All Things Considered

Following on from the last post, I’ve managed to find out a bit more about this 70% thing, thanks to Rose and Fredrick Eich.

Here’s some UK figures (.xls file):

It’s always around 70% of smokers who would “like to give up”. Same in the USA:

The Number is even higher in this Gallup poll. It was as high as 82% in 2001.

But when I asked the question on this blog last night, here’s the response I got:


97% of my smoking readers currently didn’t want to stop smoking.

How weird!! Complete opposite of the other polls!

But perhaps it was the slightly different questions that got asked. Both the other polls were asking if people would “like” to stop smoking, while I asked if they “wished” to stop smoking. If you’d vaguely “like” to something, it’s not as intense as “wanting” to actively do something, or “wishing” for something.

One poll had the rather disarming question: “All things considered, would you like to give up smoking, or not?

“All things considered”? Like Life, the Universe, and Everything? In the majestic sweep of history, when it all comes down to dust, does what you personally might like matter one single damn? No, of course it doesn’t.

Perhaps I should have asked: “All things considered, would you really mind at all if you woke up one morning and found that you didn’t immediately reach for a cigarette, but instead just gazed peacefully out of the window with a serene smile playing on your face?

Who could resist that? I reckon I could have got 90% No responses with a question like that.

And then I could tell the world that 90% of smokers are desperate to quit.

Meanwhile, I’m wondering if I went round a golf course, and asked golfers there whether they’d like to quit playing golf, 70% of them would reply something like: “Hell yes! Particularly if you’ve just shot 120, and lost 5 balls in the big pond on the fifth, and pulled a muscle in your shoulder – like I just have. Who needs this sort of suffering?”



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18 Responses to All Things Considered

  1. magnetic01 says:

    I’m wondering if I went round a gold course, and asked golfers…

    Why only the “gold” course? Why not the pink, blue, and red courses, too?


  2. jaxthefirst says:

    Well, despite hovering conveniently around that “magic 70%” score (Phew! That must have been a relief for the zealots!), it’s notable that the number of people saying that they wanted to give up at all has actually fallen over the whole period. All this despite all the pressure, rules, regulations, propaganda, scare stories and bullying that smokers have been on the receiving end of during the period covered by the survey. Odd, too, that the sharpest drop was during the year in which the smoking ban came in.

    It’s also notable that the survey is not far off 10 years old – the newest figures being for 2008/9. On the basis that the number of smokers wanting to stop has probably continued to fall at the same rate, the numbers today must be much smaller. I’d guess that quite a lot of those people who said they “wanted to give up” have now done so, and thus the people who are still smoking and didn’t want to stop would make up a much bigger percentage. No wonder the zealots keep harking back to figures from such a long time ago – after all, saying, for example, that “25% of smokers would like to give up” simply doesn’t have the same “convincing” ring to it, does it?

  3. nisakiman says:

    Dick Puddlecote quoted Carl Phillips who puts it very well:

    We all have countless preferences for different preferences. I would prefer to like going to the gym as much as I like playing computer games, and I would prefer to like unsweetened iced tea as much as I like Coke.

    So of course the responses elicited by the various polls have no actual bearing on reality.

  4. Joe L. says:

    The spreadsheet above shows a blatant bias in that survey. There exist four different options that are effectively ways of responding “Would like to give up,” spanning a very wide range of agreement (“Very much indeed,” “Quite a lot,” “A fair amount” and “A little”), whereas there is only one definitive choice for disagreement, “Would not like to give up.”

    • waltc says:

      But how would you parse not wanting to quit into degrees? “i adamantly don’t want to quit” vs “I sort of don’t want to,quit?” And that aside, the bias comes when they lump together wanting desperately to quit with “Yeah, I thought about it once two years ago and I might think about again sometime maybe” to get to their 70%.

      • Joe L. says:

        That’s exactly my point, Walt. This survey was intentionally designed to produced a skewed distribution. They bloated the probablilty that a respondent says they don’t want to quit by 30% over that of a simple (and fair) binary (want to quit/don’t want to quit) response. They need to provide the same degrees of agreement on both sides, be it four, forty or only one to ensure a statistically fair response.

  5. smokingscot says:

    Just a thought about the 4 who claim they want to quit. How say Trickus Dickus, plus the Nazi who trolled a couple of months back, then there’s the Aussie who got all pouty on account we savaged him. So who’s number 4? And who gives a toss?


    “All things considered, would you really mind at all if you woke up one morning and found that you didn’t immediately reach for a cigarette, but instead just gazed peacefully out of the window with a serene smile playing on your face?”

    Nope Frank, you haven’t quite mastered the art of devious. I don’t immediately reach for a cigarette, I go point Percy, have my glass of effervescent vitamin C, then light up. Oh and I have curtains so none of this lying in bed looking at, nor getting up with the bleeding Sparrows.

    So I’d be one of the 10%.


    It was a close call, but finally 32% of the Dutch voters turned up to have their say on yesterday’s referendum (less than 30% and the result would be void).

    61% said no 38% said yes (so 1% spoiled their papers – and in doing so helped shift the number to the magical 30% plus! How thoughtful).

    Though I suspect Wilders may be jumping the gun when he said:

    “It looks like the Dutch people said NO to the European elite and NO to the treaty with Ukraine. The beginning of the end of the EU.”

    Let’s wait until Friday 24 June 2016

    • Pat Nurse says:

      I don’t smoke first thing either. I like to wait until I really want that first cig of the day and that is usually about 3 hours after I get out of bed. First I want the loo, then I want loads of tea and then some breakfast and when I feel awake, then I want to smoke. I don’t actually smoke more than 12 roll ups a day because I smoke when I enjoy it and not because I’m addicted with a physical need or craving for nicotine. For me, gagging for a smoke is exactly the same as gagging for a cup of tea or coffee. The “addiction”, if that is what it is, really is on a level with caffeine and not heroin. Claiming that being a smoker is the same as being a heroin addict is one of the most damaging lies by the antis. Imagine a child seeing that needle on a cig pack, then seeing their parents quit smoking easily, because if you want to quit it is easy to do so, you just stop smoking, then the kids come across heroin in life and think it’s fine, I can quit just as easily as my parents quit smoking when I get fed up of it or it causes a problem. Not true and anyone who has known heroin addicts, worked with them, seen the destruction that drug causes to all aspects of their life and health, the physical need people have for that drug, the need to steal or cheat to get it if necessary, the need to move away from friends, family and your familiar surroundings as the only means to quit heroin, or the number of accidental deaths from an overdose, knows that the anti propaganda is dangerous and it promotes heroin use to children. Govt should remove that lying warning. It is dangerous to kids but what do these smokerphobics really care about kids’ health? They don’t. They use them as weapons to get at adults who smoke and that is all they care about. In their view, if kids die of heroin so what. At least they won’t smoke.

      • Rose says:

        In the morning,I am incapable of rational thought before I’ve had a cup of instant coffee (milk, one sugar) and a cigarette.

        By the time I’m halfway down the cup I have just about remembered my own name and when it’s finished I have usually managed to work out what day it is.

        After I’ve started my second cup of coffee and lit my second cigarette I am just about able to converse on simple matters.

        When I’ve finished both coffee and cigarettes, I am firing on all cylinders.

        Personally I think this waking up regimen might work so well due to a mixture of nitric oxide, sugar, caffeine and niacin, but possibly it’s just a natural concern about setting fire to the chair and dousing yourself with boiling hot liquid if you fall back to sleep again.

        Either way,it works for me.

        • Pat Nurse says:

          Everyone’s different. I don’t enjoy smoking in the morning so I don’t do it. Simples. Nightime is a different matter ;)

        • Rose says:

          I never was a morning person.

        • beobrigitte says:

          In the morning,I am incapable of rational thought before I’ve had a cup of instant coffee (milk, one sugar) and a cigarette.
          Pretty similar to my morning, except: I need REAL coffee and a piece of toast first. After that it’s a cigarette or 3 with more coffee. THEN I am ready for the day.

      • Pat Nurse says:

        Perhaps it just takes me that bit longer than the rest of you to come out of my morning zombified state each day ;)

  6. kin_free says:

    Statistics from surveys, polls are nothing but propaganda tools, just about wherever they are used. Data produced by even the most impartial methods are dubious at best. They can be made to produce almost any result that those who produce the statistics wanted to produce from the outset.

    There are so many ways to influence a result, from the wording of the question as has been mentioned, to the sample of the population used (eg patients questioned by a quit smoking adviser in a doctors surgery, or Franks straw poll here, will produce totally different answers etc), to how or from where the survey is obtained (eg randomly picked from the telephone directory? Who does and doesn’t have a telephone?) etc. Invariably there is also some sort of preamble to ‘explain’ what you are voting for that can condition the brain to respond in a specific way. That is not to mention the conditioning that comes before by whoever has the most power and resources to emphasize their point of view.

    It is going on now regarding the Brexit vote. I heard on the news last night that the government has produced an ‘information’ booklet that will be delivered to every household in the country next week, at a cost of £9 million of taxpayers money. Cameron is alleged to have claimed this is a response to the public who want information on which to base their judgement as to whether to vote ‘in’ or ‘out’ of the EU. Of course it only provides information that favours ‘in’. This is taxpayers money used to produce propaganda that will condition those tax payers to vote the ‘right’ way!

    Well, underhand methods like this have worked so well in the past – sadly, many people can be easily influenced.

    Here’s a blog I did back in 2009 about support for the smoking ban;

  7. garyk30 says:

    If smokers knew this, there would be far fewer ‘quitters’!

    Does quitting improve your probability of NOT dying from a smoking ’caused’ disease?

    The answer:
    NO, it does NOT!!!!

    Doll’s doctors study showed that while 85% of current smokers’ deaths were from the diseases ’caused’ by smoking, the same 85% of the ex-smokers’ deaths were from the diseases ’caused’ by smoking.

    84% of the never-smokers’ deaths were from those same diseases.

    Smoke, quit, or never smoke; it makes no difference, there is an 85% probability that you will die from a disease that is ’caused’ by smoking.

    If all smokers quit today, the percentage of deaths from smoking ’caused’ diseases would be unchanged.

    70 years from now, when all of the ex-smokers were dead, the percentage of deaths from the diseases that used to be said to be ’caused’ by smoking would be unchanged.

    The new villains will be obesity, or booze, or salt, or climate change, or something.

    The hysterical fear-mongering WILL continue without end!!!!!!

    Drug companies will always have drugs to sell, the antis will always need something to hate, and gov’ts will always need something to tax.

  8. beobrigitte says:

    Why would I “want to” give up smoking unless I am constantly being drip fed that I SHOULD give up because [insert all tobacco control & friends peddled idiotic reason here]?

  9. Pingback: Minority report | Head Rambles

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