Frank Davis

Banging on about the Smoking Ban

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The Huge Grinning Elephant
Pete Robinson of The Publican has been reviewing the Smoking Ban - Three Years On. It's a great piece. I recommend reading it. He describes how well pubs were doing not so long ago. How they packed in the punters during the 2006 World Cup. And how the same punters haven't showed up for the 2010 World Cup.

What did pubs offer in 2006 that they cannot today?

Of course we all know the reason. What else could it be? Yet still, three years on, as an industry we refuse to accept the painful reality that we're collectively guilty of a terrible, catastrophic error of judgement.

In 2006 it was calculated that every pub in Britain directly contributed an average of £78,000 into the local economy, taking everything into account from employment to charity. Take the 10,000 pubs (CGA) that have closed so far and you have a £0.78 Billion black hole - every year - growing ever wider. And that's assuming no more closures when we're facing another 15,000 pubs disappearing over the next few years.

In these days of austerity and crippling national debt it borders on criminal insanity that we've allowed this to happen. It's positively certifiable that we soldier on in denial, as if nothing's happened, finding any excuse to explain away this carnage rather than recognise the huge, grinning, elephant in the room.

Why is the elephant grinning? Because the elephant knows that nobody's ever going to see her. The elephant could paint herself pink, put on a red dress, and dance around the room singing "Diamonds are a girl's best friend" with a supporting troupe of huge, grinning, dancing elephants, and still nobody would notice.

Over on Your Freedom yesterday, I counted about 7 suggestions to repeal or amend the smoking ban. Today I counted 60 such suggestions. Here are some of them. Repeal smoking ban in pubs, Lift the Ban on Smoking in Pubs, Overturn smoking ban: rescue pub trade & stop inciting smoker hatred., Repeal the public smoking ban, Save Our Culture, repeal the smoking ban. Another went a bit further: Cut all Public Funding to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) I spent about an hour voting all 60 of them to be "excellent". I didn't even get round to making my own suggestions.

The antis were present too, of course, but had managed to post a mere 5 counter-suggestions. Stop smoking anywhere and limit designated places, Ban Smoking in all public places, Increase smoking ban, Ban Drivers from Smoking at the wheel, 'Ban Smoking in all public outdoor eating areas and outside Pub entrances'. I went round all of these too, voting all 5 of them "poor".

So, just on the suggestions count, smokers were outnumbering antis 10 to 1. I bet Deborah Arnott is on the phone, demanding that any suggestions about repealing or amending the smoking ban be removed. Because they "send the wrong message". Or because children might see them. Or because just the word "smoke" is carcinogenic.

Will it make any difference? Nah! Of course it won't. It's just another dancing elephant. And it won't make any difference because antismoking is a religious cult There's nothing reasonable or rational or democratic about it. It doesn't really even make sense in public health terms either. What's 'healthy' about making smokers stand outside. What's 'healthy' about destroying communities? What's 'healthy' about crippling pubs and clubs, and driving many of them to the wall? Nor is it scientific. What's 'scientific' about a science in which nothing is accurately measured. Not the numbers of "smokers", nor the number of cigarettes they smoke, nor what any of them die of? Real science requires accurate measurements of things like length and mass and duration, and real scientists take great care to measure these as accurately as they possibly can. Even before you get to all the mathematics, and statistics, and probabilities, and relative risks, antismoking 'science' doesn't even begin to hack it as real science.

It's all garbage. And it's garbage all the way back to its Nazi origins. Because antismoking 'science' was born and raised in Nazi Germany. It had the personal patronage of Adolf Hitler, who was an advocate of the Big Lie. Antismoking science is a big, Nazi lie. The Nazis themselves were defeated 65 years ago. But this particular Big Lie of theirs has lived on, thanks to the vast multitudes of Nazi doctors all over the world, peddling a Nazi "lifestyle medicine" which is absolutely guaranteed to demonise and marginalise entire social groups. First Jews and Gypsies and homosexuals. But then smokers and drinkers and fat people. And then who knows what other defenceless social groups? It's a cancer. Antismoking organisations are a cancer upon society.

The idea that secondhand tobacco smoke is harmful is just a lie. And so also is the idea that smoking causes lung cancer. It's equally baseless. It's simply been repeated over and over again. In Reader's Digest, in Vanity Fair, in Vogue and Cosmopolitan. It's an ubiquitous message. It's expressed not as a hypothesis, but a fact. An incontrovertible fact.

Try saying to anybody: "I don't think smoking causes lung cancer." They'll look at you as if you're mad. They'll glance at each other and snigger. Because everybody knows that smoking causes lung cancer. In fact, it's far more certainly known than that the earth goes round the sun, and that the earth is a sphere and not a flat plain supported on the backs of elephants standing on top of a giant turtle.

Over the past five years or so during which I've been engaged with this matter, I've had the sense that the propagandised public has been slowly waking up to what's being done to them. I don't think there would have been a 10 to 1 presence of smokers against antismokers 5 years ago. And I seem to be coming across a lot more people who're saying things like, "I hate tobacco smoke. I really do. If I see someone smoking a cigarette a mile away, I have to go and shower. But, having said that, I think that if people are sufficiently lunatic to want to smoke cigarettes in each other's company, they should be allowed to do so." I've got no figures to back this up. It's just my sense of the way things are going.

And I have the sense that the idea - that the smoking ban may not have been quite such a good thing after all - is beginning to slowly filter through into the corridors of power. Very, very slowly.

But it has an uphill battle, because smoking and smoking bans aren't normal politics. Your MP will listen to you when you complain about the state of the roads, or the schools, or the water supply. He (or she) will dutifully write it all down. But if you complain to them about the smoking ban, a knowing smile will spread over their face. Because, in the case of smoking, they know better than you do. Because they've read all those Reader's Digests, and Daily Mails, and Cosmopolitans.

I think that, in the end, the truth comes out. It's not for me to arrogantly assert that I know the truth about all these things, because I don't. All I have are my own best guesses. I can only ever say what I think.

And reference that other great modern religion - of Global Warming - , which is equally backed up with scientific-looking tables and graphs. Public belief in all that is in free fall, it seems. Since the Climategate scandal, people have stopped believing climate scientists. There's been a loss of faith. And faith is a religious quality. The loss of faith starts with the laity (the poor buggers on the ground), and gradually extends upwards through the priests to the bishops.

In about 20 years time, it'll be the established wisdom that smoking bans are 'counter-productive'. And all concerned will say that they always knew that this was true, but didn't say so because they a) had jobs that depended on them telling serial lies, or b) didn't recognise the extent of the problem, or c) were just too fucking lazy to do anything about what was going on in front of their noses. It'll be a seamless transition from one perceived reality to another. All concerned will keep their perks and their pensions. And all concerned will appear on TV every day, glibly articulating the latest accepted truth, whatever it happens to be.

UPDATE 4 July 2010: There now appear to be something like 100 or more suggestions on Your Freedom for amending or repealing the smoking ban. Moderators have now taken to freezing new suggestions, so that people can't vote on them or comment on them. There's no good reason for them to do that. Clearly some of the moderators are antismokers who don't want smokers to have a say. So I've made my own suggestion:

Ban moderators who freeze new calls to ban the smoking ban

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Government power the real health hazard

Government power the real health hazard

The bandwagon of local smoking bans now steamrolling across the nation -
from sea to sea- has nothing to do with protecting people from the supposed
threat of "second-hand" smoke.

Indeed, the bans themselves are symptoms of a far more grievous threat; a
cancer that has been spreading for decades and has now metastasized
throughout the body politic, spreading even to the tiniest organs of local
government. This cancer is the only real hazard involved - the cancer of
unlimited government power.

The issue is not whether second-hand smoke is a real danger or a phantom
menace, as a study published recently in the British Medical Journal
indicates. The issue is: if it were harmful, what would be the proper
reaction? Should anti-tobacco activists satisfy themselves with educating
people about the potential danger and allowing them to make
their own decisions, or should they seize the power of government and force
people to make the "right" decision?

Supporters of local tobacco bans have made their choice. Rather than
attempting to protect people from an unwanted intrusion on their health, the
tobacco bans are the unwanted intrusion.

Loudly billed as measures that only affect "public places," they have
actually targeted private places: restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shops, and
offices - places whose owners are free to set anti-smoking rules or whose
customers are free to go elsewhere if they don't like the smoke. Some local
bans even harass smokers in places where their effect on others is obviously
negligible, such as outdoor public parks.

The decision to smoke, or to avoid "second-hand" smoke, is a question to be
answered by each individual based on his own values and his own assessment
of the risks. This is the same kind of decision free people make regarding
every aspect of their lives: how much to spend or invest, whom to befriend
or sleep with, whether to go to college or get a job, whether to get married
or divorced, and so on.

All of these decisions involve risks; some have demonstrably harmful
consequences; most are controversial and invite disapproval from the
neighbours. But the individual must be free to make these decisions. He must
be free, because his life belongs to him, not to his neighbours, and only
his own judgment can guide him through it.

Yet when it comes to smoking, this freedom is under attack. Cigarette
smokers are a numerical minority, practicing a habit considered annoying and
unpleasant to the majority. So the majority has simply commandeered the
power of government and used it to dictate their behaviour.

That is why these bans are far more threatening than the prospect of
inhaling a few stray whiffs of tobacco while waiting for a table at your
favourite restaurant. The anti-tobacco crusaders point in exaggerated alarm
at those wisps of smoke while they unleash the systematic and unlimited
intrusion of government into our lives.

We do not elect officials to control and manipulate our behaviour.

For further information

Re: Government power the real health hazard

I agree with all of that.


Reader's Digest Version Morality

"But if you complain to them about the smoking ban, a knowing smile will spread over their face. Because, in the case of smoking, they know better than you do. Because they've read all those Reader's Digests, and Daily Mails, and Cosmopolitans."

There's something about that, isn't there?

On the internet at least, people seem to feel quite confident about how smart they are, and how dumb people who disagree with them are. It doesn't matter what side of a debate any particular person is on, any side of an issue has people who attribute any and all disagreement to ignorance or stupidity.

With the smoking issue in particular, I notice that many anti-smokers believe that smokers simply haven't read some cheesy newspaper article, or taken some study at face value, or watched the right television commercials. They know smokers have seen these things, and that these things are delivered by institutions of authority (like government), so the anti-smoker thinks to himself, "My God, these people saw that scary TV commercial and it didn't get through their thick head. Why, don't they know that The Gods have spoken?!" Otherwise they think, "Is it possible that these smoking cretins haven't seen an anti-smoking PSA? They must all be mentally deficient shut-ins of some kind!"

It's hard to find even the most innocuous news article or blog entry that even vaguely involves smoking on the internet without someone decrying smoking in the comments section. If you show a picture of Humphery Bogart from the 1940's smoking a cigarette, some nitwit will feel compelled to make some deragatory statement about it, as if it is their civic duty and no one has ever heard it before.

People behave as if they've acquired some kind of specialized knowledge when they simply parrot back whatever the media pumps into their head 24/7. They seem to believe that only they read newspapers and have television. They're tuned into and living in the mainstream, and you're not, and the values of the mainstream are beyond reproach.

Equally annoying are the qualifying statements preceding any defense of smokers, like in the example you constructed. To me, it sounds like someone saying: "Hey, don't get me wrong: I'm all for national pride, Poland got what it deserved, I love the Fuhrer, and I especially detest those evil Jews, but don't you think we're being a tad harsh with them?"

Also, the attempts at emotional monopoly: "My father died of lung cancer and I hate smoking." So, having a dead father makes your opinion more valid than anyone else's? Keep your dead father out of it and make a rational case.

I can't recall the exact wording at the moment, but I actually read a "defense" of smokers once where the author referred to smokers as something like "smelly, addicted polluters". Actually, it was worded even more harshly than that.

With "friends" like that who needs enemies?

You wrote a thought provoking piece a couple of days ago called "The Beautiful Game" about God, religion, asceticism, and how your thoughts on these matters tie into other matters that occupy your mind. You wrote:

"My own inclination has been to look for some fundamental, encompassing moral principle. My view is, very roughly, that if science undermined the Christian moral cosmos, then science should construct a new moral cosmos, in much the same way as it replaced the old Ptolemaic earth-centred universe with a Copernican sun-centred one. But science is disinclined to do so. It doesn't regard morality as part of its turf. Scientists are inclined to say that they study what is the case, not what ought to be the case. And they quite often add that you can't deduce an 'ought' from an 'is'. And then they go back to peering through their microscopes and telescopes."

So, in the absence of God, and in the absence of of any ability of science to establish moral principles (the technocracy we suffer under now demonstrates science's inability to achieve this) what is left to guide moral principle? Perhaps only authority and popularity. Or, using other words; brute force and blind conformity.

Of course, there's always reason. But I've heard that reason is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Reader's Digest, so it might be difficult to acquire the rights.;-)


Re: Reader's Digest Version Morality

With "friends" like that who needs enemies?

Somehow or other I find more or less the same thing said by a smoker much more annoying than if it's said by an antismoker. I think that it's because I expect antismokers to dislike smoking, and I'm pleased when they appear to be conceding that they might have their own places. With smokers it's the other way round, and I'm annoyed when they speak ill of it.

what is left to guide moral principle? Perhaps only authority and popularity. Or, using other words; brute force and blind conformity.

Well, that was what I meant. We've entered a world in which Christian moral principles are being lost, and nothing has replaced it. Or perhaps something horrifying.


Good article, and it's really pleasing to see how the anti-smokers are outnumbered by people who want "a landlord's right to choose". Shall we call them "pro-choice"? :)

Was just reading this thread ( and found this rubbish amongst the few anti posts:

However, until the smoking industry comes up with a cigarette that doesn't produce dirty smoke for your neighbours to put up with, you have to recognise that your individual action has a negative impact on those sitting next to you trying to enjoy their evening.

Is this satire, I wonder? Because the "smoking industry" did come up with such a cigarette, and the antis lobbied successfully for a ban on that, too.

The comment you quoted was made on the thread "give landlord the choice." Why then would this anti-smoker be sitting next to a smoker? I keep challenging this sort of comment, but never get through to them. What goes theough their heads? If you are an anti-smoker who habitually makes comments like this, please can you enlighten me?

Who are responsible for smoking bans??

What special interest groups are behind all smoking bans?
Is it The Cancer Society?
Is it The Heart and Stroke Association?
Is it The Lung Association?
Or is it all of the above??

Re: Who are responsible for smoking bans??

Is that a rhetorical question?

I'd tick the "all of them" box.

But I think it's much deeper then that.


good article. I agree. how much longer will it take to realize just how counter productive this smoking ban is?

Within a parameter of +/-12% the cost at 30/06/10
of the total smoking ban without considering
indirect losses
£8.4 Billion

Loss in supply sector and services to the trade
£1.3 Billion

Ongoing losses Per Week (WEEK)£85 Million

Challenge the DOH and Exchequer to refute these

Based on job losses ,sales losses ,loss of taxation and NIC,benefits,pharmacuetical costs and professional services as maon loss adjustments

Open to question

When I used to have a crafty 'Cadet' (remember them?) back in 1963 when I was 12, there was always some adult from the 25% who did NOT smoke who said it caused lung cancer.

I am 59. No hacking cough or excessive shortness of breath, no rotten teeth or yellow fingers. No premature aging of skin. I must also add that my doctor rang me a couple of weeks ago to see if I was still alive as they hadn't seen me for years.

Is there something wrong? I will tell you something which alarms me. I have several successful projects going on, and yet every day I worry that I will get lung cancer and not be able to fulfill my tasks. Why? Anything could happen. Life is like a blade of grass. What the feck is this lung cancer thing all about?

Yes, I remember Cadets. Not sure if I ever smoked one though. We smoked Woodbines in the concrete pill box down the hill from the school. Or Passing Clouds.

Don't worry about lung cancer. I'm 3 years older than you, and I've come to the conclusion that the lung cancer scare is all bollocks. Total crap. I'm the same as you, except my teeth are on their last legs (but most likely from having drunk hot, sweet tea all my adult life) (or maybe because I've got genetically "soft teeth").


Hi Frank. Been away. Last comment was yours truly.

Even worse...

Hi Frank! Great column! I think your 780 million pound loss figure is too conservative though. A very important part of economic theory involves what they call "multiplier effects." My guess is that if the ban is causing clear direct losses just from the pub trade of 780 million that the real figure is very likely about triple that amount: almost 2.4 Billion.

If the less quantifiable intangible losses, things like the destruction of the social fabric by the loss of pub-centric life, the conflicts within families over outrageously ridiculous fears of traces of things like secondhand and thirdhand smoke, the depression suffered by individuals who now stay at home and drink more heavily in a lonely atmosphere because they no longer enjoy their pub so much or because that pub has been ban-closed... those things are very hard to put into numbers, but they're very real. They'd knock that 2.4 at least up to 3 billion and perhaps a lot more.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

The 780 million figure is Pete Robinson's, rather than mine. And yes, it would multiply through in lost trade in other businesses. Maybe 2.4 billion would be nearer it.

But I think the social damage is far larger. I've heard figures like 2 million fewer people going to pubs. That's 2 million people spending a lot less time with other people. If such people stop spending 10 hours a week with other people, that's 10 times 52 hours per year, and 3 times that for the three years that the UK smoking ban has been in force. So that's 3120 million hours less socialising by them. And since socialising with people always involves at least one other person, and excluded smokers weren't just talking among themselves, that's 6240 million hours less socialising.

I don't know how economists put a value on people's idle time, but if the UK minimum wage of £5/hr is used, that's £31,200 million, or £31.2 billion, which is 10 times your estimate of the damage done in the 'real' economy.

(This is one reason why prefer the Idle Theory way of seeing, in which money is replaced by time, because the saying that "time is money" also means that money is time.)


It's quite addictive, visiting that site and arguing for freedom. It's a bit like a Facebook game. But man, is it hard work and ultimately depressing. (A bit like a Facebook game).

And ultimately pointless? Probably.


As always, a fantastic and well thought out post Frank.

As we all know, the Nazi's were very overt fans of Eugenics. At the end of the war, all the international fans of Eugenics were very upset at how the Nazi's had disrupted all of their plans - effectively caught red handed. Don't forget that Eugenics was also followed in both England and the USA.

The top Nazi Eugenicists mysteriously disappeared off the the USA to carry on practicing their "science". In my humble opinion, Eugenics is the old name for the new "Lifestyle Medicine", I think this becomes clear if you look at the goals of Lifestyle Medicine, and of course this all ties in with anti-smoking, anti-drinking, anti-food and population control through fear.

Thats my 2 pennies worth!

The Man with Many Chins (can't get my google openID to work here :-(



Test, just a test

Hello. And Bye.

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