Via Audrey Silk a few days back:
According to analysts with Cowen Washington Research Group, New York, most of President Trump’s supporters smoke. Of 25 states with the highest smoking rates, 23 voted for Trump in the 2016 election.
Statistically, Trump voters overindex to cigarette smoking, said Vivien Azer, beverages, tobacco and cannabis analyst for Cowen.
Unfortunately, that’s all I’ve been able to read of this article. There’s more somewhere, but I don’t know where.
I doubt if it’s true that “most of President Trump’s supporters smoke,” because that would suggest that over half of them smoke, and that doesn’t seem likely.
More likely is that more smokers voted for Trump than for Hillary Clinton. Or perhaps even that most smokers voted for Trump.
There are good reasons to suppose this. Hillary Clinton is the antismoking zealot who banned smoking in the White House more or less as soon as husband Bill got elected president. And she had a big hand in the SCHIP tax. And she’s a politically correct ‘progressive’, and antismokers always regard themselves as ‘progressive’. So smokers are unlikely to have voted for her. And Donald Trump is far more libertarian and conservative than her. He might not himself smoke or drink, but that doesn’t mean that he’s anti-smoking or anti-alcohol. And he wants to liberalise the US economy, lifting restrictions placed on it, releasing its energies. But he’s never said anything about lifting restrictive smoking bans, so he’s never offered smokers anything. So why should smokers have voted for him? Perhaps that he looked less likely than Hillary to make life even harder for them.
In some ways, the real question is: how many voters are likely to change the way they vote over the smoking issue? Does it matter that much to them? And if it does matter, do they think that voting a different way might make a difference?
For myself the smoking issue is the Number One political issue in my life, and has been for the past ten years. It matters a lot. But on the question of whether voting differently would have any effect, I’m rather doubtful. Because no major political parties ever come up with proposals to relax smoking bans. Under Nigel Farage’s leadership, UKIP proposed relaxations (smoking rooms in pubs). But Farage never campaigned for it. He simply maintained an image of himself as a man who liked a drink and a smoke. And when he stepped down as leader, UKIP promptly dropped the smoking room proposal. So there’s now no more reason for me to vote for UKIP than for any other party. And there’s not much reason to vote for them.
The plain fact of the matter is that almost all mainstream political parties, everywhere in the world, are in the antismoking camp. So there’s no point any smoker voting for any of them, at least on that issue. So smokers are likely to cast around for other reasons for voting one way or the other, given that nobody is offering them anything. And so at the last UK election I voted Conservative (for the first time in my life), simply because the Conservatives seemed slightly more libertarian than Labour under Jeremy Corbyn.
And it may well be that US smokers voted for Trump than Hillary for the same reason. Trump wasn’t offering them anything, and neither was Hillary, so they voted for the slightly more libertarian-conservative Trump than for ‘progressive’ Hillary.
But if the smoking issue matters a lot to me, how much does it matter to other smokers? If, for example, 70% of them want to stop smoking, then maybe 70% of them would vote for Hillary in the hope that she’d force them to stop (I once had a friend who welcomed the UK smoking ban for this reason, so such people do exist) In fact, the truth (as established in multiple polls on this blog and elsewhere) is that 95% of smokers don’t want to stop smoking. And these smokers are feeling more and more the incursion of the bully state into their lives. But they probably think that there’s nothing they can do about it – at least when it comes to using their vote: there’s no one to vote for.
If I’d been a US voter, I’d have voted for Trump, but not because I had any expectations of him doing anything about smoking bans. I’d have voted for him because he was much more conservative and libertarian than Hillary Clinton.