17,410,742 UK Smokers

Well, that’s enough excitement for one week. In fact, enough excitement for an entire year.

But has it got us anywhere nearer repealing smoking bans?

I think it has, in an important way. The wave of European smoking bans over the past decade were almost all instigated via the UN, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), and the EU. In this last respect, H/T Rose for The Help Programme 2005-2007 moving towards a smoke-free Europe which told us that:

The European Union has made the fight against smoking one of its top public health priorities…

On the 1st March 2005, the European Commission launched a large media campaign, aimed at tobacco prevention and cessation, in the, then, 25 European Union Member States. Today, in all the 27 EU countries, the European Commission’s campaign “HELP – For a life without tobacco” is one of the largest public health awareness-raising initiatives ever organised in the world. The general motto of the campaign is providing “Help and support”. The “Help” campaign aims to offer help not to take up tobacco, help to resist peer pressure, or help to address passive smoking.

In fact, in November 2004 the UK had signed the FCTC, and Sir Charles George of the BMA and BHF had called for a public smoking ban. All over Europe, civil servants had begun working on smoking ban legislation.

(Rose has today turned up a far earlier EU Council resolution – in July 1989 – to ban smoking in enclosed premises open to the public.)

But all of this was essentially an exercise in top-down control of the peoples of Europe by the EU and UN and WHO. There was nothing democratic about it. It was something imposed on them from above by legislators, doctors, scientists, and assorted experts, who knew better than them what was good for them. They themselves were not consulted.

Ten years on, and multiple smoking bans later, there’s a growing bottom-up reaction to this by all the peoples of Europe. The referendum vote for Brexit last week was an example of bottom up reaction to top down control.

The entire EU elite project is now coming under increasing threat from the citizens of Europe, who are turning in ever-increasing numbers against their arrogant overlords in Brussels. And if the imposition of smoking bans is an example of top down control, the repeal of smoking bans will be a consequence of countervailing power being exerted from the bottom up. And should it occur, the collapse and disintegration of the EU will be accompanied by a wave of repeals of smoking bans across Europe. Because, apart from a few zealots in the medical profession, nobody really wanted them anyway. And there will no longer be any supra-national authority to impose them. And smoking more than anything else will symbolise freedom.

So if Britain really does succeed in breaking away from the EU, and revoking its signature on the FCTC, there’s a very good chance that a sovereign UK parliament will repeal the 2007 smoking ban. Or certainly a much better chance than if it stays inside the EU.

I thought last week that every single one of Britain’s smokers should take the opportunity of the referendum to vote for Brexit, for the reasons set out above. Britain’s smokers are found predominantly in the north of England, and there are not many in London or any of the big cities where smoking is illegal more or less everywhere. It’s generally supposed that there are currently about 10 million of them. A few years ago the figure was 13 million of them. But in the light of the referendum last week, I have arrived at a new figure – which includes all the secret smokers, and the occasional social smokers who don’t think of themselves as smokers, and people who don’t know that they’re smokers†, and also mad people like Joan Bakewell.

My new estimate is that there are actually 17,410,742 smokers in the UK.

For this is the number of people who voted to leave the EU last week.

  I came across one of these when collecting data for the ISIS survey. She was sitting at a table outside a pub with a lit cigarette in her hand. When I asked her if she would like to complete a short survey of smokers, she immediately declared very forcefully, “I don’t smoke!” I said nothing, but fixed my eyes on the cigarette between her fingers. And eventually her eyes were drawn to it too, and she beheld it with a look of horror and amazement. Clearly she had simply never known that she was a smoker until I drew her attention to the fact.

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30 Responses to 17,410,742 UK Smokers

  1. Ana says:

    Britain has been much more antismoking than most of continental Europe while in the EU and in case Brexit succeeds, there’s no logic in thinking it will suddenly become a smoker friendly country.
    The problem in this case is not EU (hey, is Australia in the EU?) but WHO and home grown organisations like ASH and other fake charities.

    • Frank Davis says:

      My reading of Rose’s 1989 link was that the EU was an even worse enemy of smokers than either the WHO or ASH.

      • jltrader says:

        Yeah, but what country within the EU? In 1989, the eastern half, wasn’t even in the EU. Do you think Greece by any chance was the leader of the anti-smoking movement in the EU? :D

  2. Smoking Lamp says:

    It is my greatest hope that the smoking ban in the UK will unravel. Meanwhile, tobacco control in New Zealand is collapsing. According to the New Zealand Herald, “The Smokefree Coalition will close next month, Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) faces closure unless it can find new funding sources, and Smokefree Nurses Aotearoa and Pacific anti-smoking agency Tala Pasifika have all lost their funding from this week. Instead, the Ministry of Health has awarded a single national anti-smoking advocacy contract to West Auckland-based Maori health agency Hapai Te Hauora.” See: “Smokefree lobbyists face chop” http://www.nzherald.co.nz/health/news/article.cfm?c_id=204&objectid=11663855&ref=rss&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

    • Joe L. says:

      Can’t ignore the last line of the article, either:

      “Total funding for national advocacy has been cut from $1.7 million to $450,000.”

      That’s a 73.5% cut in anti-smoking funding! Very encouraging news out of New Zealand! Thanks, SL!

  3. Marvin says:

    I would say the reason for the UK smoking ban is the 440 MPs that voted for it.
    Probably the same 440 that want to ignore the referendum result and keep us in the EU.
    Hopefully when the Tory party splits and the Labour Party splits they will be gone.

  4. Rose says:

    I always thought that the smoking ban in hospitals was particularly unBritish.

    1. Ban smoking in enclosed premises open to the public which form part of the public or private establishments listed in the Annex.

    Public and private establishments referred to in point 1 of the resolution (non-exhaustive list)

    2. Hospitals, establishments where health care is given and all other medical establishments;

    But article 8 of the FCTC was only adopted in 2007, so Blair’s government must have been acting under EU Council Resolution 41989X0726 – 26 July 1989 to ban smoking in hospitals.

    It’s also how the accepted definition of private places was altered to include “Enclosed premises open to the public which form part of the public or private establishments.” – which had us all baffled – under EU law.

    “Patients caught smoking inside or outside hospitals face being discharged under new government legislation, which will abolish hospital smoking rooms and encourage a total ban in all grounds.

    Patients caught smoking inside or outside hospitals face being discharged under new government legislation, which will abolish hospital smoking rooms and encourage a total ban in all grounds.

    The controversial “zero tolerance” plans are part of a new Bill, which will make all hospitals smoke-free by the end of 2006. In London, the deadline will be a year earlier, health officials announced last week.

    Patients too frail to endure low temperatures outside will be offered “nicotine replacement therapy” in the form of gum and patches. Other measures will include putting up “older person” signs around hospitals for patients crossing busy roads to smoke.”

    Guidelines for implementation of Article 8

    “At its second session in July 2007, the Conference of the Parties (COP) adopted guidelines for implementation of Article 8 of the WHO FCTC on protection from exposure to tobacco smoke (decision FCTC/COP2(7)).”
    http: //www.who.int/fctc/guidelines/adopted/article_8/en/

    Article 8

    24. This creates an obligation to provide universal protection by ensuring that all indoor public places, all indoor workplaces, all public transport and possibly other (outdoor or quasi-outdoor) public places are free from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.

    No exemptions are justified on the basis of health or law arguments.

    If exemptions must be considered on the basis of other arguments, these should be minimal. In addition, if a Party is unable to achieve universal coverage immediately,
    Article 8 creates a continuing obligation to move as quickly as possible to remove any exemptions and make the protection universal.”
    http: //www.who.int/fctc/cop/art%208%20guidelines_english.pdf

    Paper 2 Definition of a Public Place – National Assembly for Wales

    Committee on Smoking in Public Places

    To agree a definition for the purposes of the Committee’s work.
    Members’ Research and Committee Services
    September 2004

    Definitions of ‘public places’
    The purpose of this paper is to provide information to assist the Committee in defining the terms
    “public place” and “enclosed public place”. The paper, therefore, presents the definitions used by a variety of administrations to define these terms and highlights the relevant originating
    legislation or policy document.”

    “The Council of Europe, where definitions were provided by a 1989 Council Resolution to encourage the introduction of smoking bans in Member States ”

    Resolution 41989X0726,
    26 July 1989
    “Enclosed premises open to the public which form part of the public or private establishments.”
    http: //www.assembly.wales/committee%20documents/paper%202%20definition%20of%20a%20public%20place-23092004-37110/0204-paper2-e-english.pdf

    So after we leave the EU the definition of “private” place will have to be restored to it’s proper meaning .

  5. Rose says:

    MJM, which came first, the chicken or the egg?

    Here’s the prickle on the pear

    “4. Ensure that in the event of a conflict, in areas other than those reserved for smokers, the right to health of non-smokers prevails over the right of smokers to smoke;”

    Blue Print For Success – Countdown 2000 – Ten Years to a Tobacco Free America
    Sept. 11, 1990

    “Any comprehensive Clean Indoor Air statute must not contain provisions that provide civil rights protection for smokers against employment discrimination.

    “Hundreds of smoking-control laws across the country stipulate that in cases of dispute between a smoker and nonsmoker, the nonsmokers’s wishes prevail.
    Anti-discrimination laws would serve to negate such stipulations. In addition, an anti-discrimination law would give a smoker the power to bring suit against both the employer and the nonsmoker with whom there is a grievance.”

  6. Fredrik Eich says:

    Chris Snowdon thinks the nanny state could become worse after Brexit


    But on the other hand laws can be repealed with out having to persuade 27 other countries
    to repeal them too, which simplifies things.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Snowdon writes:

      You only have to look at the Nanny State Index to see that the UK has an unusually strong appetite for micromanaging people’s lives.

      But it’s not “the UK” that has such an appetite. It’s some people in the UK. And some people in high places in government. And some people at the top of the medical profession. It’s always individual people who have appetites for things. And we need to identify who these people are.

      • Rose says:

        Here’s a good start, I notice that Jeremy Corbyn voted for the smoking ban.

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          youd be surprised in politics just how quickly things can change literally overnite. In America when the last bans were repealed it was generally done at nite……the same way they got passed at nite when noody was around. That’s how it went down in tenn. They said the ban was dead then 4 hours later a special session was called out of nowhere and they began the process all over again when the lobbiest aganst the ban were not there. they twisted arms threatened everyone until finally my legislator the one with the deciding vote was taken back to the speakers office and threatened with every form of political chicanery they could muster to change his vote against and the man grew tobacco like the rest of us. Then the goveor signed it the next day breaking the law where anyone ha the right to challenge a bill for 30 days via petition before the governor can sign it.

        • smokervoter says:

          Theresa May, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson all voted against the ban.

          Dr Stephen Ladyman (Thanet South) of the Labour Party voted for the ban. I’m still smarting over the fact that smokers could have put Nigel Farage over the top there with a concerted effort.

  7. prog says:

    ‘You’re one of 21,304 people to sign this petition. Now help find 3,696 more people to reach the goal.’

    Boris Johnson MP: Nigel Farage must be involved in the Brexit negotiations in Brussels


  8. DP says:

    Well hopefully they will all have their hands full for the next two years and will leave the smokers alone unless they can proove that smoking tobacco is linked to Brexit

    • jaxthefirst says:

      I agree that right now politicians have much, much bigger things on their minds than whether or not to further persecute smokers or indeed whether to relax the persecution a bit. I also think that, once the dust has settled and we have started the formal process of exiting the EU, politicians – for the first time in decades – will simply have much more important things to do (like actually running a country of almost 70 million people) and, quite rightly in my view, just won’t have the time to sit around drinking coffee and plotting with self-important little lobby groups who happen to share the same pet peeve as they do.

      Of course, there may be one or two dyed-in-the-wool zealots who will keep batting on about their favourite hobby-horse – indeed, for the first few years we will be lumbered with the large numbers of them as we are at present – but I think that over time individuals with a one-eyed preoccupation with just one single issue will find themselves becoming more and more marginalised within the Westminster bubble, probably becoming known as “the anti-smoking bore” or the “anti-drinking droner” or “the anti-sugar queen/king” in the light of the poor quality of their parliamentary skills. Those MPs whose only contribution to the political process is endless hectoring about smoking, or sugar, or drinking, or whatever other lifestyle choice they disapprove of, will be gradually replaced by MPs who are actually up to the task of being a real Member of a real Parliament. The public, and Parliamentary colleagues, will swiftly be able to ascertain how good (or otherwise) an MP is when there are really meaningful debates going on about which that MP has little or nothing to say except when the subject matter touches upon one of their personal “causes,” at which point they will spring up and speak at great length about it before falling silent again when the debate takes a different turn.

      Politicians with a “bee in their bonnet” about anything simply don’t make very good representatives because their viewpoint is so restricted, and in a real Parliament MPs have to have much broader vision than that if they are to fulfil their functions properly. If nothing else, Brexit will certainly sort out the wheat from the chaff and, right now, we’ve got an awful lot of chaff in our Parliament which urgently needs sorting!

  9. harleyrider1978 says:
  10. harleyrider1978 says:


    • Rose says:

      That may not be a bad thing, Harley, they were all so convinced that they could scare us into voting to remain in the EU their heads are still spinning, and that’s not the best time to start negotiations.

  11. harleyrider1978 says:

    You think BAT isn’t making in roads right this second on that issue……….Things change and you don’t even know theyre happening.

  12. garyk30 says:

    EU regulations put out by Brussels bureaucrats decide how ecofriendly household appliances must be.
    That is,lower in power and thus less efficient.

    It is claimed that the Leave voters were all racist haters; but, I wonder how many million were housewives that wanted to make their own choices about which electric gadgets to use?

    • nisakiman says:

      My eldest daughter (35) told me that both she and hubby had voted out, but that they were keeping quiet about it because the remainers were branding every brexit voter as racist bigots, which of course isn’t true at all, and most certainly not in my daughter’s case. Her motivation was the democratic deficit inherent in the whole sorry mess that is the EU.

      It would seem it’s getting really quite nasty, though, and according to her (she uses social media quite a lot), the spurned remainers are vitriolic in their condemnation of anyone who is outed as a brexiter, resorting to the basest of insult and calumny.

      My youngest daughter, on the other hand, having recently finished her Master’s and so still in idealistic university mode, is shocked that anyone could have been so insane as to have voted out.

      I foresee troubled times ahead.

    • Harleyrider1978 says:

      Gary it was the all of it they finally pissed enuf of the people off. Problem here is they haven’t voted out the stay PMs yet in parliament

  13. smokingscot says:


    More woes for the EU and the “financial markets”.

    Another unclear result at the general election in Spain.


    Oh and another vaguely interesting piece of information.

    Sterling’s tanked against the Iranian Rial. From about 44,500 Rials to the Quid on Wednesday last to about 40,000 Rials today.


    The wonderful news is it’s levelled off, however that’s not the case with the Zimbabwean Dollar. It’s still dropping against that. I extract the Michael not!


    So what precisely does this show? Blind panic. Utter madness. Oh and a once in a lifetime opportunity for people throughout the world to partake of a fire sale.

  14. Frank Davis says:

    Out of Europe. And now out of Euro2016 too!

    England humiliated as Iceland knock them out of Euro 2016

    I foresaw this possibility yesterday

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