Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

Guardian:

…a team of scientists in California have found that unemployed non-smokers are not only 30% more likely than smokers to be in work after a year, but also earn on average an extra $5 (£3.50) an hour than those who light up.

“We have known about the harmful health effects of tobacco use, and we have know that for now about 50 years,” said Judith Prochaska at Stanford University, who led the study. “But here is evidence to show the financial harms of tobacco use, both with success in the workplace – in terms of being rehired – and then also potentially in the differential in pay that smokers versus non-smokers receive.”

Published in the Jama Internal Medicine journal, the study involved 131 unemployed smokers and 120 unemployed non-smokers. Among their findings, the authors reported that smokers were younger, less educated and more likely to be unstably housed, in poorer health and to possess a criminal record than non-smokers. More than half of all participants had been unemployed for more than six months, while nearly 60% had left their last job because their contract ended, or they were laid off.

When the researchers followed up with 108 of the non-smokers and 109 of the smokers after 12 months, they found a pronounced difference between those who smoked and those who did not. When duration of unemployment, age, education, race and ethnicity and perceived health status were taken into account – and extreme cases removed from analysis – the team found non-smokers were 30% more likely to be employed after 12 months than smokers. In addition, among those who had found work within the year, smokers were found on average to earn just over $5 an hour less.

Linda Bauld, a professor of health policy at the University of Stirling, who was not involved in the study, said: “Amongst people that are already disadvantaged, smoking might be stacking the odds not in their favour in terms of them gaining employment.”

There’s an obvious explanation for this, which is that smokers have been made into pariahs by the likes of Linda Bauld and Tobacco Control, and many businesses now won’t hire them. So it shouldn’t be any surprise at all if smokers have difficulty finding work.

But instead of blaming Tobacco Control’s own discriminatory policies, Linda Bauld blames smoking itself for the relative unemployability of smokers.

The War on Smokers may not only be the cause of their diminishing employment prospects, but also of their declining health. It may not be that smoking has any adverse health consequences at all, but instead that persecuted smokers – who have to stand outside in all weathers to smoke, and may also be given reduced healthcare – suffer much more from infections, falls, and any number of other maladies. That’s to say that the claim that Smoking Causes Disease, backed up by bans and exclusions and propaganda campaigns, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For if you take any social group, and subject them to exclusion, discrimination, and demonisation, it’s almost certain that its members will suffer a multitude of adverse consequences, of which unemployment and illness will be just two. The circular logic of the likes of Linda Bauld then ascribes these adverse consequences  to whatever happens to be the defining characteristic – e.g. smoking – of that social group, rather than to the exclusion and discrimination they are suffering as a result of the campaign against them.

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About Frank Davis

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20 Responses to Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

  1. Smoking Lamp says:

    The difficulty in gaining employment is the result of the systematic discrimination against smokers engineered by the tobacco control lobby. Every day, relentless propaganda designed to ‘denormalize’ smokers is spread on the airways and printed in the papers.

  2. jaxthefirst says:

    “Among their findings, the authors reported that smokers were younger, less educated and more likely to be unstably housed, in poorer health and to possess a criminal record than non-smokers.”

    But of course, none of these things affect a person’s employability, though, do they? Oh no – it’s only their smoking status that puts employers off, natch. And if, as they say, they adjusted for all these things in their final findings (a) why bother mentioning it at all (except, of course, to paint smokers as “generally less employable” in all other ways, too), and (b), presumably, then – given as they found smokers to be “younger, less educated,” etc, etc – the final numbers who were rendered “comparable” (given that the original numbers aren’t huge), must have been absolutely miniscule.

    To be honest, if they’d done a study like this comparing unemployed white people and unemployed black people just a few short decades ago, they’d have almost certainly found the same or very similar results, with more white people finding work than black people and being paid more etc. And that wouldn’t be because it was the black people’s “fault” for being black – it would have been down purely to the very prejudiced attitudes of employers and the powers-that-be at the time. Prejudice of any kind will always result in this kind of inequality. Smoking, it seems, is the “new black.”

  3. harleyrider1978 says:

    Inmate found dead in Swansea Prison cell

    AN INMATE was found dead in his cell in Swansea Prison. It has been claimed by the partner of a another inmate that the man took his own life on Sunday because of a smoking ban at the jail. The…

    http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/Inmate-dead-Swansea-Prison-cell/story-29090630-detail/story.html

    Navi Mumbai: Caught smoking, teens decide to kill themselves

    Birthday celebration goes awry for friends, who jumped into Vashi creek, fearing arrest. Only one survived. Duo had decided to take the drastic step because they…

    http://www.mid-day.com/articles/navi-mumbai-caught-smoking-teens-decide-to-kill-themselves/17119183

  4. waltc says:

    Frank, can I urge both you and jax to put that in official letters to the editor so you can talk to the gullible who’ll read that article and misinterpret it as directed. I’ll also try to look it up in jama and see if I can find a way to comment there. Simply talking to ourelves doesn’t do us any good

    That said, if a young uneducated man with a criminal record stopped smoking, he’d immediately be hit[r]ed?

    • waltc says:

      Btw, if you google “Jama, smoking, emoloyment” you find this article is picked up by networks, wire services, and all kinds of publications with inlammatory headlines

    • Frank Davis says:

      On this very thread Smoking Lamp wrote:

      Every day, relentless propaganda designed to ‘denormalize’ smokers is spread on the airways and printed in the papers.

      What is the point of writing official letters to media outlets like the Guardian (or the BBC, or anywhere else) which are publishing all this propaganda? It’s like writing to Pravda in the 1930s to complain about the gulag. Our mass media are all like that now. “Simply talking to ourelves” is all we have left, just like in the Soviet Union the only real communication was via smuggled samisdat literature.

  5. audreysilk says:

    Frank, your last paragraph is golden all by itself.

    waltc, I’d hesitate to put it that way. Though unintended, asking that question enters into their other category that “most smokers are uneducated” and “low lifes [some who commit crime].”

  6. Koos says:

    Frank, I think they have mixed up cause and effect in this study. Smokers are different from non-smokers. They are less pc for example. Less sensitive to authority. That, rather than their smoking habits as such, could very well be the determining factor.

  7. Lepercolonist says:

    Sample size(120) is too small to draw extrapolated conclusions. A handful of people could distort these numbers.

  8. Rose says:

    Presumably they are trying to prove how well Tobacco Control’s social denormalisation campaigns are working and employers will always take any opportunity to pay people less, but they could have saved themselves time and effort by just copying this.

    2005 Australia

    Markers of the denormalisation of smoking and the tobacco industry
    S. Chapman

    RESTRICTIONS ON SMOKING

    “Before 1987 when workplace smoking bans first commenced, nearly all smokers smoked uninterrupted in workplaces and, with few exceptions, wherever they went. Today, all offices, shops, indoor shopping malls, all forms of public transport, restaurants, bars and major outdoor stadia are smoke free in Australia. Outdoor workplaces, including building sites, have also started to be declared smoke free.

    Smokers are now routinely “exiled” from others, obliged to smoke in often unpleasant surroundings such as parking lots, city alleyways and the delivery entrances to buildings, sometimes in inclement weather. When among large crowds spending long hours at sporting events in stadia, indoor entertainment and other mass gatherings, one can reflect that no one in these vast acreages of humanity is smoking. Smokers must now retire to a fenced off “cage” at Melbourne’s Telstra Dome sports arena.

    Smokers know they have been required to move away from others because most people do not want to be exposed to their smoke. Smoking is no longer a convivial and integral part of everyday life. In large part, it has become an activity largely removed from routine human interaction.”

    Smokers as undereducated and a social underclass

    “News reports on declining smoking rates often note wide socioeconomic and educational differentials: smoking is increasingly a badge of unemployment, low socioeconomic status and low educational attainment. Those aspiring to upwardly mobile socioeconomic status would be unlikely to see smoking as a good “fit” with their ambitions.”

    Smokers as employer liabilities

    “Smokers are absent from work more than non-smokers. For years, smokers have been a feature of urban landscapes, seen taking repeated smoking breaks outside workplaces.

    This has caused resentment among many non-smokers who are not accorded similar breaks. An online poll conducted by a television station in 2005 asking “Should smokers work longer hours to make up for cigarette breaks?” attracted 93 820 votes, with 70% agreeing.

    While many smokers do not take excess sick leave or work breaks, a nascent debate is slowly fomenting about whether employers might be legally and morally justified in refusing to hire smokers because of their excess absence from work. Some childminding and nanny employment agencies appear to be already exercising discrimination in this regard.”

    “For the individual, an obvious escape from this negativity is to quit smoking, as hundreds of thousands do each year.”
    http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/17/1/25.full

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      With the high unemployment numbers which every government claims is low advocate driven businesses can discriminate all day long against smokers. One thing they cant do is force people to do what they want. Its just not working and many places today simply make the statement of a smokefree workplace and do nothing more and its just to keep the local Nazis off their backs coming in and trying to make them do more via threat of government intervention into their livlihoods if they don’t comply with their Nazi demands.

  9. harleyrider1978 says:

    Yesterdays Nazi comedy of SECOND HAND SMOKE BOMBS

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Inmate found dead in Swansea Prison cell

      AN INMATE was found dead in his cell in Swansea Prison. It has been claimed by the partner of a another inmate that the man took his own life on Sunday because of a smoking ban at the jail. The…

      southwales-eveningpost.co.uk

      • Roobeedoo2 says:

        ‘The claim has been put to the Prison Service who said an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death would be held.

        ‘They said Swansea Prison has been operating normally since going smoke free and allegations of any unrest or rioting are untrue and irresponsible.’

        http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/Inmate-dead-Swansea-Prison-cell/story-29090630-detail/story.html

        Sounds like they’ve already made up their minds.

        • Rose says:

          Previously

          Fears under-staffing and a smoking ban could lead to riots at Swansea prison
          March 16, 2016

          “FEARS have been raised that a riot could break out in Swansea prison following claims of under-staffing and a decision to roll out a smoking ban.
          Tensions are said to be rising at the site following the introduction of the new no smoking policy on Monday — a claim the prison service has denied.”

          “A source who did not wish to be named said: “I’m expecting there could be a riot in there.
          “They brought a smoking ban in the prison on Monday and people have been kicking off.
          “It’s a recipe for disaster, you have men in there under pressure. Drugs are rampant, and some are now selling tobacco at an extreme price.

          “They are so short-staffed that often relatives are waiting for the men to come out and perhaps are waiting for 30 minutes. The men were refusing to go back into the prison as they should have an hour with their family.
          “They are punishing their families and their children, it’s getting worse and worse. The kids are crying because they can’t see their fathers.”
          “The source alleged that such is the staffing issue at the prison that inmates are being locked in their cells sooner than they would expect.”

          The prison service spokeswoman also denied this claim, saying staffing levels were “safe and decent”.

          “A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “HMP Swansea has been operating normally since going smoke free on Monday. There have been no incidents of indiscipline resulting from the smoking ban and it is totally irresponsible to speculate that this could change without any supporting evidence.”
          http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/Fears-staffing-smoking-ban-lead-riots-Swansea/story-28937132-detail/story.html

  10. nisakiman says:

    Oh look, here’s a new one!

    Panasonic refuses to fix couple’s broken £800 42-inch flat-screen TV ‘because it was damaged by their 20-a-day smoking habits’

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3535536/Panasonic-refuse-fix-couple-s-broken-800-42-inch-flat-screen-TV-smoke-20-cigarettes-day.html

    Looks like Apple have started a trend. There’s some guy in the comments who says he used to repair electronic goods, but stopped because of the stench from items from smokers’ homes! Ha! You couldn’t make it up! Well, he could, obviously…

  11. garyk30 says:

    Why work when public aid pays so well?

    In this study:
    Results:
    Of the 251 study participants, 165 (65.7%) were men.

    OK, 86 were women and probably many of them were younger smokers with children and thus, eligible for various aid programs.

    In California, where this study was done, aid to a single mother with 2 children can be as much as $(US)35,300 per year.

    That is about 96% of the median wage in the state.
    http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/the_work_versus_welfare_trade-off_2013_wp.pdf

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