How Many Angry Smokers Are There?

I came across someone called Chris Harris on Facebook today. He was saying that nothing had replaced his local pub since the smoking ban in July 2007.  I pointed him towards my Escape Velocity post of a few days back.


That’s quite a detailed snapshot of life in 2007. Let’s suppose that all UK pubs had 15 evening customers, of whom 6 were smokers. There were about 60,000 pubs in the UK in 2007 (maybe more), so they had a total of about a million customers every evening. If after the smoking ban 4 out of every 6 smokers stopped going, then that’s 4 times 60,000, or 240,000 fewer evening customers.

But he was an evening pub-goer. I was an afternoon pub-goer. The pubs were quieter in the afternoons. But I reckon they still had on average 5 or 6 customers even in the afternoon. After the ban, there’d often be just one customer – me.

The pubs are still like this in the afternoons. I quite often go into a pub in the afternoon, and find I’m the only customer. So it looks to me like there was a loss of 5 afternoon customers. In 60,000 pubs, that’s 300,000 afternoon customers.

So  the total loss of custom was 300,000 afternoon customers plus 240,000 evening customers, or 540,000 customers. Not all of these would have been smokers.  Maybe 400,000 smokers.

So that’s about 400,000 smokers in the UK who, like Chris Harris, lost something irreplaceable on 1 July 2007.

It’s a ballpark figure, of course. It could easily be half that number, or twice that number.

There are 650 parliamentary constituencies in the UK, and if these 400,000 smokers are distributed evenly (as they probably are), that’s 615 voters per constituency. The average number of voters per constituency in the UK is about 70,000. So they’re less than 1% of the vote.

I was living in Devon in 2007, in the safe Conservative constituency of Tiverton & Honiton. And my complaints to my MP about the smoking ban fell on deaf ears. But in marginal constituencies like Hereford & Herefordshire South, where I now live, those 615 votes might make all the difference between winning and losing. Perhaps that’s why my Herefordshire Conservative MP seems to be rather more amenable to smokers than my Devon MP?

Hmmm… I’m now wondering whether to create a Herefordshire Smokers website, with the aim of attracting 615 members. We’ll have a quarterly newsletter. And we’ll seek and give advice on candidates who’ll stick up for smokers. We’ll invite guest articles from Conservative, Labour, and Lib Dem parliamentary and council candidates. We’d keep them informed of our deliberations. We’ll become a political presence.

About Frank Davis

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34 Responses to How Many Angry Smokers Are There?

  1. Smoking Lamp says:

    Frank, I certainly hope you become a political presence as we all should. The totalitarian tobacco control cult needs to be shut down. Like a house of cards, one card at a time needs to be removed until a tipping point is achieved and it all comes tumbling down.

  2. jaxthefirst says:

    “I’m now wondering whether to create a Herefordshire Smokers website”

    What an excellent idea! I’m nowhere near Herefordshire, but I’d imagine that you might well also attract a few smokers from neighbouring counties (who, of course, wouldn’t have a website of their own), because there are so few avenues for smokers to meet and chat about how the ban has affected them, and non-smokers are, by and large, not really interested, which is one reason why blogs such as this one are (to me) so precious. It’s the one place where I can let off steam about the unfairness of it all and the ridiculousness of it all with like-minded people and feel that, despite what the PTB and all the mindless drones who believe them might say, I am not alone in being quietly incandescent with rage at the way I’ve been treated. Who knows? You might start a trend and others may follow suit for their areas, too. I’d definitely become a regular on a site such as that for my area, and, if no-one started one up, I’d become a “distant regular” of yours!

  3. harleyrider1978 says:

    Uganda: Public Smokers to Be Arrested

    Starting this Thursday (Tomorrow), anyone found smoking in public will be arrested as the Tobacco Control Act takes effect.

    According to Ms Mable Kukunda, an advocacy officer at Uganda National Health Users/Consumers Organisation (UNHCO), If found smoking within 50 feet of a public facility or in enclosed areas, a person will pay a fine of Shs200,000 or be arrested and jailed for five months or both depending on what the judge decides.

    I bet a lot of killing will happen now! Civilwar in Uganda over a lousy cigarette you people have finally done it.

  4. waltc says:

    Great idea, Frank. Do it. Trick is to promote it so people know it’s there You can take a targeted (smokers, living in X) facebook ad or create a facebook post and “boost” it. And make up some business cards with the url and hand them out to smokers you meet in local pubs and about town.

  5. waltc says:

    OT At a TC conference Banzaf recommends shaming, stigmatizing and suing as the best way to help smokers. From CLASH

    • Rose says:

      Once again the perversion of the word “help”, eventually “help” will become a word that makes people shudder and hide.

      • nisakiman says:

        “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” – Ronald Reagan

  6. Lepercolonist says:

    We need a political presence for smokers. Good luck with your endeavors, Frank.
    I am sick and tired of ‘popping out for a smoke’. Workplaces, hospitals,shopping malls,casinos, sports arenas,airports, train stations, nearly everywhere we have to pop outside to smoke. We need some representation from our politicians.

  7. smokingscot says:

    The problem with Mr. Harris and the people who live in the “London Area” is that has always had a lower percentage of smokers than the rest of the UK.

    This 2015 article gives helpful graphics:

    That said they have been a little naughty because Portsmouth and Plymouth are smoker hotspots.

    In addition there are variations within large towns. Pop down to Leith or Portobello in Edinburgh and the street scene is very different than say Balerno. The former are known to have less well off people, while the later is sort of aspirational upper middle class.

    There are numerous smoking hot spots in the Glasgow area, with Govan a most attractive destination for smuggled ciggies.

    My point is there is no absolute when we’re talking about smokers and their behaviour, however I can be quite certain about places I visit, simply by the number of pubs, bingo places and low end cafes etc., that have shut up shop.

    Mr. Harris is giving us a picture of his area, others have told us of what’s happened in theirs and I mine. What we can suss out is, as a group, we do make a difference – sort of along your “swarm” analogy.


    Re you trying to get political.

    Freedom to choose at one point was a political party. That bombed… badly, because all they had in common was the smoking ban and their wish to change it. That’s not enough to gain traction with your average voter – and even their membership squabbled about all the bigger issues that go toward making a real political force.

    Have a chat with one of their number, or even one who’s tried it in person. Hanyman Phil is such an individual.

    That’s him under “SAFFRON”

    For what it’s worth Frank, I feel you’re doing good right now, with an impact that goes way beyond some county in England.

    • Rose says:

      I quite agree.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Points noted.

      I’m not really thinking of Herefordshire Smokers as any sort of alternative to my blog, but rather simply as a web presence. A bit like the Smokers’ Graveyard is a web presence which I only occasionally update. It’s there, and it’s useful. Herefordshire Smokers would have a few news articles, a few reviews of pubs (e.g. ones with nice gardens). And it would also have an Editorial Policy (which would probably be pro-UKIP), and claimed to represent Herefordshire Smokers.

      Speaking of UKIP, I got a link from UKIP Daily today to a piece by me on Edward Bernays. I think that’s a first.

    • jaxthefirst says:

      Oh, I don’t know, Andy. Simon Clark did (and still does) come in for a bit of stick from his readers for not being aggressive enough and I think that in the early days this was true, but of late he does seem to have adopted a rather more bullish (and, to be frank, realistic) attitude. And at least he shows up for interviews and TV slots to speak on our behalf whenever he’s asked. He’s not as angry as many smokers are – probably because he’s not one – but I think that he’s becoming that way, slowly, as a result of continued exposure to blatant anti-smoker lies and manipulation which is often, these days, directed at him, as the nominated Aunt Sally for whichever nasty piece of anti-smoker work he’s put up against. And I’ve certainly seen plenty of comments on his blog (often from dedicated anti-smokers) haranguing him for “wasting his time on smokers,” so he can’t be censoring all comments which disagree with him. He has, in fact, censored a couple of my own comments on occasion, but that was usually because I was being extremely rude about someone!

      That said, there’s probably room for another campaign group speaking up for smokers’ rights as well as Forest. That would certainly take the pressure off Forest a bit. But, as Prog points out, the embryonic other groups (The Big Debate and Freedom2Choose spring to mind) never quite got it right – The Big Debate folded years ago (I think that was supposed largely to be for publicans, but, as we know publicans were never interested in speaking up for themselves) and Freedom2Choose seems still to be little more than a talking shop of angry people. Like Prog, I used to be one of them but, also like him, I eventually realised that whilst they were a bunch of worthy people who felt exactly the way I did, the bottom line was that they probably weren’t ever going to be able to mobilise any large-scale support. Many people came and went on the forum within a very short space of time and eventually I stopped visiting the site because I found it frustrating that there were all those people out there who had all this passion but they kept getting caught up in petty arguments about who should be on the committee and who liked whom and whether or not the last chairman had done a good job or not.

      So maybe the way forward would be along the lines of Frank’s suggestion of getting localised “swarms” of smokers talking together and then seeing if anything positive comes out of that.

  8. Andy Oakley says:

    Its nearly 10 years since the ban with no signs of angry smokers or anywhere for them to go to vent their anger, that says it all.

    Taking Liberties/ Forest should be the place to go, however Simon Clark operates a vicious censorship which means the blog replies just agree with him and his no confrontation, do nothing manifesto, he wants to sit this one out and collect a nice salary and retire early.

    He dosen’t give a fuck about smokers.

    Go for it Frank , a political force is needed.

  9. Tom Macaulay says:

    Heartily agree with the need for a political voice for smokers.
    I work from home, am single and before the smoking ban I always took a lunchtime break in the pub and at least 3 times a week I would eat out.
    Since the ban I no longer do this.

  10. garyk30 says:

    I suspect the strength of a political movement is not just the number of those involved; but, the funding that group can raise.

    In politics, money talks very loudly.

    Sadly, in these times, smokers have little extra cash.

    Also, I doubt that the majority of smokers are very passionate about their smoking.

    You would have to be a marketing genius to organize the mostly unconcerned smokers.

    Note: I think Junican tried something like this a year or so ago.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Junican’s blog is called the Bolton Smokers’ Club. But I’ve never seen any sign that it has any members other than Junican.

    • garyk30 says:

      A smokers’ rights group might be possible.
      To enlarge base to more than smokers, it might be named something like ‘smokers for Rights for all’,
      Something vague.

      MEP area of 70,000 adults would.\, on average, have about 28,000 smokers and if one in forty could be involved would give a base of 700 members,

      MEP area might get about 42,000 actual voters and a MEP might win by only a few thousand votes.

      If the MEP was told that the ‘Smokers for Rights for All’ members, spouses, and friends were responsible for a decent part of their winning total, your group would have a bit of political power.

      Especially if the group contributed a bit of money to the winners campaign and put up signs stating “SRA backs XXXXX for MEP”.

      SRA members might show up at XXXX’s speeches with placards stating ‘SRA for XXXX’, thus establishing a visible presence.

      The Nat’l Rifle Assoc. has huge political power in the USA and it’s membership is less than one in twenty gun owners.

  11. Rose says:

    Taxpayer Funded ASH Lobbied Government For Plain-Packs

    “ASH waged a half-decade campaign, involving top Civil Service officials, to introduce plain packaging. In a string of emails between Arnott, Hunt, the Department of Health’s top ranking official Andrew Black and surprisingly the PM’s Chief of Staff – Ed Llewellyn, the organisation appears to have broken the department’s rule on the use of its grant money.”

  12. waltc says:

    The trick is to get your followers to actually act–write to their mp’s, or even just comment on news articles etc. The record of smokers doing that is fairly miserable. Ask Audrey. I wonder what would happen if there were a reward for those who , say, submitted a copy to you of a letter they wrote to their rep (a pack of their brand or a pack of rolling papers) or maybe just a contest with a bigger reward for the most active. Our silence is one of the aunts’ greatest weapons but most smokers are content to just suffer in their own silence. Maybe they have to be tangibly bribed.

    • prog says:

      We did quite a lot of that at F2C during the years following the ban (well, not the bribery).

      Some MPs are/were sympathetic but out-gunned in Parliament, MSM is mainly a mouthpiece for the propaganda and the majority of smokers seem to be like lambs – fecking oblivious to their fate. I soon found it was a complete waste of time and effort trying to convince them they were being well and truly conned by the SHS bullshit.

      All in all, akin to bashing one’s head against a brick wall. A few years of that and you kinda lose the enthusiasm. Pubs are as good as finished, I rarely use them and would no longer miss them if they all closed. Besides, any protest by the trade before or since the ban was little more than a whimper. Fuck ’em.

      • prog says:

        Having said that, there were a precious few heroes who stood up to the bastards..,,but inevitably paid a steep price. Most notably Hamish Howitt, Nick Hogan and Tony Blows. If there’d been a 1000 of those the ban would have been be history years ago.

        • Frank Davis says:

          I met Tony Blows in his Herefordshire pub. I offered him some cash to help with his court case, but he wouldn’t accept it.

          And I chipped in to help release Nick Hogan.

          There were only a handful of them.

        • Andy Oakley says:

          How many angry smokers?…yes we can all name a couple of real angry smokers with their real names and a few contracted to speak for smokers like Simon Clark and a few in the industry of earning a living from selling books, but thats all.

          Its no good estimating anger in the hundreds of thousands when apart from the odd smoker like Pat Nurse nobody else makes a squeak.

          Anyway what about the non victory for the government and the non lose for smokers regarding plain packs!, a complete non event at the start of it all , and a non event now.

          The losers are those who thought plain packs actually meant something and wasted time on it, at least Dick Puddlecote can move on and forget about it now,

          Too much wasted time from bloggers on a intellectual property law, when did that have anything to do with smoking.

  13. junican says:

    Just catching up. Yes, I ‘founded’ the Bolton Smokers Club’. To be honest, I grabbed the name before anyone else could – such was my naivety. For a while, I carried some slips which I printed off on my computer and handed them to people in the pub who were interested in my home-growing efforts. I waited for some sort of comments from Boltonians, but there were none. Our biggest success was having at least a little influence on the result of the Bolton News poll about smoking shelters at Bolton hospital. The result of the poll was in favour of shelters and the hospital board had said that it would abide by the result of the poll. The plan was shouted down by various councillors and doctors. The shelters were not built. It was readers from all over the country who voted in that poll, not just Boltonians.
    So I am stuck with the name ‘Bolton Smokers Club’. No harm in that, I suppose, even if the ‘members’ are spread all over the world.
    There are two huge problems:
    1) The incessant propaganda has created a huge ‘guilt complex’ among smokers.
    2) That the tobacco companies failed miserably to form a group like the USA ‘Rifle Association’, or whatever it is called, when they had the chance. Why were they not putting inserts in cig packs when they had the chance?

    Our chief aim, as bloggers, is to keep the subject alive. I must find time to get at the statistics about lung cancer rates again.Since smoking prevalence fell, LC among men has fallen, but it has increased among women, even though smoking prevalence among women has also been falling for decades.
    I think that the ‘guilt complex’ is most prevalent among older smokers. I think that ‘the youth’ (over 18s) are more ‘street-wise’. They have been subjected to the propaganda all their lives and do not rate it. I was sitting outside a bar in Magalluf a couple of years ago, and I asked these two girls (about 19 or so) why the were smoking when they had been warned and warned about the dangers. One replied, “Well, that’s life, innit?” It seems to me that they see ‘risk’ in many forms, like the danger of crossing the road, and have an instinctive ability to weigh those risks. For example, an older person, waiting to cross the road at a light-controlled pedestrian crossing, will not assume that the traffic will stop when the lights turn red, but a young person will so assume. That is their experience. Sooner or later, a youth will light up in a bar, and no one will bother. That is how prohibitions end.

    • Frank Davis says:

      1) The incessant propaganda has created a huge ‘guilt complex’ among smokers.

      I personally seem to have missed out on this.

      2) That the tobacco companies failed miserably to form a group like the USA ‘Rifle Association’,

      Who formed the NRA? Gun manufacturers? I somehow doubt it. And why is it that this product, which is designed to kill when used according to manufacturer’s instructions, isn’t as illegal as cigarettes? Or is the war on smoking the prelude to a war on guns?

      Our chief aim, as bloggers, is to keep the subject alive.

      I think antismokers can be relied upon to do that all on their own.

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