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.