The Smokers’ Survey

H/T Simon Clark, who drew my attention to The Smokers’ Survey. The survey was commissioned by Forest and carried out by the Centre for Substance Use Research.

I completed the online questionnaire. It asked what my nationality and country of residence was, so I assume they’re interested in smokers of any country or nationality.

It asked what I felt about smoking, what I liked about it, what I disliked about it, whether I ever thought I’d stop smoking, whether I kept my smoking secret, whether I used non-tobacco products (e.g. vaping), whether I was at all worried about any health conseuqences of smoking, whether smokers were being stigmatised. There were quite a few questions (30 or 40?). And they weren’t loaded questions of the “Do you think smokers should be shot on sight, or thrown to the lions, or simply strangled with piano wire?” kind.

A number of questions included 500 character text entry fields. Of these I thought that the most noteworthy one was:

Has your experience of smoking changed greatly over the last ten years? If so, what are the main ways it has changed?

To which I replied:

Since the UK smoking ban, I no longer smoke in pubs or cafes or restaurants. Apart from smoking at home, I now only smoke in the gardens outside pubs. I visit pubs, cafes, and restaurants much less often than I once used to. I also no longer frequent cinemas, theatres, museums, art galleries, and foreign countries where smoking is banned. I also no longer use trains or buses or airlines on which smoking is banned.

They were all perfectly good questions. But they were really all questions asking about smokers’ attitudes to smoking – what they felt about it. Nor were there any questions about the impact of smoking bans (which is why I used the question above to ).

This reminded me of the debate that preceded composing the questionnaire for the ISIS survey of smokers I mentioned yesterday, where Walt cogently argued that we shouldn’t ask smokers what they felt, but what they did. How did their behaviour change as a result of smoking bans, never mind what they felt? And it was really only by asking how their behaviour changed that it became clear that smokers had left pubs and restaurants in droves, and the social and economic consequences of that (including pub closures) began to emerge.

Partly as a result of my mention of the ISIS survey yesterday, and the email from Simon Clark today, but also because of a remark made in parliament last week

— new health minister Nicola Blackman declined to give a publication date for the Government’s new Tobacco Control Plan which she said had to be “evidence-based” —

I think that if the UK government really does want real evidence (as opposed to cooked figures from Tobacco Control) they ought to commission a large independent survey (10,000+ people?) of how tobacco control measures (smoking bans, ‘plain packaging’, antismoking ads, etc) have actually affected people in their lives (rather than what they feel about them). It shouldn’t just be a survey of overt smokers, or secret smokers, or vapers, but also of non-smokers (and even antismokers), and intended to find out what the 10 year War on Smoking has actually achieved. Tobacco Control is exclusively concerned with whether smokers have or have not stopped smoking as a result of their measures. A far wider survey is needed to discover the broadest range of impacts of these various measures in every possible social, economic, and political area.

Some possible questions (and my answers):

Do you smoke inside your home? (YES)

Do you visit your doctor as often as you used to? (NO)

Do you vote the same way you used to? (NO)

Do you have as many friends as you used to? (NO)

Do you visit pubs, cafes, and restaurants as much as you sued to? (NO)

Do you periodically experience fits of incandescent rage? (YES)

For I believe that when the complete picture emerges, it’s a going to be one of a colossal social, economic, and political disaster.

About Frank Davis

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18 Responses to The Smokers’ Survey

  1. Furtive Ferrrt says:

    I tried to take the survey but it’s all about cigarette smoking. I’m a pipe smoker and I get fed up with this only ever being about cigarette smoking. I know I am vey much in a minority but things like this must include pipe and cigar smokers because the ban is about smoking not how you choose to smoke tobacco.

  2. Supergran says:

    Hey Frank, why don’t YOU do one, just for us?? I dont know how many of us would respond, but I would LOVE to do one x

    • Frank Davis says:

      I’ve already done one! I started it in 2012, and presented the results in 2013. I had the help of about 20 other people, I might add. And also a website provided by Wiel Maessen.

      At the moment I think that what’s needed is a far larger survey – with 40,000 people questioned rather than the mere 400 in my survey. But I don’t have the resources to do that.

      • Supergran says:

        I know, ISIS and I did it. I detest doing surveys where the questions are biased for the “correct” answers and where you just KNOW they’re gonna skew the bleedin answers anyway.

  3. Clicky says:

  4. Mark Jarratt, Canberra says:

    Tried to load the survey but got error message saying link invalid.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Link doesn’t work. Try the link to Simon Clark onTaking Liberties

      • Mark Jarratt, Canberra, Australia says:

        OK thanks – that worked perfectly and I completed the entire survey, stating where I could that the ever increasing high cost taxation burden (effective tobacco products tax rate in Australia is now a totally extortionate 685%!), social stigma, and bans on smoking almost everywhere had changed my smoking behavior, adversely affected my social life, and made me apprehensive about where I can smoke, even in the open air (after all the Govt owns the air).

  5. Fred Karno says:

    Granddad wrote about it
    so I took a look and completed the survey. Didn’t take long and it might help the world to understand that many of us smokers are not helpless victims. We’re resentful about the unfair accusations heaped upon us but in no way feeling guilty, and will continue to enjoy tobacco while we still can. To the enormous profit of the Exchequer, and to the social services and pensions industry, being likely to die too early to bed-block a geriatric ward.

  6. margo says:

    I did the survey too – answers much the same as yours, Frank. I hope they’ll realise what this ban has done. I can’t be the only smoker who’s become pretty much a recluse.

  7. Rose says:


    I went to the dentist today for my six monthly check, I was very annoyed to see that there is now a question on sugar on the lifestyle questionnaire that I refuse to fill in.
    Needless to say, my dentist is fully acquainted, with my various “sins” but that’s between her and me, Whatever happened to patient confidentiality?

    I’m not sure I’m entirely in her good books now because when I mentioned my irritation at the new question, she answered that sugar was now public enemy number one and especially so with dentists, I pointed out that as the brain runs on glucose, if they ever succeeded in getting everyone to give up all consumption of sugars and things that convert to sugar in the body, we’d end up with a nation of zombies.

  8. beobrigitte says:

    I filled in the survey at the direct link to the center of substance use research. Simon Clarke has 2 links on his site so I clicked the one on the right.
    However, I suspect the center of substance use research will treat my answers as “a flyer” and may well omit them.

  9. Pingback: In the News October 19th | Convicted Vapour

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