Opinion: Tobacco control

As Liberal Democrats we are unique in our commitment to personal freedom. Our battles for liberty have gone hand in hand with a dedication to social progress. We want freedom but not a society that walks on by.

Getting this balance right is a central part of our party’s policy consultation recently launched by Health Minister Paul Burstow.

It asks whether tobacco should be one of the main areas of focus for public health. The answer to this was given very clearly in the inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Smoking and Health, which I chair.

We heard evidence that smoking still kills over 100,000 people a year in the UK with the tobacco industry recruiting the vast majority of new smokers in their teens. It is an addiction that most smokers bitterly regret, which is not surprising when half of long-term smokers will be killed by tobacco.

Widespread addiction to tobacco can hardly be said to be part of a society of strong, autonomous individuals. And we should ask ourselves, setting aside the cost smoking imposes on society, when two out of three smokers say they want to quit, is there not a duty to do all we can to help them make that choice stick?

A liberal approach to smoking is not to ban tobacco but to make sure people are not harmed by the smoking of others. It was for these reasons that Liberal Democrats played a big part in helping to end smoking in enclosed public spaces. We should also help individuals when they want to give up, which is why it is vital that the NHS’s successful and highly cost-effective stop smoking services should be maintained.

We need to create an environment where fewer and fewer young people start smoking. The Coalition is now considering whether to implement legislation to strengthen the advertising ban by putting tobacco products out of sight in shops, where brightly lit ‘powerwalls’ of cigarette brands act like adverts for cigarettes.

The more children are aware of tobacco displays in shops the more likely they are to want to experiment with smoking. The evidence from places like Ireland that have taken this step is the benefits are very worthwhile while costs for retailers are not excessive.

Groups involved in the sale and manufacture of tobacco products are lobbying hard against these measures. But just as we had confidence in our convictions with the smoking ban we should be firm now and remove the tobacco powerwalls.

Having a healthy start in life is one of the foundations from which an individual can flourish. Young people should have the freedom to have a smokefree life.

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93 Comments

  • “The Coalition is now considering whether to implement legislation to strengthen the advertising ban by putting tobacco products out of sight in shops, where brightly lit ‘powerwalls’ of cigarette brands act like adverts for cigarettes.”

    I disagree with this policy. Hiding something away just makes it seem more clandestine and appealing, and most children and young teens are not introduced to smoking through seeing them in shops, but through friends and peers.

    The advertising ban has only really been successful as part of a wider campaign to change societies view of cigarettes and smoking, which has then had an effect on the number of young smokers, in and of itself though, the advertising ban can hardly claim to have directly reduced smoking amongst young people.

  • I am surprised at the number of MPs who believe a few reports that say that second hand smoke is harmful, when the vast majority of reports state that second hand smoke causes little or no harm to others.

  • Mark Wright,

    “We have stopped people being oppressed with other people’s smoke,”

    Oh no we haven’t! When I park my car and go into the office in the morning I have to hold my breath to avoid having to breathe the vile fag effluent pumped into the atmosphere by tobacco abusers lurking around the concourse. Only an outright ban on smoking in all public places will do the job, and that is what is needed.

    “Otherwise we should be asking about the harmful effects of overeating,”

    If someone chooses to stuff him/herself with cakes and pizzas, I have no problem with that, as long as he/she doesn’t start stuffing me with said comestibles. Tobacco abusers spread their filth far and wide, and Parliament has still to stop them doing this.

  • “It was for these reasons that Liberal Democrats played a big part in helping to end smoking in enclosed public spaces. “

    Nonsense. The legislation you supported for went well beyond this arguably reasonable step, and you know it. The Lib Dems might have less of a nannying streak than the other lot, but it’s not completely without one, and to claim that your support for the ban had anything to do with liberalism is laughable. Like on any other issue, you are more concerned with concocting liberal justifications, however contorted they may be, for arbitrary policies than in constructing liberal policies in the first place.

  • Sesenco – I presume you don’t mind the vile effluent pumped into the atmosphere by your car.

    A couple of days after the smoking ban came into force I went along to my local to find all the staff smoking outside and no-one in the pub. A properly liberal policy would balance the rights of people not to suffer secondhand smoke with the rights of smokers. We could have compromised with a system of exemptions for private clubs and a small number of licensed pubs however in this case we decided to abandon liberal principle for the satisfaction of tormenting an unpopular minority.

  • Andrew~R,

    “Sesenco – I presume you don’t mind the vile effluent pumped into the atmosphere by your car. ”

    I love it!

    What you deftly ignore is the fact that motorised transport is something useful, tobacco abuse has no utility whatsoever other than to boost the profits of the tobacco industry.

    I have heard all the pro-tobacco arguments a hundred times over, and they are pathetic in the extreme. Auberon Waugh used to say that he wanted to die of lung cancer because he didn’t want to grow old, and yes, his wish was granted. Now, that was OK for Waugh, because he was a rich man who could afford his own healthcare, and his detestation of the “lower classes” and refusal to board a train (for fear of meeting Jimmy Saville) meant that he rarely encountered people who might object to his fag stink. But that isn’t so for the majority, who require the state to look after them when they get ill, and who have to travel around to work, do their shopping, claim their benefits, etc.

  • Sesenco
    Utility isn’t the point. At this precise moment a kid in the flat upstairs is trying and failing to play the trumpet. The noise is irritating me. Should trumpet playing be banned or do you thing it is more sensible to tolerate those things we don’t like and live in a free society? Believe me, you would not like living in the sort of society that would result if I had the power to ban everything I don’t like. In any case much of our use of cars is neither necessary nor useful. I’m in my early forties and have never owned a car. The majority of people living in cities don’t really need a car either.

    As to the old chestnut about how much smokers cost society. The tax on tobacco is 4 times the amount the NHS spends on smoking related diseases. In addition 50% of smokers will die early selflessly saving us billions in pension payments and the long expensive illnesses of old age.

    I do agree with you on one point though. There is no good reason to smoke. It’s a horrible destructive habit (even more than trumpet playing). However I’m a liberal which means I support the right of people to do any damn stupid thing they like as long as it doesn’t cause significant harm to others.

  • “successful and highly cost-effective stop smoking services should be maintained”

    Call 5% a success rate, its better to go cold turkey. I think you need to get your facts right!.

  • Colin Green 10th Sep '10 - 6:41pm

    “Young people should have the freedom to have a smokefree life”

    The incidence of SIDS or cot death goes up by 100% for every hour of the day a baby is present in a room where smoking is permitted. For some babies that can be over 2000% more than the background rate. Surely this is a case where the freedom of an individual to smoke is heavily outweighed by the rights of non-smokers to health.

    Smokers may claim a right to the freedom to smoke if they wish but they have no right to risk the health of others.

  • Andrew Suffield 10th Sep '10 - 7:24pm

    There cant be a single person in this country who doesnt know how harmful smoking is.

    Oddly there are quite a few. I’ve heard a lot of people saying things like “oh I only have one or two a day, it’s not a problem”, apparently unaware that the cancer risk doesn’t go up very much after the first one each day. There is no safe minimum.

  • Children who lived In the 1950s and 1960s when most parents smoked are the healthiest generation ever. With the decline in smoking there has been a big increase in the amount of children suffering with asthma and many other allergies.

  • Colin Green 10th Sep '10 - 8:26pm

    chas

    “Children who lived In the 1950s and 1960s when most parents smoked are the healthiest generation ever. With the decline in smoking there has been a big increase in the amount of children suffering with asthma and many other allergies.”

    What are you trying to say? That asthma and allergies are related to the decline in smoking? I’m sorry but that suggestion is just stupidity.

  • Tory sceptic 10th Sep '10 - 9:02pm

    Mr. Williams where does one start?

    Firstly after 13 years of nannying and bullying from Labour I, as a member and Conservative activist would suggest you should consider your position in the coalition. Your lack of empirical evidence knows no bounds.

    “..in the coalitions Liberal Democrats we are unique in our commitment to personal freedom.”

    Yep the Lib Dems voted 5-1 for the smoking ban.

    “It is an addiction that most smokers bitterly regret, which is not surprising when half of long-term smokers will be killed by tobacco.”

    I don’t. You quote the figure of 100,000 people killed by smoking. About 550,000 people die per year in the UK, what do the rest die of? So more people are killed by not smoking than smoking? We all die of something.

    “And we should ask ourselves, setting aside the cost smoking imposes on society.”

    We “cost” £2.7 billion but pay £9.66 billion in tobacco taxes alone, not counting the 80,000 people directly and indirectly employed in the tobacco industry.

    “two out of three smokers say they want to quit”

    This is an ASH push poll. Ask the question “within a month” and the figure drops to <5%.

    "A liberal approach to smoking is not to ban tobacco but to make sure people are not harmed by the smoking of others."

    Evidence please, my diary is at your disposal to review the evidence.

    "NHS’s successful and highly cost-effective stop smoking services should be maintained."

    Yep an industry that costs the taxpayer £200 million a year for a quit rate of </=5%.

    "Coalition is now considering whether to implement legislation to strengthen the advertising ban by putting tobacco products out of sight in shops."

    Bans in Canada (done state by state) and Iceland not only showed no statistical reduction in youth smoking (Canada) but in states went up with the display ban. I have an email from the head of tobacco control in Iceland admitting the display in Iceland made no difference. In states in Canada with display bans 15% of convenience stores closed within 2 years.

    Mr. Williams your website is just a regurgitation of ASH propaganda.

    Quite frankly I will say it again nanny state Lib Dems can defect to the Labour party.

  • Colin. Asthma and other allergies are blamed on second hand smoke ‘ is just stupidity’, because ashma and oher allergies are on the increase while the smoking rate has been declining for decades.

  • Tory sceptic 10th Sep '10 - 9:21pm

    @Colin Green

    On SIDS. “The only snag was that the years between 1970 and 1988, when cot deaths shot up by 500 per cent, coincided with the very time when the number of adults who smoked in Britain was falling most sharply, from 45 to 30 per cent. To anyone but a fanatical anti-smoking campaigner, this might have suggested that “environmental tobacco smoke” was unlikely to be the chief cause of cot deaths.”

    On asthma:

    “Children of mothers who smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day tended to have lower odds for suffering from allergic rhino-conjunctivitis, allergic asthma, atopic eczema and food allergy, compared to children of mothers who had never smoked (ORs 0.6-0.7)

    CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates an association between current exposure to tobacco smoke and a low risk for atopic disorders in smokers themselves and a similar tendency in their children.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/7530949/Fiddling-those-smoking-figures-again.html

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11422156

  • Tory sceptic 10th Sep '10 - 9:29pm

    @Colin Green

    On childhood exposure to second hand smoke (SHS) and future lung cancer there have been 30 studies commissioned. 3 suggest a raised risk, nearly 4 times as many, 11 studies suggest it is protective, 15 show the null or zero risk. The most well known is the World Health Organization 1998 Boffetta study and I quote again:

    “Results: ETS exposure during childhood was not associated with an increased risk of lung cancer (odds ratio [OR] for ever exposure = 0.78; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.64–0.96).”

    http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/90/19/1440.full.pdf

  • Tory sceptic 10th Sep '10 - 9:56pm

    This the provenance on smokers contributing at least 4x is here. My £2.7 billion can be extracted from the Action On Smoking and Health document below. My provenance for revenue can be extracted from the Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs URL below. Also tobacco taxes since Ken Clarke was Chancellor in the late 1990s has been ring fenced specifically for the NHS, see British Medical Journal link confirming Labour continued the practice.

    With corporation tax, NI and income tax from the 80,000 employed indirectly and directly in tobacco we contribute £20 billion a year to the Exchequor nearly 10x what we cost and fund about 20% of the NHS.

    http://www.ash.org.uk/beyondsmokingkills

    http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/tax_receipts/table1-2.pdf

    http://www.bmj.com/content/319/7221/1322.2.full

  • Tory sceptic 10th Sep '10 - 10:03pm

    Because us smokes die on average 7 years average than non smokers, if you combine the sexes at an age of 73.5 vs 80.5 we avoid being a burden in nursing homes with dementia and alzheimers etc. Here are 2 studies which confirm over our lifetime we are cheaper than non smokers to treat from cradle to grave.

    “Revealed: Why healthy patients cost more to treat than smokers and the obese”

    “Based on healthcare costs in Holland, where the study was conducted, a person of normal weight can expect their medical bills from the age of 20 to total £210,000 over the course of their lifetime, while an obese person’s costs will be £187,000. Smokers, whose life expectancy is the shortest of the three, cost the least, at £165,000, the researchers from the National Institute for Public Health and Environment calculated.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/health/healthmain.html?in_article_id=512333&in_page_id=1774&in_page_id=1774&expand=true#StartComments

    “Conclusions If people stopped smoking, there would be a savings in health care costs, but only in the short term. Eventually, smoking cessation would lead to increased health care costs. ”

    http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/abstract/337/15/1052

  • What an bizarre collection of nicotine fanatics and free market “libertarians” spouting the most ludicrous absurdities about tobacco abuse.

    The playing of trumpets, believe it or not, is capable of being an actionable private or indeed public nuisance. Whoever raised that, check your facts before reaching for your keybaord.

    From my own perspective, I rarely ever hear trumpets, but I am confronted by the menace of ambient tobacco effluent on a daily basis. Even barbecues are quite a rare event, limited to the few bright days of summer. If they became more widespread, then yes, control would be needed.

    And what about those queues of people who cannot get operations because hospital beds are filled with tobacco abusers expecting the NHS to cure them of their self-inflicted ailments? Oh, sorry, I forgot. Our tobacco industry cheerleader in this thread is telling us that tobacco is beneficial to health.

    So people “enjoy” tobacco abuse? I have to say that those who indulge in it give me the impression of being rather sad folk. Auberon Waugh did it because he knew it annoyed people. Others, I guess, lack the self-respect or willpower to chuck it. Believe it or not, people enjoy having sex with children, breaking into other peoples’ cars, robbing old ladies and holding up security vans with sawn-off shotguns. Are they oppressed minorities, too?

    Speaking of which, it is notable that tobacco abusers and fox and stag hunters are the two “oppressed minorities” most favoured by “libertarians”. Maybe that has something to do with the largesse that those lobbies chuck their way.

  • What are you trying to say? That asthma and allergies are related to the decline in smoking? I’m sorry but that suggestion is just stupidity.

    I am one of the 40’s generation that was born into a very smoky world and I have smoked for over 50 years. (My peak flow is equivalent to a 35 year old non smoker )
    The children then had lungs that actually did a little work !!! Lungs were designed to clear irritants and when they did this they got stronger and learned how to clear bigger irritants (industrial pollution for a start)
    The children in the new ‘smokefree’ world and it is obvious that as the smoking rates decline the childrens lungs cannot cope with big pollution as they have never been around harmless tobacco smoke that is a mild irritant that teaches the lungs how to work.
    I never saw a child in my schooldays that had asthma and now the sickly weak children almost all have a blue pump as an fashion accessory.
    Cancer rates and asthma rates are rising alarmingly while smoking has been declining rapidly.
    Doesn’t that make you think ?

  • On behalf of a mate 10th Sep '10 - 10:27pm

    Steven Williams, a LibDem MP has thrust his hat in the ring with a few views of his own – or are they the ideas of the schoolboy politician Clegg?

    On the LibDem Blog his opening salvo is fired, “As Liberal Democrats we are unique in our commitment to personal freedom.” Sorted then! That’s me back in my own pub, in a separate room with all my mates – except that I’m still sat at home and ignoring my local as Mr Williams ‘freedoms’ don’t include mine!

    He goes on to inform us (yet again…yawn) of the inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Smoking and Health, which I chair, (note: which I chair) where ‘evidence’ of anywhere between one and a billion people die every year in this country courtesy of tobacco and BT farms all the young, innocent teenagers they can so as to get them addicted to nicotine to keep the filthy lucre coming in. He actually does mention 100,000 deaths per annum but doesn’t say where he gets that exact figure from! How strange.

    He also goes on to say that 2 out of every 3 smokers WANT to quit. Pardon me boys, is that the Chattanooga ChooChoo – or is the ASHtrain rolling on….?

    2 out of 3 want to quit? Well that’s a new one on me. Most of the smokers I know smoke more now, post ban, than they did pre ban. They’re are angry, very angry. Angry at being humiliated by a non sensical Labour government. Angry at being turned into 3rd class citizens. Angry at being discriminated against. Angry because they know that people like Steve Williams idea of “freedoms” doesn’t include them.

    “A liberal approach to smoking is not to ban tobacco but to make sure people are not harmed by the smoking of others.”

    So he is fully brainwashed by the SHS myth launched 35 years ago by Godber, oh dear. Note he doesn’t want to ban tobacco altogether because he values the revenue to be gained from selling a perfectly legal product. What a hypocritical prat! Perhaps he would like to split the country 75/25 as well as the population? Perhaps smokers could be given Cornwall, Devon, Somerset & Dorset and then they can all disappear from view as far as the rest of the country is concerned. I mean to say, if we have those 4 counties we won’t even be taking a quarter of the country-to which a quarter of the population surely should be. It would still leave another 4 counties (plus the Isle of Wight) for non smokers to go holidaying on the Sth Coast.

    Quite a suitable remedy methinks.

    Now we know he is talking total utter crap when he spouts on about ‘highly cost effective stop smoking services…’. Can anyone please tell me which set of figures he has been looking at? The last I noticed the DofH had published figures showing a 98.4% FAILURE rate with each ‘quitter’ costing something in the region of £285.00 each (and quitters are only 4 week quitters at that!) cost effective…cost effective.

    He finishes with “Young people should have the freedom to have a smokefree life” Yes Mr Williams, and they should also have the freedom to make their own decisions; ie, if a person wants to smoke up then that is their perogative. Far be it for me to urge youngsters to smoke, in fact it is not something I would ever do but at the end of the day people (young and old) only smoke if they enjoy smoking.

    So, it seems that the LibDems idea of freedoms only includes non smokers so they are basically of the same miserable ilk as the labour shites that were in power.

    Schoolboy politician Clegg has already made one horrendous bloomer with his ‘Your Freedoms’ website, this stance looks like the beginning of the end of a coalition that promised freedoms of choice for the people.

  • Tory sceptic 10th Sep '10 - 10:30pm

    On lung cancer and second hand smoke (SHS) the story began in 1975 when the then Chief Medical Officer Sir George Godber speaking at the World Health Organization stated:

    “..foster an atmosphere where it was perceived that active smokers would injure those around them, especially their family and infants or young children who would be exposed involuntarily to the smoke in the air.”

    35 years later of bent statistics, publication bias and plain misleading we are still left an exaggerated perception. There have been 100 studies done into SHS, 17% suggest a raised risk, 15% suggest protection and 70% show no risk either way.

  • Tory sceptic 10th Sep '10 - 10:37pm

    On smoking bans and a potential reduction in heart attacks a meta analysis was conducted by the universities of Havard and Wisconsin it “…examined a total of 2.0 million heart attack admissions and 217,023 heart attack deaths in 468 counties in all 50 states over an eight-year period.

    1. In contrast with smaller regional studies, we find that workplace bans are not associated with statistically significant short-term declines in mortality or hospital admissions for myocardial infarction or other diseases.”

    2. An analysis simulating smaller studies using subsamples reveals that large short-term increases in myocardial infarction incidence following a workplace ban are as common as the large decreases reported in the published literature.”

    http://tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.com/2009/04/new-study-of-national-heart-attack.html

  • Tory sceptic 10th Sep '10 - 10:54pm

    @Sesenco

    Hypocite! With separate pubs or rooms where smoking is allowed you can easily avoid them. Me and my kids going shoping, visiting the ATM or going for lunch have no choice.

    Tim Yeo Chair of the Parliaments Environmental Committee car pollution causes 5x more deaths than second hans smoke.

    “Air pollution on UK streets is contributing to tens of thousands of early deaths each year and the Government is not doing enough to tackle the problem, according to a report published today by the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee.

    In the worst affected areas this invisible killer could be taking years off the lives of people most at risk, such as those with asthma.

    “Air pollution probably causes more deaths than passive smoking, traffic accidents or obesity”

    “According to evidence presented to the inquiry, air pollution could be contributing to as many as 50,000 deaths per year – as it makes asthma worse and exacerbates heart disease and respiratory illness. Averaged across the whole UK population it is estimated that poor air quality is shortening lives by 7-8 months. In pollution hotspots it could be cutting the most vulnerable people’s lives short by as much as nine years, the report says”

    http://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2010/03/early-deaths-from-air-pollution-shame-uk-says-report/

  • Mark Wright wrote:

    “Geoffrey, I know your hatred of libertarians mean you have to constantly”

    It is a common complaint among people who promote crackpot causes that people who disagree with them hate them. I don’t know if Geoffrey Payne does hate libertarians, but I rather doubt it. He is probably sick of free market zealots penetrating the Liberal Democrats and using the party to plug their impossiblist economics and pet perverse causes, tobacco abuse being their hot favourite.

  • Andrew Suffield 10th Sep '10 - 11:36pm

    The children then had lungs that actually did a little work !!! Lungs were designed to clear irritants and when they did this they got stronger and learned how to clear bigger irritants

    Umm. No.

  • Mark Wright,

    For your information, I have been a member of the Liberal Democrats since its inception, and before that a member of the SDP since 1982 – a record of longevity I doubt you or the “libertarian” entryists who infest this site can match.

    Best to get your facts right before you lob insults at people who have the temerity to disgree with you.

  • Mark Wright,

    I am not particularly angry, rather mildly amused at the ease with which I can get a rise out of tobacco industry cheerleaders and “libertarian” entryists.

  • Sesenco wrote – ‘And what about those queues of people who cannot get operations because hospital beds are filled with tobacco abusers expecting the NHS to cure them of their self-inflicted ailments?’

    So, the non smokers who are waiting for beds have no self inflicted ailments? Presumably non have bad diet, are overweight due to overeating and/lack of exercise, or drink more than the recommended 2 or so units per day? Non suffer from self inflicted sports injuries, or abuse drugs (legal and illegal)?

    And where did you get your estimate for bed occupancy by smokers? Could you provide a precise figure? Would it be 25% of beds or closer to 50%, or according to you – 100% (bearing in mind 25% of the adult population smoke).

  • Tory sceptic 11th Sep '10 - 12:16am

    @Sesenco

    Lets really get on the way to surfdom to paraphrase Fredreich Von Hayek.

    “A study by the French environmental campaigning group Robin des Bois found that a typical two-hour barbecue can release the same level of dioxins as up to 220,000 cigarettes. Dioxins are a group of chemicals known to increase the likelihood of cancer. The figures were based on grilling four large steaks, four turkey cuts and eight large sausages.”

    Here is your case for banning all BBQs. As it says “The figures were based on grilling four large steaks, four turkey cuts and eight large sausages.” Probably the equivalent amount of cooking in the average restaurant. So lets ban all restaurants shall we?

    You really are an authoritarian charlatan.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3106039.stm

  • Tory Sceptic,

    Did Hayek take his holidays in Newquay?

  • Yes Sesenco – some people do enjoy tobacco, just as others enjoy dangerous sport that the majority of us would never even contemplate.

    I get the feeling that you somehow detest the smell of tobacco (I may be wrong and I apolgise if I am) just as I detest watching certain sports on the TV. I don’t advocate that these sports that can kill and have killed should be banned – I just choose not to watch them as I know that others get pleasure from them.

    Shouldn’t the same principal have been applied to smoking?

    All I can say is that those who agree with the current tobacco control arrangements that we have in the UK, must also agree with the unmentionable unintended consequences of their agenda.

    I’m sure that you must be fully aware of them even though they are not broadcast in the MSM – death, illness, unemployment, domestic abuse, rape, losses of communal faciltiies, suicide, depression, iscolation of the elderly, etc – the list is endless.

    Mr Williams MP – please advise who provided you with the following information – your quote “it is vital that the NHS’s successful and highly cost-effective stop smoking services should be maintained.”

    The last I heard was that NRT had a long-term failure rate of 98.4% and that smoking prevalence was slightly rising as a whole, after decades of reduction. In fact, Southern Ireland has been rather recently embarrassed in announcing that its prevalance has jumped up dramatically. So much for the millions that they spent on TC, and we’re going the same way.

    I understand that there are people who detest smoking (just as the smell of certain eateries does me), however I could never describe myself as a liberal democrat if I’d succumb to the unproven rhetoric and exaggerations that you write above and hail in the approvement of treating legal UK citizens as you do.

    Lessons to be learned:
    A democratic society should cater for everyone.
    Prohibition doesn’t work.

  • I think it is time you joined the real world.

    You could start by telling everyone where this evidence that “smoking still kills over 100,000 people a year in the UK” comes from.

    “setting aside the cost smoking imposes on society, when two out of three smokers say they want to quit”
    Well firstly the amount of revenue the government forces smokers to pay far outways any cost they may or may not impose on society. Secondly, If indeed as you say “two out of three smokers say they want to quit”, do they want to achieve this by the government removing their liberties?

    “NHS’s successful and highly cost-effective stop smoking services”
    Where is the evidence of this? The published DOFH figures show a 98.4% failure rate with each ‘quitter’ costing something in the region of £285.00.

    You might also want to explain why 40 to 50 pubs have been closing every week since smokers were banned from using them.

  • This blog reminds me about how much I distrust politicians.

    Your whole blog is littered with unproven, anti-smoking propaganda that has been drip-fed to our nation – politicians included.

    Please advise where the statistics that you quote have come from.

  • Helen,

    “Shouldn’t the same principal have been applied to smoking?”

    No. Sport on TV doesn’t harm those watching it (or being in the same room where it is watched). Ambient tobacco smoke, by contrast, has the potential to harm everyone who encounters it, and it is difficult to avoid, unlike a TV screen, which one can see and hear.

    “I’m sure that you must be fully aware of them even though they are not broadcast in the MSM – death, illness, unemployment, domestic abuse, rape, losses of communal faciltiies, suicide, depression, iscolation of the elderly, etc – the list is endless.”

    Do you have any evidence to justify these claims?

    “The last I heard was that NRT had a long-term failure rate of 98.4%”

    Which just goes to show how dangerous tobacco is. Bob Dole was wrong, wasn’t he?

    “A democratic society should cater for everyone.”

    Really? Absolutely everyone?

    “Prohibition doesn’t work.”

    I haven’t advocated prohibition. I am not in favour of banning tobacco abuse. I am in favour of restricting it so as to minimise the harm that it causes to innocent people.

    Big Merv,

    “Well firstly the amount of revenue the government forces smokers to pay far outways any cost they may or may not impose on society”

    Does it? Those who are having to wait for operations while tobacco abusers get treatment for their self-inflicted ailments will find your comment extraordinary.

    “You might also want to explain why 40 to 50 pubs have been closing every week since smokers were banned from using them.”

    Have you heard of a thing called the “recession”? Believe it or not, and contra the claims of the tobacco lobby, pubs have been in decline since the 1980s.

  • Leaving aside most of the above are looking what Stephen actually says :
    “We need to create an environment where fewer and fewer young people start smoking. The Coalition is now considering whether to implement legislation to strengthen the advertising ban by putting tobacco products out of sight in shops, where brightly lit ‘powerwalls’ of cigarette brands act like adverts for cigarettes.

    The more children are aware of tobacco displays in shops the more likely they are to want to experiment with smoking. ”
    Is there any evidence that putting tobacco products out of sight does lead to less young people smoking? If not what about a few trials before we impose yet more rules?

    Evidence based policy making and all that?

  • richard in norway 11th Sep '10 - 11:35am

    as a smoker, i have to say i welcome the ban on displaying tobacco products. we have it here and it is no problem for me

    i notice that the tories are trying to split libdems, so many tory comments along the lines of… if you don’t like what the coalition is doing join the labour party

    the labour party is at it as well, suggesting that libdems that support the coalition should join the tories

    we should all be careful not to listen to such dangerous nonsense

  • Robert Feal-Martinez wrote,

    “I have read a lot of ill informed rubbish over the smoking ban in my time”

    Yes, and you are contributing to it.

    “I say discredited because after £1.5 billion of tax payers money used to pursued, bully, threaten, and mislead smokers,”

    Whence this figure? My local PCT would love to tell local people the truth about tobacco abuse, but cannot do so due to lack of funding.

    “the smoking rate amongst the most vulnerable in society has risen by 8% to 29%.”

    Again, an unattributable statistic. Who are the “most vulnerable”? And over what time period? If by “most vulnerable” you mean socio-economic categories D+E, then I think you would have to go back to the 18th century to find a smoking prevalence of 21%.

    “Lung Cancer and Heart Disease are on the rise for the first time in over 15 years”

    The smoking ban (in enclosed public places) has been in place since 2006. Cancer and heart disease take rather longer than four years to develop.

    “Millions have been wasted on smoking cessation products”

    They should simply stop doing it. That’s what Malcolm Muggeridge did. Back in the 1960s, Muggeridge was busily sneering at young people for taking recreational drugs. In response, one of his friends said to him: “But Malcolm, you smoke.” Muggeridge agreed, and he smoked not another cigarette.

    Among my immediate work colleagues, three have chucked the fags in the last year, and now none does it.

    “DoH admit have a 98.4% failure rate”

    Does the DoH really say this? If true, it throws in stark relief the extremely dangerous nature of tobacco and gives us added reason to restrict its use and availability as much as reasonably possible short of absolute prohibition.

    “children are exposed to more smoke at home than ever before,”

    Whether or not this is true, I know not. Certainly, we should prohibit smoking in the presence of children. They have no choice but to inhale their parents’ toxic filth.

    “and ASH etal still claim the smoking ban is a success”

    And success it is. Innocent people can now go into restaurants and pubs and breathe clean air.

  • @essence. You say ” My local PCT would love to tell local people the truth about tobacco abuse, but cannot do so due to lack of funding.”
    Are you seriously suggesting people do n’t know that tobacco is dangerous?

  • Smcg,

    At least you agree that tobacco is dangerous. Some of the contributors to this thread are trying to tell us that tobacco is beneficial to health.

  • It would be appropriate for the party to drop the ‘liberal’ in Liberal Democrats. A party that knows nothing about personal freedom. Stephen Williams spouts that his party has a liberal approach on smoking, and that his party aims “to make sure people are not harmed by the smoking of others”.
    Amending the smoking ban to permit ventilated smoking rooms just for the use of smokers would achieve this aim.

    A recent study by CR Consulting confirms the hypothesis that the smoking ban has caused, three out of four pub closures in the last four years and that this trend is likely to continue. The ban has upset the social lives of millions, but will government listen?
    The vast majority believe that adults should have the choice of smoking rooms, there were thousands of comments reflecting this on the YourFreedom website. There is the solution but government just keep their fingers in their ears and totally ignore, all views from the general public that smoke and support such change.

    There clearly is NOTHING ‘liberal’, about the Liberal Democrats.

  • Malcolm, Dick Puddlecote, and quite a few others:

    Come on, admit it. You are nicotine addicts who wind people up.

  • Proportional representation is an essential UNLESS they’re smokers or others that the LibDems disagree with.
    Gullible idealists (Your treasury chap) willingly disregards the views of economists such as the IFS(?) ” who by definition are partial” yet you all willingly accept the evidence of anti-smoking ‘experts’ and ASH “who by definition are partial”.
    So much so-called evidence is provided by those who earn their living from anti-smoking activism and even the majority of our esteemed committees enjoy Pharmaceutical favour and we’re told their word is to be trusted! Check out the Pharma and anti-tobacco connections of those who gave advice to the Health Committee — Oh, and while you’re at it, check out the same relationships of the Health Committee!!! Those who have no financial interest can be dismissed as nicotine addicts or crackpots and not respected as ‘stakeholders’ in decisions that directly affected them BUT they are the electorate who you refuse to represent and insist on marginalising/excluding due to your non-proportionality and superior opinion.
    The modern day career politician is more interested in their own political future than the people they represent. You may think this is wrong but your electorate see this as a truism. This attitude hardly encourages the populace to work WITH Government during harsh economic times etc. etc.!!!

  • Interesting discussion.

    What is also interesting is that I see multiple references to scientific peer-reviewed studies from many posters on the one hand and illiberal prejudice without a shred of evidence on the other.

    If we were debating any other subject this quite simply wouldn’t even be a discussion – the likes of Sesenco would be laughed off the page. But of course, this is smoking where lies and half-truths always somehow win over scientific evidence and independent research.

    Would it be too much to hope for Sesenco to back up his odious opinions with research findings? With links, please.

  • Mick Turatian 12th Sep '10 - 7:41am

    Sesenco: Among my immediate work colleagues, three have chucked the fags in the last year, and now none does it. (sic)

    With a colleague like you, this shows remarkable forbearance on their part and incidentally your grammar stinks.

  • Mick Turatin,

    Chambers English Dictionary. “None” is plural or singular. So my grammar is quite correct.

    Chris,

    So no-one has ever made a living by manufacturing and selling tobacco? Is the industry a selfless crusade by public-spirited free market “libertarians” to poison people unable to pluck up the courage to jump off Beachy Head?

    Those interested in junk science can read the nicotine fanatics in this thread. Those who want to acquaint themselves with the FACTS can refer to ASH, the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Surgeons. All reputable organisations, none of whom rolls in quite so much dosh as the tobacco companies.

    Fact: Nicotine, unlike pornography, actually is more deadly than cyanide.

    Now, which one of the nicotine trolls is going to win the Bob Dole prize for the crassest defence of tobacco abuse? Provided they are still alive by the time the ceremony takes place?

    You see, I can get up in the morning and go about my life without a chemical walking-stick. The nictotine lovers just don’t get this, and I think they’re rather jealous!

  • Jock,

    (1) Do you agree with David Icke that the people should be armed to protect themselves from the Illuminati?

    (2) Do you want people to drink more alcohol?

    I put the word, “libertarian”, in quotes, because it has been hijacked by anarcho-capitalists like yourself who believe in the law of the jungle and reject any attempt by anyone with electoral legitimacy to temper the market. At one time, the word referred to people who believed in civil liberties and human rights. Not any more, sadly.

    Reading the outpourings of these nicotine fanatics is rather like having to glance through the ravings of holocaust deniers. You know, the selective quotations from bogus scientific studies, and all that. The sad fact is, nicotine fanatics are people who lack the willpower to chuck their addiction. As simple and as stark as that.

  • Those interested in facts rather than tobacco industry propaganda, should take a look at this:

    http://www.healthfinder.gov/news/newsstory.aspx?docID=642944

  • The Filthy Engineer,

    Thank you for revealing to the world how deluded you are. Everyone agrees with the tobacco industry? As the late Adolf Hitler was fond of saying: Das ganze Volk sagt ja!

  • The Filthy Engineer,

    So the tobacco companies don’t have vested interests? No, of course not.

    Now, here is something you can look up, Mr Engineer. The Annual Statement of Accounts of British American Tobacco and other tobacco pushing companies. I bet you will find that the profits declared and the dividends paid somewhat exceed the total annual budget of ASH and the profits made from selling NRT products.

    If, as you say, NRT products are entirely useless (willpower is always the best option), tobacco must be an extremely addictive substance. Yet the tobacco industry claims that nicotine is entirely non-addictive! How do you square that one?

  • Mick Turatian 12th Sep '10 - 10:06am

    Sensico Chambers English Dictionary. “None” is plural or singular. So my grammar is quite correct.
    That isn’t at issue. You wrote:
    Among my immediate work colleagues, three have chucked the fags in the last year, and now none does it.

    it refers back to what exactly?

    Your grammar sucks as well as stinks. Are you sure you’re not a smoker?

  • Mick Turatian,

    “It” is what you do, and lack the willpower to stop doing.

  • Jock,

    “what you would, rightly, be arrested for if you tried to do it on your own.”

    I could only be arrested if there was a state.

    Ah, I see. You are calling for a Somalia type situation where law is made and administered by unelected warlords.

    And you go on about private property, without acknowledging that private property cannot exist without the state.

  • Chris Oakley 12th Sep '10 - 10:49am

    It is abundantly clear that the Liberal Democrat party no longer deserve to be allowed to use the word Liberal in their title. John Stuart Mill must be turning in his grave faced with a party that not only believes the mendacious outpourings of statist organisations such as ASH but regurgitates them as policy.
    I am not really interested in the tired and obviously ridiculous concept that this is all about some kind of econo-war between the heroes of ASH and the evils of “Big Tobacco”. It isn’t and never was. Smoking was around and growing for 450 years before big tobacco existed making nonsense of the whole econo-warrior concept. ASH hates smoking and smokers and has gone to great lengths to lie to both parliament and the electorate in order to persecute the latter. The truth is that we have no clue how dangerous or otherwise passive smoking is so it is nonsense to spout figures about the number of people affected. At least that would be the view if science and reason were allowed to prevail over soundbites and baseless rhetoric.
    What saddens me is the acceptance by modern society of groupings that use language such as Smokefree and de-normalisation. The anti-tobacco lobbyists are living embodiment of the evil that Orwell tried to warn us of in “1984”. The casualties of their evangelical zealotry have been truth, reason and of course the 12 million UK citizens “de-normalised” by their warped and twisted vision. As a non-smoking former Liberal voter, I hope that another casualty will be a party that should be challenged under the Trades Description Act.

  • Mick Turatian 12th Sep '10 - 10:52am

    Sesenco “It” is what you do, and lack the willpower to stop doing.

    As far as your earlier post goes, I’m afraid that your pronoun lacks an antecedent and you haven’t improved your case here since you’re mistaken if you think I’m a smoker.

    It really isn’t a prerequisite to be a smoker in order to object to the nasty, petty, intolerant and prescriptive bullying that goes with your side of the argument and its protagonists.

  • Jock,

    It looks as if I have to explain myself. And why not?

    You talk about property as though it is a substance. It isn’t. Property is a relationship that you or I have with the rest of the world in respect of a thing. It is a right (or more correctly, a bundle of rights), and a right is only a right if it can be enforced. Property rights can only be enforced by the state. They cannot be enforced by vigilantes or warlords, because in the free-for-all which the absence of the state would create, the strong would win out against the weak, and only the property rights of the powerful would end up being enforced. As happens in Somalia. Think about it. Anarcho-capitalism is an incoherent concept. It is impossiblism writ large.

    Do we want the Liberal Democrats to become an anarcho-capitalist version of the Socialist Party of Great Britain – couch potatoes endlessly talking drivel – or do we want to achieve things?

    Those of us who are libertarians in the traditional sense should stick with the Liberal Democrats. Do genuine libertarian groups like “Liberty” campaign on behalf of the tobacco industry and rural landowners? Thought not.

  • I’m reading so much high-horse idealism not echoed in my street-level world.
    As with so many evil organizations we need not only look at their accounts but also the vested interest Government has in applied taxes. Tobacco and oil come to mind where taxes account for the majority of the price we pay for what are basically inexpensive products but we should also look at the morality of the likes of pharmaceuticals and funded charities.
    A little research shows that pharmaceuticals either directly or indirectly through charities such as the Robert Johnson Foundation fund a network of anti-tobacco research in the World’s universities and the WHO. They even fund departments to evaluate their products. They put us all at the mercy of their ‘honesty’ and ensure their products are prescribed wholesale to the populace.
    It’s so good to know that they have a whiter than white record of never having posed a medical threat to the people!
    A charity like ASH (which by definition is PARTIAL- oh I do like that phrase from your esteemed colleague) is given funding from Government and other Government funded bodies to provide biased propaganda to support intolerant, non-proportional legislation for tobacco control (which by definition is PARTIAL) and dismisses ALL other opinion/fact as biased and fuelled by evil big tobacco.
    The Health Committee was warned there would be many downsides to their recommendations; their legislation was attacked as being disproportionate yet it all went through and we now live those many downsides. We may have banned tobacco advertising but anti-tobacco enthusiasts constantly promote smoking as the forbidden fruit and those participating are to be seen enjoying their camaraderie in full view. This is better promotion than any tobacco company could wish for.
    Social venues are closing, employees losing jobs, customers become isolated, communities lose their heart and we’re led to believe this is not the fault of the ban and those that forewarned the Committee were crying wolf.
    Tobacco usage is increasing but is largely ignored especially by government funded groups such as the OTC in Ireland who made frequent updates to it’s usage stats until 2008 when smoking prevalence increased and now apparently stands at around 30%. They still get funding despite having failed in their mission. Will anti-tobacco still get its funding from our cash-strapped Government?

    I’m reading so much high-horse idealism not echoed in my street-level world. Intellectual excellence, academic prowess, talented word-smiths and, above all, assumed righteousness cannot provide solutions to real problems. These clever people should know that they cannot continue their horse ride without the services of the lowly farrier.

  • Mick Turatian 12th Sep '10 - 1:07pm

    Sesenco: I wonder does it occur to you to apologise when you are offensive and that on the basis of your own mistaken assumptions?

    It’s been three hours and I’m still waiting…

  • Jock,

    I have many things to do with my time and reading the musings of free market “libertarians” isn’t exactly a priority

  • Jock,

    Knowing the principles behind the English law of property is hardly a position of ignorance.

  • Mick Turatian 12th Sep '10 - 1:34pm

    Sesenco: knowing the principles behind grammar and good manners might improve your position. Not by much, it’s true, but it’s a start.

  • As somebody with who has routinely to present techincal matters (scientist) in reports digestible to lay persons I am increasingly exasperated by the relentless dishonest contrivances dreamt up by the anti smoking brigade.

    It is an unholy mess – we have people who are only too happy to dignify unsubstantiated assertions and lend the name of reputable institutions to miserable piles of doo-doo. there was one recently where imbeciles seeking to prove the dangers of “second hand smoking” could not differentiate between tobacco residue and residue from normal domestic activity in a kitchen. A report about “the dangers of smokers in a domestic environaent” was produced and circulated to the media – taxpayers paid for it and it was wrong, wrong and thrice wrong.

    To call these people whores is to insult the oldest profession – some people are mining a vein of public funds beyond the actual paydirt and making up tales of reward which are utterly false.

  • Jonathan Bagley 13th Sep '10 - 12:10pm

    A party which backs a ban on smoking in private members clubs staffed by their own smoking members has no interest in personal freedom.

  • Liberalism:

    “A political or social philosophy advocating the freedom of the individual, parliamentary systems of government, nonviolent modification of political, social, or economic institutions to assure unrestricted development in all spheres of human endeavour, and governmental guarantees of individual rights and civil liberties.”

    So not an interfering, statist, far left philosophy that supports legislation that undermines liberties without having a sound basis in fact or rational thought. Not a philosophy that supports completely unjustifiable and socially divisive legislation that de-normalises 20% plus of the population making them second class citizens. And not a philosophy that uses the discredited sound bites of a shrill and vocal minority to defend its cruel and irrational policies. It wouldn’t be quite so bad if the statistics so glibly spewed forth had any basis in rationality or science.

    Perhaps Stephen could let us know at what point he plans to change the name of the Liberal Democrats to Social Workers for Stalin? I am pretty certain that John Stuart Mill would not recognise anything in the above diatribe as liberal.

  • David Allen 14th Sep '10 - 7:01pm

    “It is abundantly clear that the Liberal Democrat party no longer deserve to be allowed to use the word Liberal in their title.”

    No doubt you’d say Labour aren’t allowed to call themselves socialists unless they nationalise Tesco tomorrow, the Tories aren’t allowed to call themselves conservatives unless they refuse all applications for planning permission, the Greens aren’t allowed to call themselves green if they ever use a motor car…

    Extremism in defence of a theoretical ideal is no virtue. Recognising that pragmatism often trumps political theory is no vice.

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