Monday, 8 August 2011

An MP repents

The following post by Natalie Solent on Samizdata is worth repeating in full:

Writing in today's Times behind a paywall, Natascha Engel, Labour MP for North East Derbyshire, relates how she stood in the rain outside a miner's welfare hall smoking with a angry but partially mollified constituent.

...he told me about his father in law who used to come to the welfare every night and spent all evening drinking one pint of Guinness. He was a chain smoker. Since the smoking ban he's never been back.

“He can't stand outside in the rain like this. He's an old man.” He told me about how his father-in-law never goes out any more. “He's lonely and miserable. And he still chain smokes.”
Natascha Engel now says that, given the chance again, she would not vote for the ban. It is good that she has the empathy to see and the courage to state that reason the smoking ban is wrong is that it makes people more miserable than they would otherwise have been. Just that. That is reason enough. Arguments about health are very interesting, and I have no doubt that the dangers of passive smoking have been exaggerated, but the fact that an old man has had the solace of smoking in company with his friends denied him trumps all that. I do wish Ms Engel had been able to perceive this at the time when her vote might have done some good, but better late than never.


  1. To late for crocodile tears from
    two timing,back stabbing,lieing,
    turncoat Labour MPs
    They lied ,they decieved,they misled their own working class constituents.Most of the yellow livered cowards have'nt the guts to stand up to health fascists or
    multi national corporate string pullers.Even sadder ,8 million
    half witted toadies voted again for
    the bolshy bullshitters last time.
    Sadder still, we still have croaking dipsticks blaming the
    Yank credit crunch for destroying
    thousands of our Taverns,the mainstay of many working class communities.Saddest of all,
    the bloated fidgets still standing at bars pretending ,nothing has changed.

    Stuck in,for now.

  2. Another viewpoint:
    "Sad old man so addicted to a dangerous product that he chooses isolation."

    Yes, that is heartbreaking. Since he is 70, we can safely assume that perhaps he began smoking before all of the health dangers were widely known.

    And so, he chooses to sit alone and be miserable because this oft-defended product has such a hold over him.

    Not even the evil, dangerous demon of alcohol can drag him away!

    Oh wait, that's because alcohol is not as addictive, nor does it carry as many second-hand health dangers (the stupidity of drink driving excepted). So drinking around others is generally a good, social thing. Whereas smoking around others has been decided by the majority to be an unwanted thing.

    Anecdotes are wonderful, useless things, aren't they?

  3. Oh, and @Curmudgeon...

    "I have no doubt that the dangers of passive smoking have been exaggerated"

    Yes, sadly some passionate people do overstate the dangers in their zealousness, much like an overprotective parent.

    However, even you must admit that the detrimental effects of secondhand smoke are real. Luckily we all have reams of solid scientific evidence to tell us just exactly how dangerous, and so we can ignore the hyperbole.

  4. so losing a customer who nursed a single pint all night was an issue? If thats how much all smokers drink then the loss of their custom wouldn't have been sufficient for a pub to close.

  5. Perhaps you could be precise about the reams of evidence on passive smoking that you refer to Mr. Robinson? I find that most people who have taken the trouble to actually read said reams and who are anti-tobacco zealots tend to keep very quiet about the “evidence”. That is because not only is the 2006 health act unnecessarily repressive, it is also unjustifiable based on any objective evaluation of the science. I see no problem with licensed smoking premises or smoking rooms provided that genuine provision is made for those who do not want to experience other people’s smoke. There never was an excuse for not providing for the sizeable majority who want to smoke and have a social life. The current divisive and illiberal UK legislation is a product of, in her own words, “a confidence trick” perpetrated by Deborah Arnott and her mate Kevin Barron.

  6. "so losing a customer who nursed a single pint all night was an issue?"

    No, the issue, had you taken the trouble to read the piece properly, was the destruction of social relations. And surely a Miners' Welfare should be about promoting sociability and community, not just making a profit.

    And who knows, maybe he often bought a packet of cigs while he was there.

    Incidentally, the words "I have no doubt that the dangers of passive smoking have been exaggerated" are Natalie Solent's, not mine, although I wouldn't disagree. As far as I am aware, the scientific evidence suggests that the risks vary between negligible and non-existent.

  7. I hear cries of OOYA echoing across the country against the Anti-Smoking MPs and Councillors.



  8. @Ivan D

    Wow, really?

    A simple Google search reveals these, and the links contain many other references...

    "Secondhand smoke: Avoid dangers in the air"

    "Secondhand Smoke"

    "Dangers of Second-Hand Smoke"

    "Report unequivocal about dangers of secondhand smoke"

    "Tobacco Industry Lied About Second-Hand Smoke"

    These are respected sources of information. They refer to years of solid understanding of just exactly what the dangers are.

    To ignore this is plain stupidity.

    The point to outlying, spurious studies to the contrary crosses into conspiracy theory territory.

    To complain that a civil society, and a freely elected government, cannot make laws for the health and well-being of the populace is ridiculous.

    We are restricted from beating our children, stabbing strangers, raping anybody, tampering with fire detectors, and smoking in pubs. Why? Because they are all sound laws that uphold a healthy society.

    In fact, by continuing to follow the red herring of the smoking ban, people who really care about pub life are ignoring other, IMHO more relevant, factors.

    I would love to see all this moaning, groaning, and gnashing of teeth over the smoking ban end once and for all. Apply a nicotine patch, start a new life as a healthy, smoke-free individual, and let's focus on what's really important: a healthy, vibrant pub trade!

  9. @Curmudgeon

    I apologize for misrepresenting the quote. I see now that you were quoting an article that quoted another source.

    However, I am dismayed by your re-assertion.

    I feel that a true discussion about the viability of pubs cannot happen when participants in the discussion choose to close their eyes to what is in front of them. It leads to focusing on the wrong things, for the wrong reasons.

  10. Given that the anti-smoking toolbox is now being brought to bear on alcohol, your hopes for a healthy, vibrant pub trade are likely to be pie in the sky. You know, first they came for the smokers, and all that.

  11. Mr Robinson, you are a fucking turd of the highest order, a boring fastidious obnoxious cunt of the worst kind,and by the way try this one, Penn and Teller Bullshit ( Second hand smoke ).

  12. @Curmudgeon

    Let's not go all "slippery slope". Instead, let's support the positive aspects of pub life and responsible alcohol consumption!

    There are times when your voice counts, and times when your voice is ignored because the things you say are not defensible.

    I can defend responsible drinking in a pub. I cannot defend smoking. So I choose to put my efforts where they are useful, not squander them by resenting the past.

    @Anonymous 8 August 2011 20:23

    Thank you for taking the time to read and consider what I have said! Your constructive response has really made me think and reconsider what I previously believed.

    Penn and Teller and respected scientists, and not entertainers, so I wholeheartedly believe everything they say without scanning for satire, sarcasm, or sheer grandstanding.

    I hope to continue our enlightening discourse over a pint of beer some day in the clean, clear air of a UK pub. Please let me know your local, and I'll drop by.

    Hugs and kisses!

  13. Its the Digby Water Orton, Warwickshire, come outside and ask for Neathy, il look forward to it.

  14. Like it or not, the slippery slope is already with us. If the anti-tobacco and anti-alcohol campaigns see themselves as two fronts in the same war, you can wriggle all you like, but there's nothing you can do about it.

    And a lot of people enjoy smoking. Why can you not defend it? Should people not be allowed to do things they enjoy?

  15. Mr Robinson, do you believe in fairies?
    Another anon I'm afraid.

  16. @Mr. Robinson 20.06
    Most of the sources you quote have vested interests in the anti-smoking campaign and cannot therefore be regarded as independent. I believe the British Medical Journal published a summary of medical reports on passive smoking some years ago which concluded that the risk was minimal. In any case, this is something which can safely be left to the market; if enough people don't like smoky pubs they simply won't go to them and licensees will have to act accordingly. As far as the original post is concerned, I am aware of two old guys, one ex-Royal Navy, the other ex-Merchant Navy, both served throughout WW2, one of whom had a leg shot off in the service of King & Country, whose greatest pleasure was to while away a couple of hours in the Legion Club with a couple of pints, a game or two of dominoes and, yes, a few fags. Now their pleasure is curtailed in the twilight of their years, courtesy of the health fascists. Thanks a bunch.

  17. @Curmudgeon

    Like it or not, certain groups will align, certain people will hold multiple viewpoints... But I would not class every smoker as a drinker, nor would I class every asthmatic as a teetotaler... Get my point?

    When drinking is shown to be as harmful as smoking, then I will worry. But I do not see the science now.

    I also do not oppose smoking on moral or religious grounds, which is behind some teetotaler beliefs.

    I do think that alcoholism and binge drinking, as well as related irresponsible behaviours are a shame, and a cause for concern.

    Drinking and driving kills innocents, and thus there are laws around how much alcohol is too dangerous for a driver.

    Similarly, smoking causes harm to others, and so there are laws around how much smoke can be around other people. Just because it does not leave mangled corpses strewn about on impact does not mean secondhand smoke should have to be endured by those who do not choose to smoke.

    "Have a separate bar just for smokers!" I hear so often. Yes, and only smokers can work there, or service equipment there, or respond to an emergency there... Let's create an entire second class of humans, all based on the false premise that because someone ENJOYS smoking, they should be allowed to do it completely unrestricted.

    Preposterous. If the smoking ban overreaches at all (and I don't think it does), it is because it serves a higher, worthy, defensible cause. The "harm" it causes smokers (e.g. those too old to stand outside and smoke) absolutely pales in comparison to the good that it does to everyone, smokers included!

  18. @Mousefan

    Vested interests?

    This isn't Coca-Cola defending children drinking soda by publishing their own studies, with the hope of selling more soda.

    What sinister gain does the Mayo Clinic get? Fewer tobacco-related patients, and thus less money. Oooh!

    And yes, the American Cancer Society is absolutely obsessed with stamping out Cancer! They won't rest until you have a healthy, productive life! What bastards!

    I mean, come on... do you honestly believe what you are saying?

    At any rate, single studies can and do get published in medical journals. Not because they are gospel, but because they make a point that is inserted into the ongoing debate that is science. Articles can be cheered or jeered by peers. The links I pointed to go beyond a single study, a single method, a single statistical analysis, and focus on the whole. On all health issues, not just death. On thousands of studies, not just a few. ON THE WHOLE, the reasoned viewpoint is that secondhand smoke goes beyond being just not good. It is bad.

    Please, feel free to pick and choose what you believe. There is no law against that.

    As for the two elderly gentlemen you reference... I don't know them, but generally veterans I do know fought to support democracy and freedom. Do not pervert these noble institutions by suggesting that "freedom" means I can smoke anywhere I want, walk naked down the high street, break the Queen's leg, and borrow a new Bently for free whenever I please.

    Their service to the country is laudable. However, it is the very governmental system that they fought for that passed this law, and the law was passed to further protect innocent people.

    This is not done by a bunch of fascists. Namecalling does not create reality.

  19. Mr. Robinson is an agitator.

    Probably some shill from ASH or CRUK.

    I expect him turning up at my door asking me not to smoke in the house I pay for, and forbidding me from making any comments against "his" wise proclamations on the WWW.

    My answer - fuck off and die.

  20. Mr Robinson has made it abundantly clear that he is so set in his views that there really is no point in attempting to "debate" with him.

  21. TC are already half way through the bottom of the barrel regarding indoor passive smoking. Can't wait to see the scientific evidence to justify outdoor bans - perhaps Mr Robinson can point me in the right direction?

  22. I know, PC, but it’s good to talk, as BT say. Agitator he may or may not be, but he’s clearly one who likes his ale, so in fairness to him for having at least one loveable vice, I couldn’t let this pass:

    “Let's not go all "slippery slope". Instead, let's support the positive aspects of pub life and responsible alcohol consumption!”

    Too late, Mr R! The template is made, the stage is set and all the lines have already been suitably re-worded. Did you not know that “just one drink” can give you cancer now, just as “just one cigarette” can? Have you not heard wind of Passive Drinking yet? Why, only yesterday in the Telegraph the sainted Liam Donaldson was batting on about it again, but it’s been around for a while. Now, where do you think they got that idea from? And as for that awful smell of booze on a person’s breath – well “drinkers are stinkers” is a pretty catchy put-off phrase for wannabe boozers, isn’t it? And, probably quicker than you think, you’ll have to eat those optimistic words “responsible alcohol consumption” because everybody will just know, won’t they, that there actually isn’t such a thing as “responsible alcohol drinking?” (all the above to be read with heavy sarcastic emphasis!)

    Shee-eesh! The warning signs are staring us all in the face, and they’re so, so clear that it amazes – truly, genuinely amazes – me that all those non-smoking drinkers out there can’t, to quote the words of the immortal Rolf Harris, “see what it is yet.” OK. Some little pointers for you: The physical ill-effects of direct drinking (heavily emphasised and exaggerated) will be used as the lever to “encourage” many drinkers to “voluntarily” take the pledge, but, unlike smoking, it’ll be the social costs of alcohol consumption (car accidents, domestic violence, crime and disorder, NHS costs, workplace absences, lowered productivity) which will be shoehorned in as the “passive” element which gets the public mobilised into anti-drinker mode (“Why should I pay for someone who goes out drinking and then falls over and hurts themselves?” “Why do I always have to cover for Fred because he’s got a hangover?”). Why do you think that the “social” cost of smoking in the form of littering has suddenly been headline news? Because the anti-alcohol movement are stealing the anti-smoking movement’s thunder, that’s why! So they’re trying to steal a march on these pesky new kids before they become the Coalition’s New Best Friends. (Too late, in my view. I think they’ve already been usurped).

    Not go all “slippery slope,” Mr R? We started down that the moment all those “it won’t affect me” non-smoking drinkers accepted all the reasons given for the ban and let it go through without so much as a whimper of protest. Because what were “good” reasons for the smoking ban can hardly now be argued as not “good” reasons for severe drinking restrictions, can they? Because that would be hypocritical, wouldn't it? And hypocrisy is never a particularly strong standpoint to argue from.

    Best of luck with your struggle to halt the slide at the point we’re all at now, but just remember, when you’re on a slippery slope you can’t stop part-way down – you have to keep going to the bottom, or you have to fight all the way back to the top. Which means, of course, you come right back to (oh dear!) the smoking ban …

    Dilemma? You got it. Just don’t say you weren’t warned.

  23. "When drinking is shown to be as harmful as smoking, then I will worry."

    Start worrying, sunshine. ;)

  24. Apologies to you Mr. Robinson. My previous question lacked precision. Could you provide some credible scientific reams? You are not doing terribly well so far but perhaps I asked the wrong question?

  25. Ahh... so much to do....

    @Ivan D

    Did you not follow the links I posted? Most of them have links to other resources, which in turn link to hundreds of peer reviewed pieces. And I must disagree with you that an authority such as The Mayo Clinic or The Cleveland clinic are suspect. If you distrust them, I fear you may beat risk for making other poor health choices...

    It is not my job to do your research for you. Simply saying "Nuh 'uh!" is not a valid retort. Please work your way through this list, as a starter -- there are hundreds more linked there for you -- and let me know what issues you have with their method and analysis.

    @Dick Puddlecote
    Yes, there are a lot of people with opinions out there. But let's remember: one of anything is not proof. I've seen people in this very comment chain guilty of what you might fear the teetotalers are doing: hold up one piece as a rallying cry.

    As I argue with Ivan D, I try to list respected resources, with tonnes of trust built up, citing multiple, peer reviewed articles.

    We all know newspapers will print darn hear anything. Please don't be among the masses who just accept what they hear as the current soundbite. All I am asking for is that people read what is out there and really think about it.


    If I may get personal for a moment... you seem to give up and say "So and so is not worth arguing with." But I notice you do this as a sort of retreat. Having to respond to facts and such can be tiresome, I know, but it doesn't mean the argument is over. I applaud you though for not resorting to ad-hominem attacks or blatant nut-jobbery like some in this comment stream. Like I said before, let's focus on our common ground, and positive actions!

    @Just about everyone else

    Yes. You are quite clever. You have seen me for who I really am:

    A miserable old bastard who won't rest until I've taken away your cigarettes (they're bad for you!), your lovely wife (you've got ED from smoking anyway, so...), your car (you'll just mark up the leather with cigarette burns!), and finally, your cat (I will eat him for breakfast to fuel my mad rage.)

    You can't stop me. Soon my fascist brothers and I will pass a law banning blogs like this one! Mwah hah hah hah haaaa *cough* *cough* *cough* Damn smoker! Go stand somewhere else!

    I'll get my coat...

  26. "Yes, that is heartbreaking. Since he is 70, we can safely assume that perhaps he began smoking before all of the health dangers were widely known. And so, he chooses to sit alone and be miserable because this oft-defended product has such a hold over him." - Mr. Robinson.
    Mr. Robinson, I was shown images of diseased organs at school that were attributed to smoking and drinking and I could not wait to grow up enough to go to pubs to try it all out. And I don't
    intend on letting future generations miss out on all the fun I have enjoyed. If you want to know what choice is , why not make a rule that you only neck your beer outside of a pub and see how long you last or why not ask your fellow drinkers to kneck their beer out side of pubs
    and see how long they remain your friend.

  27. "If I may get personal for a moment... you seem to give up and say "So and so is not worth arguing with." "

    As you clearly regard smoking as an unmitigated evil and not something people can legitimately gain pleasure from doing, it is clear that any "debate" is likely to be fruitless.

    "I applaud you though for not resorting to ad-hominem attacks or blatant nut-jobbery like some in this comment stream."

    It seems you can patronise for England, as well.

    "I'll get my coat..."

    We can live in hope.

  28. Moves are afoot to try to ban smoking in outdoor public spaces. Where's the long list of links to statistically proven studies that support this agenda?

    I wasn't trying to be clever Mr R, I simply asked for ANY scientific evidence. Perhaps you would agree that such moves are totally unjustifiable? It just that organisations such as ASH appear to encourage such actions, based on moral judgement alone.

  29. Mr Robinson makes some interesting points. I've followed the links supplied and I have a question.

    This is a quote from one of the links - "passive smoking increases the risk of lung cancer by 20 - 30%" in non smokers seems to be an accepted 'fact' - but what is the ACTUAL risk of a non-smoker getting lung cancer? (this is important; for example if the risk is 1 in 1 million the increased risk becomes 1.25 in 1 million which would mean an extra 18 deaths per year in the UK!)

    When the causal link between smoking and lung cancer was first discovered the increased risk was 17 times - that's 1700% - this is a statistically significant number, 20 - 30% is not!

    I have a link of my own to a study covering over 100,000 people in California. The conclusion was "The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality, although they do not rule out a small effect. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed."

    Finally, I do not smoke and never have. I believe that pubs should have the choice whether they allow smoking or not.

  30. Thank you, Mr R, for resolving a dilemma which I’ve found myself in over the last few years, with the burgeoning anti-alcohol movement looming on the horizon.

    I myself am a very, very rare drinker. I’m probably about as near as being teetotal as you get without actually being teetotal. A glass or two of champagne at a wedding or half a can of beer shared in the park with a friend on a sunny day are about my limit. I like alcohol very much, but it doesn’t really like me, so over time I’ve given up trying to keep up with everyone who can drink normally and accepted the fact that my physiological tolerance is ridiculously low. I don’t practise “responsible drinking” – I practise “positively frugal drinking!” Sad, but true. However, it does mean that alcohol simply doesn’t play a greatly important part in my daily life. They could bring in total alcohol prohibition tomorrow and from a personal perspective I wouldn’t bat an eyelid. There’s the principle, of course, but that’s a different thing.

    However, as a smoker, having experienced life as a target of the whole anti-smoking lobby, I recognise that when the anti-alcohol crunch comes (as it inevitably will) it’ll be people like me whose voices will carry the most influence in protesting against alcohol restrictions, because I can’t be immediately brushed aside as a “wicked drinker,” who “would say that” or as a mouthpiece for the evil brewery industry.

    It was the lack of vocal non-smokers’ support which enabled the ban to be brought in so easily, and it’s the ongoing lack of active non-smokers’ support which keeps the anti-smoking lobby pushing for ever-further restrictions. So, what to do? The temptation to stand on the sidelines smugly, refusing to assist the new victims of the same bullies – those people who resolutely refused to lend a hand when I was a target – is huge. On the other hand, wouldn’t it be nice to spoil the bullies’ game, now, when they think that smokers are a “done deal,” just when they were least expecting it, as they move onto their next target?

    Decisions! Decisions! How nice it is, as a smoker, for once to have a choice! And how kind of Mr R to illustrate to me the kind of people I’ll be helping by voicing my non-drinker objections to restrictions on alcohol consumption. Decision made.

    Of course, if there prove to be lots of non-smoking drinkers who are prepared to show that they aren’t all like Mr R, I might just change my mind, but as things stand at the moment the showing (with the exception of PQ above - thank you!) is not good ...

  31. @ Curmudgeon
    "We can live in hope."
    Can't let you off that easily! :)

    In arguing against outdoor smoking, obviously we are not breathing "captive" air, so the health effects will be somewhat mitigated. Therefore, I turn to a stance of public politeness. When in public, civilized societies generally dislike loud oafs, blaring music, excrement on the sidewalk, etc. These things don't cause cancer, but we still ask people to wear headphones, clean up after their dog, etc. So, not matter how hard non-smokers try, I still wind up breathing their smoke as I walk by outside. The wind carries it. There is nothing they can do. I get disturbed. So, what is more important? Their addiction? Or me being able to walk in public without sneezing, itching my eyes, and blowing my nose?

    Facts and figures are sparser in this area, but here is one place to start when considering the toll of smoking outdoors:
    It's sad to see that so many smokers continue their disregard for others by just tossing their buts on the ground. Anecdotal, but it is rare that I see a smoker actually use a public ashtray when available, or carry their but to the trash when not. What gives? Why does smoker so often equal litterer? Just a pet peeve of mine...

    @Pete's Quiz
    Yes, I am aware of that article. Please remember, that it is one article. Their study covered very specific factors, not the broader health issues that I have championed.

    Also, if you keep digging, you will find healthy debate as to the appropriateness of the study author's statistical analysis, as well as concerns about an author's past as a sham researcher shilling for the tobacco lobby... I'd probably call this one study a toss-up. So we have one study in the smoker's corner, and how many against? :)

    Just on a funny one-off note, I browsed a pro-smoker's website, and his list of "proof" that smoking causes little harm includes several US Surgeons General reports from the early 1960s. Yes, nearly 50 year old medical knowledge being proudly displayed as proof. Bizarre, no?

    Anyway, back on track.

    @Anonymous 10 August 2011 13:28
    If you have thoroughly researched the issue, and you have come to a conclusion that you are confident in, then I fully endorse your right to go out and make your voice heard! Play fair, don't lie, and may the better side win! :)

  32. All of Robinson's posted SHS harm studies refer to an 'association' between SHS and the diseases mentioned.

    An 'association' is NOT proof of 'causation' and never can be proof.

    Gary K.

  33. Pete's Quiz, the chance of a non smoker getting lung cancer is reckoned to about 1/200. Therefore a relative risk of 1.2 equates to an extra probability of 1/1000. This is for 20 years exposure at 4 hours a day. Even if this claim were true, the extra probability from spending a few minutes a week collecting glasses in a ventilated smoking room would be negligible.

  34. I'm not sure about Anon's figures above. If a non smoker has a 1 in 200 chance of getting lung cancer would mean that about 300,000 non smokers will get lung cancer (assuming a population of 60 million)! I genuinely don't know what the risks are, but this doesn't seem to be right to me.

    This is why I originally raised the point...we need accurate figures of the risk WITHOUT smoke to fully understand the real risks of passive smoking.

  35. If you assume that people live for an average of 75 years, it's about 4,000 cases a year, which seems credible enough to me.

    But if something is suspected of causing an 20% increase in a negligible risk then it's not really something I'm particularly bothered about.

  36. Govt data(USA) tells us that there are 136 million adult neversmokers and they account for 28,260 lung cancer deaths per year.

    That is an incidence rate of 2/10,000 and a 25% increased risk is 0.5/10,000 or 1/20,000.

    Note, those 20,000 SHS exposed neversmokers would have 4 lung cancer deaths anyway and the SHS 'caused' death is only 1 out of 5.

    Sooo; if a SHS exposed neversmokers dies from lung cancer, the odds are 4-1 against SHS being the cause.

    Gary K.

  37. Govt data(USA) says there are those 28,260 neversmoker lung cancer deaths and that there are about 3,000 of them 'caused' by SHS exposure.

    Sooooo; if there were NO SHS exposure, at least 90% of the neversmoker lung cancer deaths would still occur!!!! :)

    Gary K.

  38. Excellent work Gary K! That's good research. Assuming the UK's population is a fifth of the USA's then that would equate to about 600 deaths per year from lung cancer in passive smokers! Still more than I would've expected, but not unreasonable!

    It's just a shame that these types of figures never came out some years ago...or maybe they did but were they shouted down/drowned out by the vested interests of the anti-smoking lobby?

  39. Mr Robinson @14.58

    'When in public, civilized societies generally dislike loud oafs, blaring music, excrement on the sidewalk, etc. These things don't cause cancer'.

    And outdoor ETS does?

    Keep digging....

  40. I missed Mr Robinson's response earlier and it would be easy to continue to quote papers and experimental results at one another, but as with many of these debates (see also Global Warming - don't get me started on that!!) this type of approach generates more heat than light. There are vested interests on BOTH sides and in this case the anti smoking lobby shouted loudest.

    I suppose my main problem with the smoking ban is this. Why does a government insist on educating the whole population, giving us all the tools and information to make informed decisions, and then dictate to us how we must live our lives?

    In Victorian times (and later) when the general population was not educated there was a need for this type of legislation to 'protect the people'. Nowadays there should be a different choice whereby a government introduces legislation that gives individuals/businesses the tools to implement a ban as they see fit.

    If the smoking ban was lifted tomorrow, I reckon that about 90% of pubs would keep it and the rest would either operate a room-by-room system or lift the ban completely. Everyone would then have a choice!

  41. "However, even you must admit that the detrimental effects of secondhand smoke are real. Luckily we all have reams of solid scientific evidence to tell us just exactly how dangerous,"

    The vast majority of those 'reams' are about children and parental smoking. As such, they have no bearing on adults and the social gatherings that are discussed here.

    Folks, antis do love to toss around a lot of big numbers that are completely not relevent.

    For every 5 studies there are probably 10 studies that torture the data of those 5 to get the desired results.

    Gary K.

  42. This is anon of 17.52. My figure of 1/200 or 0.5% is a common estimate and is consistent with the anti tobacco industry's claim of 600 lc deaths from passive smoking each year assuming a relative risk of 1.2. Curm is correct. I remember 3,600 given for non smoking lc deaths. I have also come across the figure of 0.75%. All of these figures are rough estimates as exposure to passive smoking has fallen with smoking prevalence and in any case, is very difficult to quantify. Keep in mind that exposure to 4 hours a day for 20 years of passive smoking is claimed by the anti tobacco industry to increase your chance of getting lc during your life time by something of the order of 1/1000. For several reasons, I don't agree with it, but there is not much point in arguing. Employees in the hospitality industry collecting glasses for a few minutes a day in a room with an extraction system would be exposed, at their own choosing, to a minuscule amount of smoke. Note also that the median age for being diagnosed with lc is 71.
    Gary K gives the yearly chance of getting lc, not the lifetime chance. Curm corrected PQ's error by diding by 75.

  43. Robbo's last comment basically boils down to "I don't like it, therefore I want it banned" - which, deep down, is the psychological root of the entire antismoker case.

  44. Stonewall, stonewall, stonewall...

    I feel like a Darwinist trolling a Creationism website!

    If you tell someone that lightning is dangerous, they will point out Roy Sullivan and say it really is not.

    If you suggest falling from an airplane might endanger your health, they will cite Alan Magee and Nicholas Alkenmade and scoff at your burdensome over protection.

    Try to argue that smoking costs UK society £13.74 billion a year (just a number I pulled quickly, not vouching for it), and they say that Choice is paramount and smoking makes people happy, which is priceless. And think of the poor pubs that were forced to close! All these really high quality pubs that offered their customers exactly what they wanted, and the customers were sooo willing to patronize them, except that smoking ban has made their life absolutely unbearable! Sheesh...

    I'm under no delusion that I will change many minds here. Humans are blindingly stubborn, and I suppose I fall into that category too most times.

    But really, this little pity party that you have going here is just too much to resist jumping in!

    And the lengths you lot go to! Wow! Gary K. posts some unsourced (What USA gov data, Gary?) pro-smoking numbers, and people cheer and congratulate him without question? Really?

    And did Pete's Quiz honestly say "that would equate to about 600 deaths per year from lung cancer in passive smokers! Still more than I would've expected, but not unreasonable!" I'm not vouching for the numbers at all, but the mere fact that he consigned 600 people to death for what amounts to a hobby for someone else is, well, a little scary.

    Pete: I hope that I am just missing the sarcasm that laced that comment?

    What is the psychological root for your denial, and your insistence on banging on about the harm the smoking ban causes?

    I am just thinking that your "Pubs closed since 1 July 2007" counter on the front page reflects a MUCH more casual statistical association than the anti-smoking figures you gleefully vilify.

  45. Mr Robinson - I did indeed say that, sadly, without irony. What I meant to say was that it wasn't an unreasonable figure - on the basis that we were discussing statistics. My fault for not making myself clear. To take your point further I don't take any of this lightly, but unless we actually see the deaths, then for any of us indulging in the luxury of debating this subject, they are just numbers.

    Funny...I thought I was the Darwinist!!

    One final thought, to put the 600 deaths per year in context. In 2007, 646 people died from "Passive Driving" or pedestrians as they are more commonly known. Here's the link to the Office of National Statistics -

    Many people view driving a car as being a dangerous hobby that isn't really necessary, but no-one has seriously tried to get it banned yet!

    I don't think that anyone here actually believes that smoking is good for you. I even think that they will admit that passive smoking can cause some harm. Some will probably admit that the smoking ban isn't the only factor in the closing down of pubs. BUT, what I think we all agree on (on this side of the argument) is that no-one was given a choice! There has to be a middle ground that is more reasonable for all!

    We would meet you half way, Mr Robinson; would you compromise?

  46. Mr Robinson,
    Shift work is a higher risk factor for heart disease than passive smoking.
    So I really think pubs and restaurants should only work under normal working hours. If they are closed
    during the evening and at weekends then this will save lives even more lives. I really don't we should consign even more people to death for what amounts to a hobby for someone else and it is, well, a little scary.

  47. @ Mr Robinson.

    Sorry to get to the debate late but sorry for the hyperbole but in my opinion it is one of the biggest scientific frauds of the 20th century is the 'harm' of SHS to restrict smoking.

    Dr. Jerome Arnett a pulmonolgist wrote this in 2008

    “Millions of dollars have been spent promoting belief in SHS as a killer, and more millions of dollars have been spent by businesses in order to comply with thousands of highly restrictive bans, while personal choice and freedom have been denied to millions of smokers. Finally, and perhaps most tragically, all this has diverted resources away from discovering the true cause(s) of lung cancer in nonsmokers.”

  48. @Mr Robinson I have created 2 special posts for you.

  49. Mr Robinson: Thanks for the laugh. Quoting Policy Exchange's quite absurd nonsense shows that you're reaching somewhat in your argument. If that is your level of 'proof', it's quite hilarious that you're castigating others for not providing any.

    I'd give up, if I were you. It's not just me who laughed themselves silly at the £13bn figure. So did the Telegraph, The Spectator and even the Guardian.


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