Sunday, 18 November 2012

Smoking licences

Simon Chapman has recently resurrected the idea of forcing smokers to buy a licence and to carry a swipecard with which to buy tobacco. A database would then be created that tracks how much tobacco people buy and where. I didn't blog about this Orwellian nonsense this week because I have written about it in the past (for example, in 2010) and I also discussed it in my 2009 book Velvet Glove, Iron Fist. From this, you will gather than smoking licences are not a new idea, but then Australia gets everything a few years after we do.

This morning I was on Five Live with Chapman to discuss the suggestion. You can listen to it from 24 minutes in here.

This particular proposal has been kicked into the long grass before and I don't expect things to be different this time. I wonder whether even Chapman takes it seriously. More likely, it is a tactical move to open an Overton window, moving the debate to such an extreme that slightly less extreme measures start to appear reasonable. Plain packaging is the biggest bee in Chapman's bonnet, of course. It his best chance of becoming a footnote in history, but only if other countries follow Australia's example. At the moment, that is looking shaky. Britain's plain packaging consultation received many more responses from those who oppose the idea than support it and it seems as if the same thing has happened in New Zealand.

In 2003, just as the campaign for the smoking ban was beginning in the UK, the Lancet published a well-publicised editorial that called for the total prohibition of cigarettes. The magazine cannot have expected this to be taken seriously, but it did perhaps make a ban on smoking in pubs seem less extreme. The smoking licence gimmick may serve the same function. On the other hand, it might just be that Chapman is at a loose end and needs to keep that grant money rolling in.

On the subject of plain packs, Chapman said during the Five Live interview that: "Quite a large proportion of smokers say 'yeah, bring it on. It'll probably help me quit.'" This is a guy who just cannot stop lying. Insofar as there is an evidence base, it indicates that both smokers and nonsmokers—but especially smokers—don't think plain packs will make any difference. As I wrote in my report about plain packaging earlier this year...

Indeed, most studies which involve direct questioning find that the majority of respondents expect plain packaging to have no effect on smoking prevalence and cigarette consumption. This includes ASH’s own “citizen’s jury” who were “sceptical that branding encouraged people to start smoking or to continue smoking and so did not believe that plain packaging would reduce the number of smokers significantly.”

Simple Simon's claim about the popularity of plain packs was made while he was constructing a bewildering fantasy in which smokers love higher cigarette prices and smoking bans. Simon Chapman—friend of the smoker. Who needs enemies?


UPDATE

Just remembered that as I was being dropped off at the studio, the taxi driver said to me: "Tell him where to stick his smoking licence." It's not a thorough survey of public opinion, but I suspect it's representative.

8 comments:

JohnB said...

Simon Chapman—friend of the smoker.

Oh, yeah. And if Simple Simon Crapman is the smokers’ friend, then that would make Stantonitis “The Mechanic” Glands the patron saint of smokers.

Crapman is a pathological liar with delusions of adequacy. Antismoking has been good to Crapman: It has allowed him a career, i.e., paid, for his copious lying potential. He’s a professional liar, i.e., propagandist, masquerading as a “scholar”.

Just a point on what is contemporarily referred to as the “Overton Window”.

[See Godber Blueprint] This is from Chesterfield-Evans at the 6th World Conference on Smoking & Health – Japan, 1987 (His entire presentation makes for interesting “political activist” reading)

Protest groups and non-smokers' rights groups have trouble with funding and information access but have great freedom to act without being shackled by need for governmental approval . They can thus have a catalytic function and serve to define the most radical pole of the political spectrum. If they are both vociferous and radical it allows groups such as Health Charities or Medical Associations to take more aggressive stances without being perceived as radical . These more conservative bodies should not directly criticise activists but should if pressed say things like “We don’t always agree with their methods but we can understand their frustration at the seriousness of the problem and the government's lack of action”. Thus the two groups reinforce each other and then the Health Department can take a more radical stand within the government . The principle is that the government will not move far from the centre of the perceived political spectrum so by shifting a pole one redefines the position of the centre .
http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/zwt51f00

C-E is advocating that some antismoking groups push a radical/extreme position so that other antismoking groups, who do not criticize the “radicals”, seem far less extreme – even moderate, in comparison - in pushing what are nevertheless major ventures towards the extreme. As we look back over the last 25 years, this has been the orchestrated approach: Governments and the public have been manipulated, through incessant lying and inflammatory propaganda and this “re-defining the pole”, towards an extreme position.

Chris, you might recall the name “Chesterfield-Evans” from the Lavac Incident (late 2011). C-E - like Lavac, also of the The Non Smokers’ Movement of Australia - later went into politics in Australia. C-E was on the Legislative Council that gave Lavac and other antismoking fanatics a hearing at the “JOINT SELECT COMMITTEE ON TOBACCO SMOKING”
http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/Prod/parlment/committee.nsf/0/ffc3db11ffc31799ca2571650018fdf6/$FILE/1%20May%202006.pdf

http://www.nsma.org.au/update04/update46.htm

BTW It’s nearly a year and, as far as I’m aware, Lavac has still not filed a lawsuit.

JohnB said...

I should also point out that Crapman and Chesterfield-Evans are big-time buddy buddies from their BUGA-UP days together.

Steve Wintersgill said...

Unbelievable from Victoria Derbyshire (?) re:post ban pub closures, although does, I think, reflect the relatively insulated economic conditions for pubs in London and the south east (and some other large metropolitan centres) versus the country at large.

Jonathan Bagley said...

Wasn't Victoria Derbyshire, although that's what she would said. Some of these people live in their own bubble. Doesn't make for very good programmes. Think she's called Anita. The previous woman was excellent.

Dan said...

I wonder what would happen if the "Bootleggers and Baptists" argument were advanced here? This one was quoted regarding the American Alcohol prohibition; the two groups who really favoured prohibition were Baptists (i.e. dozy religious nutjobs) and Bootleggers (i.e. illicit alcohol producers, busy making a packet off the ban).

Advocates of a smoking ban fall into similar groupings; we have the nutjob sociopaths, and the baccy smugglers who are having a whale of a time cashing in on the price differential.

Jonathan Bagley said...

Also among today's Bootleggers is the Pharmaceutical Industry. They make the most off the Indoor ban. That's why they are so desperate to get rid of ecigs. Smugglers make money only when the price is increased.

Bernard I. Fowler said...

It sounds ridiculos to buy license for tobacco! Oh, God. What if I buy cigarettes online? Where to get license?

Mark O Donovan said...

I think we should ban tobacco for everybody born after the year 2000 as outline on the research done on this page.

http://smokerslicence.com/pages/the-case-for-a-tobacco-ban.php

This would break the cycle that tobacco has on society and lead to a smoke free generation.