Thursday 3 December 2009

Heads in the sand

There’s a quite astonishing piece of smoking ban denial on the Number Ten website in the response to a petition calling for pubs to be allowed to have indoor smoking rooms.

Survey data, anecdotal evidence and reports in the media seem to indicate that the impact on the hospitality trade as a whole has been at worst neutral and in many cases positive.
Have these people been living in a cave for two and a half years? There is a vast amount of anecdotal evidence reported on this blog and other websites that the ban has been extremely damaging to the pub trade, and the rate of pub closures has dramatically increased.

There have been numerous reports that the smoking ban has proved a significant factor in deterring working-class people from voting Labour:
Brian Iddon, MP for Bolton South East, said: “I’m getting complaints from our core Labour vote that they feel the Labour Government is just hitting them left, right and centre. They are heavily bruised at the moment.”

Dr Iddon cited the ban on smoking in public places and rising alcohol and food prices as other causes of anger.

This response shows a complete unwillingness to listen to any evidence that contradicts the official message. Now, where else have we seen recently that evidence must be discarded if it doesn’t fit the theory?

And the school exam results go up and up every year despite the fact that major employers bemoan the growing illiteracy and innumeracy of school-leavers. Meanwhile, tractor production continues to set new records!


  1. Any working class person ,smoker
    or non smoker who votes Labour
    should not be allowed near children.

    They must surely be subject to
    abnormal practices and desires.

    The suggestion that the Labour Party is a working class party
    is totally lamentable

    Thanks to the treacherous Trade Unions and Labour Elitists the
    working man has been abandoned.

    Ex Shop Steward and Convenor

  2. Post hoc is not procter hoc, and because more pubs have been closing after the smoke ban that does not allow us to conclude straight away that more pubs have been closing BECAUSE of the smoke ban. It may very well be true, but anecdotal evidence is not enough. It would be like saying: "More pubs have been closing since 24-hour licensing came in: therefore 24-hour licensing is responsible for more pubs closing."

  3. In the absence of a controlled experiment, you can't definitively prove causation, but the facts that:

    1. The pub trade has shown a far more severe decline than in any previous recession, and

    2. There is a vast weight of anecdotal evidence that the smoking ban has had an adverse effect on trade

    make it in my view a reasonable conclusion that the ban has harmed the pub trade.

    See, for example, this from Marston's only yesterday:

    The group reported a pre-tax profit of 21.4 million for the year ending October 3, down from £76.2 million last year...

    It blamed the overall falls on agressive discounting in supermarkets, the weak economy and a continuing consequence of the smoking ban.

    I would have thought they knew what they were talking about.

  4. Martin, Cambridge6 December 2009 at 14:23

    It's no job of any Government to tell people how to live, unless that impacts on other people. I would argue it is it's job to make sure people have the nexcessary information to decide for themselves.

    However, is it the job of Government to use yours and my taxes to pick up the cost of repair when people do things in the knowledge it will probably lead to harm that needs fixing e.g. smoking, overeating, dangerous sports ?

  5. Once you start trying to decide whether particular illnesses or injuries are "self-inflicted" you enter a particularly steep slippery slope, I think.

    And given that lifelong non-smokers do sometimes contract lung cancer, can it be said definitively that, in the case of a smoker, his cancer has been caused by smoking?

    Also, as a society, do we wish to just callously stand aside and refuse to treat people whose illnesses we regard as self-inflicted? For example, the vast majority of STDs are the result of what many would regard as reckless sexual practices.

  6. I do agree with you PC. However, it's a debate the NHS in particular is going to have in the near future, and also emphasise why the Govt feels it's got a right to give us the facts (?) about risks.


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