To this end, they lean heavily on the much-mocked Policy Exchange report of 2010 which attempted to show that smokers were a burden on the economy. Unfortunately, all it really showed was that the Policy Exchange can't distinguish between private costs and public costs, financial costs and intangible costs, and externalities and internalities. Nor does it understand that savings need to be weighted against costs in cost-benefit analyses. And, for good measure, it is ignorant of the body of research showing that smokers more than pay their weigh in economic terms.
Never mind though, eh? All policy-makers really need to know when considering whether to throw more taxpayers' money at Tobacco Free Futures, Smokefree South West and Smokefree North East (for it is they) is on page 5:
Furthermore, whilst there has been a downward trend in smoking prevalence over several decades, this appears to have stagnated since 2007.
What happened prior to 2007 to bring down the smoking rate? Not a great deal by the standards of the anti-tobacco extremists—education, awareness, taxation and a ban on tobacco advertising.
What happened from 2007 onwards? One of the world's most draconian smoking bans (2007). Graphic health warnings (2008). Adverts showing fish hooks severing the faces of smokers (2007, below). Massive tax rises (20% increase since January 2010). Counterfeit cigarettes openly sold in the street (2010). Nutters demanding outdoor smoking bans (2011).
Since 2007, the UK has sat proudly atop of the 'Tobacco Control Scale' league table. Like Ireland, Britain did everything the anti-smoking 'experts' said we should. What has been the reward? Stagnation.
Denormalisation, division and extremism is not working. The primary goal of reducing smoking prevalence is not being achieved. The unintended consequences have been socially and economically disastrous. The neurotics and fanatics have been running the show for too long. The coalition should hold tobacco control accountable for this dismal record of failure and return to sensible smoking cessation programmes, believable educational campaigns and treating people like grown ups.