They’d be a complete contrast to the smoke-free zones everywhere else: they’d be smoke-rich zones.

The antismokers are really only winning because smokers are spread too widely (as was only natural when they weren’t being persecuted). But once smokers start congregating in smoker-friendly towns or countries, all that will change. When you’re a 20% minority, you can be ignored. When you’re a 70% majority, you can’t.

And as smokers vacate smoker-unfriendly zones, tax revenues from tobacco in those zones would fall, while tax revenues in smoker-friendly zones would rise. And most likely all kinds of businesses would flourish in relaxed, deregulated smoke-rich zones, where people could do as they liked, and not as some bureaucrat demanded.

Which is going to be the first town or country to make a bid for the smoker’s dollar?

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About Frank Davis

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50 Responses to Bidding for the Smoker’s Dollar

  1. Michigan has miles upon miles of seemingly endless coastline; it’s beautiful in the summer (and in the winter, if you don’t mind snow).

  2. irocyr says:

    In an ideal world, in a market that should logically be governed by the universal law of supply and demand, this would be happening already Frank. It is not happening and the reason it is not is because there is some other force that politicians and countries are unable to counter. The countries are falling one by one and there is a reason for it, a sinister reason. I have put a lot of thought in this and the only plausible explanation for this unstoppable force I always come back to is the mighty Pharma $$$. What I am still unsure of is how it is done. Is it done through threats (for example Big P threatening countries to pull all funding from universities) is it done through bribes, is it done through ”scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours deals”, is it done through financing election campaigns, is it all of the above? One day the truth will come out, but when you see struggling countries like Greece, which in the middle of its worst crisis adopts a smoking ban, it’s gotta convince even the biggest of skeptics that something very sinister is going on other than complete lunacy of the Carey Nation type. .

    • nisakiman says:

      ..but when you see struggling countries like Greece, which in the middle of its worst crisis adopts a smoking ban…

      It’s not actually quite like that in Greece, Iro. The smoking ban was originally introduced at the behest of the EU about ten years ago, I believe. It was completely ignored, and so the healthists (who happily don’t really carry a lot of weight in Greece) convinced the government to re-introduce the ban. It did gain some legs in 2010 when George Papandreou was PM (2009 to 2011), as he is a real anti-smoker himself. There was much huffing and puffing about how they would really crack down on it, but as with all the other attempts to ban smoking (about five so far, I think), this one fizzled too.

      Despite that, the law continues to be ignored and people who don’t smoke have no recourse when they go into restaurants, clubs, tavernas, summer cinemas and other public places, including hospitals, where people pretty much smoke wherever they want.

      Public workers, including those in post offices and government buildings, as well as police, doctors, and bus drivers also smoke without having to worry about being checked or having fines issued against them. Members of Parliament also openly smoke in the building where they passed the ban, ignoring their own law. There was no word on whether inspectors would attempt to stop them, check on them, or fine them at the same time those in other public places could be fined. (My emphasis)

      http://greece.greekreporter.com/2013/02/23/greece-says-smoking-ban-to-start/

      The reality is that as far as Greece is concerned, there is no smoking ban. A few bars and restaurants have opted to be non-smoking, but that is essentially the personal decision of the owner. I did wonder if because I live on an island that perhaps I was seeing a slightly skewed side of the (lack of) smoking ban, but I am in the process of buying a house in Patras, which is one of the larger cities in Greece, so have been spending a bit of time there, and even in the centre of the city in the pedestranised area full of bars and restaurants, the ban might as well not exist. You can smoke just about everywhere.

      As I’ve said a number of times before, those tasked with enforcing the ban, the police, themselves like to go into a bar for a beer or coffee and a smoke. So they really have no enthusiasm for trying to eradicate something that they enjoy. Add to that the fact that the Greeks have never been keen on any laws designed to protect them from themselves (crash helmets, seat belts etc), and I think Frank has his positively ‘smoker friendly’ country.

      The other aspect is that smoking prevalence is high – at least 40%. You will never be frowned at for smoking – it’s just normal. Non-smokers don’t bat an eyelid at someone lighting up next to them. The propaganda just doesn’t seem to translate into Greek.

      And Frank, if you moved to Greece, and picked the right spot, i.e. a tourist area, you wouldn’t even need to worry about the language. Nearly all Greeks who live in tourist areas speak excellent English.

      • irocyr says:

        I realize it’s not being enforced Nisakiman, but the intention was there and right at the same time as negotiations with the EU. Of course they did it to appease the EU, but why would the EU (and the WHO) would be so gun ho about it? I still say Big Pharma is pulling the strings and guess WHO is heavily financed by them? Just look how Swedish snus was part of the negotiations for Sweden to join the EU. As much as they try to hide and minimize the influence of tobacco in societies, tobacco is a big determinant in very many political decisions.

    • Iro: “What I am still unsure of is how it is done. Is it done through threats (for example Big P threatening countries to pull all funding from universities) is it done through bribes, is it done through ”scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours deals”, is it done through financing election campaigns, is it all of the above?”

      It is all of the above and more than that. Today Big Pharma $$ control the Western world. They control the media, the universities, the medical litterature and,the health departments. This quote from Dr. Philippe Even is true:

      “The pharmaceutical industry is the most lucrative, the most cynical and the least ethical of all the industries. It is like an octopus with tentacles that has infiltrated all the decision making bodies, world health organisations, governments, parliaments, high administrations in health and hospitals and the medical profession.”

      http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/sep/14/french-doctors-drugs-useless-dangerous

      They don’t have to “threaten” to pull funding in order to get their way. That is done much more elegantly, and it is easy because everybody wants to be good friends with the rich. Dr. Peter Rost, ex-Pfizer boss has explained how in this short interview:

      • Frank Davis says:

        I’m sure that Dr. Philippe Even is right that big Pharma has “infiltrated all the decision making bodies, world health organisations, governments, parliaments, high administrations in health and hospitals and the medical profession.” But that’s a long step from “controlling the Western world”. Because the same places have also been infiltrated by environmentalists, communists, and any number of other zealots.

        • We are both right, but you are talking about the effects while I talk about the cause. The cause is money, and money will always win. Without the money “approval” from the rich corporations and billionaires, no environmentalist or zealot would ever have any influence. They are pawns and most of them are just being used as useful idiots by corporations in the different business-wars, i.e. the tobacco, environment, climate and energy wars.
          And no, I think I am right that today “Big Pharma $$” control the Western world. When you control all the areas that Dr. Even mentions, and you control Wall Street too because pharma is the best investment object, then you control life itself. It must have struck you today that even hi-ranked politicians have nothing to say. They have to do what the money wants – if the money wants austerity policy, smoking bans or plain packaging the politicians have to deliver. Or else their carriers are over. The only way out of this for the people is what it happening. They stop consuming.

    • Frank Davis says:

      It is not happening and the reason it is not is because there is some other force that politicians and countries are unable to counter.

      I think there are a variety of other forces. Big Pharma is one. And so also the WHO and FCTC. Plus individual billionaire antismokers, like Michael Bloomberg. Plus a general mood of environmentalist puritanism. In addition, politicians seem to be subjected to far more intensive propaganda/lobbying than ordinary folk (read the Deborah Arnott link in right margin).

      I don’t really see that ‘market forces’ have much to do with it. Smoking bans override market forces. They prevent an equilibrium being reached with the right balance of non-smoking and smoking venues.

      So smokers are likely to start voting with their feet. They have no other option, really. And some have already done so. 15 years ago, I left my adopted city (to care for my ageing mother), fully intending to return in due course. I never did return, because my former friends were becoming antismokers, and banning smoking in their own homes. And I didn’t go and live in Spain (where I knew a few people) largely because Spain introduced a smoking ban.in 2011.

      And I believe that Harley quit Nashville and moved to nearby Kentucky (along with a bunch of his friends) in response to a Nashville (or maybe Tennessee-wide) smoking ban. And that may be why he’s such an activist.

      And a while back here in the UK the Nannying Tyrant blog owner announced he was getting out and going somewhere else (he didn’t say where).

      It’s happening, and the more that the antismoking crusade ramps up (home smoking bans?), the more smokers that are going to reach ‘breaking point’, and get out.

      Of course, there are parties like UKIP. But UKIP has only got 2 MPs (both ex-Conservatives), and so has zero real political clout.

      P.S. There are also people like Joe Jackson who have, I believe, moved several times to escape smoking bans. I think he’s based in Berlin now. A similar figure is Mike Oldfield (of Tubular Bells fame) who left England for Spain when the smoking ban came in (no idea where he’s gone since). There are probably plenty more.

      • beobrigitte says:

        I think he’s based in Berlin now.

        From what I hear Berlin has an interesting smoking ban. Whoever is interested implements the ban.

        Looks like the public is not too interested in smoking bans.

  3. jaxthefirst says:

    Glad I’m not the only one, Iro, who thinks that there’s a whole lot more to all this anti-smoking marlarky than meets the eye. And I’m sure that big Pharma has a hand in a lot of it (well, it funds loads of the anti-smoking groups for starters). But as the number of smokers dwindles, it’ll become less and less profitable for them to pour the same amount of funds into all these little stampy-footed campaign groups, and they are likely to turn their attention (and their funding) to much more profitable “sins” which lots more people still indulge in, like alcohol. Last night, I heard, with something of a start that a new drug has been developed which mimics the effect of alcohol (i.e. it makes you feel drunk), but without the “harmful effects” of drinking. Now, where have I heard that one before? The man at the helm was no less than Professor Nutt, of the recent drugs furore, but I couldn’t help but wonder who had funded him, because he sure as hell wouldn’t have been able to fund a totally new drug without some – ahem – “help,” now, would he?

    But I think that it goes even deeper that the rather obvious money benefits to Big Pharma. I think there are all sorts of other “forces” which have their fingers in the pie for their own reasons. There are politicians for whom it is a wonderful opportunity to banish all the most lively, chatty, friendly, independent-minded people from social situations where they are likely to start making subversive, disobedient suggestions to others or to start voicing awkward, politically-incorrect opinions; there are power-freaks for whom the idea of State-sponsored bullying against a minority group enjoying a particular activity is just too good to resist, particularly now that all the old targets are off-limits; and there are the resentful ex-smokers who are delighted to have someone upon whom to vent all the bitterness and rage that they feel through their constant sense of disappointment and deprivation, which they cannot direct at its genuine cause – because that cause is themselves and their own spinelessness at not being able to stick two fingers up to those who have bullied them into “conforming.” I even think that there’s an element of “experiment” about the whole anti-smoking movement. A sense of “let’s see how far we can bully one section of the community before the rest of them start protesting.” (Quite far, so it seems, and they clearly haven’t finished yet).

    And Frank, I love your idea of a smoker-only (or smoker and smoker-friendly-only) country or town. And for all the reasons you cite, I think they are likely to develop over time. Which may explain why the anti-smoking groups are so anxious to conquer the whole world in such a rush. Because they certainly seem (as we saw with that ghastly head of the WHO attending the Tobacco Control conference right in the middle of the Ebola crisis), to be very, very anxious to make sure that they have their evil tentacles everywhere, even at the cost of providing real, desperately-needed healthcare and education in some of the poorest countries in the world.

    • nisakiman says:

      I believe all the reasons you posit have an influence, jax, but to my mind the biggest driver of the bans is that singularly pernicious treaty dreamed up by the WHO, the all-encompassing FCTC. Of course, the WHO themselves have no real clout, but they are closely tied to the IMF; they have been going round countries with their FCTC saying “This is completely voluntary. However, if you don’t sign, you may find that the IMF becomes less than helpful when you need them.” To most countries, that is a very persuasive argument.

  4. Ripper says:

    “Prospective immigrants would be given a pack of cigarettes, and required to prove that they could smoke the whole lot, and shown the door if they couldn’t.”

    But wouldn’t this make you as bad as the anti-smoking zealots? Personally I would just like to live somewhere where I get left alone to choose my own lifestyle.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Good point.

      But does Israel allow non-Jewish immigrants? Netanyahu was in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo massacre (of Jews in a delicatessen) inviting French Jews to come to Israel. He didn’t seem to be inviting anyone else.

      In a world where it’s us against them (whatever their differences might be about), the more that there are places for them, the more there’s a need for places for us

      In an ideal world, us and them would happily co-exist. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. So we have to be realists.

      • Ripper says:

        Your point is also a good one Frank, but because Israel is a place for jews only, does not mean that all countries have to operate that way. The facts that you mention above tell me much more about Netanyahu himself than it does about the Israeli people. The way that I personally would handle your hypothetical scenario would be to allow people to move freely into my country, and live as they please, but any troublemakers such as beobrigitte’s anti-smokers would be kicked out the minute they started, with no chance of returning. Ever. There would be no such organisations as ASH allowed. Then, if any anti-smokers living in my country were that dissatisfied with the way of life they would be invited to leave. But the people would at least still have the choice to smoke or not to smoke. Strange as it seems now, it wasn’t so long ago that smokers and non-smokers did co-exist.

        I have seen comments on other blogs and forums where the author has suggested extreme things like shooting smokers for example. I don’t put the blame for this on those people because they have been indoctrinated – they believe what they are told. The smoker’s real enemy is not the people, its the pharma industry. Its their money that backs all anti-smoker activities. Take those out and you win this war.

    • beobrigitte says:

      Personally I would just like to live somewhere where I get left alone to choose my own lifestyle.

      I grew up in such a place. But then, the anti-smokers moved in. And there are the puritans jumping on the band wagon.

      I made it so far (until 2007) enjoying a great life; finding myself kicked out for what I enjoy means that my life has been put in limbo.

      Can’t be doing with that.

      Btw, pensioners feel loneliness much more than anybody else. That is the generation who does ot stand OUTSIDE in ther cold and rain to smoke. They stay at home and overdose on paracetamol to get out of the miserable life they are in.

  5. Lepercolonist says:

    We need a organized, well-funded group to hire a professional ad agency to establish a boycott of corporations that are anti-smoking. Including select pharmaceuticals. Companies that discriminate through non-hiring or medical insurance: Honeywell, Pepsico,CVS, etc.
    When a boycott starts impacting their sales and stock performance, corporate behavior will adapt. Shareholders will demand answers.

    • nisakiman says:

      Very true. The sticking point, however, is the “well funded” bit. They (Tobacco Control) have billions at their disposal, whereas we have nothing with which to fund anything. And we couldn’t even go to the Tobacco Companies for funding as they’ve been taken out of the game by anti-tobacco legislation. They are impotent.

      • beobrigitte says:

        Very true. The sticking point, however, is the “well funded” bit. They (Tobacco Control) have billions at their disposal, whereas we have nothing with which to fund anything

        We don’t need to fund ANYTHING (although I would not turn down a job for speaking for the tobacco industry if they would pay me); people my age just say: “I am still here” DISPROVE that.

      • One ya forgot about is all the other companies being done in thru the same scheme the Nazis used on Big Tobacco…..Those folks have hundreds of billions to fight back with and their enemy is also our enemy.

  6. Smoking Lamp says:

    To the degree possible smokers choose to frequent smoking friendly cities and establishments. I travel worldwide on business more than I like and always try to fly through airports with smoking lounges (getting rarer all the time), stay at hotels that allow smoking (getting rarer all the time), eat and drink at locations that allow smoking on a patio (getting rarer all the time), etc. In the US and Canada these options are getting rarer all the time. The speed of global tobacco prohibition is getting faster.

    I think the only countermove is a decisive global campaign to counter the FCTC, disabuse the “junk science” that is used to justify (smoking and vaping) bans, and apply political and economic influence for freedom of choice. Selecting a few key nodes may be tactically sound, but it needs to be a strategic initiative (otherwise the bandwagon effect is too attractive). Rather than being on the defensive, which is now resulting in diminishing returns, it appears that shifting to the offensive might be more effective.

  7. smokervoter says:

    I was waiting to see if Harley would beat me to the punch to post this Kentucky governor’s passing. The guy was a non-NOLA style Democrat. Please note that he died of lung cancer at 90 years of age. Even antismoking NBC news presenter Brian Williams had to bite his snarky tongue and skip the default healthist denunciation with that glaring ’90’ burning away on the chyron behind him next to Ford’s picture.

    Wendell Ford, ex-Kentucky governor, US senator, dies at 90

    You’ll also note that Mr. Ford once beat out a Republican by the name of Marlow Cook in a senate race in 1974.

    Here’s a speech I found of Senator Cook’s over at Carol’s page many, many moons ago. You’ll never again hear such point-blank truth publicly expressed in this day and age of PC speech muzzling.

    Senator Cook Denounces the Lasker Syndicate

    • I saw it like 2 days ago on Phil Moffets page a friend of mine just elected to the state legislature. Firmly against any bans…………I didn’t know about the 90 LC death………that’s a new one to me. Even the local news didn’t mention that!

  8. waltc says:

    Yes. (in answer to mike yesterday) I am pessimistic. Not only about what’s happening to us but the whole f’ing trend . I find too that I agree with Jax’s analysis almost, or maybe entirely, down the line. Because the issue (smoking) is itself is so small and peripheral, it’s occurred to me , too, that it might be a wider social experiment: learning how to change society thru onslaughts of propaganda: how to divide and conquer, how to distract the audience’s eye so it doesn’t see the rabbit going into the hat, or the trap door that’s just opened up beneath their seats.

    Certainly the Nazis, the Stalinists, the Maoists made such experiments — to astounding and dismaying success–lasting at least for decades or generations — but if it’s actually a witting experiment, who are the researchers? What is their goal? My mind continues to reject elaborate conspiracies and New World Orders as sci-fi paranoia and I settle on the saw that goes “never attribute to clever conspiracy what could equally be attributed to individual stupidity.” And you can substitute anything you like for “stupidity” — will-to-power, ambition, greed, ego. Or maybe the whole thing is just a fashionable contagious crackpot obsession . Like other witch hunts or Dutch tulips.

    But then otoh, no matter how or why this cockamamie movement came into being, or out what crappy pit in human nature, we do know for sure that it’s now a “template” and, based on it’s purported success, we can expect to see it used over and over, not only on the obvious sins against Health but on political, economic and serious social issues. And where that leads us, who the hell knows but it’s passingly scary.

    As for smokers’ enclaves, they’d likely have to stay under the radar as towns are subject to state laws, willy nilly, and states are subject to national laws. So we’re back to sci fi. Like the underground periphery in Mad Max or the Book People in Farenheit 451.

    Yeah. I’m just in a rotten mood. Tomorrow I’ll be my old cheerful self, :)

    • Frank Davis says:

      As for smokers’ enclaves, they’d likely have to stay under the radar as towns are subject to state laws, willy nilly, and states are subject to national laws.

      There’s no federal US smoking ban, I believe, but if Hillary Clinton is elected president, I wouldn’t be surprised if she’d push for one. And I believe there are quite a few states which don’t have state smoking bans. But even if there were, the police might not enforce the law in some places (much like in Greece, as Nisakiman explains above).

      • The push by Hitlery Clinton and Nazi Pelosi for a national smoking ban died out back in 2008-09;but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t bring it back again. But with Mitch Mcconnell of Ky as Senate Leader I don’t see that ever happening.

        But one has to remember these are political movements not health movements even though health is their tool its still a political agenda when it came down to anti-smoking laws.

        They last only a short time as history has shown us as they push to hard and to fast and the faster they see political will and voters going against them,they go into turmoil mode pushing as fast as they can to pass as many laws as they can and nothing is too outrageous at this point. They go into critical meltdown with no direction or sanity left to theyre direction. We know its true when we see its stated right out that tobacco control wanted plain packs pushed thru in the UK before the next General election as even they know after that point they wont have a chance at anything more again. They aren’t stupid they look at internal voting polls themselves and know whats coming…. Draghi just tossed out a lifeline for the EURO with 80 billion a month stimulus meant to purchase the bad loans from member nations or some such BS as was said on zerohedge last week.

        Its whats coming they fear and its not just smoking,but a entire utopia of socialism from the UN all theway down to the local township and they rose up in Westminster……….didn’t they!

    • Electronic Cigarette Retailers Say ‘Paid Fearmongers’ Are Behind NOLA Smoking Ban

      The electronic cigarette crowd in New Orleans is no longer a small group like it was a few years ago. Today, there’s an entire community dedicated to smoking the vapor cigarettes, known as “vaping.”

      http://thehayride.com/2015/01/electronic-cigarette-retailers-say-paid-fearmongers-are-behind-nola-smoking-ban/

      • prog says:

        Stuff ’em, they’d have been very happy to see their business flourish even more on the back of corruption.

        • beobrigitte says:

          Not all of them. Some do see what’s coming to them……

        • prog says:

          Perhaps, but this lot are pissed off because vaping is to be included.

          ‘The LAECR said tobacco cigarettes and electronic cigarettes are fundamentally different products, one releases tobacco smoke and one releases vapor smoke, which is not harmful. Because of these differences, the LAECR said the two products should not have been treated and regulated the same in Latoya Cantrell’s ordinance.’

          ‘Due to the smoking ban, the LAECR said electronic cigarettes will be “mistakenly perceived by the New Orleans community as a public health concern equivalent to smoking tobacco.”

          This is near as dammit an agreement with TC that SHS is harmful.

  9. rank you described perfectly a capitalistic society where freedom to be and a right to do your own business is your own business. The anti-smoking crowd is one of facist Socialism from the top down and that’s what weve been fighting the past years.

    We don’t need a smokers utopia no more than we need a non-smoking utopia we just need a free world. Smoking was once said by some great writer I think it was Hemmingway. That you can measure how free a society is by the open ability to smoke where one wishes.

  10. A plain pack of lies

    Written by James Knight | Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 | Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    BBC News tells us that: “A law introducing plain cigarette packaging in England and Wales could come into force in 2016 after ministers said MPs would be asked to vote on the plan before May’s general election.”

    We really are seeing the thin end of the wedge here as yet another misjudged interference in the free market looks set to take place. The confusion that people like Public Health Minister Jane Ellison harbour is that they only seem to think of smoking in terms of bodily damage. Yes, if you only want to think about smoking in terms of the effects of physical degeneration on body parts, then cigarettes are a terrible thing, and plain packaging can be argued for on those (albeit flimsy) grounds. But only a fool would do that. Jane Ellison is presumably aware that many people still smoke even though they have full knowledge of how bad cigarettes are for them. With this knowledge she ought to have a clue that there is a reason people smoke in spite of knowledge of its degenerative effects – they enjoy doing it. Clearly people who voluntarily hand over money to buy and smoke cigarettes have accounted for cigarettes being bad for your health, but have still concluded that the positive effects of smoking outweigh those negatives. Ben Southwood’s blog on smoking is particularly appropriate here.

    Contrary to the ‘plain packaging’ lobby’s misapprehension, it is trivially obvious, that smoking is only entirely bad for you if you forget all the reasons that it is good for you. The trouble with going down this road is that if you consider only the costs, then just about everything is bad for you. Take drinking water. By only counting the costs you’d find drinking water is a pretty disagreeable action – it brings about increased urination, it causes time lost in the toilet, it engenders increased chlorine levels in your stomach, and it causes gradual damage to your detrusor muscle in the bladder. Drinking water – one of the most innocuous activities we can undertake – has risks and it has costs, but no one thinks it’s bad for you in net terms. Quite the contrary, in places where water is scarce we do all we can to make it plentiful.

    Governments interfere too much by focusing only on costs and ignoring benefits. It’s unsurprising that people like Jane Ellison want to trespass into other people’s free choices so much – she’s only aspiring to do what the state does on a frequent basis. This is the simple and straightforward reason why I’m a libertarian, and why I hold the view that a small government is best. People know how to run their lives better than any government. That’s not a blanket truism, but it’s true for the vast majority of people, and it’s true in the majority of ways that relate to how we live our lives by making cost-benefit analyses and exercise our freedom of choice. Politicians are quick to interfere or ban things that have costs, which often involves failing to appreciate that humans can decide for themselves whether those costs are worth paying.

    Because it is impossible for the state to know how much every individual values health, exercise, weight training, smoking, alcohol, and so forth, it is impossible for the government to know better than its citizens what is good for them. A good government would understand this, and seek to minimise its involvement in our lives to enhance our welfare and liberty, as the quality of welfare and the benefits of liberty are synchronised to enable people to voluntarily undertake the activities they prefer.
    http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/healthcare/a-plain-pack-of-lies/

  11. Frank Davis says:

    HAS THE AMERICAN CLEAN LIVING (ANTI-ALCOHOL) MOVEMENT CRESTED? (pdf)

    Ruth C. Engs, Professor,
    Applied Health Science, Indiana University,
    HPER 116, Bloomington IN 47401
    Paper presented: Kettil Bruun Alcohol Epidemiological Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland,
    June 1996. R

  12. garyk30 says:

    RIP Winston Churchill
    50 years ago today.

    If he were in charge, most of this nonsense would never have happened.

    All countries need leaders that do not view the people as merely votes to be gained; but, as friends to be listened to.

  13. Joe Jackson says:

    OK, I guess I have to weigh in here . . .

    People are always saying I’ve moved because of smoking bans, but it’s not entirely true. After 9/11 and the election of Bloomberg, I could see that New York was changing into a very different city to the one I loved back in the 80s, and the smoking ban was the last straw. I felt the same way in London a few years later: the impending ban was just a massive indicator of a society becoming unbearably patronising, uptight, and oppressive. As more than one comment on this blog has mentioned, the UK ban is one of the absolute worst; you only have to go as far as Ireland or France to find smokers much better catered for, in spite of similar laws (comfortable ‘outdoor’ areas which are almost completely enclosed and have heaters that actually work, etc).

    I am based in Berlin now, also for various reasons, but one is that it’s very smoker-friendly because that’s the kind of culture it has. It also has no set closing times for bars, for instance. It generally feels like a place where you are treated as an adult and can do whatever you like. I go back to the UK and NY quite regularly, and the difference is striking.

    Unfortunately, as New Orleans has just shown us, even the most freewheeling and hedonistic places are not immune to the antismoking juggernaut. I agree with many of the above comments that it seems like a rather mysterious conspiracy at times, but I’m inclined to think it’s more like a lot of different interests climbing onto a bandwagon. Back when smoking was established (in most peoples’ minds) as a ’cause’ of cancer, and tobacco companies started losing lawsuits, the tide turned, and it became more profitable – and along the way, more fashionable – to be anti- than pro-smoking. It’s not just Big Pharma (though they are a major player) – for instance, airlines were happy to ban smoking so they could save fuel by turning down their air-cleaning systems; insurance companies saw a new way to make money by raising the premiums for smokers . . . etc etc etc, so you get a ‘snowball’ effect which now has a momentum that’s extremely hard to even slow down, let alone stop. You end up with people being antismoking just because ‘everyone else’ is.

    Incidentally, the US does not have a federal ban, it is being done at the state, or sometimes city or county, level. It can certainly seem like there’s a federal ban, but there are still some places where you can smoke in bars (e.g. Florida and Las Vegas) and some places with exemptions for cigar bars or owner-operated bars without employees (even NY has maybe 8 legal smoking bars, which is only one per million inhabitants, but still more than London). And not everywhere bans smoking outside like California does; one of the few bits of good news about the New Orleans ban is that it will not, as originally proposed, include outdoor patios, gardens, balconies etc. And it’s warm there most of the time. I also suspect that more exemptions will get added and/or the ban will be more loosely enforced than elsewhere. There is definitely a cultural element in this, as Nisakiman reminds us in relation to Greece. I must get there one of these days. Meanwhile Holland is not bad, Berlin is pretty good, and Austria and the Czech republic are even better . . .

    • irocyr says:

      For sure there is a snowball effect and Big Pharma is not the only influence in all this. But take away the pharma money from the Anti-tobacco lobby and let’s see how quickly they would size down. It took them 30 years since the Godber Blueprint to obtain more or less what they wanted with public smoking prohibition and it only gained momentum in the late 80’s when Big Pharma started marketing the nicotine gum and again in the early 2000’s right before the launch of Champix. It is the RWJF, GSK, Pfizer, Novartis etc… funds that have fueled the success of the zealots. Without it, they would have never gotten where they are today.

      • “It is the RWJF, GSK, Pfizer, Novartis etc… funds that have fueled the success of the zealots. Without it, they would have never gotten where they are today.”

        So true, Iro. They would have gone nowhere at all. And isn’t it a strange coincidence that 80 years ago the Big Pharma in Europe of those days – the I.G.Farben cartel – started funding the nazi zealots and thus making it possible for Hitler to take over most of Europe and secure all the foreign chemical factories and mining operations for I.G.Farben during the war. “Without I.G.Farben WW2 would not have been possible”, said the American prosecutor at the opening of the Nürnberg I.G.Farben-trial in 1947.
        Times are repeating themselves. Although much more devastating and horrifying WW2 was a business-war too.
        http://www.relay-of-life.org/speech/speech.html

    • waltc says:

      I think we’re mostly on the same page (joe) and your point about airlines and insurance companies is apt. Otoh, I’m not heartened by the limitations on the NO ban because we know from bad experience that they always come back for more and more. . In 1988 NYC started out with only a demand for a separate smoking section in restaurants. Over time, they came back and back, closing “loopholes,” “protecting” all, not just some, workers from the killer shs, and now you can’t smoke in any restaurant or bar or office building or in 99% of outdoor cafés on traffic-clogged avenues, on hospital outdoor grounds, on campus outdoor grounds, in vast parks and beaches, in most state-run housing projects, and they’ve moved –so far on a voluntary basis–into private apartment buildings. Once the inch is taken, the mile, in practice, is eventually inevitable, fueled by its own irrational “logic” Also, seemingly inevitable, is the inclusion of vaping everywhere too.

    • Barry Homan says:

      Denmark, where I live, still allows smoking in bars with a serving area of less than 30 sq m, if no food is served (apart from nuts and crisps). So the comfy, cosy, smoking camradery is still in effect here, like the good ol days, and there are enough of these places around.

      Danes have gotten very leery of political correctness. They did try for a total ban back in 2010, but then they looked at all the pubs going belly-up in GB – and the total ban was dropped. I haven’t heard anyone screeching about trying it again.

      Danes are a happy, easy-going, partying folk. Most people under 50 speak English just fine, as do some of the above-50s. And don’t forget: no shortage of very pretty women (whistles) in Denmark, nossir! If you’re desperate to move, keep Denmark on the list of possible places.

    • beobrigitte says:

      and Austria and the Czech republic are even better . . .

      Berlin has it’s own rules; Austria is currently under vicious Anti-smokers’ attack. The last I heard is the Niederoesterreich (Vienna) will dictate a smoking ban the English people know all too well. Tirol is still digging it’s heel in, lets hope they decide on what rule they have currently!

      In Tirol there are smoking/non-smoking ares incredibly well separated. You can sit next to the smoker area (room) without noticing it is there!!

      For as long as the Tirol people keep it like that I will spend my cash unrestricted.

      As for the Czech: the last I head the smoking ban is imminent.

    • “Back when smoking was established (in most peoples’ minds) as a ’cause’ of cancer, and tobacco companies started losing lawsuits, the tide turned,…”

      Just a side note on the lawsuits: To my knowledge tobacco companies have still not lost one single lawsuit about health effects of smoking in Europe today and not likely in Asia either. That is no wonder since smoking cannot be proven to be guilty (as a specific cause of disease) by the standards of proof used in courts of law. Statistics is not proof. The only lawsuits the companies lost have been after the U.S. Master Settlement Agreement in 1998. Now isn’t that interesting? The MSA was supposed to protect them from lawsuits – but before 1998 they didn’t loose one dime in lawsuits for 40 years, according to Robert Levy:

      http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/tobacco-extortion-round-3

      It leaves the impression that the U.S. governments suits against the American tobacco companies after 1998 are just theatre plays. And maybe they are? Who knows?

    • nisakiman says:

      Well, if you ever get round to making it to Greece, Joe, and you want an introduction to the place, drop me a line (Frank has my email). I’d be happy to show you around my particular corner. With regards this vexatious business of smoking pogroms, it’s like stepping back thirty years. It’s just a non-issue.

  14. garyk30 says:

    ” When you’re a 20% minority, you can be ignored.”

    When you consider that at least 50% of smokers have spouses or significant others that go and do as the smokers go or do, that s more like at least 30% of the population or more.

    As for smoker friendly places, there are many towns in Kentucky/Missouri and Wyoming that fit the bill.

  15. Bulgaria’s ATAKA Party Leader Proposes to Relax Smoking Ban – Novinite.com – Sofia News Agency

    The leader of Bulgarian opposition ATAKA party Volen Siderov on Thursday proposed to Parliament…

    http://www.novinite.com/articles/166108/Bulgaria%E2%80%99s+ATAKA+Party+Leader+Proposes+to+Relax+Smoking+Ban

    • nisakiman says:

      Interestingly, I left a comment on that Bulgarian article, which posted fine. I just looked again to see if any more comments had gone up, and waddya know! My comment has vanished! It didn’t, I’m sure, transgress any of the commenting rules:

      “Among these, Ireland, the UK, Greece, Bulgaria, Malta, Spain and Hungary have the strictest smoke-free provisions…”

      Have you been to Greece? Strictest smoke-free provisions? Are you joking?

      It may have been written into Greek law to appease the nannying and dictatorial EU, but it is completely ignored, and rightly so. I can smoke in just about any bar or restaurant I go to. The Greeks are not about to destroy their hospitality industry on top of all the other problems they have, and I can’t understand why any other country would wish to decimate a significant part of their economy with this insane anti-smoking legislation, either.

      The whole concept of ‘Passive Smoking’ on which the bans are based is just junk science. Every major study on the subject has found that there is no ‘danger’ at all; the only reason for the bans is because the fanatical zealots in ‘Public Health’ don’t personally like smoking, so they want to stop everybody else from smoking. It’s as simple as that.

      They (the puritans in ‘Public Health’) should be told where to stick their stupid, socially divisive and economically destructive bans. Market forces should decide which venues will be non-smoking and which will be smoking. If there is a demand for non-smoking venues, then they will be provided by those who want to cater to that demand.

  16. Junk Food and Booze Could Follow Tobacco in Plain Packaging Push

    Plain packaging laws for cigarettes have thrown the Marlboro Man off his horse in Australia and now the U.K. is set to follow. Junk food and alcohol could be next.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-23/junk-food-and-booze-could-follow-tobacco-in-plain-packaging-push.html

  17. Pingback: Some Responses to ECB QE | Frank Davis

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