As you can see from the top graph, the smoking rate was falling nicely until 2007 when it reached 21 per cent. Since then it has been virtually static, falling by just one percentage point in four years. 2007 saw the start of a new phase in extreme "evidence-based" tobacco control measures, including the smoking ban, the 'fish hook' ads and an increase in the legal age of purchase. Since then it has been open season on smokers, with graphic warnings (2008), a series of particularly large tax increases (2010-11) and a ban on vending machines (2011).
What's been the effect of all this feverish activity? What have we got to show for the millions of pounds given to the likes of SmokeFree Southwest and the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies? The decline in smoking has slowed to a virtual halt and the illicit trade has boomed.
Meanwhile, alcohol consumption and rates of 'binge drinking' have been sliding downwards for the best part of a decade at a time when we supposedly have '24 hour drinking' and 'pocket money prices'. The answer to this fake drinking epidemic—say the 'experts'—is to copy the policies that have been used in tobacco control!
It beggars belief that anyone can be so blinkered. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if 'public health' was a results-oriented business, these people would be out on their ear. Fortunately for them, nobody in government ever bothers to compare their extravagant promises with the real world consequences and each new failure is implicitly used as justification for further 'tough action'.
The BBC resembles the propaganda wing of the public health lobby more and more by the day. It has now reported the results of the GLS Survey but has spared the anti-smokers' blushes by taking the long view...
Smoking in Britain has more than halved and people are drinking on fewer nights of the week, according to a snapshot survey covering the past 40 years.
Auntie doesn't mention the more recent trend in smoking prevalence. Instead, it quotes a couple of public health lobbyists, the first of whom says...
"We need to get rid of really cheap discounts on alcohol."
And the second says (in the closing line of the article)...
"It is encouraging to see measures such as banning smoking in cars when children are present and introduction of standardised packaging for cigarettes being seriously considered by this government."
Shameless. Utterly shameless.