H/T Rose for this study:
Smokers don’t vote: 11,626-person study shows marginalization of tobacco users
A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research shows a new dimension to the marginalization of smokers: people who smoke are less likely to vote than their non-smoking peers.
“One on hand, the result is intuitive. We know from previous research that smokers are an increasingly marginalized population, involved in fewer organizations and activities and with less interpersonal trust than nonsmokers. But what our research suggests is that this marginalization may also extend beyond the interpersonal level to attitudes toward political systems and institutions,” says Karen Albright, PhD, assistant professor at the Colorado School of Public Health, and the paper’s first author.
Isn’t it great? They know that smokers are being marginalised, but won’t do anything to stop it, of course. Replace the word “smoker” with “black”, “gay”, or “jew”, and they’d immediately be up in arms about it.
Anyway, it’s certainly true that this particular marginalised smoker is involved in a lot fewer organisations and activities than he used to be. There are a lot of things I no longer do. And given that yesterday’s post was about social disintegration, I think it’s true that interpersonal trust has taken a hammering too.
And it’s also true that the marginalisation is much wider, and includes political systems and institutions (a point I was also making yesterday).
But has it resulted in me stopping voting? Well, no it hasn’t. If anything, it’s made it more important to vote. It’s the only say I’ve got left.
But then, here in the UK, in UKIP smokers have got a party they can vote for. And so I’ve become a staunch UKIP voter, and will stay one while they speak up for smokers, and while they have a charismatic smoking and drinking leader.
But if I didn’t have that choice, would I have still voted? What if there had been no UKIP on the ballot sheet, but only Labour, Conservative, and Lib Dems? I think that in that circumstance I wouldn’t have voted for any of them. None of them are offering smokers anything.
And maybe that’s the situation a lot of smokers find themselves in: there’s nobody speaking up for them, and so nobody to vote for. I don’t know much about Colorado’s politics, but I would be surprised if most of the Democrat politicians are antismoking, and that a good many of the Republican politicians are too (although I get the impression that in the USA Republicans are less antismoking than Democrats). So why vote for any of them?
But Albright points out that, like many studies that use statistics to describe the behaviors of a population, the current study creates as many questions as it answers, most notably why smokers are less likely to vote. One possibility is that smokers may view political institutions as oppressors, given widespread enactment of tobacco taxes and clean indoor air laws. Somewhat similarly, the stigma associated with smoking may create social withdrawal or feelings of depression or fatalism among smokers, which could decrease voting.
Again, if the state is oppressive, that’s all the more reason to vote the bastards out. But, as I just said, politicians have to be offering smokers something if they’re going to get their votes, and too few of them are.
Also H/T Rose for this:
The Editorial concludes: “The Bloomberg initiative helps to translate the principles of the FCTC into action, with particular focus on the 15 countries where two-thirds of the world’s smokers live (which include China, India, Indonesia, and Russia). But as the sorry delays in the UK illustrate, signing up to the FCTC was the easy bit. Implementation of all effective tobacco control policies requires sustained unwavering governmental commitment. The short-term political costs may seem substantial, but the potential health gains are huge.”
I don’t see it like that at all. I see it the other way round. I think that the potential health gains from implementation of tobacco control policies are insubstantial and most likely negative, and that the long-term political costs are going to be enormous.
Perhaps the authors are supposing that the health benefits would be huge if smokers just quietly quit smoking. But that’s not happening. Instead, as we’ve just learned from the Colorado study, smokers have become marginalised. And that marginalisation is going to carry its own health costs. Being made to stand outside in all weathers certainly isn’t good for anyone’s health. Also, being refused medical treatment doesn’t improve anyone’s health either. And anyway, the health gains from quitting smoking are largely (and perhaps even entirely) illusory.
But the social disintegration created by smoking bans looks to me to be set to make for an increasingly divided society, with smokers and antismokers replacing blacks and whites, in a country where the laws are written by the whites in favour of the whites. That’s a recipe for big trouble. That’s a recipe for civil war.