Ten years ago, the UK smoking ban was hailed as a great success more or less from Day One.

And maybe for Tobacco Control it was indeed a great success. They’d gradually been introducing smoking bans. I remember when smoking was banned on the London Underground circa 1970. And then it was progressively banned on British Rail, with the numbers of smoking carriages being slowly reduced to zero. And there was bus smoking ban as well. And the cinema smoking ban. It was as if Tobacco Control had a long list of places where smoking was to be banned, and over several decades it slowly went through the list, checking each one off. Underground: check. Trains: check. Buses: check. Cinemas: check.

The big one, of course, was the 2007 smoking ban in all enclosed public spaces. And that went off successfully too. There were no big protests. The smokers obediently trooped out of the pubs and cafes and restaurants with barely a single muttered complaint. Job done. Game over.

I suppose that there remain a couple more places where smoking has yet to be banned. Firstly, in people’s own homes. And secondly and lastly, everywhere else. The checkboxes have yet to be ticked on those two. But they’re already at work on the next set of salami slice bans, with public housing home smoking bans gradually being introduced. The toughest nut will be to ban smoking in detached private houses.

And Deborah Arnott has now declared that outdoor smoking also poses a health threat, and so there will be ever-expanding outdoor smoking areas.

And then there’ll be the wave of sugar bans, alcohol bans, salt bans, fat bans. They’ve already started in schools. And the sugar bowls vanished from restaurant tables a long time ago. And new lists of places to ban stuff, complete with checkboxes, are already being finalised and printed, complete with No Sugar, No Salt, No alcohol, No Fat signs to stick on the wall next to the No Smoking signs.

In some ways I was a bit puzzled that the 10th anniversary of the UK smoking ban wasn’t met with long self-congratulatory articles by prominent tobacco controllers. There were hardly any. But that’s really because the UK smoking ban had already been declared a great success 10 years ago. It was a great success because they’d succeeded in banning smoking in enclosed public spaces, and they’d ticked the checkbox.  They’d done what they wanted to do, and now they were moving further down the list.

It was left to other people to consider whether the 2007 smoking ban really had been a success. Even the Guardian ran an article about it, including a fragment written by me about some of the consequences of the ban.

But Tobacco Control doesn’t do consequences. As far as they are concerned, there are no consequences whatsoever to anything they do. They don’t believe that any pubs at all closed as a consequence of the 2007 smoking ban. Or that communities and friendships were shattered, or smokers set against antismokers.  They’d ticked pretty much all the checkboxes, and that was the only thing that mattered.

But I think there are consequences to everything. And that these consequences spread like ripples in all directions, and the ripples spread and widen indefinitely. And as more ripples are added, the spreading ripples create interference patterns with standing waves that get bigger and bigger and bigger.

I think that the 2007 UK smoking ban created a lot of ripples, going in all directions, and we’re still seeing the effects gradually unfolding. And what was once a placid millpond now has waves all over it. The millpond has been getting slowly rougher and rougher with every new checkbox that’s ticked.

The Smoky Drinky Bar is a surprise new wave in the heaving millpond. It’s a wave that has splashed over the banks and started a little trickle of water in a new and unexpected direction. Tobacco Control is going to have to ban smoking in a completely new arena: online bars filled with virtual smoke. And that means a brand new checkbox for them to tick some day.

I think the Smoky Drinky Bar is going to be a great success. It may have just a thin trickle of visitors at the moment, but it’ll soon become a stream, and then a torrent. I think there are going to be more and more of these bars springing up, overflowing with visitors, all smoking and drinking and talking.

And I wonder whether the appearance in recent months of stars and starlets and singers and celebrities openly smoking, and flouting smoking bans (and looking dead sexy while they’re doing it), is another surprise wave that’s spilled out of the turbulent, foaming millpond, and started another little stream heading off in a quite different direction.

What are Tobacco Control going to do about this little revolt? The EU smoking ban has provision for show trials of prominent offenders:

Shock trials: The EU states will be encouraged to carry out sensationalist prosecutions designed to shock the public. Celebrities who smoke will also be targeted and exposed publicly as smoking offenders. The document states that if individuals in the public eye have deliberately disregarded the law and this is publicly known, the authorities will demonstrate their commitment to and the seriousness of the legislation by reacting with rigorous and speedy measures, attracting the widest possible public attention.

So are going to see Dakota Johnson and Rita Ora and Courtney Love and Kylie Jenner being fined or even imprisoned for “setting a bad example”?

These are just two small revolts that have broken out in recent months. And they’re both consequences of smoking bans. Neither would have happened without some previous smoking ban to kickstart them.

How many other little revolts are brewing?

In fact, the unexpected appearance of e-cigarettes was another freak wave thrown up by the millpond. Nobody saw that revolt coming, nor the subsequent flood of competing electronic devices. Tobacco Control’s knee-jerk reaction has been to do the only thing it knows how to do: ban them.

The growing rash of innovative little revolts mean that Tobacco Control is going to have to set out to ban more and more things. I’m looking forward to the ban on sucking little white hollow tubes. And the ban on cigarette rings, which make it look like someone is permanently holding a cigarette, even though they’re not. Each one will add to a lengthening list of things that Tobacco Control wants to ban, and each will have a new checkbox beside it. And instead of getting shorter, the list will only get longer.


About Frank Davis

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27 Responses to Consequences

  1. Timothy Goodacre says:

    No one will ban smoking on my property.

  2. Rose says:

    In my non extensive investigation into Native American smoking practices, it appears that first they smoked the green bits of the flowers, apparently the best bit but they don’t keep well, then they smoked the leaves which is the part they gave us, then they shaved the stems into pieces and smoked those and when they ran out of those they smoked something else entirely, just as our ancestors did when they couldn’t afford the tax.

    Apparently an old saying is that “if a rabbit can eat it you can smoke it”, but I’m not sure if that is real or not.
    So I’m extremely chilled about the “tobacco endgame” as I have options as far as smoking goes.
    I am horrified about the implications for our traditional liberties though.

    Still, “You can always judge a man (woman) by the quality of his (her) enemies.” and I’m proud to say that we have taken on some absolute stinkers.

  3. smokingscot says:

    Oh they did get so terribly upset when one of the Gorillaz band lit up on stage in 2010.

    Righteous indignation, ladled in plenty.

    And boy did I have fun with that one. Excellent publicity for Gorillaz.

    Seems the story died maybe because there was no official complaint made to the council.

    And now Gorillaz are slated to get their own show! And almost all their artwork shows at least one band member with a cigarette prominently displayed!


    Their music’s not to my taste, but I do admire their attitude toward the establishment.

  4. smofunking says:

    I believe the London Underground smoking Apartheid was confirmed after the Kings Cross fire in 1987.

    • Rose says:

      Any excuse.


      “LONDON, Nov. 21— Investigators said today that overheated bearings in an escalator probably ignited the fire in a London subway station in which 30 people died Wednesday evening.
      The investigators said commuters reported smelling smoke an hour before the escalator, at the King’s Cross station, was engulfed in fire.

      As the bearings became overheated, they probably began smoldering behind the wall of the escalator, Adair Lewis, chief technical officer of the Fire Protection Association, said after inspecting the station.

      Mr. Lewis, who made his comments in interviews with The Times of London and The Daily Mail, said the smoldering would heat all the combustible materials around it, such as wood, grease and plastic, and give off ”a cocktail” of flammable gases.
      ”These gases would eventually reach their explosive limit and ignite into a fast flame or flash-over,” he said.

      Quoting Mr. Lewis, The Times said a flash-over is a ”searing wall of flame, which is exactly what hit so many victims of the disaster on Wednesday night.” He said the smoldering probably was extensive and should have been noticed.

      I keep my eyes and ears open and remember these things, like I knew that whatever Tony Blair said, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq because no matter how hard they looked the weapons inspectors couldn’t find any and said so repeatedly.

  5. Clicky says:

  6. wobbler2012 says:

    If these bastards try and ban smoking in private homes I will start smoking again.

    It would be impossible to enforce, and is so Orwellian the only way to properly police it would be to have camera, or (less intrusive) cigarette smoke detectors installed in homes. I shouldn’t really give the bastards ideas. And the banning smoking anywhere outdoors is utterly ridiculous too.

    I may be a vaper but I am 100% behind smokers on this as it should be your own right to smoke.

    The problem is (I think I have said this before on here) that there are so many of these health nazi groups they are all trying to justify their huge paypackets and existence by keep on trying to hammer smokers. Sadly they’ll never stop until smokers grow a pair and tell them to piss off. I don’t mean smokers like Frank I mean smokers in general, the ones who made no noise at all when the smoking ban came in back in 2007.

    Mass peaceful civil disobedience might be the way to do it, but are smokers brave enough to do that? There are enough of them still.

    • Rose says:

      The mass disobedience happened in 2007 when smokers left the pubs and proved ASH liars for saying that smokers would meekly stand outside and the insides would be full to overflowing with new nonsmoking customers. From what I’ve heard a lot of the nonsmoking customers stopped going too as it wasn’t fun any more. The most important part of an evening in a pub was the lively conversation not the beer.

      • wobbler2012 says:

        No that’s not what I meant, I meant everybody just carry on and ignore the ban, it’s a bit like the old fines for leaving the bin out on the wrong day then everyone should leave the bin out on the wrong day. We are many they are few. But we blew it and it didn’t happen. Mass peaceful civil disobedience is what was required, now the bastards think they can get away with anything which is why they will never ever stop.

        • Joe L. says:

          Mass disobedience could have a great effect, but the problem lies in organizing and motivating the majority of smokers.

          The Antismokers’ relentless lies and propaganda have instilled shame into a great deal of them and convinced them that smoking bans are a “good thing” for their own health as well as that of their friends and family. Currently, there is little mass.

        • Rose says:

          I know.

          I see that Chapman is trying to silence the vapers in Australia.

          Exposed: big tobacco’s behind-the-scenes ‘astroturf’ campaign to change vaping laws
          July 12 2017

          “World renowned tobacco control expert Simon Chapman, an emeritus professor at the University of Sydney, said Philip Morris and other interest groups were “astroturfing” – trying to create the illusion of a big grass-roots pro-vaping movement that does not really exist.”

          It’s low but traditional,and what we’ve come to expect.

          Brainwashing in the Anti-Smoking Movement: #1 – Smearing the Opposition

          “Consequently, the a chief strategy of tobacco control is to smear the opposition by accusing them of being tobacco industry moles. And in no situation should one say anything positive about an opponent, even if true.

          How do I know this?

          Because for many years, I was one of the main trainers of tobacco control advocates in the United States.”

          Vaping, Big Public Health and the new McCarthyism
          13 July 2017

          “That anti-vaping advocates like Professor Chapman effectively are tainting any personal consumer testimony to the inquiry, by implying they were making submissions on behalf of Big Tobacco, was not queried by the Fairfax story. To impugn the integrity of ordinary smokers and vapers who want to share their stories is shameful, but typical of the McCarthyist ad hominem attacks regularly levelled against supporters of vaping as a tobacco harm reduction innovation: not just in the snake pit of social media but in scientific circles where reputations are trashed for daring to question the tobacco control orthodoxy.”

          Hardly new.

  7. Vlad says:

    Another consequence is that many people have woken up. Stopped swallowing everything the governement or other authorities/’experts’ say.

  8. slugbop007 says:

    Not sure if you saw this in the Guardian today: Send to Frank Davis:


    • nisakiman says:

      And no comments, I see. Why should that be?

    • Joe L. says:

      So much for the Guardian appearing impartial on the subject of smoking bans. Less than two weeks after they published a fairly balanced collection of opinions about the UK smoking ban, they start a series called, “Tobacco: a deadly business”:

      Tobacco: a deadly business is a Guardian series focussed on the huge damage of the tobacco epidemic, which continues to cost millions of people’s lives around the world per year, and the industry behind it

      • smokingscot says:

        You can be fairly certain the newspaper will get a series of advertisements from tobacco control over the next couple of months, with a veritable bonanza during October (when they run their annual “stoptober” campaign).

  9. waltc says:

    Addenda to Rose’s comment:

    in 1997 I testified before a congressional committee in DC that was considering a ban on smoking on all flights starting or ending in the US. FTR, I went at the invitation of an (unpaid) SR advocate who’d heard about the hearing; we drove up in her car, and paid our own expenses) I was on the same panel–in fact seated next to–Banzaf and I now quote from the congressional record as to how it went.

    The chairman introduced me as the next witness, adding “Usually people are identified as being with some group but you’re not identified. You’re here on your own, is that correct?”
    Me: I’m here as a smoker, sir
    Chair: All right.

    Banzaf: Because the tobacco industry did not have the courage to come before this committee and state their own position, they do frequently have surrogates who speak on their behalf or–

    Me: (interrupting) Stop it, Mr. Banzaf. I defy you to prove that I’m in any way working for the tobacco companies.

    Banzaf: I didn’t say you were

    Me: I’m here as an individual smoker, one of 50 million people who’ve really been pushed around in this country and I think that as individuals in a democracy –with a constitutional right to “petition the government for redress of grievances”–and, boy, have we got grievances–that somebody has to speak up and I chose to stick my neck out and do that speaking, so just cool it with your implications.”

    And Banzaf turned a little red and shut up.

    About those photos in Marie-Clair: They do illustrate the point the writer was making (although decrying) so the art director or editor who chose them was right on tho advertently or inadvertently subversive.

  10. Smoking Lamp says:

    Well, it seems that tobacco control’s ‘Inquisition’ is now on full blast. In addition to the anti tobacco series at the Guardian, Reuters is now joining in with the version “The Philip Morris Papers”.

    See “Inside Philip Morris’ campaign to subvert the global anti-smoking treaty” and “Exclusive: Documents reveal Philip Morris’ campaign to subvert the world’s anti-smoking treaty”

    They are apparently upset that Philip Morris has the temerity to challenge the FCTC and tobacco control dictates. Apparently only tobacco control is allowed to exercise political process (at lest in their eyes).

    Of course there are no comments. And the articles downplay they fact that tobacco control lobbies and that they eschew transparency.

    • jaxthefirst says:

      How ironic that of all the tobacco companies they should be targeting Philip Morris, who have so recently fallen bang into line by openly stating that they themselves are working towards a “cigarette free future” with all their research into HNB devices. As Tobacco Control stooges, you’d at least think that Reuters would be good enough to target one of those naughty tobacco companies who haven’t rolled over and asked to have their tummies tickled!

  11. jaxthefirst says:

    Re “Consequences,” here’s a comment which I put up under Simon Clark’s take on 10 years of the ban. In it, he stated: “The ban gave the green light to a level of intolerance that has been shocking to behold,” which sparked me to pen the following:

    Ne’er a truer word spoken, Simon. Am I the only one who feels that levels of intolerance for pretty much anything someone doesn’t like or feels offended by have skyrocketed since the smoking ban came in? Of course, there have always been intolerant people around, but by and large they were regarded by most people as “fuddy-duddies” or “fusspots” or “puritans” – relics of a bygone time with much more rigorous social strictures which, it seemed, most of society was busy trying to leave behind and move on to something fairer and more inclusive and more accepting of all comers. And we were getting there. For sure, there were still pockets of prejudice, as I guess there always will be in any society, but by and large we were gradually moving in the right direction. Until now.

    Maybe I’ve just become more aware of it since the ban (after all, there’s nothing like being on the personal receiving end of prejudice to make one aware of its real nature), but there certainly seem to be fewer people around who are prepared to accept others when they don’t conform exactly to their own personal views, behaviours or values and the once-derided fuddy-duddy or fusspot attitude seems to be one that everyone is now eager to adopt. Nice though it would be to blame this shift entirely on the smoking ban, I’m sure that there are other factors which have turned our once easy-going society into such a self-important bunch of disapproval-merchants, but I can’t help but think that by legitimising intolerance of smoking the Government were in effect subtly legitimising intolerance itself, and this certainly hasn’t helped.

    I’m certainly not aware of any other time at least in the last century where the law has specifically been used, not to try and ensure some attempt at fairness (which, in my understanding has historically been the main purpose of the law), but instead to actively favour one group of people over and above another group. By legitimising intolerance towards smokers, politicians in effect legitimised intolerance itself. That may or may not have been their intention – I’m sure there were some who genuinely thought this would only apply to smoking, and others who knew perfectly well that it wouldn’t, but didn’t much care – but regardless, it’s certainly been the result, as it seems that virtually every week now we hear cries from some new protest group or another that the law should be used to ensure their preferences are served whenever those clash with the preferences of another group. “It should be banned!” has become people’s first port of call, rather than, as would have happened in more tolerant times, their last.

    And, of all the hurtful, harmful, damaging effects which the imposition of the smoking ban has had in so many areas, I think that this is probably the worst of all, because it’s the most insidious and the least obvious, and also because it strikes deep into the psyche of what has traditionally been a proudly tolerant society and makes attitudes which were fast becoming unacceptable once again acceptable – indeed desirable. Politicians would do well to ponder on the fact that all the while the law supports intolerance in any form – even against a group whom they personally happen to disapprove of – then their efforts to enforce greater tolerance in other areas, i.e. towards groups of whom they do happen to approve, are doomed to failure. They can’t, in other words, have their cake and eat it.

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