The BBC's article begins with some outrageous whoppers from Amanda Sandford of the state-funded 'charity' ASH:
"When it started people wondered why we'd waited so long to do it."
I don't remember anyone saying that, but then I didn't work at ASH headquarters at the time.
"Non-smokers always found it unpleasant breathing in other people's smoke."
Some do, some don't. In my experience, most don't care.
"It is one of the most important public health acts in the last century."
A ridiculous statement that reveals an appalling ignorance of medical science and health legislation since 1912. The smoking ban did not lead to a fall in the smoking rate, nor did it help reduce any of the maladies that are claimed to be linked to secondhand smoke. It was always a question of preference rather than health, combined with a failed attempt to coerce smokers into quitting. At best, it pleased some of those nonsmokers who don't like the smell of tobacco smoke, but it has displeased many nonsmokers—such as the Pub Curmudgeon—who lament the closure of thousands of boozers.
The ban was popular with British adults when it was implemented - and a recent poll of more than 12,000 people found that 78% of adults still support it.
Fine. Let's have a smoking ban in 78% of pubs then. Landlords would kill for a smoking license.
We then move onto Linda Bauld of the state-funded Tobacco Control Research Group who wangled the job of assessing the smoking ban for the Department of Health despite having no relevant qualifications in the fields of health, economics or statistics (she is a professor of socio-management, whatever that is).
Prof Bauld's report concluded: "The law has had a significant impact."
"Results show benefits for health, changes in attitudes and behaviour and no clear adverse impact on the hospitality industry."
No clear adverse impact on the hospitality industry. Truly, these people have no shame.
The BBC then parrots the usual tripe about heart attack miracles (discussed in the previous post). All ancient history, but there is one new piece of sophistry added into the mix. The article concedes that "there is no evidence as yet that smokers have given up smoking in huge numbers because of the legislation", but...
While overall levels of smoking among adults in Great Britain remained constant at 21% between 2007 and 2009, the north east of England saw a different trend.
There, the smokefree ban proved to be a trigger for some adults to quit with the largest drop in smoking in England - from 29% in 2005 to 27% in 2007 and down to 21% by 2011.
What's this - the 'Newcastle miracle'? By what magical process was the smoking ban a "trigger" to quit in that region of the country, but not elsewhere?
Now, I'm no Carol Vorderman, but if the national smoking rate did not fall between 2007 and 2009 (and it didn't) and the north east smoking rate fell substantially, then the smoking rate in some other parts of the country must have risen. Are we to assume that in these places the smoking ban acted as a "trigger" for people to start smoking? I think we should be told.
Or is this just another example of the type of cherry-picking and post hoc ergo propter hoc logic that has defined all attempts at rationalising the most draconian, counterproductive and illiberal piece of legislation in living memory?
How did I miss this from the Guardian (via Tim Worstall)? The slippery slope argument made explicitly and shamelessly. After applauding the smoking ban, the newspaper looks to the future...
But the next campaign for better public health is in a different league. Alcohol and obesity – what we eat and how much we drink – these are the stuff of our very souls. From warning of the public implications of personal actions to changing the actions themselves, The campaigners have to cross a boundary more contentious than any they have overcome before. They have to tackle problems linked with poverty without swelling the populist clamour against the poor. They have to frame a debate about the health implications of overeating and problem drinking that doesn't dwell only on a cost-benefit analysis on behalf of the NHS. And they have to do it when most people think Whitehall, far from knowing best, knows little of real life at all. So the complexities of public health are being devolved to local government and the food and drinks industries' own sense of responsibility. It will not be enough. And it must not take 60 years to get it right.
As the first person to comment on the editorial says...
So all the people warning first they'll come for your fags, then they'll come for your booze weren't wrong.
One more time for the world...
We did try to warn you.