Monday, 6 September 2010

Ban damage

Quantifying the damage of smoking bans to the pub industry has never been easy. As well as a long-term (post 1960s) trend towards people drinking at home, there are clearly other factors affecting the licensed trade, including higher rents and taxes. Few people seriously argue that the smoking ban has not had a negative effect on Britain's pub trade. The question is how much?

In England and Wales, the picture has been muddied by the economic downturn which began in the first year of the ban, leading to recession in year two. Our ability to assess ban damage has also not been helped by the difficulty in finding solid and specific data on pub closures. The British Beer and Pub Association has issued figures showing 39 pub closures a week, more recently rising to 52 pub closures. Measured against 2 or 4 pub closures a week before the ban, one would have to be rather blinkered to pretend that the smoking ban has not been a major factor (although some have tried), but they are still annual figures for the whole of Britain. We have not had the benefit of seeing quarterly figures for each part of the UK.

But now we do. As the Morning Advertiser reported on Friday, and Taking Liberties reports today, data from the CGA Database give us a much clearer idea of what has been happening. Analysed by CR Consulting for the Save Our Pubs and Clubs campaign, the report concludes:

The results demonstrate a very close statistical relationship between the introduction of the smoking bans and the acceleration of the decline of the British and Irish pubs. This relationship is considerably stronger than those that could be attributed to a change in the beer duty or the recession.

The strength of this report is that it looks at four countries which implemented bans at different times (Ireland: 2004, Scotland: 2006, England & Wales: 2007). Pub closures accelerated in all four countries from the middle of 2008, which obviously indicates an effect from the recession. Since there are multiple, combinative factors leading to pub closures, it may be that the recession was the final nail in the coffin for pubs already weakened by the smoking ban. Or it may not. The best way to tell would be to see how many pub closed in previous recessions. My understanding is that pubs are traditionally seen as recession-proof, but I have yet to find reliable data for this.

But if the smoking ban's impact on pubs in England and Wales is muddied by the following year's recession, the same cannot be said of Ireland and Scotland, whose respective bans were enforced four and a half years and two and a half years before the recession began.

What is striking about the figures from the CGA Database is that there is the same pattern of pub closures, regardless of implementation date and regardless of the wider economy. Large-scale pub closures began in Ireland, then in Scotland and finally in England and Wales, perfectly following the chronology of the smokefree legislation.

Furthermore, the rate of closures is remarkably similar across the four countries. Closures in year two of the smoking bans are within the narrow range of 4.1% and 5.6%. In year three, they range from 5.5% to 7.6%. And in year four, both Scotland and Ireland saw the closure rate rise to 11% (all % are based on percentage change since the smoking ban.

In the first year of a smoking ban, the damage is less pronounced. Pubs are unlikely to close straight away—most can at least make it through the first winter. The exception here is Ireland which saw a large number of closures straight away (7.3%). Since the Irish economy was positively booming in 2004/05, this cannot be attributed to the wider economy. It would be interesting to see data for previous years.

What this report shows is that England's rate of pub closures in 2008/09 (4.9%) was very similar Scotland's rate of closures in 2007/08 (4.6%). Likewise, Ireland's rate of closures in 2007/08 (11%) was virtually the same as Scotland's rate of closures in 2009/10 (11.1%).

In other words, each country is experiencing the same phenomenon to almost exactly the same degree but in different years. The only plausible explanation for this time-lag is the implementation of smoking bans. When you look at closure rates in the context of when each smoking ban was introduced, the data fits like a glove.

It also fits all the other evidence. It fits what publicans have been saying:

The readers' poll showed 77% of licensees think that trade has suffered as a result of the ban. Almost two thirds (63%) say business is worse than expected, and 72% predict a "challenging" or "very challenging" outlook for their business. Three out of five licensees said they had let staff go or reduced their hours. In addition, 73% want the ban lifted.

It fits what market analysts have been saying:

Pubs have sold 175 million fewer pints in the past year as a direct result of the smoking ban, according to market analysts AC Nielsen.

It fits what pubgoers have been saying:

There's no need for any fancy statistical analysis of trends over time. Just ask the customers.

It fits what the share prices of the Pubcos have been telling us:

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.

It fits what economic theory predicts will happen when a externality is imposed on a business; it fits what the pub industry did predict would happen; it fits what has happened in other countries, in other states and in other cities.

The only thing it doesn't fit is the rhetoric of anti-smoking groups like ASH:

"Smoke-free polices are not only good for health, they are good for business. Evidence shows that in countries where smoke-free laws have been introduced, trade has generally increased."

Amanda Sandford, ASH, 2003


Dick Puddlecote said...

"Rhetoric" of ASH? I'd have used mendacity. ;)

Anonymous said...

As an ex-pub regular, I find it enormously frustrating to read that it's all about pub-ties, 'cheap' supermarket booze, and the recession.

I can agree with the 'changing social habits' mantra. Mine have certainly changed. However, where the anti-smoking brigade seem to think that 'changing social habits' is some kind of inexplicable, spontaneous cultural awakening or something, I can explain exactly what's caused mine. If every pub landlord in the land decided to give their booze away it wouldn't tempt me back.

What's the point if you don't feel welcome and you can't relax?

DaveA said...

First things first Chris, pub closures UK 1980 to 2010.

DaveA said...

Take 2. Pub closures 1980-2010.

DaveA said...

The other major reason cited is cheap supermarket drink. My research has suggested that supermarket drink pre ban was just as cheap then as it is now. The first quote is from the Business Section of The Guardian from July 2004.

“But supermarkets sold alcohol at a fraction of the price it was on sale for in pubs, he said. Some were selling brand name cider for 51p a can and export strength lager for 64p during the Euro 2004 football championships."

In a letter dated 28th March 2007 Ian R Loe the Research Manager of CAMRA to the Competition Commission states:

"Research by CAMRA in the period just before Christmas, sound that supermarkets were selling Fosters and Carling for the equivalent of 54p a pint...a pint of beer in a pub 148p to 213p from 1995 to 2005...the cost of supermarket lager ..the average price is down from 70.8p to 67.4p.."

Let me remind you this is 4 months before the smoking ban.

The most obvious evidence of this is from This Is Money where on the 21st September 2006 the prices in Tesco were listed for Fosters lager, Red Smirnoff Red Label Vodka and Jack Daniels. The 2010 prices were taken on the 12th August from

Beer and spirits

2006 top
2010 bottom

4x 500 ml Fosters £3.53 £3.42*
Red Smirnoff Vodka 70cl £9.79 £11.00
Jack Daniels 70cl £18.18 £20.49

Wine 2004 2010

Wolf Blass Yellow Label £5.72 £6.74**

Cabernet Sauvignon 75cl
Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay £5.69 £5.24***

Jacobs Creek Shiraz Cabernet 75cl £4.73 per bottle £5.24****

* (Adjusted from 440ml)
** (special offer reduced from £8.99)
*** (special offer reduced from £6.99)
**** (special offer reduced from £6.99)

I hope this ends the urban myth that supermarket booze all of a sudden became cheap after the smoking ban. (Wolf)

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

Thanks Dave. I hadn't seen the 1980-2010 figures before. Very useful.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Before people get too excited about this report, it’s worth pointing out a few things.

Figure 1 of the paper is fascinating.

a. It shows how the shape of the graph for Scotland is very different to those for England and Wales. There is a massive drop in (presumably) the 3rd quarter of 2007, followed by a period of stability. No such trend in England or Wales. I can’t be sure about the reasons for that sudden dip but it’s more likely to relate to the credit crunch than to the smoking laws. Whatever, the reason, it seriously questions the claim in the report of a “very close relationship between the ban and the decline in pub estates”.

b. If pubs had closed in the same ways in England, Scotland and Wales as a result of the smoking laws, we would have expected the graphs for Wales and England to trail the Scottish graph by 4 quarters and 5 quarters respectively. In fact, they follow very similar trajectories for the last 2 whole years, with a fall starting in the same quarter in 2008. This suggests the causes of closure were largely happening at the same time across the 3 nations (unlike the smoking laws, which started in Scotland 12-15 months before England and Wales).

c. Also, from this point onwards, England’s decline in pub numbers is trailing Scotland’s by only 2-3 quarters, not the 5 quarters by which Scotland’s smoking laws predated England’s. So the decline in England’s pubs happened more quickly than Scotland’s, which suggests the smoking laws cannot have been the only factor influencing the closures and that the economic downturn accelerated the number of pub closures.

Figure 2 of the paper is also fascinating – because the graph lines do not correspond with those in Figure 1. For instance, is Scotland a blue line or a green line? So at least one of the figures must be wrong!

The conclusion I draw is similar to the conclusion in the report – that the smoking laws were one of several factors contributing towards pub closures. Strangely, however, the report downplays the significance of economic difficulties by stating that the recession only started in the third quarter of 2008. But, since a recession is defined as two or more consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, by definition the negative growth started in the first quarter of 2008. And there is a lot of evidence showing how publicans were struggling in the second half of 2007, owing to rapidly increasing drink, food and energy costs, rent increases, rising cost of credit and more.

Anonymous said...

So why didn't pubs close in all the proceding recessions ?

Anonymous said...

Oh get real, Rollo!

Do you ever actually go to pubs, or are they just something you read about in books?


Dick Puddlecote said...

Rollo: "The conclusion I draw is similar to the conclusion in the report – that the smoking laws were one of several factors contributing towards pub closures"

So not 'trade has generally increased' then? Perhaps ASH should stop denying the obvious, whaddya think?

Digging one's heels in only works when not backsliding in mud. ;)

Rollo Tommasi said...

Dick – I’m not here to defend ASH, just as you’re not here to represent tobacco companies.

But by making your comment you confuse two issues. One is pub closures, the other is pub trade.

From evidence I have seen, the introduction of the smoking laws in Scotland (i.e. before economic difficulties) resulted in little overall change in pub spending. But within that overall total, there were some shifts – so that some pubs benefited, some suffered and most faced little significant change either way. Alcohol sales fell by 4%, but soft drink and food sales increased.

Of the pubs which suffered, many had already been facing struggles even without the smoking laws (on-trade beer sales had fallen dramatically in the decade before the smoking laws came into force). The combination of these factors, with the addition of an economic downturn, created a perfect storm, causing many of these pubs to shut.

Anonymous said...

Pund didn't shut in previous economic downturns.

Snowdon said...


The last two quarters of 2008 saw negative growth hence the recession started in the second half of 2008. The economy was doing just fine in June-September 2007, unless there was some factor unique to Scotland that would affect pubs (let me think..)

In figure 2, I think Scotland may be wrongly marked as green when it is blue, otherwise the lines look right to me.

My only query is about figure 2 is that it suggests the ban started in December 04 when it was actually March 04. In other words, the whole Irish line should be moved to the right by 3 quarters. That would actually make it fit the other nations better. Rather than pubs closing straight away, it would show a period of survival before the collapse, as in the UK countries.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Chris: I don't agree with your claim that "the economy was doing just fine in June-September 2007" - at least not the pub sector.

All of these things happened in the second half of 2007.

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 (interestingly enough, share values were doing well between 2004 and 2006, even though brewers’ profits had dropped markedly in that time. It was the effects of the credit crunch on asset values that caused Pubcos’ share prices to drop).

5. 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.

6. Publicans found it harder to borrow from their bank, and the cost of borrowing increased.

In any event, there is a clear distinction in the line for Scotland which the report ignores, and hides through tables which only provide 12 month figures.

I see you're not commenting on my other observations about figure 1. As far as I am concerned, figure 1 undermines the argument that pub closure rates in England and Wales tracked those in Scotland with a 12/15 month timelag. The figure shows shifts in the lines for all 3 countries occurring in the same ways and at the same time throughout 2008 and 2009.

I think you're right about the start date for the RoI line in figure 2 being wrong. Yes, that would make it more similar to the GB nations, although the RoI experience remains noticeably different to any of those. I also feel bound to say that for a figure to contain at least 2 errors is more than a little careless, and raises questions about the conduct of the whole report (which isn't exactly long to begin with).

Anonymous said...

My Dearest Rollo
Be a good chappy and tell the nice ladies and gentlemen,what you do
for a living.It would be helpfull
if you could describe the last time you visited an enclosed space
where humans choke and gasp as part of their daily routine.Views on smoking from lofty perches of
splendid isolation have become so
boring I am surprised some still persist with such sanctimonious


Dick Puddlecote said...

Rollo: "on-trade beer sales had fallen dramatically in the decade before the smoking laws came into force"

Nice attempt at misdirection. You forgot to mention that wine, spirits, alcopops, shots and cider went the other way and more than counteracted it, hence pub numbers reaching a 5 year peak in 2006.

You also seem to have omitted that off trade beer sales are also plummeting, reaching their lowest level for 30 years in January. It may have something to do with the fact people are drinking less in general, but then that wouldn't help your obsessive protection of the smoking ban, would it?

Of course, despite the fact that both are deteriorating, pubs are still suffering worse. You know this as you, the expert, will surely have read that off trade is widely expected to eclipse on trade for the first time ever when new figures are released.

You'll have to hide your red herrings better if you're ever to graduate from juvenile debating school, you know.

Give my regards to Baz while you're both throwing sticks at conkers, eh? ;)

Dick Puddlecote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ftumch said...

Mr Snowdon, you do a grand job sir, am a fan. I would buy your book, but I spend too much on beer and ciggies... I do hope you appreciate the good works I do in returning so much money to the Treasury for good works.

Statistics... ummmm... a mirky business.

I am no longer a big pub-goer, but... I wonder, does anyone have statistics for the sales of Sky to pubs? I say this, because prior to the ban I went to my local pub to watch a Man U game in Europe (against Milan, I think, quarter finals?). The place was full, and smokey, but I could've gone to one of a number of places... 6 or 7 off the top of my head. After the ban, almost a year later, and similar situation... only, as I walked passed the pub on my way to the off-licence (I had to pay sky to watch online) I noticed the pub was almost completely empty, maybe about three or four people in there.

The following season (2008/9?) a mate of mine invited me out to Liverpool v Man U game, a long standing tradition... choice of pubs to watch it in? 6,7,8? Nah... 1.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Chris, keep up the good work, and well done for not losing your patience with Rollo.

Rollo Tommasi said...

Dick- No misdirection at all on my part. As I said before, evidence from Scotland shows that some pubs benefited when our smoking laws came into force, some suffered and most others noticed little overall change.

The pubs which suffered tended to be those which were dependent on traditional markets (principally beer sales). They weren’t able to exploit opportunities available to other pubs, in order to increase sales through other drinks and food. And that traditional market had already been diminishing for years. Which is why I say many of these pubs were struggling before the smoking laws came in.

Rick S said...

"many of these pubs were struggling before the smoking laws came in."

Struggling, maybe, but still in business, and still serving their local communities.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion a pub which starts to serve food in order to remain in business ceases to be a pub and becomes a restaurant. I don't feel comfortable sitting a yard away from people who are eating when I am not; and I don't enjoy drinking in a room full of food smells. This is all hypothetical as I haven't set foot in a pub/restaurant since the smoking ban.

Anonymous said...

Arguing against the smoking ban on economic grounds is morally equivalent to arguing against a ban on homosexuality on the grounds that it destroys the market in high quality white tee-shirts and expensive male grooming products.

The smoking ban unusally prevents the exercise of free will. Leisure activities far more hazardous than passive smoking in non-residential buildings are permitted. For example: attempting to climb K2, horse riding, motorbike riding, and base jumping. Employment in jobs far more hazardous than working in a smoking pub is permitted. For example: the construction industry, prostitution and deep sea diving.

junican said...

Hello, Rollo Tomassi!

I remember you from some months ago on this site. I must admit that I respected and admired your commitment to your cause. – although I am not quite sure what that is. Anyway, last time, you argued so convincingly that you almost had me convinced that all the boarded up pubs were still open and still doing untaxed, surreptitious business behind closed doors.

But the argument last time was about the fall in pubco share values. I do not think that we should go there again, although I do think that Chris Snowdon should have mentioned that the 75% loss of share value included an element of property value loss (unless he has already done so).

I do agree with you that there has been a gradual deterioration in pub affluence in the past several years. I personally think that it started with the application of swingeing penalties on drink-drivers. My own opinion is that people who were not over the limit, and not likely to be, became so afraid (since they had no way of knowing whether or not they were over the limit) that they stopped driving to pubs - period. That is, they stopped going to pubs at all since they had no other reasonable way to get there other than to drive. I think that the ‘drink/drive ban was a major factor. However, it did not mean that pubs could not survive – it merely (if merely is the right word) meant that the owners of pubs became less affluent. Of course, once pubs started to become less fun places to be (because fewer people were going to them), the more local people started to stay at home as well.

Of course, I say this merely as a result of my own observations. However, there is no reason to suppose that my observations are any different from other people’s. If polling organisations can claim that a survey of 2000 individuals throughout the UK is 95% indicative of the opinion of the 60 million citizens of the UK, I do not see why my observations should not be sufficient to portray the observations of the 3000 residents of my ‘village’.

There is no need to examine the trends in detail looking for errors, Rollo. Just look at the big picture. Pubs were already weakened and then were hit by the smoking ban. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. There is no real need to argue about it.

What is really interesting from your anti-smoking point of view is whether or not there will come a time when the closure trend will bottom out. I would imagine that this is something that you would earnestly wish for. But....just think that thought through a little. What would be the reality in that case? It seems to be true that there would no longer exist ‘local pubs’ as such. All these places would be pubco eateries.

IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT? If so, just say so. If you want the total destruction of places where people can meet and chat without having a meal, just say so.

Rollo, can I invite you to come over to our side? Here is a little questionnaire for you to answer:

1. Do you want the smoking ban, as regards pubs, to be tightened further?

OR 2. Are you happy with the ban as it is?

OR 3. Would you like pubs to be allowed to have better external provision?

OR 4. Would you like pubs to be allowed to have separate smoking rooms?

OR 5. Would you like pubs to be allowed to decide whether to be smoking or not?

OR 6. Would you like the smoking ban to be totally repealed?

It is a simple questionnaire which covers the main areas – obviously, what constitutes a ‘smoking room’ would need to be decided. There is no need to tick more than one. The one you tick will show your how much you value freedom.

Rollo! Abandon your authoritarian stance! Come over to the side of freedom!

Rollo Tommasi said...

Thanks for your comments Junican. I actually agree some of much of what you say. For many of the pubs which have closed recently, the smoking laws were one of the straws on the back, contributing to the breakage. As I said before, I think a typical situation is that these pubs suffered a perfect storm of long-term fall in trade, smoking laws and a suddenly much tougher trading environment around July 2007. The recession may not have started then but, as I stated before, many new challenges did emerge. For publicans already struggling, to find that overdraft facilities were being revoked or that cheap and accessible bank loans were suddenly getting much tougher to find would have been huge obstacles.

Further evidence of this comes from Figure 1, which shows that the pub sectors in all 4 nations suffered badly in the second half of 2007, even though the smoking laws had been in place in the nations for very different periods. Ireland in particular shows a double dip, with a large drop in late 2007 which is clearly unrelated to the smoking laws, given the long period of stability following an initial dip.

But I also said I believe that the smoking laws caused some pubs to suffer, benefited others and resulted in no significant change for the rest. So I also believe that you should not assume from closure statistics that the smoking laws have caused all pubs to suffer.

So when will the closure trend bottom out? I simply don’t know, when so many factors are at play.

I also think you do me a huge disservice, by suggesting I might want to see pubs close. That is absolutely not the case. But for me the key issue is public health. I don’t have a difficulty with people doing things that may place their own health at risk. But, when the best available evidence shows it is highly probable that people can be killed by other people’s smoke, it is absolutely right that reasonable steps be taken to reduce those risks.

I don’t see a need to extend the smoking laws further and, for instance, I’ve said several times that I don’t see a need for tobacco display bans (although I am more attracted to restrictions on tobacco packaging). I don’t have a problem with greater external provision (subject to noise controls in residential areas).

I don’t like the idea of separate smoking rooms, but my concerns are practical. Most of the pubs that could afford to set up and run smoking rooms are pubs which are already doing reasonably well. The publicans who are struggling most are those which often will be least able to afford to do this – or indeed have premises where a smoking room could be installed. And these smoking rooms would still have to be serviced by staff. Despite the claims of some pro-smokers, no ventilation or filtration system can ensure that the air someone breathes in these rooms would be 99.7% tobacco fume-free.

I don’t see the difference between your OR5 and OR6 – surely giving the landlord the choice is the same as repealing the laws. That would be a completely retrograde step, which has little public support and which would not address my concerns about public health.

Rick S said...

“... giving the landlord the choice is the same as repealing the laws. That would be a completely retrograde step, which has little public support...”

But it wouldn’t be the same, would it? Things have changed a lot since the ban came in. As you say, a repeal of the laws has little public support and it’s obvious that the vast majority of people prefer “smokefree” environments. Seeing as the people running the hospitality industry are not, on the whole, fools, it’s therefore equally obvious that the majority of venues would remain “smokefree” even if smoking indoors was no longer forbidden by law.

This would then allow for the existence of a minority of specialist, smoking venues, run and staffed by smokers for smokers – and the health of the nonsmoking majority would not be compromised. This situation, it seems to me, would suit everybody and help to save our endangered traditional pubs.

Fredrik Eich said...

"best available evidence shows it is highly probable that people can be killed by other people’s smoke" - Rollo.
Rollo, so if it is shown that it was highly probable that prohibiting smoking at work (inside) put the lives
of smokers at risk (say ~25% increased risk of cardiovascular disease) ; would you support the complete abolishion of smoke-free work places including places that non-smokers need for their social lives?
As a matter of public health?
I don't think you would. I think you would say that a probable risk is not the same as a proven risk and that such a law would have negative impact on the social health of non-smokers and a negative impact on those businesses that rely on non-smokers. I think you would say that it is totally unjustified, even if smokers were in the majority - and you would be right. I think you would fight tooth and nail against such law.

Andrew said...

So how does the data referenced above look? Do people go to pubs less during each recession? Enough to close pubs? There have been a few recessions since '80. That could settle things. I mean, pubs can probably stretch a budget--and they probably remember doing so before, hence why they didn't close at once--and then, bam, they realize things aren't coming back this time, because there are too many other factors on top of this.

I also think that, economic issues aside, the # of clubs dropping is a bigger thing than Rollo thinks. I'd rather not see a small pub's business go to a big pub's. And I don't think you can replace a rural pub with another cookie cutter pub in the city.

Isolation is linked to death--I remember reading Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone where isolation was #5 on a list of risk factors. Smoking was #18.

So in essence, if you buy that smoke cannot be ventilated/filtrated enough (and I would guess it doesn't need to be cut all of 99.7%) you still have to consider that, yes, you are taking years off the smoker's life, beyond the time you restrict them from seeing friends easily.

As for the economic argument, I suspect cost of beer as a % of income has been overall trending down, and people get in a habit of going to favorite pubs, so the extra cost is not the main factor--especially since beer at a pub has the biggest markup already.

I mean, if price to make beer goes from .25 to .5, but the price at a pub is 3, then raising it to 3.25 will not make a huge difference.

And those who want cheap booze hit the supermarket anyway.

Anonymous said...

This figure of 99.7% is what is claimed for their equipment by the filtration manufacturers - nothing to do with any risk from passive smoking. If we approach the issue in the normal H & S way, which is what would be done for anything other than smoking (or now, possibly, drinking) the first thing to look at is how much passive smoke is present. Several attempts have been made to measure this. One that cannot be dismissed as being paid for by the tobacco industry was conducted by the Health Behaviour Unit at UCL and concluded that frequenting pubs (before the Ban) was typically equivalent to smoking 10 cigarettes a year. This is the order of magnitude that all the direct measurements have produced. Anti smoking lobbyists produce their own figures using proxies such as cotinine, which is a metabolite of nicotine. Being at least one step removed from the actual tobacco inhalation, it allows for speculation and statistical chicanery and so claims of far more than 10 cigarettes a year arise. I'm not aware of any anti smoking group producing a direct measurement of more than 50 cigarettes a year, which they surely would do if it were possible.

Next we need to try and estimate the possible harm caused by this level of "smoking". There have now been detailed long term studies on the effects of active smoking, for example the Doctors' study, begun by Prof Doll, which demonstrate that a low level of smoking, say 5 a day, for less than 12 years produces no more than a doubling of risk for lung cancer. If we extrapolate the obvious and generally recognised dose dependency to (being cautious) 50 cigarettes a year, or 1/35th of 5 a day, we end up something any sane person would feel was negligible. With the added benefit of extraction, the additional risk is almost zero. Tobacco smoke is currently thought to cause lung cancer by inducing random mutations and if this is the case then the probability of contracting it is likely to be approximately proportional to the exposure at these low levels, as it is at high levels of active smoking. More recently much has been made of very low levels of passive smoking causing heart attacks, with attempts to "prove" that exposure to minute levels can result in instant death. I think this brings science into disrepute.

All the above is irrelevant to my oppositon to the smoking ban on the grounds that both private smoking clubs are banned and volunteer workers are classed as employees. As has been admitted by several of those involved, the ban was not brought in to protect employees, but to reduce the number of active smokers. This is not the function of a Government, even without the lie; and it has not been successful since the number of active smokers has not decreased since the ban. As Andrew points out, it has increased the isolation of smokers, who now smoke at home, which is not good for either them or society in general.

Anonymous said...

You could and I do take the smoking ban as an act of spite imposed upon 12,000,000 people by Zealot's.
There is a large element of that in it too.

Anonymous said...

You could and I do take the smoking ban as an act of spite imposed upon 12,000,000 people by Zealot's.
There is a large element of that in it too.