The Marginalisation of Smokers

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.

About Frank Davis

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29 Responses to The Marginalisation of Smokers

  1. Smoking Lamp says:

    This post is unfortunately accurate. The smoking bans are about creating division–divide and conquer… The FCTC, outdoor smoking bans, etc. are levers for ushering in a new ruling class. These efforts should and will be countered!

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Don’t forget the FCTC gag orders to shut us all up and only listen to tobacco control Nazis……….

  2. harleyrider1978 says:

    That’s a recipe for civil war. Exactly and we’ve been fighting it for 7 long years feeding the public truth over propaganda and in that comes the power to drive social unrest against tyrants.

  3. Nika says:

    Smokers/anti-smokers are not replacing blacks, whites, etc. — at least in the USA. The number of marginalized groups here has simply grown exponentially since the 1970’s. Now there are virtually no majorities left (not that the majority is necessarily or ever right, as minorities like smokers well know).

    The USA has been divided and conquered already. The endless attacks on and/or squabbling over what once were, or already should be, non-issues like smoking, abortion, gay marriage, intrusion of church into state, etc. has resulted in an “every man for himself” mentality. This leaves our “leaders” free to keep stirring all those enough-already! fires instead of doing anything about the bigger problems (poverty, income inequality, endless war, massive financial ripoffs, a corrupt money-based election system, the steady erosion of basic human and Constitutional rights, etc. etc.).

    I have voted in every election since reaching voting age (I’m now 66), but for the first time I will probably not vote in our 2016 elections. There are no parties or persons in the USA to vote for anymore — or even against. We cannot believe a word our politicians say, and they are all fiddling (and filling their pockets) while Rome burns. Worse yet, our election system is 100% corrupt, and the news media available to most Americans is oligarch/monopoly-controlled and almost-stunningly silly. I mean, “so ‘n so is on Dancing With the Stars tomorrow” is NEWS?????

    So what is a person to do?

    P.S. Loved your analogy, Frank: ” … the awful stench of santimoniousness.” I am so glad I found this site where I can finally “meet” kindred spirits. It was rather frightening to drop out of my “circle” at first, but I knew it would be worth it in the end.

    • Hi Nika, I’m also glad you found this site and started posting because I love your comments to date and you write so well. I’m also 66: I haven’t the faintest idea what that’s got to do with anything but thought I’d mention it as you had.

      Ah yes: the “Smokers Don’t Vote” study. My quick response is that, at least in the UK, poverty, poor education, smoking, and low voting rates tend to correlate (yes yes, I do know that correlation is not causation…) and I’d like to see if the researchers have balanced out their calcs for this.

  4. harleyrider1978 says:

    Health groups fear lawmakers may shift Maine’s anti-smoking stance

    Bangor Daily News

    “For over 25 years, we have systematically worked to reverse the upward trend of smoking. … We are perilously close to seeing that progress …

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      LePage’s budget would cut state spending on anti-tobacco programs at the Healthy Maine Partnerships, a network of community health organizations throughout the state. The roughly $6 million annually in state appropriations would be used, instead, to fund increased primary care reimbursements rates for Medicaid patients.

      And they oppose a bill by Sen. Jim Hamper, R-Oxford, to allow certain tobacco shops to operate cigar lounges that can serve alcoholic beverages to cigar smokers.

      The problem with public vaping and cigar bars is that both could “normalize” tobacco use for a new generation who have come up in a society that otherwise discourages smoking.

      “Policymakers cannot let big tobacco convince us there is a new reality, where electronic cigarette aerosol is safe and acceptable, or the creation of a cigar bar, which unfairly competes with other bars [where smoking would still be illegal] won’t make a difference,” O’Rourke said.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        If they legalize the above the Nazis know smoking would be allowed NEXT!

      • Edgar says:

        ” … who have come up in a society that otherwise discourages smoking.” This is how they see society. Logically, then, anyone who does not discourage smoking is not part of the society. How do those people who are thus excluded react? I think an honest reaction is confusion. As I suggested the other day, perhaps smokers should force themselves back into inclusion through very public acts that leave the antis in no doubt that we aren’t going anywhere, we’re coming back. On the other hand, and the cause of the confusion, is the question ‘Do we actually really want to be part of a society that could inflict this kind of dehumanization on any group?

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          Edgar over at DPs place yesterday I left a few links to smokers not obeying the laws and smoking wherever they please………the Nazis are busy writing opeds and such to bring on enforcement but seems to be falling on deaf ears worldwide and occassionaly they will make some poor soul the sacred victim and crucify him or her as an example to others. No less than the Nazis picking a 100 villagers and killing until a saboteur is handed over.

  5. waltc says:

    @John Watson yesterday (but not too OT here)
    Over here in the US, de facto (and sometimes de jure) ghettoization is already slowly but surely occurring. Towns ban smoking in public housing with the blessing and nudging of the federal HUD. They legislate bans in all private “multi-unit” housing w/I town limits. Not only inside but on balconies and grounds of apartment buildings and front and back yards of private homes. Residential housing and retirement communities set aside for the elderly increasingly do it by management’s fiat or by popular demand of the nonsmoking renters who attribute their every ailment, not to their age, but to secondhand smoke from the Smiths down the hall, or Browns across the street. NYC co-op boards vote no smoking to apply to all apartments. Newly built buildings here advertise their glorious complete smoker-freeness as a boon to entice renters/buyers.

    The question that looms isn’t simply will smokers be ghettoized either by custom or law, but whether–short of Unibomber shacks in the woods–there’ will even BE any ghettoes.

    Just as there aren’t any restaurants or bars and, increasingly too, no parks or beaches, –also not to mention, no rooms at the inn.

    As for smokers’ communities, where would they be? Entire states have bans against smoking indoors and out and if they learned about Smoketown, probably SWAT teams would arrive on the scene, burn down the houses, slaughter the cattle, paraquat the roses, and shoot all the men.

    • John Watson says:

      “As for smokers’ communities, where would they be? Entire states have bans against smoking indoors and out and if they learned about Smoketown, probably SWAT teams would arrive on the scene, burn down the houses, slaughter the cattle, paraquat the roses, and shoot all the men.”

      Thanks for the reply Walt,

      I am not sure that Americans would see it the same way but America has been down that road before, the last attempt to form a legitimate government of like-minded souls and the attempt to secede from the Union did not fare too well (although there are rumours that some in Ca would like to secede from that state) so your scenario may well be possible. The United States does have a lawful precedent that we over the pond do not have, they removed the indigenous populations onto reservations with their own laws, tax systems et al. I do not propose to get into the whys and wherefores of either the American Civil War nor the Plains wars that followed, they are both still controversial subjects within the States but if Federal law permits setting aside land for native Americans then shouldn’t those same laws permit other minority groups the same privileges?

      Such a solution would not sit well with the Tobacco Control Industry, I think that the politicians may also have their own reservations (no pun intended) but the man in the street may well go for it. After all smokers ‘reservations’ that pay their own way would help reduce taxation on non-smokers, reduce health care payments as smokers would have their own medical facilities and best of all it almost kills dead the second and third hand smoke argument as it only affects those who choose to smoke and their families.

      I daresay that there are lots of arguments pro and anti but until someone has the courage to try how will we know?

  6. Rose says:

    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

    I’m not so sure, I think it’s more about pushing minorities about first that other people can easily distance themselves from and think that it could never be applied to them.

    For instance, how many car drivers were up in arms at the alarming precedent set when motorcycle riders under threat of fines were forced to wear crash helmets to protect their own heads incase they crashed into a tree?

    Very few I suspect, because people who rode motorcycles were somehow considered “different”.
    There was much wailing about loss of liberties when the wearing of seat belts became compulsory under threat of fines to protect people’s heads from smashing through windscreens though and still they couldn’t see it.

    What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

    We are the first minority to be banned for using a popular legal substance in certain areas through threat of fines, but now the precedent has been set, I doubt we will be the last.
    Now they can tell anyone where to stand on any pretext through the threat of fines when the whim comes upon them.

    It’s like if we do deprive the unloved tobacco companies of their intellectual property, other manufacturers will rightly feel vulnerable to the same treatment, pity Tate and Lyle.

    Minister warns food industry could face ‘sugar tax’
    22 May 2015

    “I think that where there is a commercial product which confers costs on all of us as a society, as in sugar, and where we can clearly show that the use of that leads to huge pressures on social costs, then we could be looking at recouping some of that through taxation.

    “Companies should know that if you insist on selling those products, we will tax them.”

    “Katherine Jenner, campaign director of pressure group Action on Sugar, said Britons needed to be weaned off their addiction to sugar.”

    But those taxes will just be passed onto the consumer and turn a bag of sugar into some kind of expensive luxury which will put my homemade jam activities in jeopardy , sugar being a preservative.

    Defrosted strawberries squashed onto hot buttered toast anyone?

    I disagree that being marginalized makes you less likely to vote, but it does mean that you are far more likely to keep your eyes open for other intrusive regulations that may have a detrimental impact on your life.

    Once bitten.

  7. Rose says:

    The study is the first to link a health-risk behavior with electoral participation, building on the work of a previous Swedish study that found an association between smoking and political mistrust

    Well of course there is political mistrust, it was the politicians that voted to marginalise them.

    I do hope that the Swedes didn’t get paid much for that startling insight.

  8. margo says:

    “… potential health gains … negative” – definitely true, Frank, as a quick look at your Graveyard will show. And the people in it are only the ones you heard about. Add to them all the people (whether smokers, the overweight or the ‘heavy’ drinkers) who respond to their bullying doctors by staying away. (I myself would never dream of going to mine for help with anything like a chest infection or flu – that would be asking for trouble – though actually it makes no odds since whatever’s wrong it’ll be blamed on smoking). What happens when these people get stricken in a bad flu epidemic or pneumonia, or with what later turns out to be the early stages of a cancer? Maybe they don’t seek treatment and they die. Then they get added to the statistics showing that ‘Smokers/Drinkers/Fatties Die Younger’.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      They call that AGE ADJUSTMENT……….a simple way to move the older deaths into the younger category. Quite a propaganda stunt too.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Well, exactly. I used to visit a doctor regularly, purely to get subscription sleeping tablets. And used to get occasional check-ups of blood sugar/pressure etc at the same time. When the doctor-driven smoking ban came in, I no longer wanted to see any doctors if I could help it, and so stopped using sleeping tablets, replacing them with large shots of whisky last thing at night. I don’t want anything to do with people who’ve set themselves up as the moral arbiters of society, worshipping their idol of Health. I haven’t been to see a doctor for 8 years. Fortunately, I’ve never had any reason to go see one, since my health has always been good.

      So the effect of the smoking ban has been to make me doctor-averse in ways that I never used to be. And that means that it’ll take something really serious to get me to consult any of them. And if I contracted something like Ebola, I’d probably be half dead before I contacted the medics, and would have infected a few dozen people.

      I sometimes think this is a good thing. With doctors having become more or less representatives of Big Pharma (another enemy of mine), it means that I’m not being pumped full of all the various barely-tested drugs peddled by them. Which is probably a blessing.

  9. harleyrider1978 says:

    Editor In Chief Of World’s Best Known Medical Journal: Half Of All The Literature Is False

    By Archimede on May 21, 2015

    In the past few years more professionals have come forward to share a truth that, for many people, proves difficult to swallow. One such authority is Dr. Richard Horton, the current editor-in-chief of the Lancet – considered to be one of the most well respected peer-reviewed medical journals in the world.

    Dr. Horton recently published a statement declaring that a lot of published research is in fact unreliable at best, if not completely false.

    “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.” (source)

    This is quite distrubing, given the fact that all of these studies (which are industry sponsored) are used to develop drugs/vaccines to supposedly help people, train medical staff, educate medical students and more.

  10. harleyrider1978 says:
  11. Rose says:

    A more considered version of the story from Medical News Today.

    “Why are smokers less likely to vote?

    Do smokers feel oppressed by political institutions?

    “However, Albright points out that the study does not tell us why smokers are less likely to vote. She suggests one theory could be that smokers feel oppressed by political institutions – a reaction against the spread of clean indoor air laws and tobacco taxes.

    Also, Albright suggests, the modern stigma associated with smoking may create a feeling of “depression or fatalism,” or cause them to feel withdrawn from society.

    Previous studies have found, for instance, that lung cancer patients are likely to suffer significant stigma because of that disease’s link with smoking, which may impact on patients’ care and treatment.

    And last year, Medical News Today ran a Spotlight feature looking at how people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) felt suspicious of public health campaigns that depict COPD patients as tobacco addicts, with one patient opining that

    “Their intention is not to improve conditions for people with COPD. The most important thing is to campaign for public smoking cessation.”

  12. garyk30 says:

    “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.”

    Lovely, a survey done by an anti-tobacco center that has been published in an anti-tobacco magazine.

    1. This is a phone survey. It is not an experiment/study done in person on people’s actual habits.
    Self reported data is not reliable.

    2. Random phone surveys only reach those people at home that are willing to answer. They make no mention of their success rate in having people do their survey.

  13. Rose says:

    You are not going to like this.

    Smoking and (Not) Voting: The Negative Relationship Between a Health-Risk Behavior and Political Participation in Colorado.
    Albright K1, Hood N2, Ma M3, Levinson AH4.
    Author information

    Considerable evidence suggests that cigarette smokers are an increasingly marginalized population, involved in fewer organizations and activities and with less interpersonal trust than their nonsmoking counterparts. However, only two previous studies, both among Swedish populations, have investigated smokers’ attitudes toward political systems and institutions. The current, cross-sectional study examines smoking in relation to voting, a direct behavioral measure of civic and political engagement that at least partly reflects trust in formal political institutions.

    Secondary analyses were conducted of interview data from 11,626 respondents in the Colorado Tobacco Attitudes and Behaviors Survey. Data were collected via telephone between October 2005 and mid-April 2006 and included respondents’ reported voting behavior in the 2004 national election; the participation rate was 89.7%. Balanced multiple logistic regression was used to examine associations between smoking and voting while controlling for other covariates known to be associated with both variables.

    In the final model, daily smokers were less than half as likely as nonsmokers to report having voted in the election.


    The results suggest possible consonance with previous work linking smoking with political mistrust. Possible causal mechanisms are discussed. This study is the first to link a health-risk behavior with electoral participation, and provides initial evidence that smoking is negatively associated with political participation.

    Future research should investigate how public health might enhance tobacco control efforts by taking nonvoting behavior into consideration, or creatively combining smoking cessation interventions with voter registration and other civic engagement work, particularly among socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.”

    “Albright, Levinson, and colleagues are in the process of analyzing another more recent set of C-TABS data, after which Albright hopes to explore smokers’ feelings toward the political system more qualitatively.

    “We’re getting a clearer picture of the ‘what’ and soon I hope it will be time to talk to individual smokers in these populations to start exploring the ‘why’,” Albright says. ”

    Why? Because you are a bunch of bullies using the power of government against ordinary people, what else did you expect would happen?

    Their solution, more bullying behaviour.

    “enhance tobacco control efforts by taking nonvoting behavior into consideration, or creatively combining smoking cessation interventions with voter registration and other civic engagement work”

    “Albright hopes to explore smokers’ feelings toward the political system more qualitatively.”

    It would seem that in Colorado at least, smokers feel that the political system has failed them completely.

    Why are these people so dim?

    • Joe L. says:

      I don’t think they’re dim, Rose; they know full well what’s really going on. I think this is just another grandiose display of junk science: fabricating a link between “cause” and “effect” to advance an ulterior motive.

      …creatively combining smoking cessation interventions with voter registration and other civic engagement work

      Sounds to me like they have an agenda to reform smokers and reintegrate them back into society, essentially “reprogramming” smokers to be model citizens. Smells strongly of social engineering to me.

  14. Rose says:

    You may rememeber Hilary Graham’s study from 2012

    Anti-smoking campaigns turn those who light up ‘into lepers’ warns Department of Health adviser

    “Anti-smoking campaigns and laws have turned smokers into a despised underclass, a study by a Department of Health adviser warned yesterday.

    Journal of Social Policy

    “Smoking, Stigma and Social Class


    I simply cannot see how turning 20% of ordinary, decent, law abiding citizens into depressed, withdrawn, disengaged recluses ( in less than 8 years ) could possibly have been expected to improve the general health of this country.

    Mind you the pubs weren’t meant to close down either.

  15. waltc says:

    1) I don’t think either people or industries are capable of seeing that they themselves are on the slippery slope and will inevitably be the next to be hit by the avalanche . First it’s a case of “I’m all right, Jack” and later just trying to be the last to be eaten by the crocodile . After all, the bad stuff only happens to those who they’ve been carefully propagandized to despise, and who therefore deserve it. The only people capable of seeing the endless possibilities of the deepening slope are the the slope-carvers themselves. They see the glowing example of anti-tobacco’s success and move on (and on and on) to the next similar crusade.

    2) smoking & voting. First I think you have to break it down into people who usually vote but stopped vs people who rarely or never voted anyway. I think in that case you’d still find a small contingent of usually-voting smokers who threw up their hands bec neither party or candidate represents them or bec both equally punish them. Of course smokers are alienated. Duh. Government at all levels has gone out of its way to turn them into aliens, to tell them and everyone else that smokers aren’t part of normal society

    3) similarly, of course (you idiot academics) smokers are “involved in fewer organizations and activities” because you’ve kicked us out of them by law! That’s sort of like observing that under Jim Crow, blacks were less likely to go swimming in public (“Darkies Prohibited” ) pools, or Jews, newly banned from parks in Berlin, were less likely to be seen playing touch football in neighborhood parks.

  16. jltrader says:

    Jeremy Irons: “Don’t tell me I’m not allowed to smoke in a 50 acre park because I’ll kill someone”

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