Sunday, 29 September 2013

Still not going away

For three successive years I have run a poll asking the same question about people’s view of the smoking ban in pubs and bars. Last year’s results are here, and the latest are shown at the right, with the three-year summary below.

As you can see, there has been a decline from 80% to 74% in the overall proportion supporting some relaxation of the current law, but also a decline in those advocating more extreme measures which would surely be extremely damaging to pubs.

And the fact that nearly three-quarters of respondents do support some degree of relaxation underlines the fact that this issue is not going away any day soon. The smoking ban has ripped the guts out of the British pub trade and created an abiding legacy of bitterness amongst pubgoers, smokers and non-smokers alike. Those supporting complete deregulation remain the biggest single group by some margin.

And it certainly gives the lie to the risible claim from one commenter on here that there has been “a huge groundswell of support for the smoking ban”, something he signally failed to back up with any facts. Indeed, until recently, the annual British Social Attitudes Survey had never shown majority support for the current blanket ban. I’m not sure whether the question is still asked.

If the antismokers are so confident of overwhelming support, why aren’t they willing to allow smoking and non-smoking pubs and let the market decide?


  1. "If the antismokers are so confident of overwhelming support, why aren’t they willing to allow smoking and non-smoking pubs and let the market decide?"

    I'm a non-smoker rather than an anti-smoker, but the answer to your question is obvious: it's not in the gift of anti-smokers to allow that option. It's the law, which is in the hands of MPs. They're the ones you have to convince, not us readers of blogs. I find your poll interesting, but as self-selecting polls are not statistically valid, you shouldn't read so much into it.

    As for the market question that you raise, it didn't "decide" before the ban, so there's no evidence that it would in future, should the law be changed. The reason is quite simple: most groups of drinkers that I have been part of have consisted of smokers and non-smokers. On the rare occasion there was a choice of smoking and non-smoking rooms, the non-smokers have always joined the smokers in the smoking areas rather than split up the group. For example: pre-ban, a group I often drank with consisted of about 10 people, including 2 smokers; we didn't use the smoke-free room in our local when the smokers were with us, and if they rolled up late, we'd move to a smoking area for their benefit. So we had eight non-smokers using the smoking area, not through preference ("the market"), but to accommodate their friends. The market was thus artificially skewed in favour of the smokers. That's exactly what would happen again.

  2. Many pubs, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, retail areas of any kind, public spaces, local government buildings, and company offices generally were all going smoke free years before the ban came in, because of the relentless hectoring by anti-smoking activists.
    So why on earth would you need legislation of any kind?

    This spiteful and vindictive ban has only achieved two things.

    1. Its’ created a group of people that can now be legally hated.
    2. Its’ driven a poisonous wedge between decent and honourable people – something that never existed in society before.

    Yep – what a great success eh?

  3. @RedNev: You're absolutely right, this is precisely what used to happen. Did it cause any problems?

  4. I think a poll on a blog dedicated to the smoking ban is entirely representative of society and the prevailing attitudes within. One difference with previous year result is that this one is harder to skew.

    I only managed to vote that smoking be banned everywhere 4 times, this year, making up less of the vote than previous years. So actually that number has in reality of distinct people voting for it increased.

    I recommend the tor browser for hiding your IP address if you want to fiddle Mudgies polls. Back in the day all you had to do was remove a cookie, but Mudgie likes to play silly buggars.

  5. We live in a world where smoking tobacco is the root of all evil, nd yet......

    Durham chief constable Mike Barton has called for class A drugs such as heroin and cocaine to be legalised.

  6. Ha. I think Cookie has it nailed.

    You say the same thing every year: "the issue is not going away." When, of course, it has gone away-except in your political circle. Given the John Bull libertarian fringe who seem to make up the majority of your readership, the poll results are anything but surprising. You could (and probably will) ask the same question in 30 years and get similar results. While in the real world, I can't recall the last time it was a topic of conversation. I'm sure if I conducted a poll the results would be quite different.

    As for "letting the market decide", if it was anyone else, I'd think it was a clever quip. But I know you actually mean it!

  7. Its interesting that even given the likely political makeup of the readers of this website, there has never been majority support for overturning the ban, and the minority that do support that has dropped dramatically this year. I can't even begin to imagine what the figures must be like amongst the normal population.

    I voted for separate smoking rooms, but I think that would be heavily conditional on things like ventilation systems.

  8. Divna mock Mudgies polls, Tyson.

    Next weeks poll on the repeal of the corn laws is still a real live issue !

  9. "Let the market decide"

    Evidently, one or two on here don't think it can! So, their answer is to decide for them as long as it's what they want.

    The plain fact is that when it was open 'the market' didn't, generally, want to know. No amount of obscure excuses, fairy stories or mathematical and philosophical romancing can alter that fact. Since the ban, how many have closed? How sharp was the increase - within weeks of it's imposition? And I know that gremlins and aliens invaded and green cheese light skewed the reasons for it creating such things as Tie, Tax and Supermarket pricing, you know, the things that had never been there before.

    The contortions that pro banners go through in attempts to justify the ban are laughable. They don't seem to realise that they come across as smug adolescents.

  10. Of course, this isn't surprising, given that:

    "While just under half (46 per cent) support a ban on smoking in pubs and bars altogether, a similar proportion (41 per cent) prefer limiting smoking to certain areas of pubs and bars."

    Or, to put it another way, a whopping 87% of people quite sensibly don't want to go back to the bad old days.

    The people have spoken, the ban is here to stay.

  11. No, the poll showed that 54% DID NOT support the blanket ban, so for anyone to claim that it enjoys overwhelming public support is bollocks.

    And you are setting up a false opposition by suggesting that it is a straight choice between the pre-2007 position and the blanket ban, whereas in reality there were other things that could have been done that would not have had such a devastating impact on the pub trade. In any case, before 2007 there was seldom any problem in finding a non-smoking section in a pub if that was what you wanted.

    Maybe in the immediate future the ban is here to stay. The pubs will stay closed, and hatred and intolerance will continue to prevail.

  12. I voted for the smoking room option (which I think was the official CAMRA position, too). However I do not think there is the remotest chance of the ban ever being repealed, or even modified. This, while polls such as this have an academic interest that is as far as they go.

    For better or for worse I think the ban is here to stay and I think people need to reconcile themselves to that and try to move on.

  13. Now now, no-one hates anyone.

    I certainly would never hate anyone enough to breathe disgusting carcinogenic smoke into their face in an enclosed space. Now THAT is hatred and intolerance.

  14. That last comment rather neatly illustrates my point, pyo.

  15. pyo going on about dodgy fumes ?
    If he has a car (non electric) I assume he is under the illusion
    his exhaust pipe pumps out laughing gas.Same old story,non smokers and anti smokers,pontifiating,holier than thou,they dont do it, stop everyone else.
    Next year sees the centenary of the beginning of the Great War in which a million young Britons gave their lives for liberty,freedom and choice,for us ,their chidren and grandchildren. What a waste,
    what an insult to their memory, when we see so many parish pump lttle Hitlers dismantling their legacy

    De Profundis

  16. pyo,
    As has been pointed out to you before alcohol is a listed class A carcinogen. Beer contains other carcinogens as well as alcohol. A teetotaller would equally be correct in pointing out that drinkers spread breathable carcinogens into pubs because clearly they do.

    As many pubs have closed in the first five years of the smoking ban as did in the twenty five years before the ban.IMHO, that is a lot of carnage just for the sake of filling pubs with the right sort of carcinogen. Although there will be less exposure to that carcinogen due to there being 12,000 less pubs and a lot less drinkers blowing alcohol fumes in the faces of teetotallers.

  17. I hear if you put a tinfoil hat on Fredrik, it keeps away the breathable carcinogens from deadly air born fosters? Could you recommend this method?

    Next time you're in the pub, I'll reverse my car in and leave the engine running and see how you enjoy that.

  18. pyo,
    Fosters does indeed contain carcinogens the main one being alcohol. These carcinogens do indeed become airborne , police breathalyzers harness this to detect alcohol in the blood stream. If someone did stick the exhaust of their car in a pub, in protest at the carcinogen spreading actions of drinkers, then they would probably need to be breathalysed.

  19. Yes, but as even the merest smidgen of scientific investigation would tell you, they become airborne in such negligibly tiny quantities as to be completely biologically inert.

    So for now and forever, I suggest you abandon and wholeheartedly disown that line of argument because it is entirely fallacious.

  20. pyo,
    I agree but thats not what you said.
    You said
    "I certainly would never hate anyone enough to breathe disgusting carcinogenic smoke into their face in an enclosed space."
    A teetotaller could equally say
    "I certainly would never hate anyone enough to breathe disgusting carcinogenic beer breath into their face in an enclosed space."

    They are entirely analogous.

    Imagine how much more irritating it would be if said teetollers banned drinking in every single pub and restaurant in the country despite the fact that there was never any law against pubs and restaurants going booze free. And having to watch while pubs close in their thousands and teetotallers claiming that it is the fault of drinkers that the pubs are closing and not because of the ban on drinking in pubs.

    That is much more irritating than coping a face full of carcinogen packed booze breath or tobacco smoke.

  21. That is quite clearly an utterly absurd argument and I'm certain you must know it.

    Cigarette smoke is thick, noxious, acrid, and demonstrably physically harmful to inhale.

    In contrast, "carcinogenic beer breath" is just something you made up. Air born alcohol of the quantity you might find in a busy pub is entirely inert, completely harmless, and unless you invade the personal space of your nearest neighbour, completely unnoticeable.

    There is no analogy here. If you want to make an analogy, go back to comparing cigarette smoke to car exhaust fumes, that's a fair comparison.

  22. pyo,
    Do you accept that
    A. Alcohol is a listed carcinogen
    B. Alcohol is exhaled in the breath of drinkers?
    Because if you accept that both are true then you must accept that a teetotaller could say "I certainly would never hate anyone enough to breathe disgusting carcinogenic beer breath into their face in an enclosed space."

    Whether the teetotaller perceives that this would put them at any risk is also another matter. After all it could just be an excuse for the teetotaller to have a pop at his pet hate - people enjoying a drink in an enclosed place?!?

  23. Yes, I accept both, and as such if any teetotaller wished to be protected by the state from being forced to drink his soft drink in an environment so enclosed that he was forced into such proximity with a drinker that the air born alcohol fumes from his breath became both clearly detectable and potentially physically harmful, I would entirely support that claim.

    Of course, the distinct lack of pubs that force their clientele to squeeze cheek to cheek into multiple occupancy coffins renders this rather a moot point.

  24. "Cigarette smoke is thick, noxious, acrid, and demonstrably physically harmful to inhale."

    To the smoker, maybe, but there has never been any scientific study that has established to accepted confidence levels that environmental tobacco smoke (which is at a much lower concentration than that inhaled by the smoker) is actually harmful to health.

    Yes, some people find it unpleasant, so pubs should be allowed to set aside non-smoking rooms to cater for these people.

  25. What confidence levels would you find acceptable Mudgie? The 95% level is generally the benchmark for a "high degree of confidence" in routine hypothesis testing.

  26. Bill: I'm glad you agree that my description of mixed groups of smokers and non-smokers in the old days was accurate, which means you must agree with my point that the market was thereby skewed in favour of smokers (otherwise I couldn't be, to quote you, "absolutely right"). That is the problem when Curmudgeon faux innocently insists that the market can decide. It's obvious what a skewed market will decide. I welcome your support for that point, Bill.

  27. Plenty of articles out there expressing a sceptical point of view - you could start here, for example.

    And look into the case of Enstrom and Kabat, who ended up being ostracised by the academic community for carrying out a study that produced inconvenient results.

    No doubt there are also tendentious articles on the NHS website about the evils of drink...

  28. @RedNev - but surely exactly the same would apply so long as there was any indoor provision for smokers, which AIUI you have in the past been prepared to accept. All the smokers would go in the smoking room, and the non-smokers would have to go in there too if they wanted to socialise with them.

    If you didn't want to expose yourself to any ETS you could stay in the non-smoking section along with the old beardy guy sitting at the bar saying "The Pride's drinking well tonight", but you would have to do without the company of any smokers.

  29. I think the smoking ban's great. It's closed down loads of crappy pubs used by scummy people and I no longer have to incinerate all my clothes after every visit to the pub.

  30. "Cigarette smoke is thick, noxious, acrid, and demonstrably physically harmful to inhale."

    Some may not like it for any of several personal reasons but it certainly hasn't been proved harmful to the Health and Safety executive nor any Court case where they've tried their hand. That's why these antis have to lobby Govt. They cannot succeed in Court claims even on balance of probabilities. If they ever had, the 'market' would have banned it overnight! You wouldn't have needed legislation.

  31. If they were so confident that no scientific link could be proven, how come US tobacco firms have paid 206 billion dollars in remunerations over 25 years?

    The physical effects of second hand smoke are a matter of overwhelming scientific consensus.

    Quit with the pathetic conspiracy theories, they are so flimsy an 8 year old could see through them. You'll be denying climate change next.

  32. Ah yes, man-made global warming, another piece of junk science for which there is no conclusive proof.

  33. oh come on mudgie, which conspiracy theory website did you read that on?

    Anthropogenic climate change is accepted at the 95% certainty level.

  34. Referring to the Master Settlement which was related to 'addiction' and which didn't even go into Court for a judicial decision. In this Country, McTear tried that and lost hands down, even with Doll as a witness. The companies agreed an out of Court settlement which was paid for by an increase of 50 cents on the price of fags. Some loss to the companies. Unfortunately, the States have now used all that money and, again, have their begging bowls out. They keep trying but, as yet, have got nowhere. No decision has been positive for the antis in this country and they've tried several times.

    "Overwhelming evidence"? Well, not according to the Health and Safety executive and the Courts. In any event, it's only surveys which according to Oxford statisticians show only 13% with a negative effect, all of which have only values between 0.1 and 1.5, which, statistically, means sod all, and that with a CI they decide themselves even with such a large range.

    Suggest you check your facts, Mr. Pyo. If you think that a ban was for the protection of workers, etc. then you're up with the fairies. It's an excuse to ostracise smokers (want a fag, then get outside) which is why it will be difficult to amend and the reason the likes of Enstrom & Kabatt, Bofetta, etc. are closed out as they are not prepared to 'play the game' by lies and exaggerations. They stick to science, (if you can call statistics science) not politics and big pharma sweeteners.

  35. pyo said...In contrast, "carcinogenic beer breath" is just something you made up. Air born alcohol of the quantity you might find in a busy pub is entirely inert, completely harmless, and unless you invade the personal space of your nearest neighbour, completely unnoticeable.

    Inert? Citation please.

    You really are in difficulty if you travel on this road. Alcohol is not the only issue with exhalation after drinking. For example, there is also the problem of acetaldehyde (A Group I human carcinogen and harmful to DNA). "Breath acetaldehyde has been used to investigate the production of acetaldehyde after ethanol ingestion (IARC Monograph 71)

    It seems there is 'no safe level' when it comes to carcinogens. Alcoholic beverages are carcinogenic and so far (AFAIK, please cite evidence to correct me) no safe level has been established for the exhalations in 'beer breath'. Look at what is being said about exhalations from e-cigs.

    FYI, for someone who does not drink, the smells associated with the drinking of alcohol are not 'unnoticeable'. If you look back you will see similar comments made about ETS.

    Having said that, a better way forward is 'live and let live'. In terms of the smoking ban, choice for one group (non-smokers) is denial of choice for another (People who smoke). Denying choice by force of law is, and has been, a divisive way to go.

  36. He didn't need to mention hitler Cookie, the phrase "no safe level" in any scientific debate carries its own version of Godwins law. Of course, as any scientifically literate person will tell you, there is no proven safe level of almost anything you care to name.

  37. pyo said...
    He didn't need to mention hitler Cookie, the phrase "no safe level" in any scientific debate carries its own version of Godwins law.

    I am unclear who 'He' refers to. It seems it refers to someone who had previously made a contribution, yet, I believe, I am the only one to have written the phrase. It was written ironically.

    My comment was not part of a 'scientific debate'. It was to highlight how the consequences of similar arguments to those used against 'Beer breath', have been used in other areas (e-cigs, ETS, non-smokers).

    It would indeed be ironic if, in the context of alcohol, such argument had similar consequences for those who drink and support the smoking ban. I have no wish to see this happen, although parallels can already be drawn.

    pyo also said...Of course, as any scientifically literate person will tell you, there is no proven safe level of almost anything you care to name.

    Of course :)

  38. Ah, Godwins Law. An excuse to try and close any debate that is being lost by the accuser. Just like trying to end an immigration debate by shouting Racist.

    It's crap

  39. "Just like trying to end an immigration debate by shouting Racist."

    Or indeed trying to close down a climate debate by shouting "Denier" or "Big Oil shill".

  40. "there is no proven safe level of almost anything you care to name." - pyo.
    If you drink too much water you die.
    If you drink no water you die.
    In between the two there is no proven safe level?

    Same for oxygen?

    No proven safe level for oxygen?

    But I suppose it does depend on what you mean by safe. The reported risk of heart disease from passive smoking is much less than the reported risk from working shifts.

    I would guess that most people would describe shift work as safe but how many people would describe passsive smoking as safe (despite the fact that it is clearly 'safer' than shift working)?

    How many people support a blanket ban on smoking in work places vs a blanket ban on working unsocial hours?

    How many people would support a blanket ban on working unsocial hours in pubs and restaurants?

    Not very many, so why do so many people support a blanket ban on smoking which is far safer or put it another way even less risky than shift working?

  41. The painfully obvious difference is that shift work isn't something that affects someone else just because they are in the same room as you.

    You want to work shifts, that's up to you.

    You want to smoke, that's also up to you.

    But you want to smoke over other people so they are negatively affected as well? That's no longer simply up to you. That's now everyone's business.

    Its like, if I want to swing my cricket bat in my garden thats fine, but if I start swinging it in a crowded pub, suddenly that's not fine. Do you see the crucial difference? The imposition of your actions upon the freedom's of other people is a crucial underpinning of the libertarian philosophy.

  42. pyo,
    The anti-smoking lobby make the valid point that if people did not
    go to places where smoking is permitted and smoke then staff would not be put at 'risk' and therefore a blanket smoking ban would not be 'needed'. Precisely the same argument can be by public health made about working unsocial hours, if people did not go to places that are open in the evenings and weekends then staff would not be put at 'risk' and therefore a blanket shift work ban would not be 'needed'.

    Why is it ok for me to demand that staff put them selves at risk just so I can go out when ever I want to?

    Surly, staff could say "Fredrik, your right to go out when ever you want to ends when my day shift ends".
    "If customers want to stay up late then that is up to them but they can socialise in the privacy of their own homes."
    "My right to life trumps your right to a social life."

    This way if any one wants to put their health at risk by staying up late then they can do it in the privacy of their own home where no staff are affected.

  43. For those who think the ban is never going to be relaxed, it's happening in Bulgaria.

  44. It's also happened in Holland and several States in the US. Importantly, more areas are no longer voting for bans. The rest of Europe hasn't a ban anywhere near as severe as ours in UK and Ireland. (and some pretty good beer, too!) The more the zealots are carried away, the more the paucity of their basic facts becomes illustrated.

    Only in an authoritarian utopia is something is carved in stone.


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