Friday, 16 July 2010

Pub trade still ignoring the elephant in the room

It's never a pretty sight when big business colludes with big government, but there is something frankly pathetic about the way the pub industry has conducted itself in recent years.

Every British government in the last twenty years has displayed nothing but contempt for the pub trade. The industry has been regulated and taxed to the brink of disaster. In every battle, the state has sided with neo-prohibitionist health groups who couldn't care less whether pubs live or die (or 'evolve' into sterile licensed cafes and coffee shops, which is effectively what's happening).

And yet, time and again, the pub industry comes back like a battered wife, pretending nothing's wrong and believing that this time it will be different. Stuck in the middle is the consumer, who gets it from both sides. Smokers already know that the pub industry isn't interested in sticking up for them, and now drinkers are getting the same treatment. Or, more precisely, those drinkers who have had the audacity to desert pubs since the smoking ban.

The economics of this are so simple. If you cast out 12 million smoking customers, they will buy their alcohol from supermarkets and drink at home. In a catastrophic misjudgment of cause-and-effect, the pub industry chooses to believe that people suddenly—out of the blue—decided to start buying alcohol from supermarkets in July 2007, thus deserting the pubs. Since this alcohol is cheaper than it is in pubs then, QED, all they need to do is raise the price of supermarket alcohol and all will be well.

And so, strange bed-fellows that they are, the pub industry finds itself in an alliance with the temperance groups in campaigning for more expensive booze. Adam Fowle, the CEO of Mitchell's and Butlers, has come up with the catchy phrase 'binge pricing'. Alcohol Concern must be kicking themselves for not coming up with it first. Playing the role of public health guardian, and resolutely ignoring the smoking ban-shaped elephant in the room, here he is writing for the Morning Advertiser:

The recently enacted mandatory code rightly bans irresponsible promos in the on-trade. Pubs cannot offer “all you can drink for £10”. However, most supermarket offers would drown a man for £10.

The government’s focus on the on-trade is unbalanced as the majority of alcohol is now purchased in the off-trade, with nearly 70% being bought from supermarkets. We believe a level playing field between the off-trade and on-trade should be the minimum requirement.

Yes, it's the fabled 'level-playing field' argument. We've heard that before, have we not? Like in this Mitchell's and Butlers press release from 2006:

There are now two alternatives before Parliament: either the retrograde, food based ban proposed in the Health Bill, which would incentivise large numbers of pubs, mostly in less affluent areas, to remove food and revert to a smoking and drinking offer only; or a full ban with no exemptions. We believe that the level playing field outcome of a full ban would be much the better of the two alternatives.

And how did that work out for Mitchell's and Butlers? Let's have a look at the share price...




You'll notice that the collapse of the share price began almost on the dot of July 1st 2007. Recession? No—that didn't start until October 2008, by which time the company had lost 75% of its value. Supermarket booze? 'Twas ever thus. Bad management? Perhaps, but the story is the same for all the pub companies.

This, for example, is Punch Taverns...




When Punch's profits started to slide in July 2007, it was blamed on a 'wet summer'. Since then, the company has lost 90% of its value. One hell of a wet summer, wasn't it?

If the level-playing field was the best option, one can only wonder what the worst option would have done to the pub industry. Still, here they are again, aligning themselves with their natural enemies and demanding a 'level-playing field'.

Except they don't want a level-playing field at all, what they want is special treatment...

Why not have a much lower rates bill for pubs and a higher one for supermarkets?

Why not lower duty rates for draught beer as opposed to a packaged product? Or what about a lower rate of VAT for alcohol sold with food, which is the policy they adopt in Italy? 

At heart, the problem is that people like Mr Fowle have forgotten—or are wilfully ignoring—the fact that pubs and supermarkets sell different things. It's about so much more than the cost of the liquid in the glass. Supermarkets sell the liquid, pubs sell the experience. And because they sell different things, there can never be a level-playing field.

Consumers aren't stupid. They've always known that they can get their alcohol much more cheaply from the off-trade. They pay (or paid) a premium to go to the pub because pubs sell atmosphere, comfort, entertainment and relaxation. Above all, they sell an environment. That environment changed dramatically in July 2007. For some people, it was a change for the better, but every economic indicator suggests that for pubs' core customer base, it was a change for the worse. People will not pay a premium to stand out on the street. Whether that premium is £2 or 2p makes little difference when there is a comfy sofa and a roaring fire back at home.

So, yes, it's not pretty when business colludes with government, but it's understandable when business feels it can maximise its profits. But when years of collusion have led to nothing but the decimation of your industry, isn't it time to grow a pair?

110 comments:

Bucko said...

I worked for a biggish brewery when the smoking ban came in. All the big breweries spent a fortune complying with the ban. Advertising, staff training and building huge smoking shelters.

If all the breweries had got together, pooled all this money and used it to fight the ban, we probably wouldn't be where we are now.

And now they complain that folk buy their booze from the supermarket? Supermarket booze has always been cheap. The only difference now is its also the more attractive option. Like you say, a couch and a roaring fire at home as opposed to standing outside in the rain being tutted at by the righteous.

It's a no brainer.

Anonymous said...

The share prices are interesting. Are there any financial experts reading this? I thought that share prices always took into account known future events. It was known when the ban would start and the effects of the Irish and Scottish bans. Why, then, did the prices not drop gradually prior to July 1st? And why did they both start falling steeply almost exactly on July 1st? Did the market realise, after just a day or two, that the ban was catastrophic? Surely it would take a month or two to be sure that the smokers weren't just having a temporary sulk? Please, someone enlighten me.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous

The share price was dropping gradually (take a look at BP shares for a quick drop) with the usually rally in between.

No one could truly know the effects of the smoking ban on the UK pub trade until the pub co's started producing quarterly figures for the period that covered the start of the ban.

Many people/share holders may have believed that the ban would have little effect, using Ireland as a comparison is unfair, I send at least 3 months a year there and I can tell you that the provisions for smokers in most pubs are first rate, in many Irish pubs you would barely notice that you're outside. draught taps are available outside, 3 sides of the smoking are is enclosed and a 'temporary roof' structure covers you from the elements. Most Irish pubs are not owned by Pub Co's so the individual owner can quickly accommodate new laws (at a price).

Personally I tired to enjoy the pub once the smoking ban came into effect, but after a few months I just got fed up, me and my wife would regularly go to the pub before the ban, but afterwards it was just a night of us alternatively going outside for a fag, not much fun, like I said, I tired to 'like' but I couldn't, so now we buy bottles from tesco's sit in the house and have a few fags... not brilliant but better than paying a premium to stand in the road!

Anonymous said...

Anon 13.11 here. Thanks, the bit about the Irish smoking areas makes sense. I guess the drop started on July 1st because shareholders saw, to their surprise, that pubs were empty on the day following the ban. Chris, do you have any graphs of fashion, homeware, gym chains etc shareprices - to convince those who still think the drop in share prices was due to the recession?

Smoking Hot said...

Since the pub trade capitulated to the anti-smoking fascists, another culture has grown from it. l think Leg Iron refers to it as the 'Smoky-Drinky' places.

My family and friends are firmly within this culture. We source our tobacco from abroad. We see no reason to source our alcohol from abroad as supermarkets are very competitive to EU prices. If this were to change because of the bleating of our former treacherous hosts 'the pub trade', we would simply purchase our requirements abroad. This is despite HMRC's tactics and harrassment that l deal with on my site. F##k them too!

Added to this, we have also been brewing our own wine and beer. Between us we have quite a production going ... you could call it a cottage industry. More and more people are doing this.

So the pub trade can carry on in cloud cuckooland thinking that if they could raise the prices in supermarkets etc that there customer base would flock back to them. Well, we won't.

l simply could not give a f##k what happens to them. They turned ther backs on us and thought we would be stupid enough to take it ... but we didn't.

Even now, despite there being 2 ways round the smoking ban that l know of, l've not seen one of them try and do it. 'Try' is the wrong word, it should be 'could'.

We got the message loud and clear from the pub trade ... 'they don't want us smokers'. Message recieved and understood.

No here's one for the pub trade 'We don't want you or need you ... so f##k off!'

Anonymous said...

I have difficulty in remembering to buy birthday cards for people who have their birthday on the first of the month. So I suppose some shareholders had selling shares on the to do list for June - seems a bit of an unlikely explanation, though. And at the time the news was dominated by the Blair PM /Brown PM swap which would be a much more important event over all for the markets. But my experience of many pubs in and around Brighton was that the effects of the smoking ban on them was verging on instantaneous, there was no need to wait for published reports! I can only think of al fresco drinking only as being worse for pubs than al fresco smoking only. What a disaster.
Fredrik Eich.

Snowdon said...

Anon 13.11,

This link (http://bit.ly/dnKpzT) shows you the FTSE 100 over the last 5 years. You can see a jitter in 2007 from which shares recovered followed by a plummet in mid-2008. Most of those losses have since been made up.

Anon1 said...

(OT – apologies)
Chris,
Over on Siegel’s blog, the last few threads have involved medical facilities not hiring those that smoke and smoking banned in public outdoor areas in Denville, NJ. El Paso in Texas is also considering (or already passed) similar outdoor bans. Violation of the ordinance can involve jail time. In the case of El Paso, it might involve up to six months imprisonment. This conduct is despicable and very much in line with the Godber Blueprint.
An even more disturbing “development” is a medical facility instituting a policy requiring that patients must be tobacco-free during treatment. This is the demand to comply with deranged ideology or treatment will be withheld.
http://www.mlive.com/news/jackson/index.ssf/2010/07/new_allegiance_health_policy_s.html
(More disturbing than the policy are many of the “comments” on the story)
There is also a post by Sheri on the latest thread on eugenics which is insightful.
The reducing of smokers to persons of no consequence, i.e., denormalization/stigmatization, is the product of a eugenic framework. The World Conferences on Smoking & Health were/are eugenics conferences (antismoking chapter): The arrogance, the haughtiness, the self-righteousness, and the obsession with control are unmistakable. The medical establishment (and its extension - Public Health) is already a dangerous entity – AGAIN.
It seems that few are aware that Public Health is eugenics-driven and that it is essentially on a global scale, entrenched to varying degrees in various countries. The current eugenics – partly masquerading as “healthism – is a continuation of eugenics in early-1900s USA and Nazi Germany. And antismoking was rife during these two periods as it is now.
Chris and others, don’t be afraid to use the “E”[ugenics] word. The materialists don’t like it - and for good reason.

Anonymous said...

Anon1:

I thought I was the only one who had reached your level of understanding.

The trouble is, this time around, the propaganda - both through the media and far more importantly the education system - has had a much longer time to shape the minds of the masses.

It's too late to finally get upset just as they're closing the gas chamber door. That is why this issue, the smoking ban, must be the one to rally around for those who value freedom... including the antis.

I found it very interesting that even Hitler (according to Mein Kampf) didn't hate Jews until his late twenties (or early thirties) even though anti-semitism was rife throughout Germany then, and long prior to then. Perhaps the framework for nazis to effectuate their contemptible order on a people is to first find a group which a lot of people don't like, promote that dislike into hatred, recruit new haters, and thus unite the people. Once united and accepting of the treatment of the hated group, it is very simple to move on to the next group to be targeted.

Unfortunately, there will be no allied forces to come charging in to save the day if we allow ourselves to be drawn into their nightmare utopia.

Well written and concise comment!


Mesmer

Ian R Thorpe said...

The collateral damage from the war on pubs isn't confined to the social fabric of the nation there are jobs lost, and not just in pubs. My son used to make a nice living as a singer / guitarist on the north west pub and club circuit. Now he gets about one gig a month and the money is a lot less than it was. He knows many people from the circuit in the same boat. Some, like him, found jobs, some are doing car boot sales, some busking but most are living on benefits.

DaveA said...

Chris, not forgetting Ted Tuppen and Enterprise Inns. The share price in May 2007 was 774.5p and one year later 487.5. As of the 16th July they are trading at 94.35.

They can't sell their assets quickly enough to stay solvent.

DaveA said...

The FTSE 100 as of 4th July 2007 was 6,639.80 with todays closing price of 5185.85, dropping 52.44 today. A drop of 21.90% in all, far better than the pubcos at 450%-820%.

Snowdon said...

DaveA,

I'm not sure a share price can fall by more than 100% but I take your point. To use your example of Enterprise Inns (or Ted Tuppen?) the SP fell by 87.8%—an incredible drop by any standards. Perhaps someone could work out what the average decline of all Pubcos has been and compare it against the FTSE 100, 250 and related businesses.

Even wearing the biggest sceptic hat in the world it is difficult to find a plausible alternative explanation other than the smoking ban. Mitchell's and Butlers were known to be suffering from poor management around 2008 and yet its graph is remarkably similar to Punch's. Almost identical, in fact, suggesting 'adverse trading conditions', as they say, for the industry.

Rollo Tommasi said...

LOL!! There is something quite breathtaking in the arrogance of the pro-smoking zealots who seem to think they know more about the pub sector than people working in the industry do.

Chris – Why did share prices rise so rapidly throughout 2006 and in the first 2007, when Scotland already had introduced her smoking laws? It can’t be down to Scotland not being important. PubCos and their investors knew the same laws were coming to the rest of the UK and they would have responded to clues about the effects the laws would have on pub businesses.

There were two main reasons why share prices rose in this time. First, the evidence from Scotland was that her smoking laws were having little overall effect on business. Beer sales fell, sure, and many pubs dependent on beer sales were hit. But the fall in beer sales due to the laws was still much smaller than the underlying decline in on-trade beer sales since the late 1990s (as shown by BBPA stats). And, when the laws came into force, sales of food and other drinks increased.

Second, changes in share values were being dictated much more by property values than pub trade. Your graph shows M&B’s share value doubled during 2006 and the first half of 2007. Did trade in their pubs double in this time? Nothing like!! In fact, the rise in M&B’s share prices (with most factors also applying to other PubCos) was due to “strong property market, falling property yields, new real estate investment trust (Reits) legislation - potentially providing pub companies with a more tax-efficient way of organising property assets - and a bid for Mitchells & Butlers by the property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz”.

This article highlights both reasons:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/whos-calling-time-on-the-british-pub-441699.html

Note in particular the sentence: “And evidence from the Scottish smoking ban, which has been in place for almost a year, suggests the pub sector and its shareholders have little reason to panic.”

The fall in the second half of 2007 was due to a drop in property values, a drop in trade and a rise in publicans’ costs. Reasons for the rise in costs? The costs of buying beer and food soared (in the case of beer, largely due to a steep rise in the price of barley and hops). The energy costs for pubs shot up. Rent and mortgage costs rose quickly. Publicans found it harder to borrow from their bank, and the cost of borrowing increased. Pubcos put more pressure on their tenants in an effort to shore up share values. All of this forced publicans to either cut their margins or increase their prices. At the same time, punters started spending tightening their belts, as the credit crunch kicked in. So more people went to the supermarket for their booze than to their local pub or off-license, especially when their boozer was increasing prices where it could.

The smoking laws were surely no more a problem for pubs in England than in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales. So why try to claim the laws are wholly or mostly responsible?

Anon1 said...

The [Mis]Adventures of Rollo of Dim-upon-Daft

At a time when the evil King John ruled the land, Rollo of Dim-upon-Daft roamed from village to village debating with the ordinary folk, proclaiming that the King was only and always good. With the sheer volume of his “debating”, he became known as Rollo the Mass Debater.

Astride his mule, Rollo happened upon another village. Approaching a group of poor villagers, he quipped, “I am Rollo, the Mass Debater”. Casting his gaze from villager to villager, he demanded, “Will you debateth me?”; “or, you?”; “or, you?”. “Who will debateth me?”, Rollo screamed.
“Dear Sir, we are but simple people, madeth poor by the excessive tobacco taxes imposed by the King. We are not familiar with this art of debate”, cometh the reply.
“Ah!! I will debateth this point with thee”, Rollo’s beady little eyes rolling about with glee. “Ye are pitiful smokers, addicted to filth. The goode King seeketh thou redemption through obscene taxes. He taketh no delight in profiting from thou predicament. He is saddened by so much in taxes filling his chests. Speaketh no more ill of thou goode King, you brood of ingrates! …..Debate over. I win.”

On approaching another village, Rollo could clearly see in the distance a scuffle between a villager and two of the King’s officers. As he got closer, the King’s men fled. Coming upon the disheveled, bruised villager, Rollo declared, “I am Rollo, the Mass Debater. What transpireth here? Shalt thou debate.”
“I am a villager. The King’s men robbed me of the little I had”, the beaten villager respondeth.
In a rage, Rollo bellowed, “I will debateth this point with thee. Thou arte a wicked man. The King’s men are goode and benevolent as the King is so. I beareth witness to the entire incident. I observeth that thee striketh one officer in the fist with thy face, and striketh the other in the knee with thy groin. Engage in folly no more and speaketh no further ill of thy goode king. ……Debate over. I win.”

Weeks passeth. Rollo enters a new village. It is a scene of devastation. The village has been burnt to the ground.
Rollo questioneth the terrified villagers huddled together around a small fire, “What be the circumstance here?” The villagers explained that they could not afforde the high taxes on all manner of things demanded by the King. The King’s men pillaged the village and left nothing standing.
Rollo saw his opportunity for debate. “I am Rollo, the Mass Debater, of Dim-upon-Daft. I defendeth the King’s honor through debate. What manner of detestable, conspiring people be thou that ye would set fire to thine own village so that ye may then blame the goode King? The goode King’s goode men that were helping douse the fire of thy making, ye would accuse of arsone. Doest thou not comprehende that the king is goode. If thine perception sayeth otherwise, then it must be thee that is wrong……Duh-eth! ……Debate over. I win.”

In the summer, Rollo relaxed in Balderdash, his favorite of the King’s strongholds. He could barely contain his excitement on hearing the news that two others of the King’s chief debaters, Stanton of Hoodwink and Jonathon the III of Bellicosia, were also sojourning in Balderdash. “Finally”, acknowledged Rollo, “the three most noted debaters in the land – the Master Debaters and the Mass Debater – together, collaborating in honoring the goode king”.
Jolly goode!

DaveA said...

Hi Rollo, I hope you are well.

I am glad you mentioned Scotland as it is the emperical evidence that the smoking ban is so decisive in pub closures. (AC) Nielsen PLC the independent analysts who get paid whether sales go up or down, found that while sales declined in Scotland they rose on England when one had a smoking ban. This is a press release entitled "Scottish smoking ban having major impact on pub sales" you can read the gory details.

In the meantime I will research the share prices of Scottish hospitality companies that are FTSE listed.

"Since the smoking ban took effect on March 26th, liquor sales in Scottish pubs have been lagging well behind their English and Welsh counterparts at 2.9% versus 6.5% respectively”., said Eleni Nicholas, MD of ACNielsen UK & Ireland. (ACNielsen PubTrack* 18 weeks through to week ending 29.07.06). The smoking ban in Scotland has cost publicans an average of 3 fewer servings per week, compared to England’s buoyant pub food and drink sales which increased by an average of 54 servings per week for the same period." and "Ahead of the July 1st smoking ban in England, reporting by market research company Nielsen, has identified that the On-Trade is likely to see a marked decline in alcohol volume in the coming year. Analysis of a year’s worth of sales data from Scotland following the ban there last March has identified that volume in licensed premises had fallen some 5%. When compared with trends in England and Wales over the same period, the numbers suggest that the majority of this decline (4%) can be attributed to the smoking ban." That is a non smoking environent produced a 10% drop in beer sales.

http://uk.nielsen.com/news/pr20060831.shtml

Rollo Tommasi said...

Hi Dave

Yes I am well, thanks. Hope you are too.

Glad you mention the AC Nielsen research because it backs up my case. Nielsen estimates that the smoking laws costs pubs around 4% of their liquor sales, but also provided extra food sales.

What successful pub business suddenly collapses for want of 4% of its liquor sales?

Based on 2007 on-trade beer sales, a 4% annual reduction in on-trade beer sales accounts for 740,000 barrels. But since 1997, these sales have fallen by 10.5 million barrels (7.05 million of which occurred before 2007). Source: BBPA

http://www.beerandpub.com/industryArticle.aspx?articleId=217.

Assuming the Nielsen figures are right, some 93% of the drop in on-trade UK beer sales since 1997 have nothing to do with the smoking laws.

So why do you continue to pretend that the smoking laws are the main cause of pubs’ problems?

Rollo Tommasi said...

Anon1 - Thank you for your tale. I enjoyed reading it.

Can you do anything other than story telling?

Belinda said...

'There is something quite breathtaking in the arrogance of the pro-smoking zealots who seem to think they know more about the pub sector than people working in the industry do.'

Those people would have imposed a ban on themselves if it were really good for business.

Rollo Tommasi said...

If the smoking laws really were the biggest problem facing pubs, "those people" (as you describe them Belinda) would have argued that point forcefully.

Belinda said...

Not if it gives them an opportunity to lobby on other issues that they feel they have more chance of influencing. If smoking bans were so good for business they had no need to wait for legislation before implementing it.

The issue of damage to the licensed trade is something of a red herring anyway (unless you are unfortunate enough to own a pub): the clear fact is that there was never any need for a ban in the first place. Those politicians who saw the other problems within the trade should have realised this before they imposed the ban and made a bad situation worse.

If it was the intention of most customers to stay away from the pubs because of beer prices, why were we told that the beer prices were keeping people out? They should have let the smokers keep the pubs, because they valued the experience enough to spend a bit more.

Belinda said...

I mean ... why were we told that the smoke was keeping people out.

Smoke would keep people out but the lack of smoking facilities would not. That's logical.

All that was needed was an air quality standard that air cleaning equipment would have to meet at a given price within a given time scale. There was never any need for a ban. We might still have seen a slight slump in trade and share values but probably nothing like what has occurred.

And we would not have had a section of society marginalised by an official ban on their enjoying any indoor recreational space, anywhere, even if non-smokers are not involved.

DaveA said...

@Rollo

There does not seem to be many Scottish pubcos big enough for a stock market listing. My background is investment banking recruitment and have a very good working knowledge of markets, so you may of picked on the wrong topic.

However it did not take long to research the Scottish Bingo industry, here we go.

The article from the BBC is dated May 2007 one year after the ban.

"In Scotland, 10 clubs have already closed down since the ban was enforced last April - and more are set to follow."

"However, as the smoking ban in enclosed spaces is introduced, experts are predicting disaster, with up to one in three clubs facing possible closure."

"The effect of the smoking ban in Scotland's been a lot worse than we thought it was going to be," says Neil Goulden, chief executive of Gala Bingo.

"We've actually now lost 8% of our customer base who have stopped coming altogether."

"Clubs have traditionally made most of their money during breaks in the main bingo session.

This is when people play table top or so called cash bingo - a faster version of the main game.

Although the stakes are low, table top bingo generates significant profits - in some cases, as much as 45% of all the money taken by the club.

But gambling rules dictate that this faster and potentially more expensive version of the game can only be played during the interval, which is when smokers are heading outside for a cigarette."

"Mike Lowe, manager of Premier Bingo in Kirkcaldy estimates that during the interval, more than 40% of his customers leave the hall to have a cigarette outside.

This means a significant drop in profits.

"When you look at a loss of around 40% of your bottom line, that's devastating, and I'm not sure as operators where we move from here," Mr Lowe says."

This is a very hard piece to edit Rollo.

"A lot of people who play bingo are widows, people whose husbands have died or are ill, and they're carers, and they manage to get two hours away from the strain and stress and demands of domestic life."

Rollo I hope that based on the lies of passive smoking that to conform to the way you want me and other people to live ther lives there is a price to pay. Some more expensive than others.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6665391.stm

DaveA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Snowdon said...

What is breath-taking, Rollo, is that anti-smoking zealots like you think you know what a pub’s customers want better than the landlord. Certainly, there was a feeling in early 2007 that the ban in England wouldn’t be as damaging as it turned out to be, largely thanks to articles like the one you’ve cited and PR from groups like ASH. But it wasn’t long before those articles were replaced by ones like this:

'Pubs giant slumps as smoke ban saps sales' The Evening Standard (November 2007)
'Pub beer flattened by smoking ban' The Guardian (January 2008)
'Smoking ban begins to bite into brewers' profits' LDP Business (February 2008)
'Wetherspoon chokes on smoking ban' The Herald (March 2008)

‘Pub crisis: 27 close each week’ (Morning Advertiser, March 2008)
Pubs have been closing at the rate of 27 a week – nearly four every day – over the past year as the savage impact of the smoking ban and spiralling costs combined to decimate the very heart of British life.
http://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/news.ma/article/57964


Punch Taverns writes off 491 value-less pubs hit by the smoking ban
Pub chain Punch Taverns swung into the red with a £80m loss before tax, after writedowns of nearly £300m on 491 pubs that no longer have value for the group.
 The company lay the blame on the first full year of smoke-free pubs and the consumer downturn for the writedowns of £154.8m on its leased properties and £138.9m on its managed properties, which are now "unlikely to generate long-term sustainable growth".
The group blamed the £80m loss on the writedowns and margins under pressure from increased wholesale food and energy prices.
Drink sales declined in line with expectations, as the chain turned its attention to food sales in a bid to reverse the loss of custom from smokers

"The smoking ban and weaker consumer environment has impacted both the level of footfall and spend per visit, resulting in a reduction in beer volumes, as seen across the sector," a statement from the board said.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/epic/pub/3377760/Punch-Taverns-writes-off-491-value-less-pubs-hit-by-the-smoking-ban.html

As that last comment suggests, “the people working in industry” are acutely aware of the fact that the smoking ban has been hugely damaging. ASH and yourself are the last people in Britain to pretend otherwise.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Belinda and Dave – Are you unable to keep to the topic of this thread?

Belinda – you claim “The issue of damage to the licensed trade is something of a red herring anyway”. Well if that’s what you believe, then you should take the issue up with Chris. Because this very blog is about how the smoking laws have supposedly caused so much damage to our pub industry.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Dave: You say “There does not seem to be many Scottish pubcos big enough for a stock market listing.” That’s irrelevant. The point is that the major UK pubcos have a presence in Scotland, just as they have in England. They knew the effects of the smoking laws on their Scottish establishments and could anticipate well what the effects would be elsewhere in the UK. The fact that the pubcos’ share prices kept rising for 15 months after the Scottish laws came into force shows how the companies and their shareholders were not particularly concerned about the smoking laws in England coming into force.

It is also bizarre that you argue that the Scottish pub industry is different, when you have just used material from AC Nielsen, based on their research into the smoking laws in Scotland!

As for your comments about bingo halls Dave, they are so off-topic to be like one of my golf drives. And they ignore a whole heap of other issues affecting the bingo industry in recent years.

Belinda said...

Yes I remember Mike Lowe. In full knowledge of the damage wrought by smoking bans to the bingo industry he presented a petition on taxes ... http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/smoking-ban-forces-rank-to-close-bingo-halls-436452.html. He and Peter Fry of the Bingo Association together decided that the damage was a price worth paying.

Fry: 'The industry stands by its decision to support a total ban in England and Wales, but is asking what support can it expect during what is set to be a challenging time that may damage the bingo industry irrevocably, leaving players far less choice.' http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=mike+lowe+smoking+ban+support&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai= (Word doc press release)

Don Foster Lib Dem, 13 May 2009, http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2009-05-13c.963.0. 'It is worth remembering that the Bingo Association supported the smoking ban, even though it recognised that it would cause a problem for its members. I admire the association for making that decision.' I don't admire it, and I certainly don't understand it.

The top men make these decisions not because they think the smoking ban doesn't damage business, but in spite of their knowledge that it will damage business.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Chris: I have read the articles you link to and I read a whole list of reasons for pubs’ problems. To quote the MA article:

““Britain’s pubs are grappling with spiralling costs, sinking sales, fragile consumer confidence and the impact of the smoking ban,” said BBPA chief executive Rob Hayward.”

You can also add to that, tenant publicans’ fears about the effects of their ties to PubCos.

We agree that pubs have suffered badly in recent years. The difference is what we blame for this. I point to many different factors, just as those in the pub industry do. In fact I have already acknowledged that the smoking laws have had some effect. You, on the other hand, try to pretend that the smoking laws alone are responsible for most or all of the industry’s woes.

I’ve tried to attribute what effect the smoking laws might have had on the pub industry (a 4% drop in liquor sales, with an increase in food sales). That’s based on the AC Nielsen research. And, as I said before, while some pubs have suffered more than others, that represents only about 7% of the total drop on on-trade liquor sales which pubs have suffered since 1997.

So here’s a challenge for you Chris. If you think a larger fall in pub income is directly attributable to the smoking laws, show me your calculations, your sources and your reasoning.

Belinda said...

No one is denying that other factors don't affect pubs and bingo halls Rollo, but very few things would cause people en masse to change where they were drinking from one month in 2007 to the next (or 2006 in Scotland), and they don't include beer prices in the supermarket. Watching pub closures jump from under 10 to 39 and then 52 per week, it's hard to escape the logic that the smoking ban caused much damage to business and business confidence.

And much of the damage was avoidable, all it would have taken was political will. Had smokers not been excluded they would have been far more interested in maintaining the pubs, but there is always a price to marginalising and denormalising legal activities.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Belinda - You rightly point to the rapid increase in pub closure numbers after 2007. But you completely downplay the range of factors involved in that. I’ve already listed the many contributory factors, but let me repeat them:

1. The costs of buying beer and food shot up (in the case of beer, largely due to a steep rise in the price of barley and hops).
2. The energy costs for pubs shot up.
3. Rent and mortgage costs rose quickly.
4. Pubcos put more pressure on their tenants in an effort to shore up share values.
5. Publicans found it harder to borrow from their bank, and the cost of borrowing increased.
6. Punters started spending tightening their belts, as the credit crunch kicked in. So more people went to the supermarket for their booze than to their local pub or off-license.

In 2006, the smoking laws came into force in Scotland, but none of these other factors arose. Result? No great change in pub revenues (alcohol sales fell a bit; food sales rose a bit); no rush of pub closures.

In 2007, the smoking laws came into force in England, and at the same time these other factors struck. Result? Rapid fall in pub revenues; rapid jump in pub closures.

So don’t pretend the smoking laws are the main cause of the problems facing our pubs.

Belinda said...

Stop pretending that you are the only person who sees this problem in more than two dimensions, Rollo. There were clearly many problems facing the pub industry. Introducing a smoking ban was completely the wrong thing to do. Smokers were loyal customers and have been for decades if not centuries.

The issue is simple, of all the options open to the government in respect of pubs they chose the worst option. They have done the smoking population a huge disservice at the same time. Saying there were other factors in the mix is no excuse, in fact it aggravates the offence that the law has caused to all of us.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Well why don’t you act like you see this problem in more than two dimensions, Belinda? You are clearly unable to demonstrate that the smoking laws are the major cause of the plight facing pubs. So you turn instead to a “pity the poor smokers” argument, built on little more than hyperbole.

The facts are these. Long-term health risks for non-smoking punters are reduced because of the smoking laws. Long-term health risks for staff are reduced because of the smoking laws. Irritations like stinging eyes, induced coughs or nausea, tainted clothes, etc, are reduced because of the smoking laws. And in fact many smokers prefer to be in non-smoking environments, so they can control the urge to light up.

And while you may claim the laws cause “offence….to all of us” as if you were the public’s true representative, the truth is very different. Opinion surveys show that the smoking laws are supported by a large majority of the UK public, including almost half of smokers.

Anon1 said...

.......and the king’s "honour" is well-defended by the Mass Debater once more.

Snowdon said...

Well done Belinda. You got Trollo citing ASH surveys and banging on about secondhand smoke in record time. This takes him sufficiency off-topic to bring the debate to a close days ahead of schedule. Thanks to all who participated.

*click*

*off*

*gone*

Rollo Tommasi said...

ASH surveys? Absolutely wrong!

ME taking the subject off-topic? Chris Snowdon knows perfectly well I was simply responding to Belinda's own points.

This blog argues that the smoking laws are "the elephant in the room" as far as pub closures are concerned. Yet Chris Snowdon has been completely unable to demonstrate why.

I set Chris a totally reasonable, relevant and ON-topic challenge. He ducked it first time. And he's now trying to curtail debate on this subject because he knows he's getting stuffed.

Here's a reminder of my challenge for Chris: If you think a larger fall in pub income is directly attributable to the smoking laws, show me your calculations, your sources and your reasoning.

Anon1 said...

.....onward trusty mule. There is much more mass debating to be done!

DaveA said...

Of course Uncle Tim Martin pre ban tried non smoking pubs at Wetherspoons, if you want a bit more emprical evidence. Some pubs went smoke free and new ones were smoke free when opend. Within 9 months he abandoned the project with smokers desserting and plunging profits. The articcle is March 2006 a good year before the ban.

"JD Wetherspoon ends no-smoking trial· Proposed ban in 630 pubs is scrapped"

"JD Wetherspoon has called time on a bold experiment to extend its smoking ban beyond 49 of its pubs after the company faced plunging alcohol and slot machine revenues and a backlash from increasingly disgruntled regular customers.

Profits from 37 pubs that were converted to non-smoking dropped by 20% for the three months to January 22 (new pubs are automatically designated non-smoking). Revenues dropped 7.6% with alcohol sales believed to have declined by 17% and fruit machine earnings down by about a quarter. Lower margin food sales grew by about 10% and now represent about 39% of the sales mix at the non-smoking pubs."

"However, Mr Hutson confirmed plans to ban smoking in all 630 Wetherspoon pubs by May had been scrapped. "We have decided to await the complete ban imposed by the government in 2007." He said there had been signs of a backlash against Wetherspoon's smoking ban experiment from some customers who he said were asking: "Why are you doing this? It is going to happen anyway. Why are you doing it now?"

"However, Mr Hutson confirmed plans to ban smoking in all 630 Wetherspoon pubs by May had been scrapped. "We have decided to await the complete ban imposed by the government in 2007." He said there had been signs of a backlash against Wetherspoon's smoking ban experiment from some customers who he said were asking: "Why are you doing this? It is going to happen anyway. Why are you doing it now?"

"A 5% initial reduction in sales would be sufficient to reduce pretax profit by at least 25% ... For some stocks, investors should look through the smoking ban, but for Wetherspoon the impact is likely to be deeper and longer."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2006/mar/04/health.smoking

Anon1 said...

Chris & Dave,
You might be interested in this article from 2001 when Stanton Glantz (aka Sly Sparkle) graced your shores. His eugenic eminence – the Poobah of propaganda, Sly, indicated how wonderful, blissful even, smoking bans would be for everyone.

Stanton Glantz, a key player in passing California's ban on smoking in bars, workplaces and public buildings, urged London on Thursday to implement similar regulations. "The fact that these laws have worked so well in California means they can work anywhere in the world," Glantz told a committee of the Greater London Assembly--the equivalent of a city council or board of supervisors. "It's ready to happen here in London."

On a day when British newspaper editorials called Glantz the "arch-creep" and "high priest of the American anti-smoking movement," members of the committee challenged Glantz at almost every turn. He seemed unfazed by the criticism, saying that even simply engaging in the debate shows London's interest in restricting smoking.

"Actually, in this country we try to accommodate everyone as long as what they're doing is legal," said Angie Bray, a Conservative Party assembly member and smoker. She said a ban on smoking amounted to an infringement of civil liberties--something that might go over in the United States, she said, but wouldn't work in more tolerant Britain, where about 1 in 4 smokes.

Prompting chuckles from the audience, Glantz countered, "We have a saying in America that goes like this: Your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins." He argued that secondhand smoke causes severe health problems, such as cancer and heart disease.

Lynne Featherstone of the Liberal Democratic Party asked how far such restrictions could go. She said she had visited a beach in Carmel where smoking, eating and listening to radios were prohibited and said that amounted to a "no fun" policy.
But at the end of the hearing, Featherstone approached Glantz with a handshake and said she had been "completely converted."

These figures, along with recent interest in the issue by British tobacco control advocates, lead Glantz to believe that London is ready for a California-style ban. He said that Londoners would come to like the policy because it makes it easier for people to quit smoking and creates a more pleasant indoor environment.


My, how things changed from that initial reception. The point that Sly was correct about, given that he had foreknowledge of the propaganda onslaught to come, was:

"I'll be very surprised if a couple years from now London hasn't gone through with this," he [Glantz] said.

http://85.18.251.150/10e/roadshow.htm

Anonymous said...

Anon 13.11 here. First, not for the first time, Rollo refers to us as pro-smoking zealots. I am a smoker, but rather than try and convert people to smoking, I would advise them not to start. Very few people are pro smoking. Most are pro choice.

Second, with the pubs there are two issues: the share price and the success of the pub businesses. Property prices may or may not have a big effect on the SP but, unless the pubs increased their prices massively in 2007 perhaps as a response to falling profits and SP, they don't explain the phenomenal increase in pub closures. I don't recall massive price increases. So, pubs shut because the customers stopped going in. To me, the smoking ban seems the most likely cause. ASH UK claims that the total number of on licences issued has risen since the ban. I can't find these statistics anywhere, but if it's true I'm guessing the increase is due to small bistros and cafe bars opening. I don't think the customers of the pubs which have shut, have migrated to these places to drink alcohol. It seems that people just stayed at home and drank supermarket beer. They didn't do this because they were short of money. Mortgage costs were at an all time low and anybody with a job was doing very well. Employment was still high. Surely that is why pubs want a minimum alcohol price.

Third, various save the pub types of campaign want the smoking ban amended. This may be helpful but it keeps in the public's mind the idea that the smoking ban should be amended for economic reasons. I don't agree. For one thing, they might decide in future that smoking should again be banned. Neither do I agree that opinion polls, whoever pays for them and whatever they claim to show, are relevant. My argument is that the state should not be preventing groups of adults renting or buying premises and smoking in them.

Rollo Tommasi said...

DaveA: It is very interesting to compare your quotes, before the smoking laws, with what JD Wetherspoon said AFTER the laws were introduced.

"Overall, the only sales going down are for beer. Since the ban in Scotland we are finding new customers, people who previously didn't visit pubs. If we can make a decent coffee, the margins are similar to beer." (Jim Clarke, JDW Finance Director, March 2007 – 12 months after Scotland introduced her laws) - http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/whos-calling-time-on-the-british-pub-441699.html

“Customers are slowly adapting to the non-smoking environment….That is simply mirroring the effect in other countries which have brought in smoking bans, where after a time, maybe a year maybe two years, the customer returns.” (Tim Martin, JDW Chairman, September 2008) - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/article-1052662/Wetherspoon-calls-end-pubs-gloom-registering-5-5-rise-sales.html

What quotes like these show is that JDW are comfortable with the smoking laws. It also shows that, if you operate a pub, you cannot expect to get a shedload of new customers into your pub simply by choosing to make your pub non-smoking. Potential new customers need time to know and understand that your pub doesn’t allow smoking. They also need assurance that the non-smoking policy will be enforced and they’re not going to encounter smokers ignoring your rules.

That’s a pretty important lesson for those who argue that publicans could simply have chosen to turn themselves into non-smoking watering holes, without the need for smoking laws.

Belinda said...

'Well why don’t you act like you see this problem in more than two dimensions, Belinda? You are clearly *unable to demonstrate that the smoking laws are the major cause of the plight facing pubs.* So you turn instead to a *“pity the poor smokers”* argument, built on little more than hyperbole.'

Rollo, sorry to let you down by not succeeding in something that I wasn't trying to do in the first place. I've already said that in the face of enormous difficulties facing the pub trade the government made the wrong decision by implementing a comprehensive smoking ban.

And where did I mention 'poor smokers'? Smokers have indeed been sidelined as pub customers, to the detriment of both pubs and customers as many non-smokers will testify. However my point was that the legislation wasn't necessary.

Health is not a reason for agreeing with legislation that significantly erodes people's autonomy. Some people don't like the smell of smoke. Some pubs see themselves gaining a competitive advantage. Health is not a reason for this kind of interference but an excuse. Enjoy your polls. As anon says 15.08 they make very little difference to the rights and wrongs of the situation (even if one believed them).

Some people find another kind of excuse for laying down the law ... women in Gaza – not men – have been banned from hookah smoking, in a bid to bring down divorce rates http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/07/18/gazas-hamas-police-ban-women-smoking-water-pipes-cafes-claim-leads-divorce/?.

Dick Puddlecote said...

"LOL!! There is something quite breathtaking in the arrogance of the pro-smoking zealots who seem to think they know more about the pub sector than people working in the industry do."

I lived in a pub for 12 years, Rollo.

How many you? ;)

Snowdon said...

Thanks for the challenge Rollo but I will resist. Any attempt to isolate one factor amongst so much background noise could only result in a dodgy statistic. Perhaps you should ask Anna Gilmore.

BTW, the property crash and the credit crunch came well after the smoking ban.

Junican said...

A quick word.

I have just VERY RAPIDLY checked a listed company in the property section of the Financial Times. I picked the first one listed. That is The Big Yellow Group.

Here are their share price variations since 2006:

End 2006 700
Mid 2007 500
End 2007 400
Mid 2008 300
End 2008 200
Mid 2009 400
End 2009 300

The share price graph indicates a gradual decline to the low point in 2008 and a recovery to present.
This is a property cum storage company. I have not had time yet to look at other similar listed property companies, but if they also follow a similar progress, it rather gives the lie to the claim that property values are the reason for the sudden fall of Pubco share values in 2007 and their continuing sever weakness. Doesn't it?

DaveA said...

One of my colleagues at the Progressive Conservatives Stephen Hoffman has written a particularly well informed piece on the smoking ban for The Freedom Association (TFA). The TFA includes such worthies as Roger Helmer MEP and Philip Davies MP. He obviously has done his research properly, I am sure you would like to comment and praise such a good article.

http://www.tfa.net/tfa_blog/2010/07/the-effects-of-the-smoking-ban-in-public-places.html#tp

Rollo Tommasi said...

Belinda: I see you wish to continue this off-topic discussion. Don’t worry – I don’t see our friendly host castigating you for not sticking to the subject of this thread.

You argue “in the face of enormous difficulties facing the pub trade the government made the wrong decision by implementing a comprehensive smoking ban.” But remember the Scottish smoking laws came onto force before the real crisis for the pub trade started, as was the decision to introduce smoking laws in England. The best available evidence suggested that the laws should not have a bad effect on the pub trade overall. By and large, it appears that overall assessment was about right – although it disguises the fact that the laws hit different businesses in different ways, some positive, others negative.

I don’t accept the premise of your statement that “Health is not a reason for agreeing with legislation that significantly erodes people's autonomy”. Legislation is certainly justified where actions harm the health of other people, as smokers do to those around them. As I said before, long-term health risks for non-smoking punters are reduced because of the smoking laws. Long-term health risks for staff are reduced because of the smoking laws. Irritations like stinging eyes, induced coughs or nausea, tainted clothes, etc, are reduced because of the smoking laws. And in fact many smokers prefer to be in non-smoking environments, so they can control the urge to light up. Do you really think it is more important to avoid placing some smokers at minor inconvenience than to achieve these benefits?

As for your final remark about hookah smoking in Gaza, I have absolutely no idea what that has to do with this debate.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Chris: You are in no position to criticise Anna Gilmore. You’re the one claiming the smoking laws are “the elephant in the room” concerning pubs’ problems. Yet you are attributing cause without evidence – you are totally unable to quantify any causal effect from the smoking laws.

And don’t try to palm off other factors with a completely unsubstantiated claim that “the property crash and the credit crunch came well after the smoking ban”. For the benefit of you and Junican, here’s a little history lesson.

The crash in investment property values (which is how PubCos mainly viewed pubs) actually took place in July 2007. See these links:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/gavyn-davies-overleveraged-credit-markets-an-accident-waiting-to-happen-459562.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/investing/6130046/Is-commercial-property-on-the-up.html

And consumer confidence was suffering long before the recession officially started. Even at the start of July 2007, the public were suffering from increasing interest rates and pressures on household income:

“Faced with rising costs, families are having to dig into their savings to finance their everyday spending for the first time in almost 20 years. Household budgets are already stretched to an "unprecedented extent", an analysis by experts at PricewaterhouseCoopers showed.” - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1556644/Interest-rates-rise-hits-millions-of-mortgages.html

See also this article: http://www.euromonitor.com/UK_consumer_pay_packets_under_pressure

Pressures of rising food costs, etc continued throughout the rest of 2007 and into 2008. See, for example, this article:
http://www.financemarkets.co.uk/2007/08/27/inflation-set-to-surge-on-food-prices/

Anon1 said...

Rollo,

Haven’t you had enough mass debating for one day?

Snowdon said...

Property prices peaked in August 2007. Northern Rock fell in September 2007. Lehmann brothers fell in September 2008. The UK entered recession in the last quarter of 2008. All of this is after the smoking ban, no?

Pub closures have gone from 2 a week to 39 a week. Share prices of Pubcos have utterly collapsed, far more sharply than that of property-related companies like Rightmove, or the FTSE 100, FTSE 250 or AIM.

No previous property crash or recession has led to pubs closing on anything like this scale. No serious observer inside or outside the industry denies that the smoking ban has been damaging.

The rate of pub closures echoes the situation in Ireland which brought in a ban during an unequivocal boom.

Even newspapers which agreed with the ban, eg. Guardian, Independent, now accept that it has damaged the pub trade. Dozens, if not hundreds, of news stories have appeared in the regional press with landlords saying they have closed down because of the smoking ban.

Apart from that, no, I've got no proof at all.

Get a grip, Rollo. Seriously.

Rollo Tommasi said...

I repeat. The crash for investment property occurred in July 2007 – check my sources. That’s a huge explanation for the sudden fall in share values in late July/early August, which had previously risen rapidly despite poor profits in the pub trade because of rising property values.

The Northern Rock collapse amplified a constraint in consumer confidence which had already started – again I have sourced. It didn’t need a recession for that to start.

You claim “No previous property crash or recession has led to pubs closing on anything like this scale.” But the pub market is totally different now. Pub beer sales have halved since 1979 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/nov/20/drink.foodanddrink). The trade was already having to adapt and pull in new customers to survive like never before.

You claim “No serious observer inside or outside the industry denies that the smoking ban has been damaging.” Who’s denying that? I’m not.

In fact, you’re the one who’s been trying to argue that these people are wrong. You’re the one claiming all of these serious observers have underplayed the significance of the smoking laws. And yet you can give no evidence why their multi-faceted explanation for the crisis in the pub trade and collapse in share values is wrong and your myopic reasoning is right. Likewise, newspapers may refer to the smoking laws in their headlines, but their analyses recognise that many factors are at play.

You now try to bring in a comparison with the situation in Ireland. Yet you ignore the far, far more appropriate comparison with Scotland, where our pub trade coped pretty well overall with the introduction of our pub laws.

All of which shows Chris, why you have completely failed to make your “elephant in the room” claim stick.

Belinda said...

You've corroborated what I said Rollo. Seriously what landlord would agree willingly to a serious loss of autonomy over his business, the requirement to throw out his customers, put signs up everywhere, if he didn't believe that he was in a position to take advantage of a weaker competitor's loss of custom.

You are quite right, the overall figures mask serious losses by some and gains by others. It might not bother you but actually the sectors that have lost do matter, they represent loss of livelihood to the licensee and loss of a social facility to the customer.

That's why many parts of Scotland actually don't have the service of a pub. http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/anger-at-closure-of-thousands-of-licensed-premises-1.1038961. Yes, most of this has happened since 2007/2008 but the position of the pub trade would have been far stronger if smoking had not eroded the customer base of pubs.

Fredrik Eich said...

Rollo, I can't comment on Scotlandshire because it is north of Lewes! I remember Pubs in 1986 when unemployment was ~3,000,000 and you had to push hard on the doors to get in on non-school nights - consumer confidence or not. 1986 is not 2007 but 1986 did not have a smoking ban either. In the first few months of the smoking ban, I noticed pubs that had plenty of customers in June were selling at two pounds a pint in August and still not getting customers. In June I could have taken you to pubs where I would expect to see people who would have been there for decades but were gone in August. Now I grant you this is anecdotal evidence but in Brighton we are cushioned
by many factors including two Universities. My feeling is that, if Brighton can be affected badly by a smoking ban then anywhere can. I see the possible cause and effect for al fresco only smoking as plausible as the expected affects for al fresco only drinking or al fresco only dining. I would think that al fresco smoking is the least damaging of the three but just as plausible and an identical mechanism. I think the significant difference between pub closures and heart attacks is that
there is little in the data to discuss when it comes to heart attacks and a lot more to discuss when it comes to pub closures - a clear trend break in one but not the other.
If I were speculating in 2007, I would say the clever money, even without the benefit of hindsight, was on pubs closing all day long. In my thinking, if highly prejudiced stakeholders can undervalue evidence such as this then it is easy to see how they can overvalue other evidence precipitated by systems that are likely to generate more false positives than not due to systemic weakness and that's not even talking about proving a mechanism beyond all reasonable doubt.


What would you bet your money on?

Bet A: Smoking ban to immediately reduce heart attacks
Bet B: Smoking ban to immediately close pubs.

If I were a Pub Co share holder I would have bet B. It's a highly plausible mechanism that would on a balance of probabilities have a weaker effect that al fresco only drinking or al fresco only dining.

Anonymous said...

All of the above is why the nazis always say "the debate is over".

Statistics!

If this type of debate was allowed in the MSM, people (including politicians who were not already dyed-in-the-wool nazis)would quickly determine that the debate is nowhere near over and decide that the best approach would be to let the pubs decide for themselves and the people would patronize smoking or non-smoking pubs as they saw fit. The market would determine the proper breakdown of each.

But no, the nazis push their agenda through on the basis of workers health. And the risk? Much like Jim Carry in "Dumb and Dumber" when the girl he is wooing, in an attempt to spare his feelings by admitting that there is a one in a billion chance she might be his girl, the nazis say "Yes! There is a chance"

Mesmer

Anonymous said...

All of the above is why the nazis always say "the debate is over".

Statistics!

If this type of debate was allowed in the MSM, people (including politicians who were not already dyed-in-the-wool nazis)would quickly determine that the debate is nowhere near over and decide that the best approach would be to let the pubs decide for themselves and the people would patronize smoking or non-smoking pubs as they saw fit. The market would determine the proper breakdown of each.

But no, the nazis push their agenda through on the basis of workers health. And the risk? Much like Jim Carry in "Dumb and Dumber" when the girl he is wooing, in an attempt to spare his feelings by admitting that there is a one in a billion chance she might be his girl, the nazis say "Yes! There is a chance"

Mesmer

Rollo Tommasi said...

Belinda: Actually the livelihoods of the licensees do matter to me. But they are not the only people who matter.

While you prefer not to talk about about anyone other than licensees, I also care about the staff and punters whose health is placed at risk because other people choose to smoke around them.

And, like I seem constantly to repeat on this thread, there is nothing in your link about pub closures which puts most of the blame on the smoking laws.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Fredrik – You make several points, all based on perceptions of problems for pubs and perceptions of the risks of passive smoking. But what are the facts?

I’ve given my best understanding about the amount of harm caused by the smoking laws – about a 4% loss of liquor sales in 2006-07, but with some added food sales. Any loss is regrettable, sure, but that is small in the context of the total loss of sales for the pub trade in recent years. And nobody is able to offer any better alternative assessment of what size of loss is attributable to the smoking laws.

As for your comments about the risks of passive smoking, you are being a bit cheeky with the evidence when you talk about studies into the acute risks of heart attacks. The smoking laws were introduced because of the strong evidence linking passive smoking with long-terms risks of lung cancer and heart disease. Most of the studies into acute risks (which, as you may know, I have never signed up to) took place after our smoking laws came into force.

And I actually don’t know what your problem is with the Stayner study. Add first sight the methodology of this meta-analysis seems reasonable. And its relative risk finding of 1.24 ((5% CI 1.18-1.29) is very much in keeping with conclusions from other reports.

Like everyone else who has commented Fredrik, you offer nothing to back up Chris Snowdon's original claim that the smoking laws are "the elephant in the room" so far as the plight of pubs is concerned.

Belinda said...

Rollo

Risk: I refer you to the graph on heart attacks posted by Fredrik. Do you think the Scottish government is still insisting that heart attacks dropped by 17 per cent now that the English government has dropped their claim to the (still undemonstrable) 2.4 per cent?

You might be more successful in arguments if you didn't keep claiming that people are not proving things they never set out to prove. I posted the link from the Herald saying clearly that it was about closures from 2007/8. It was not meant to prove that the smoking ban caused all the damage but that the licensed trade would have been far stronger without the smoking ban.

First you accuse us of myopia, then you accuse us of failing to come out with myopic statements.

DaveA said...

@Rollo

Just to end with the perfect empirical evidence let us go to Ireland's ban in March 2004. No pubcos there, supermarket booze is cheap too, and 2004-5 GDP growth was +7% a boom time. So no limp excuses here Rollo. Inurban areas 15% of pubs closed and 25% of rural pubs closed. The excess in rural areas can be put down to a crackdown on drinking and driving.

Source: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist, A History of Anti-Smoking.

Author Chris Snowdon.

Belinda said...

Further you missed the entire point of posting the Herald piece Rollo, which is to show that while some sectors might gain a little, others have lost considerably to the extent that there are just no licensed outlets and customers have to drive miles ... if they have transport. This is expensive and corrosive of social cohesion. Before you say it, the new licensing laws have done nothing to help the situation.

Beside all this current misery, social isolation, and inconvenience you are asking me to consider projected ill health that will not happen now if it was ever to do with smoking or passive smoke in the first place.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Belinda – As I have already explained to Fredrik, research about acute health risks of passive smoking have nothing to do with this debate, as the smoking laws were not introduced on the back of those studies.

I stand by my response to your previous post. I understood the point of the Herald article perfectly. It is you who should read it again. There is nothing in that article which backs up your claim “that the licensed trade would have been far stronger without the smoking ban”. The article makes no effort to investigate what kind of effect the laws have had on the pub trade. In fact there is only one passing reference to the smoking laws in the entire article.

So you are loading most of the blame for the “current misery, social isolation, and inconvenience” on the smoking laws, without having any grounds for doing so.

And yes, I am asking you to show regard for the long-term health consequences of passive smoking on staff and punters. And I actually shouldn’t have to ask a reasonable human being that too hard.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Dave: When we started our discussion, we focused on figures relating to the effects of the smoking laws in Scotland. All highly relevant to a debate about the state of the UK pub trade.

But when I made my points, you were unable to respond. So you went off-topic, towards bingo halls in Scotland.

And now you’ve gone even more off-topic, into Ireland.

Keep to the subject Dave! It's not my fault you can't defend your position about the state of the UK pub trade.

Belinda said...

From my last post: the sentence 'It was not meant to prove that the smoking ban caused all the damage but that the licensed trade would have been far stronger without the smoking ban' was a bad call. The licensed trade would certainly have been stronger without the smoking ban, but I was not relying on the Herald article to say so. It is absolutely common sense that an industry relied on as social smoking venues that outlaws smoking is going to cause damage in some quarters. Industry consultants gave the proportion of smokers using pubs in 2005 as 48 per cent. http://www.airinitiative.com/developing_smoking_facilities.html

I didn't use the article to show what caused the damage. I used it to show that damage to industry had left some parts of Scotland without licensed premises. I have already tried to explain this to you but you are so determined that we are myopic that you are inventing things.

Anonymous said...

Rollo, I don't think that Dave is going off topic. The argument about the English ban's effect on SPs is taking place partly because it wasn't a controlled experiment, with a statistically indistinguishable population which was not subjected to a ban. Hence your speculation that property prices and the recession may have played a large part. Though not ideal, looking at the Irish experience, where the pub owners are not property companies and the country was enjoying a massive economic boom, is informative.

Fredrik Eich said...

Rollo, I did give evidence. I gave my real world observations - this is legitimate evidence.

Even if overall:-

1: Beer sales remained static.
2: All drinks sales remained static.
3: Property prices remained static.
4: Staff costs remained static.
5: Tax remained static.
6: The regulatory environment remaind static.
7: Smokers spent the same amount of money and time in pubs.
8: Non-smokers spent the same amount of money and time in pubs.

Pubs could still see net closures.

It is still not only possible for thousands of pubs to shut but would in fact be probable because as precisely zero percent of inside public space is given for smoking customers to smoke in comfort, the chances are a period of "re-adjustment" would occur while pubs transform themselves into barn sized smoke-free restaurants - less pubs but probably bigger pub-themed restaurants. How many I don't know. Given the pre-ban availability of smoke-free restaurants, some smoke-free pubs and many smoke-free and non-smoking areas in pubs - it's difficult to see how pubs could attract very many more non-smokers. So even with a transition of many pubs to barn-sized
smoke-free restaurants the percentage of inside space given over for smoking is still zero, it's very hard to see why people would not prefer to buy cheap booze and smoke at home in preference to using smoke-free pubs. It's also easy to see how the smoking ban
can have synergistic effects. Less customers for a pub means the value of that pub goes down and the value of the company owning that pub goes down, the beer prices go up or down and still less customers etc,etc.
I think it is very easy to see why speculators could see that pubs were a bad business to be in half way through 2007. In my view, the biggest avoidable cause of pub deaths since 2007 is the smoking ban. It was my view in 2006. The elephant in the room , via a highly plausible and real mechanism, is the smoking ban. In my view, it is a gross act of cultural vandalism that I will never forget or forgive.

Joseph Takagi said...

They didn't see it beforehand, why would they see it now?

I remember talking to one of those "I'd go to the pub more if it weren't so smoky" types. I pointed out that our local had a large, well-policed no-smoking area (I don't like especially smoky pubs myself). Did they start going there after that piece of information? No.

The pattern of pub closures that I've seen is entirely in line with the impact on closures.

Hook-up bars have done OK because people have to go out to hook-up. Bars with large gardens have done OK. Food-based pubs have done OK. It's been the drinking pubs with no outside area that are suffering near me and old men's pubs. Those blokes are just meeting up at each other's houses.

It's ironic - Labour loves to talk about community, yet they managed to do some serious damage to one of the cornerstones of community in Britain.

Fredrik Eich said...

Better ban pubs from using air freshener as it doubles risk of breast cancer! And dose response too!

Anonymous said...

Yes, and spokespeople from various cancer organisations caution against reading too much into this because of the risk of recall bias - those suffering from breast cancer are likely to overestimate their use of chemicals as they want something to blame their ilness on. Perish the thought that this happened with the case/control passive smoking studies. And no, it doesn't reduce recall bias by pooling togther the results of lots of studies. It makes things worse by introducing publication bias and selection bias. What's needed is a prospective or longitudinal study with a large population. But don't get the airfreshener people involved in funding even a small part of it or you'll have trouble getting it published; and when you do, the ensuing criticism will ensure that from then on, nothing will ever get published that doesn't equate Glade to Agent Orange.

Anonymous said...

It`s based on interviews.
These kind of researches are only taken serious in case of (second hand) smoking :)

Rollo Tommasi said...

Anon (1236): My point about the Irish experience is this.

We want to use the best, most relevant evidence available. As far as the effects of the smoking laws on the UK pub trade is concerned, which experience is more relevant – Ireland or Scotland?

The answer clearly is Scotland. But Dave and Chris don’t want to speak about Scotland because the facts about Scotland don’t suit their case. Which is why they try to bring up the subject of Ireland instead, even though it is far less relevant, just because they think that might better serve their argument.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Belinda: Before you said the Herald article showed “the position of the pub trade would have been far stronger if smoking had not eroded the customer base of pubs.”

Now you say: “I didn't use the article to show what caused the damage.”

I genuinely don’t know what point you’re trying to make. None of what you say provides any firm evidence which justifies Chris Snowdon’s claim that the smoking laws are “the elephant in the room”.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Fredrik: Who says you didn’t give evidence? I entirely accept you gave evidence, in the form of perceptions and anecdotal stories. My point was that those are not facts, in terms of how the pub trade across the UK has coped with the smoking laws.

You claim “speculators could see that pubs were a bad business to be in half way through 2007”. I don’t accept that. Those who know the trade understood that the laws coming to England in July 2007 had already been introduced in the rest of the UK, for a full 15 months beforehand in the case of Scotland. If the smoking laws really were that bad, evidence of that would have come through clear from Scotland, and even from Wales and NI, and would have suppressed share values long before July 2007.

While you’re entitled to your views in the rest of your post, it is simply your personal opinion. It provides, yet again, absolutely no firm evidence which justifies Chris Snowdon’s claim that the smoking laws are “the elephant in the room”.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Anon: You'll be delighted to know there have been several prospective cohort studies into the risks of passive smoking.

The results of those show, if anything, a HIGHER risk from passive smoking than case-control studies conclude.

Belinda said...

'... don't get the airfreshener people involved in funding even a small part of it or you'll have trouble getting it published; and when you do, the ensuing criticism will ensure that from then on, nothing will ever get published that doesn't equate Glade to Agent Orange.' Well said anon 15.34. Just like with secondary smoke in fact!

Junican said...

Rollo.

Firstly, here are the next two listed companies in the property section of the Financial Times for which there are clear five year figures:

Brit Land

End 2006 1300
Mid 2007 1000
End 2007 750
Mid 2008 500
End 2008 400
Mid 2009 500
End 2009 500

Capital Shop

End 2006 1200
Mid 2007 1000
End 2007 1000
Mid 2008 900
End 2008 400
Mid 2009 600
End 2009 600

I emphasise that I am not picking and choosing here - I have simply gone down the list to the next one with available figures.

It is clear that all three property companies of which I have quoted the share prices show some downward trend through 2007 and a collapse during 2008. These figures cannot be argued with - they are freely available.

Thus your argument that the dramatic collapse in Pubco share prices in mid 2007 was the result of property values cannot be reasonably substantiated. Can you therefore please stop using that argument?

Secondly, again and again, you repeat the mantra that smoking (second hand smoke) damages the health of bar staff and non-smokers. Can we re-iterate, once more, that the WHO survey (a very big survey by the WHO - the one suppressed by the WHO) showed no detectible harm to such people? How many times do you need to be shown the figures? These facts too are readily available. Can you please stop using this argument also?

Thirdly, you have repeatedly stated that Snowdon has not justified his use of the phrase 'elephant in the room'. If you read Snowdon’s blog again, you will note that his ‘elephant in the room’ is not the smoking ban. It is the collusion between the ‘pub trade’ and the Government along with the continuing denial of the effect of the ban subsequently. The Scottish experience of which you speak, as regards the effect of the ban, mirrors the introduction of the Poll Tax. In Scotland, there was no significant public response to the poll tax, but when the tax was introduced in England, little old ladies were marching in the street. The smoking ban in England has not produced marches in the street. Instead, the outpouring has been via the internet. Scotland (and indeed Ireland) is quite different from England. Communities are more widely spread and more tightly knit. I can certainly imagine back rooms suddenly becoming quite popular after the ban with customers (and local bobbies). The ‘elephant in the room’ is the apparent unwillingness of the Pubcos to see and pronounce ON THE OBVIOUS. IE. That the smoking ban has decimated pubs in England.

I hate to wish ill on anyone, but I wonder what would happen if a major pub co went bust? One little shove from some ‘unintended consequence’ could very easily cause such an event in the present climate. In the meantime, the ‘elephant in the room’ is quite clearly illustrated by the absolute silence of the Pubcos as regards the decimation of pubs in England. What more do you want?

Rollo, you are obviously an intelligent person. Get the ASH propaganda out of your mind! They hook you EMOTIONALLY. Your RATIONAL mind will overcome these feelings if you allow it too.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Junican: I appreciate your comments but I cannot agree with them.

I stand by my statement about the true causes of the problems facing PubCos. If you read my comments carefully, you will see I state that many factors have contributed to this – I am not blaming declining property values alone. Have land companies had to cope to the same extent with supermarket competition, increasing food and drink costs, tenants in difficulty because of the effects of their contractual ties to their landlords and, yes, in some situations the smoking laws?

But the case of Mitchell & Butlers is also interesting. If you look at their share value in 2005, you will find it is the same as now (see this for proof: http://www.mitchellandbutler.co.uk/managed_content/popups/prelims05/downloads/results.doc).

Similarly, the FTSE 100 index is about the same now as in 2005. So the value of Mitchell and Butler shares has not performed any worse than the rest of the market over this period. If the smoking laws had caused major problems, then we would expect to see M&B shares performing much more poorly.

Your account of the science is bogus – you’ve been lied to by the pro-smoking brigade. First, your claim that the WHO study “showed no detectible harm” is wrong. Second the claim that the WHO tried to suppress publication was a lie concocted by Big Tobacco. Furthermore, you prefer to cherry-pick a single study than look holistically at the available evidence, which is what studies by IARC, SCOTH and the US Surgeon General did. All concluded that passive smoking is a cause of lung cancer and heart disease.

I don’t agree with your interpretation of Chris Snowdon’s article. It is clear to me that he is describing the smoking laws as “the elephant in the room”. Hence he describes Adam Fowle of Mitchell & Butler as “resolutely ignoring the smoking ban-shaped elephant in the room”.

I don’t recognise your account of the poll tax in Scotland. We didn’t have anything like the Trafalgar Square riots. But there was a huge and well-organised campaign of non-payment.

I also don’t agree with your statement that there is a huge internet-based campaign against the smoking laws. From what I see, there is a small but passionate cabal who make their voices heard wherever they can. They do not convey the mood of the public, as the results of opinion polls, election results and the mood of our political leaders all show.

You ask what would happen if a major pubco went bust. We have already seen a major off-license chain (First Quench) go under. If your claims about smokers deserting pubs because of the smoking laws were correct, these off-licenses should have thrived from new business that these smokers created. Instead the off-licenses all shut. Further proof that the ever-growing power the supermarkets is a much bigger threat to pubs, as to off-licenses, than the smoking laws.

Fredrik Eich said...

"look holistically at the available evidence [of passive smoking studies]".
Rollo,
Do you mean the way Lord Nimmo Smith did when the very best anti-smoking harm theorists could not convince him that smoking caused lung cancers in smokers beyond reasonable doubt, let alone to a SPECIFIED INDIVIDUAL, let alone to now unemployed non-smoking bar workers.

How would you feel if you were accused of using a weapon of mass destrution when:
A: That not even one murder has been proven to have taken place let alone mass murder.
B: That the weapon has not even been proved to work.

No bodies. No weapon. No crime.

Make's the WMD in Iraq scandal look tame by comparison.

How would you feel if 0% of public inside space was allocated to be smoke-free and 100% of space allocated for smoking by law, based on risks that are extremely small, hard to measure and impossible to prove?

If it was your position that it would be both scientifically and morally unjustifiable because it is based on pure speculation - you would be right.

Now where did I put that breast cancer causing air freshener?

Anonymous said...

Rollo, in your comment of 8.05 you wrote the following in response to another comment.

"Your account of the science is bogus – you’ve been lied to by the pro-smoking brigade. First, your claim that the WHO study “showed no detectible harm” is wrong."

I have looked up this study. Below is a link to the abstract and the free article. To those of us following the usual conventions of statistical analysis, the other commenter is correct. The only mistake he made was using the phrase "showed no detectible harm", which, although we all know its meaning, is not very precise and is open to misinterpretation.

For example, it could mischievously
be taken to mean "proved no detectable harm" (proving no harm is impossible) rather than "exhibited no detectable harm".

Rollo, nobody would take such an interest in controlling other people's behaviour unless they were were mad or it is their job. I suspect it is your job and so an objective debate is not possible, which is a shame.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9776409

Rollo Tommasi said...

Fredrik: you have drifted far from the topic of this thread, which is about the economic effects of the smoking laws on the pub trade.

You are also way off-beam in your comments about Lord Nimmo Smith. It was not his job to consider all the evidence on the dangers of smoking and decide if it is harmful or not. He was only allowed to consider the evidence presented to him. And, as the judgement said, his widow could “succeed in this case only if she proves all of the following:

(1) that cigarette smoking can cause lung cancer;

(2) that cigarette smoking caused Mr McTear's lung cancer;

(3) that Mr McTear smoked cigarettes manufactured by ITL for long enough and in sufficient quantity for his smoking of their products to have caused or materially contributed to the development of his lung cancer;

(4) that Mr McTear smoked cigarettes manufactured by ITL because ITL were in breach of a duty of care owed by them to him; and

(5) that such breach caused or materially contributed to Mr McTear's lung cancer, either by making at least a material contribution to the exposure which caused his lung cancer or by materially increasing the risk of his contracting lung cancer.”

I also do not accept the premise of your hypothetical situation. You talk of “proof” as if the only kind of acceptable proof is direct cause as stated on an individual’s death certificate. That is an impossibly high threshold which pro-smokers deliberately set to pretend that passive smoking is harmless. The evidence about the harm caused by passive smoking, in terms of lung cancer and heat disease, is strong. And it is the same kind of evidence on which our understanding about other causes of harm is based – for instance diesel particulates from car exhausts and radon gas - even though they are not referred to in death certificates either.

There is something really tawdry when people are so utterly inconsiderate about the effects of their behaviour on others that they deliberately invent ridiculous burdens of proof in a desperate effort to claim their actions are harmless.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Anon (12:43): You too are veering off the topic of this thread, which is about the economic effects of the smoking laws on the pub trade.

But I have to say your comments betray the fact that you have been indoctrinated by the pro-smokers’ attempts to sabotage professional statistical principles.

Pro-smokers say that if a confidence interval straddles 1.0, it means a study’s results show no additional risk. That’s nonsense. The proper statistical interpretation is that it cannot be proven from that particular study whether the results show either added risk or no additional risk. The Boffetta study detected additional risk of around 1.16 for spousal exposure and around 1.17 for workplace exposure. Because the confidence interval straddles 1.0, it means these results are not statistically significant in themselves. But they remain consistent with other findings showing that passive smoking is harmful.

I see you also ignore the other important point I made in that post about the Boffetta study. That is, why did Junican cherry-pick a single study? If you look holistically at the available evidence, which is what studies by IARC, SCOTH and the US Surgeon General did, you will find that all conclude that passive smoking is a cause of lung cancer and heart disease.

Your assumptions about me are also totally wrong. I am not employed to participate in these debates. I also have no “interest in controlling other people's behaviour”. Quite the opposite in fact. I believe people should have freedom of choice, provided they exercise that choice responsibly in a way that does not harm or irritate other people.

DaveA said...

@Rollo

Because those results epidemiologically straddle 1.0 it is actually case completely unproven. Also an RR 1.2 infers 83.33% that SHS was not the cause.

Also you state that many studies come up with a figure of 1.20. This is quite possible, but what if the same flaw was applied to all of them? I can tell you what it is too. Misclassification and/or recall bias.

Because smokers have an RR of 10 for lung cancer that means that if one person in a 100 misled the researchers 1.2 becomes 1.1 and 2 people becomes 1.0. This study from Cork, Ireland suggested that 4% fibbed.

"Results Self reported smoking prevalence among Cork bar workers (n = 129) was 54% (58% using cotinine-validated measures)"

"Further adjustment for plausible levels of misclassification similarly reduced these two estimates to, respectively, 2% (95% Cl -3 to 8%) or 5.5% (95% Cl 0 to 11 %)."

Also people mislead on how much they smoke and when they gave up. On recall bias it is interesting that most of the 1.2 type studies are case controlled. Researchers go to lung cancer sufferers and ask them what their exposure to SHS is. This obviously leads to recall bias. I have read in some studies that after someone has died they speak to spouses, children and siblings. Not science in my book.

Cohort studies where a set group of people are studied for a number of decades and exposure can be more easily studied, these studies yield far lower results and a null result. E.g. Enstrom/Kabat.

http://www.springerlink.com/content/v15664h75x2k8u6l/

http://ibe.sagepub.com/content/10/6/384.abstract

DaveA said...

@Rollo

I do not believe for one minute that SHS causes lung cancer. However let me theorise if it did what the risk is.

According to Cancer Research UK in 2007 the incidence of lung cancer is 64.7 people per 100,000 (100k).

86% of lung cancer patients are heavy smokers, so the incidence in non smokers is:

14/100 x 64.7 = 9.058 per 100k

So a raised risk of 1.2 would infer that 1.51 people per 100k contracted it from SHS.

Your chances of being killed on the roads of the UK are 5 per 100k.

Therefore you are 3.311 times more likely to die driving a car or being a pedestrian than contrcating lung cancer. Rollo will you be not driving or walking down the street ever again?

Also the difference between SHS and cars is that you can be killed on the road from age 1 to 100, while if you are a smoker you need to smoke for over 40 years to contract LC, probably longer if you breathe in SHS according to you.

As I say I do not believe for one moment that SHS causes LC.

http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerstats/types/lung/incidence/

Rollo Tommasi said...

DaveA: Where epidemiological results straddle 1.0 it is NOT “case completely unproven”. It is “the data from this study are not powerful enough to allow a conclusion to be reached one way or the other”. The important distinction is that these results do not undermine any statistically significant results from other studies or meta-analyses. In short, non-significance does not mean “no effect”.

You try to diminish the status of case-control studies, because hypothetically they all may be flawed. Are hypotheticals supposed to represent real arguments Dave? Come on!

You say you prefer cohort studies. Interesting you should mention cohort studies. The US Surgeon General’s report found that cohort studies produced a HIGHER relative risk than case control studies (1.29 vs 1.21, both statistically significant). I think you’re hoist by your own petard, Dave!

As for the difference between road traffic accident fatalities and passive smoking deaths, there are around 3,000 RTA fatalities each year. According to Jamrozik, around 1,400 lung cancer deaths in the UK can be attributed to passive smoking. So yes, to that extent you are right – RTAs claim more victims. But passive smoking also accounts for a further 5,200 UK deaths each year from heart disease. So that is 6,600 in all. That is, more than twice the number of RTA deaths.

In any event, your point appears to be that, because passive smoking kills fewer people from lung cancer than die in RTAs, we shouldn’t be concerned about the number of passive smoking deaths. Even though you then state you don’t believe the figures anyway, I think that’s a disgraceful argument to make.

Dave – I’m interested to know, if you don’t believe that 6,600 people in the UK die each year from heart disease or lung cancer attributable to SHS, how many people do you believe passive smoking kills? And how many people need to die each year before you think passive smoking is a risk worth taking seriously?

DaveA said...

Rollo allow me to deliver the coup de grace. It is a biological and scientific impossibility to contract lung cancer from SHS and my proenance is indeed the WHO/IARC.

86% of lung cancer patients are smokers and it is contracted causually by smoking. The burning of the tobacco produces benzo(a)pyrene a 5 ring benzene molecule and is a class A carcinogen. We all have on chromosome 11 the transprotein gene (p53) which protects our bodies from all cancer cell multiplication. The ingestion into the lungs of benzo(a)pyrene causes a mutation of the p53 gene called a guanine to thymine transversion, the helix strands of the DNA become corrupted. The p21 gene which deals with DNA mutation and repair is unable to cope with the continued assault on the lungs.

This means lung cancer cells can then multiply and replicate. The good news however is that this G to T transversion is never seen in non smokers. It is a medical impossibility for a non smoker to contract lung cancer from passive smoking. Roy Castle did not die from playing the trumpet in smoky clubs. Instead in non smokers it is thought that the epidermal growth factor receptor protein (EGFR) gene or the GPC5 gene. What causes that to mutate is unknown because of the obsession with passive smoking, although it has been suggested that Human Papillomavirus types 16 and 18, genital warts to you and me, maybe the cause as it is with cervical cancer. They found the RR for smoking and cervical cancer was 2.5. The correlation with smoking was not causation. HPV is more likely to be contracted by promiscuous people and the correlation is that promiscuous people are more likely to smoke.

Yes the anti smoking zealots are killing people with the insistence that it is SHS.

My provenance for this is the World Health Organization and its cancer arm the IARC. Tobacco companies always tried to deny the link between smoking and lung cancer and the WHO set out to prove it was. Alas they also proved SHS was harmless and they have lied to us for at least 12 years.

"In 1998, Pierre Hainaut and his collaborators at IARC analyzed the mutations in lung cancers that were at the time in the IARC p53 database. They found that the positions of damage by benzo(a)pyrene spotted by Pfeifer and his team were frequently the sites of mutations in lung cancers of smokers but rarely in lung cancers of non-smokers."

"However, the whole argument has been blown up by the identification of distinct mutations in the lung cancers of smokers and of non-smokers."

Also what kills many non smokers from lung cancer is that it becomes a secondary infection which finally kills you. Sir Bobby Robson initially had a melonoma, then a brain tumour and finally died of lung cancer. A film was made of Canadian Terry Fox who tried to run the length of Canada despite having a leg amputated for knee cap (patella) cancer. He succumbed to lung cancer at 21.

So your theory that lung cancer maybe under reported in non smokers maybe entirely correct.


http://www-p53.iarc.fr/download/tobacco.pdf

Rollo Tommasi said...

DaveA: It’s interesting that, every time I have responded to a point you make on this thread, you can’t follow up on your claims. So you give up on that line of argument and you try a different tack instead. That shows the paucity of arguments you’re providing.

This time your tack involves HPV and p53 mutations. You claim “It is a medical impossibility for a non smoker to contract lung cancer from passive smoking.” Why? Because, so you say, G to T transversion is never seen in non smokers.”

Only that claim is utterly wrong. G to T transversions ARE seen in non-smokers. In fact the very Hainaut article referred to in the link you cite states “Ten percent of the p53 mutations seen in non-smokers are G to T transversions”.

http://carcin.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/22/3/367

Anon1 said...

Per Rollo: Your account of the science is bogus – you’ve been lied to by the pro-smoking brigade. First, your claim that the WHO study “showed no detectible harm” is wrong. Second the claim that the WHO tried to suppress publication was a lie concocted by Big Tobacco.
That is an impossibly high threshold which pro-smokers deliberately set to pretend that passive smoking is harmless.
But I have to say your comments betray the fact that you have been indoctrinated by the pro-smokers’ attempts to sabotage professional statistical principles.


Rollo,
Are you peddling “conspiracy” theories? According to the antismoking dullards, anything that does not agree with antismoking is a tobacco industry “conspiracy”. Yet, you have stated in the past that any indication of widespread corruption in TC is baseless “conspiracy theories”. According to you, there can be no conspiracy to deceive or defraud in TC: It is apparently purity incarnate. So, conspiracy theories are fine as long as they can only be directed at BT and “pro-smokers”?

Rollo, what about Chris’ latest thread – “The Dark Market Redux”? Is this, too, all concocted, another BT “conspiracy” attempting to taint “pure” TC? And this is only the latest in a litany of TC contortion.

Rollo, your claims fly in the face of 400 years of antismoking history. Antismoking is typically exterminatory and is founded on a plethora of inflammatory lies, i.e., antismokers are delusional, bigoted, pathological liars. The intent is to promote outrage, a constant play on emotions – fear and hatred, in non-smokers to advance the deranged agenda. The antismokers typically promote themselves as “the heroes”, the “good”, battling the “evil” tobacco empire. The three antismoking crusades of the last century (early-1900s USA, Nazi Germany, and currently) are particularly problematic because they have been underlain by eugenics – a most sickly, dangerous framework. The current crusade is utterly catastrophic because, unlike earlier crusades where the deranged framework of thought was confined to one or a few nations, this time it is a global phenomenon.

Rollo, at the moment you have no grasp whatsoever of the sordid history of antismoking. You spend your time just parroting the standard eugenics propaganda. Concerning the latest crusade, there are now a number of books/blogs that highlight the constant manipulations of information, the incessant self-serving lies, to advance the deranged agenda. “Passive smoking”, for example, was an idea introduced, unsubstantiated, by the Nazis on ideological grounds. The current crusaders resurrected the idea from the outset, with no justification, because without it the antismoking crusade was stalling. “Passive smoking” is indispensable to the current crusade: Without it, the TC house of cards comes tumbling down. The antismoking fools are now attempting to concoct “thirdhand smoke danger”. Do yourself (and others) a favor by expanding your framework of thought.

Rollo, how do you think a Nazi Germany crops up and runs its destructive course? Does it just pop up out of thin air?

Rollo Tommasi said...

Good grief Anon1. Not only have you leapt wildly off-topic. Your post betrays how you have fallen hook, line and sinker for the pro-smoking conspiracy nonsense.

You point to my statements about where the pro-smoking lobby has lied about the science behind passive smoke. Yet can you defend their lies? No.

You talk about the lies of “anti-smokers”. Yet can you point to anything I have said on this thread which are lies? No.

Instead, you spout out some vague “eugenics” nonsense. The obligatory Nazi reference is of course in there, even though passive smoking was first identified in the 1920s, before the Nazis came to government. I trust that, if you really oppose anything promoted by the Nazi government, you’ve never owned a VW and you never use motorways for your journeys.

Anon1 said...

Rollo,

I rest my case.

Your mule awaits......

Rollo Tommasi said...

Thank you Anon1.

You've proven my argument perfectly.

Anon1 said...

You win again, Rollo. Could it be otherwise? The mass debater notches up another victory. You’re just too clever – for me anyway. Your intellect, in its delicate negotiating of issues that would leave the ordinary man baffled, is breathtaking – a sight to behold. Thankful I should be to witness a marvel of humanity skillfully providing guidance to a lost world. Others might view you as a conceited, arrogant, haughty, incompetent, shallow, belligerent mentality. But not I! No, sir. I can at least muster enough sensibility to recognize brilliance when I see it. Therefore, O radiant one, many thanks to you.

Happy mass debating!

DaveA said...

Rollo you are the gift that keeps on giving are you not?

One of the reasons I am posting here is that I now have over 1,000 URLs and keeping them all tagged and accessible is getting harder. So all I have to do is come back to Velvet Glove.

On the subject of more giving I followed up some of your links and it appears while smokers have a G to T transversion, in non smokers it is a G to A transversion. More proof that lung cancer is not the result of breathing in SHS.

"We come to the conclusion that the p53 mutation spectra are different between smokers and non smokers."

They also speculate that the any G to T transversion in non smokers is not from smoking anyway. Look for the reference to Silesian coal miners.

The WHO/IARC set out to prove that active smoking caused lung cancer, science that I can agree with. Inadvertantly they also proved passive smoking does not cause lung cancer.

"http://carcin.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/22/3/367

Anonymous said...

OT, thanks to Blogger not threading

Fredrik, thank you for the link to McTear Vs ITL. It has been most illuminating, especially para 6.63 to 6.85 regarding the evidence of a Professor Friend, of which the following in para 6.73 is typical:

"No evidence was however given by him or by any other witness about this study, so it was not part of the evidence in this case. Once again, this evidence from Professor Friend was no more than his ipse dixit. "

Moral: You can hoodwink MPs, terrify the public and troll the intertubes as long as you like, but trying it on with a judge is another matter.

Fredrik Eich said...

Rollo,

1. It was not just Mrs McTear trying to convince the judge it was Sir Richard Doll and others with fifty years of experimental data to back them up.

2. Both radon and diesel(car exhaust) have been shown to have oncogenic effects in murine models at occupational levels of exposure. It is not true with whole tobacco smoke at any level of exposure - from the Mc Tear trial:

"So the animal experiments were of particular importance. The absence of support from the results of experiments on animals is not critical, but it is significant, because proof of the causal connection between cigarette smoking and lung cancer therefore depends solely on the conclusions to be drawn from the epidemiological studies" (my link and emphasis)

3. If I were on trial for a crime of attempted suicide or accused of bieng complicit in mass murder by others I would demand scientific proof and so would you. You may not think it a serious matter but I do and I will never forget or forgive it.

4. You say "tawdry", ask your self this question:

What group of people convinced this lady that she got her lung cancer from work?

"Why am I dying from lung cancer caused by second-hand smoke?"

Do you think they neglected to tell her about HPV (25% of all non-small cell) ,radon daughters,diesel,medical radiation for example and most important of all there is a probability of one that people in the hospitality will die on lung cancer in any case?
You want tawdry, I can give you tawdry in bucket loads.


When this scientifically and morally unjustified smoking ban is repealed (or in the mean time amended), I shall not be "utterly inconsiderate"
because I will eat in non-smokefree restaurants and I shall drink in non-smokefree pubs. If neccessary we will build
our own new pubs and our own new restaurants - that way no one can claim that their environment is being infringed upon ever again. And if non-smokers
,like your good self, want to turn up - they will be welcome. I am sure there are millions of brave non-smokers out there willing to risk certain death
to enjoy our collective company - inside.

Rollo Tommasi said...

DaveA: In your previous post you claimed “It is a medical impossibility for a non smoker to contract lung cancer from passive smoking.” I proved your claim was wrong.

So what do you do now? Why, you just pretend you never said that in the first place. You just make a new claim “it appears while smokers have a G to T transversion, in non smokers it is a G to A transversion”. And guess what? This claim is just as wrong. The whole range of transversions, including G to A and G to T, apply to smokers AND non-smokers. It’s just that the proportions differ between the two groups (and it is due to MUCH more than the air quality in Silesia).

There is nothing in any of the articles which show that passive smoking does not cause lung cancer. You have absolutely no basis for your claims.

I suggest you read Chapter 7 of the IARC monograph, which sets out the evidence about passive smoking and lung cancer, including the studies into p53 transversions. It concludes (p.1271):
“Overall, the evidence from the meta-analyses is clear; adult nonsmokers exposed to
secondhand smoke have a higher risk for lung cancer.”

It also states (p.1383):

“The evidence from studies of nonsmokers exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke,
supported by other data from experimental systems, is compatible with the current
concept of tobacco-related carcinogenesis. According to this concept, tobacco smoke
carcinogens, regardless of the type of smoke in which they occur, are associated with
genetic effects that disrupt crucial biological processes of normal cellular growth and
differentiation in smokers as well as in nonsmokers.”

http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol83/mono83-7B.pdf
http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol83/mono83-7D.pdf

Rollo Tommasi said...

Fredrik: your point 1: what part of my last post don't you understand? The Nimmo Smith judgement is totally irrelevant to this debate. First, the judge was not allowed to make his own investigations. In fact he's generally not even allowed to probe witnesses for more info. He must decide on his interpretation of the evidence given to him - very different from the evidence available. He actually stated in his judgement that he was unable to consider much “primary literature” as he called it (i.e. specific research studies) because it wasn’t presented to him. So, going back to your original point, Lord Nimmo Smith did not "look holistically at the available evidence [of passive smoking studies]".

Furthermore, the task for the judge was not simply to consider if smoking is harmful. It was to decide on 5 different questions.

Put it this way Fredrik. Not even the tobacco companies or FOREST claim this court case shows that smoking and passive smoking are harmless. Even if you don't believe me, doesn't their silence on this show how off the mark your argument is?

Your point 2: Since when was a scientific conclusion flawed by being based on epidemiological evidence? Besides, there have been animal experiments on smoking and passive smoking, as the IARC monograph shows.

Your point 3: if I were on trial, I would expect high standards of evidence. I'd also expect a burden of proof based on being innocent unless proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

But this debate isn't about a criminal trial. It's about understanding how likely it is that passive smoking kills. It still needs high standards of evidence. But if it looks at all likely that something could kill other people unnecessarily, I want my government to take reasonable steps to minimise risk. That's definitely true with passive smoking, where the evidence is pretty much beyond reasonable doubt anyway (at least for lung cancer and heart disease long term).

Your point 4: Having a view about a cause of your illness is not “tawdry”. Having a view on this subject (whatever side of the fence you’re on) is not tawdry. What is tawdry is when people are would rather invent ridiculous burdens of proof in a desperate effort to claim their actions are harmless than take reasonable steps to protect the health of people when there's even the possibility they are harming them.

Junican said...

Rollo.

You are very, very clever. I wish that I was as clever as you. I really do. The ability it argue as resolutely as you have with so many people has to be admired. But you have made a specific serious error in you response to my statement and that is:

“If your claims about smokers deserting pubs because of the smoking laws were correct, these off-licenses should have thrived from new business that these smokers created”

Erm….no. There is no such assumption to be made. But that is not my point. As regards ‘smokers deserting pubs’, there is no need for statistical analysis. Since the smoking ban was introduced into England, pubs have closed in vast numbers all over the country. To deny that these closures have not occurred as a result of the smoking ban is to deny the evidence of one’s own eyes. Within two miles of my own home, several pubs which have been in existence for decades, if not centuries, are now boarded up hulks. These pubs have become boarded up hulks during the last three years. That is fact – fact – fact. It may be that the smoking ban was the last straw, but is it not the last straw that breaks the camel’s back? No one can be sure that these pubs may not have closed anyway, but the FACT is that they became boarded up hulks AFTER the ban was enacted. Not only that, but IT IS A MATTER OF FACT that people who used to go regularly to my local pubs do not now do so. Even non-smokers have stopped going. I do not go as much as I used to because pubs have become boring places. Boring PUBLIC PRIVATE PROPERTY GOVERNMENT REGULATED PLACES. They are no longer welcoming places in which to enjoy one’s leisure time. Boring, boring, boring.

More than anything, however, those of us who do not accept this ban do so because we do not accept the ETHICS of ASH, CRUK et al. Nor do we accept yours. We refuse to go and spend our money at our local pubs in order to provide places for the zealots to go on the odd occasion to have a snack and a half of bitter or a glass of wine. We go there to enjoy the company of like minded individuals. The ETHIC is our friendly acquaintance and our freedom from interference from statistical mumbo jumbo and crazy professors. Do you understand? We do not want people like you messing about with our personal lives! ASH, CRUK et al with their bogus surveys, lies and lobbying, are irrelevant. In this respect, each man is an island. Please do not give me shit about ‘protecting children’ – these children are OUR children and not YOUR statistics.

Junican said...

Rollo.

You are very, very clever. I wish that I was as clever as you. I really do. The ability it argue as resolutely as you have with so many people has to be admired. But you have made a specific serious error in you response to my statement and that is:

“If your claims about smokers deserting pubs because of the smoking laws were correct, these off-licenses should have thrived from new business that these smokers created”

Erm….no. There is no such assumption to be made. But that is not my point. As regards ‘smokers deserting pubs’, there is no need for statistical analysis. Since the smoking ban was introduced into England, pubs have closed in vast numbers all over the country. To deny that these closures have not occurred as a result of the smoking ban is to deny the evidence of one’s own eyes. Within two miles of my own home, several pubs which have been in existence for decades, if not centuries, are now boarded up hulks. These pubs have become boarded up hulks during the last three years. That is fact – fact – fact. It may be that the smoking ban was the last straw, but is it not the last straw that breaks the camel’s back? No one can be sure that these pubs may not have closed anyway, but the FACT is that they became boarded up hulks AFTER the ban was enacted. Not only that, but IT IS A MATTER OF FACT that people who used to go regularly to my local pubs do not now do so. Even non-smokers have stopped going. I do not go as much as I used to because pubs have become boring places. Boring PUBLIC PRIVATE PROPERTY GOVERNMENT REGULATED PLACES. They are no longer welcoming places in which to enjoy one’s leisure time. Boring, boring, boring.

More than anything, however, those of us who do not accept this ban do so because we do not accept the ETHICS of ASH, CRUK et al. Nor do we accept yours. We refuse to go and spend our money at our local pubs in order to provide places for the zealots to go on the odd occasion to have a snack and a half of bitter or a glass of wine. We go there to enjoy the company of like minded individuals. The ETHIC is our friendly acquaintance and our freedom from interference from statistical mumbo jumbo and crazy professors. Do you understand? We do not want people like you messing about with our personal lives! ASH, CRUK et al with their bogus surveys, lies and lobbying, are irrelevant. In this respect, each man is an island. Please do not give me shit about ‘protecting children’ – these children are OUR children and not YOUR statistics.

Belinda said...

Junican

You are quite right, the ethic is quite different from that preached by Rollo and his ilk. Talking him is akin to trying to persuade Ian Paisley to revere the pope. He is not capable of a different mindset, although like you I admire his intellectual agility.

There is something akin to a religious divide here. In terms of religion I am neutral, but in this argument I am not. When one side deprives the other of any social recreational space outside their own homes, and then claims a monopoly on common sense, consideration, care about children and the general population and an exclusive understanding of the issues in question and the rules of the debate, you have to realise that things are one-sided.

When it is claimed that 'the debate is over', things are certainly one-sided. The debate will never be over: people will never try to stop dominating their fellow beings in the belief that they know best.

Fredrik Eich said...

what part of my last post don't you understand?

Pretty much all of it.

He must decide on his interpretation of the evidence given to him

Yes, evidence given by some of the finest harm theorists the world has to offer. He actually
pointed out that there is so much evidence that he could not possibly look at all of it, which is probably
why he relied on people such as Sir Richard Doll and others.

It was to decide on 5 different questions.
Including the existance of a causal link between smoking and lung cancer.
ITL said they were not aware of a causal link between smoking and lung cancer and after hearing the evidence of Doll
and others, the judge ruled in favour of ITL.

Lord Nimmo Smith did not "look holistically at the available evidence [of passive smoking studies]".

Thats right, he looked at a broad range of evidence on smoking not just epi studies and meta analysis.


Put it this way Fredrik. Not even the tobacco companies or FOREST claim this court case shows that smoking and passive smoking are harmless.

Rollo, this is not childrens' News TV. The "merchants of death" need to preserve the first line of defence - volenti non fit injuria
Hence ITL etc "does not deny" that smoking causes lung cancer.

Since when was a scientific conclusion flawed by being based on epidemiological evidence? Besides, there have been animal experiments on smoking and passive smoking, as the IARC monograph shows.

See the Mc Tear quote from my last post.

I want my government to take reasonable steps to minimise risk.

I want our government to prove that there is real and significant risk beyond resonable doubt before it bows to the demands of anti smoking groups
and abolishes every non-smokefree pub and restaurant in the country. If that ever happens then we can talk about smoking rooms and air quality standards.

Having a view about a cause of your illness is not “tawdry”
I did not say that it was. It's just that I belive there could have been plenty of professional people that could have pointed out
that it is extremely unlikely that her job caused her illness but for some reason neglected or forgot to tell her while she was campaigning for smoke-free laws. That would be a lot worse
than “tawdry” and if true a reminder as to the lengths people are prepared to go to set aside 0% of inside public space for smoking. Pro-choice people are not asking for
100% of public space to smoke in, just some space.

Anyway, Rollo, on Saturday night I shall be smoking in a pub in England all night long. This tiny Victorian pub was a nice earner pre smoking ban but the landlord took up a full time job
to pay for his pub after the smoking ban. He finally, thank goodness, has given up and is having his last night and has invited everyone to drink the place dry and smoke like chimneys. We shall see if we can all give him a nice little send off. Another part of the history of my life gone for no good reason.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Fredrik: You are still trying to place undue weight on the McTear verdict, despite the fact that it was never the purpose of that court case to assess all available evidence to determine whether smoking is harmful or not.

You are trying to attach a lower status to epidemiological evidence than animal experiments, based on nothing more than a quote in the course of Lord Nimmo Smith’s judgement. A quote which doesn’t actually reflect his thinking. His reasoning for saying “The absence of support from the results of experiments on animals is not critical, but it is significant” was simply the obvious point that it meant that Mrs McTear’s scientific case was based fully on epidemiological evidence. He wasn’t stating her case was necessarily any less strong for that.

As I said before, the McTear judgment does not consider available evidence holistically. However, the US Surgeon General’s report of 2006 and the IARC monograph of 2004 are holistic – and indeed both discuss results from animal experiments as well as epidemiological studies. Both conclude that passive smoking is harmful.

You have now cited the Ioannidis article numerous times. But you have not yet shown what relevance it has to the science on passive smoking. Ioannidis does not criticise SHS studies. You are simply trying to taint them by association.

You say “I want our government to prove that there is real and significant risk beyond reasonable doubt”. As I said before, when it comes to long-term lung cancer and heart disease risks, the evidence about passive smoking is pretty much beyond reasonable doubt anyway. But I am stunned that you would be prepared to accept another scenario where there was strong but not overwhelming evidence that some activity or behaviour was putting the lives of other people at risk. The likely prospect of willingly accepting a position where lives were likely being lost until that extra, lily-gilding piece of evidence became available doesn’t trouble you? Because that would be a good description of tawdry behaviour in my book.

Instead, you focus solely on the rights of smokers. Never mind that smokers are still free to light up whenever they want, just as long as they do so somewhere where they are not risking harm to other people. Who knows? Perhaps there is another solution which provides necessary protection for bar staff and punters, while allowing some scope for smoking in a way which the pub industry accepts (in particular, by ensuring a level playing field). But nobody has yet found that alternative.

Junican said...

Rollo.

I am coming back to your reply to mine – I did not have time last night.

Here are the faults in your arguments:

1. Most of the points that you stated as contributory causes for the closure of pubs after the smoking ban was introduced existed prior to July 2007.
2. As regards share values:
The property companies that I have named:
Loss of value between end 06 & mid 08


Big Yellow a little more than half
Brit Land less than two thirds
Capital Shop one quarter

The Pubcos:

Punch Taverns nearly four fifths
M & B nearly four fifths
These figures are rather rough, of course, but are sufficient for our purposes. It is reasonable to ask the question, “What accounts for the greater loss of value in pubco shares if it is not loss of profits? Further, I think that I should say that property values are really not very relevant. Property values do not close pubs. What closes pubs is lack of customers.

3. The WHO study showed that no causal link could be established between second hand smoke and the various life threatening diseases stated therein - unless the quotations that I have read are fabrications. Have big tobacco fabricated a fraudulent WHO report? Also, quoting that report was not cherry picking. It was a very big and ‘official’ report. What is effectively cherry picking is to create a meta analysis of a large number of small reports and then to claim that it is anything other than a small study which is an average of all the other small studies. Also, the phrase ‘there is no such thing as a safe level of exposure to second hand tobacco smoke’ is attributed to the Surgeon General of the USA at the time, Richard Carmona in 2006. Now……. in the UK 500,000 people die each year, 3000 of which deaths could putatively be ‘saved’ (like what Patricia Hewitt said). Since the vast majority of those people who died will almost certainly have been smokers of have been exposed to tobacco smoke at some point in their lives, why not claim also that the other 497,000 lives could also have been ‘saved’? Why not? I mean, the Surgeon General of the USA said that there is NO (none, zero, zilch) safe level of exposure. So the Surgeon General was talking crap as are all the other politicians et al.
4. I concede that Snowdon used the phrase ‘smoking ban shaped elephant in the room’ – I did not observe that specific sentence in his blog; but that does not detract from the reality that his article was, in its substance, about collusion between the pubcos and government. The pubcos have been fiddling while their pub estates have been burning.
5. I think that you missed the point about the possibility of a pubco going bust. I did actually mention in that paragraph the decimation of pubs. The point that I was making was that it would be interesting to see what would be the outcome of the sudden closure of thousands of pubs all at the same time.

As for the rest, may I refer you to my latest previous post above.

Fredrik Eich said...

"But I am stunned that you would be prepared to accept another scenario where there was strong but not overwhelming evidence that some activity or behaviour was putting the lives of other people at risk." Rollo.
Yes I do every time I get in my car in stead of using public transport which I suspect you do too.
Every year ~3,000 people get killed by drivers who are too selfish to just hop on a bus. Provable in a court of law beyond reasonable doubt that there is a causal link
between driving and deaths of other road users.

Driving Kills

Driving harms others around you.

We can help you quit driving and hop on a Bus

The evidence is over whelming and much more convincing than "pretty much beyond reasonable doubt".

Do you think the lady I mentioned earlier was told that her cryptogenic lung cancer was "pretty much" caused by her working environment?

There is something very tawdry about that.

"Pretty much" is not good enough when I am accused of being complicit in mass murder.

Not nearly good enough Rollo.

As you like to tell others "Must try harder".


As it's warm and dry - I'm off to the pub to meet the current Mrs Eich.

Anon1 said...

Instead, you focus solely on the rights of smokers. Never mind that smokers are still free to light up whenever they want, just as long as they do so somewhere where they are not risking harm to other people.

Rollo, you must be living in a Tobacco Control hole. Have you no idea what is going on around the world? Do you understand what a bigoted frenzy – a bandwagon effect – is?
Here’s just a sampling. See if your strained cognitive system can take in some new information.
Banned from fostering:
http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/Smokers-face-adoption-and-fostering.6075156.jp
Bans in apartment buildings: (Note particularly the comment - Smoking is allowed while walking down the street, but the smoker must keep moving).
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20100718/articles/100719611&tc=yahoo

http://westsidespirit.com/?p=3303
http://www.thespec.com/News/CanadaWorld/article/656171
http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_11704822

Employment bans:
http://www.elpasotimes.com/health/ci_15502206
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,583291,00.html
http://www.ajc.com/news/where-theres-smoke-theres-566156.html
http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/07/19/iran.tobacco.jobs/
http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/dayton-news/not-hiring-smokers-is-discriminatory-say-groups-560365.html?cxtype=rss_local-news


Other:
http://www.thecourier.co.uk/output/2009/06/24/newsstory13349183t0.asp
http://wehonews.com/z/wehonews/archive/page.php?articleID=4332
http://www.lovelifechristian.com/article/Calif.%20moves%20to%20ban%20smoking%20at%20all%20state%20parks/?k=j83s12y12h94s27k02
http://www.tobacco.org/articles/category/outdoors/
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/health-organisations-push-to-ban-smoking-outdoors/story-e6frf7kx-1225856592635
http://www.ocregister.com/news/smoking-238203-city-parks.html
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/local/story/1013210.html
http://tobaccoreporter.com/home.php?id=498&art=2573
http://www.mlive.com/news/jackson/index.ssf/2010/07/new_allegiance_health_policy_s.html

Rollo, do you understand what anti-smoking means? It means ANTI smoking. Do you not understand that numerous organizations in the Public Health network, including the US Office of the Surgeon General, have been committed to a SmokeFree World for decades? And this is a continuation of the eugenics of early-1900s USA and Nazi Germany. The intent is to denormalize, stigmatize, and ostracize those that continue to smoke. The eugenicists could not care less that they promote bigotry and social division. They could not care less that there is a cost to business. Their only concern is their deranged ideology. (See Godber Blueprint www.rampant-antismoking.com )

Rollo Tommasi said...

Junican: In response to your points….

1. You say “Most of the points that you stated as contributory causes for the closure of pubs after the smoking ban was introduced existed prior to July 2007.” Some did; but even they got much worse soon after the English laws started. Besides, if you are ruling out factors that started before 1 July 2007, then you have to exclude the effect of the smoking laws which were in force in 3 of the UK nations before then.

2. I actually agree with you that property values do not closely reflect pub profits, and that profits are more key to the survival of pubs. But it was Chris Snowdon who introduced the issue of share prices to this debate, so you really ought to take the issue up with them. As far as share prices are concerned, the value of pubco shares got a massive lift from REITS laws around 2005 which made pubs much more attractive investment opportunities. It created a share price bubble which had to pop, which it did in late July 2007. As far as I can tell, the institutions were already familiar with the investment potential of landowning companies, as a result of which the value of their shares neither grew as much pre-2007 nor fell as much post-2007.

3. This is where your argument is particularly weak. Your reading of the Boffetta (WHO) study is completely wrong. It actually concluded:

“The risk from ever exposure to spousal ETS was consistent with the combined available evidence from European studies, but it was lower than some previous estimates—a result that could be explained
by the large number of subjects whose exposure to ETS ended several years earlier.”

Yes, by referring to the Boffetta study alone, you ARE cherry-picking. By contrast, the major meta-analyses (e.g. the 2004 IARC monograph and the 2006 US Surgeon General’s report) take account of all relevant and robust studies available when their studies were taking place – including the Boffetta study itself. And actually, the Boffetta study was technically a meta-analysis itself, as it combined the results of several distinct studies from across Europe. So you’re getting yourself tied up in knots on this issue.

4. I think we have to agree to disagree on this one. Not even Chris Snowdon has taken me to task for basing my comments on the understanding that his post is about the smoking laws being the elephant in the room. Thank you for acknowledging Chris Snowdon’s comment about the ‘smoking ban shaped elephant in the room’.

5. I really hope we do not see the decimation of the pub sector. In the horrible event that it did, we should surely look to all the factors – long-term and short-term – that led to it. Not just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Fredrik: As I stated in my previous post but one, “if it looks at all likely that something could kill other people unnecessarily, I want my government to take reasonable steps to minimise risk.”

As far as traffic is concerned, banning private car ownership is not “reasonable” – the public would not tolerate such a proposition. But governments have taken many “reasonable” steps to reduce the number of RTA fatalities – e.g. driving tests, speed limits, criminal sanctions against dangerous driving, redesigning roads and junctions, requiring that cars are built in accordance with certain safety standards.

Likewise with smoking, no government has banned the act of smoking – and I certainly wouldn’t advocate such a draconian step. What governments have now done is take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of passive smoking, by restricting smoking in enclosed public places.

I say the evidence on passive smoking is “pretty much” beyond reasonable doubt because it has never actually been tested officially to that standard. But, while some of it can be challenged, it is convincing overall. I make no apologies for pointing accusing fingers at individuals who choose to ignore or downplay the likelihood that passive smoking harms the health of other people.

Anyway, leaving arguments aside – hope you and Mrs Eich have had a good start to your weekend.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Anon1 is just casting his net wide for anything to blame the health lobby for, whether or not the issue has anything to do with this debate. Most of his references don't even apply to the UK!

As for his eugenics nonsense, I have seen several people refer to "the Godber blueprint", but they have never been able to reproduce everything that Sir George Godber actually said at that 1975 conference. Even that rampant-antismoking website simply shows excerpts. hardly a sound basis on which to argue that an ideology was forged from this event.

Rollo Tommasi said...

This thread has now been running a week. I have done as much as I can to respond to points made. But now I am increasingly finding I am either repeating myself or being thrown far, far from the original purpose of this thread.

So, just so you know, i am unlikely to contribute any further to this thread.

Anon1 said...

“So, just so you know, i am unlikely to contribute any further to this thread.”

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! H_A__L_L_E___L_U_____J_A_H !!The mass debater moves on…… The__mass__debater__moves__on ! Such words…..delightful words…….words with uplifting promise……O, they are a salve to the soul. :) Let us savour, gently swirl in the mind, this glorious moment and give thanks – many thanks - that we are spared any further inanity….any further bludgeoning of sensibility. (Did I say Hallelujah ?) HALLELUJAH!

P.S. Just to be clear, Rollo. You are arrogant enough to believe that my second-to-last post was a compliment. It wasn’t! You are a typical shallow, materialist “thinker”, having no psychological insight. At this time, you are a self-terrified, hateful man - a sickly, foolish mind very much in its element during sickly, foolish times. If I may borrow from a most useful text: There are none so blind as those that will not see – as those that will not-to-see (Hint, Rollo. That’s not a compliment either, but a call to correction).

Junican said...

Rollo.

I too was thinking that enough is enough.
Let us hope that none of us ever get brained by a falling meteorite!

Good luck.

Rollo Tommasi said...

And you take care too, Junican.

RT.