Sunday 12 May 2013

Ireland: EU Leader In Tobacco Control Failure

While the tantrums of the tobacco control industry over plain packs are still ringing in our ears, it's worth pointing out how their 'bash tobacco companies' idea has yet more anti-smoker failure written all over it.

For example, let's look at the EU's pioneer in tobacco control, Ireland. In February, their Minister for Health, James Reilly, was ranting about how bad Ireland's smoking rates were.
"The overall prevalence rates for Ireland are more or less similar to the EU average with 29% of Irish adults being current smokers. This is simply not acceptable."
This is the Ireland which was the first EU country to implement a comprehensive smoking ban; the first to hide tobacco behind screens; the first to place restrictions on vending machines; and the first to ban packs of 10.

Ireland's smoking ban began in March 2004, so how did that affect the number of smokers? Well, this report by the Irish Department of Health and Children gives us a clue.
Overall, 29% of respondents in SLÁN 2007 reported that they were current smokers. This was lower than in 1998 (33%) and a non-significant increase from 2002 (27%). The downward trend between 1998 and 2002 was seen in both men and women, and across all age groups and social classes (see Table 1). Progress then stalled in all these categories, with no significant change in smoking rates between 2002 and 2007.
That's correct. There was an increase of 2% following a prior dramatic decline.

As Reilly's remarks show, nothing has changed since 2007 despite the ever-shrill demands of the tobacco control industry. Six years later, prevalence is still at 29%. All the 'urgent' bans and restrictions; all the game-changing legislation, has had no effect whatsoever.

And how does that compare to other countries?

Well, the OECD recently released their 2013 factbook which charted - amongst other trends - the prevalence of smoking for a large array of countries since 1990. You'll find tobacco control pin-up boy Ireland at the extreme right of this graph (click to enlarge) with the lowest reduction in smoking of all nations in the EU.

All that taxpayer cash handed to obsessed single interest bully boys and doom-mongers, and the upshot is a decline of 3% in around a quarter of a century. Epic fail, huh?

Of course, if you look carefully at the figures, it isn't difficult to work out which European nations are performing the best.
Large declines occurred in Nordic countries, in Denmark (from 45% in 1990 to 20% in 2010), Iceland (from 30% to 14%), Sweden (from 26% to 14%), Norway (from 32% to 21%), and in the Netherlands (from 37% to 21%). 
That is, Nordic countries where smokeless tobacco and snus are widely available - and Holland which has one of the loosest smoking bans in Europe.

Any rational analysis of these conflicting experiences would suggest that making alternatives to smoked tobacco available (snus and e-cigs) would be a good thing, and severity of smoking bans have little relevance.

Of course, that would be to assume that global tobacco control inc has anything to do with health rather than pointlessly attacking the tobacco industry.

Plain packaging wouldn't 'save lives' any more than previous spiteful laws have done. If anti-smokers want to see reductions in smoking, they'd be better served by campaigning for the EU ban on snus to be lifted, gently encouraging smokers instead of bullying them with 'denormalisation', and getting on board with the e-cig revolution.

The exact opposite, in fact, to what the newly proposed EU Tobacco Products Directive is seeking to do.

Wouldn't it be great if, one day, politicians looked at hard statistical evidence such as that from the OECD rather than speculative, fantasy, policy-based garbage produced by ideological, liberty-averse state-funded front groups, eh?


Rursus said...

Large declines occurred in Nordic countries, in Denmark (from 45% in
1990 to 20% in 2010), Iceland (from 30% to 14%), Sweden (from 26% to
14%), Norway (from 32% to 21%), and in the Netherlands (from 37% to

That is, Nordic countries where smokeless tobacco and snus are widely
available - and Holland which has one of the loosest smoking bans in

However: This is certainly not that kind of statement given by Dr. Charlotta Pisinger during the EU-Workshop on ECigs [1 - Page 13 to 21].

Instead she have given a perfect "zeaolot point of view"...

So it wasn't snus, that doesn't answer the heavy decline in Denmark, Dr. Pisinger?


SadButMadLad said...

There is an amazing correlation between the AGW climate change people and the anti-smoking people. They use the same tactics and ignorance of stats and science to push their agendas. The main point being to earn more money by being the promoter of their cause. AGW people get their money from the government. Anti-smoking puritans get their money from the government. A good reason why the government is stupid.

The dane said...

regarding nordic countries.

Well, Snus is not widely available in Denmark, and ecig is a phenomena less than a year old. Both does not qualify as an argument.

I dont care much for the fanatical non smokers, or zealotic smokers, but at least get your facts straight before ranting

Xopher said...

Could there be a reason for Tobacco Control using the 1990s rather than say 2005 for their starting point??
The stats might be enlightening especially when compared to changes TC & smoking cessation funding, NRT sales, hospitality venue closures etc..

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Snus wasn't banned in Denmark until after the period reported in the OECD report.

E-cigs have been available worldwide by internet sales since 2004. If Danish citizens have only found them in the past 12 months, I'd be very surprised.

Klaus K said...

Loose snus is still legal and will probably not be banned in Denmark, because a big majority of parlament members declared they will vote against a snus-ban.

Snus is available in many kiosks and in some gas stations. Also it is not hard to get your hand on (the Illegal) Swedish pre-packed snus in the Copenhagen area, since it is available legally in Malmø, just a 15-minute drive across the bridge over Øresund. A lot of danes and swedes are commuting cross the bridge each day.

You should also know another thing, however: In 2010 it was revealed in public, that the Danish health authorities had manipulated the official smoking statistics to show a false, huge drop in smoking prevalence. This happened after two years with statistics showing no smoking decline at all following the smoking ban in 2007.

So today nobody really knows the number of Danish smokers. Many people in Denmark clearly have stopped smoking during work after many workplace bans, but it seems like they are happily puffing away as always when they are partying. It is very likely that if health authorities ask these people about their smoking status, they will say they are ex-smokers, even though in reality they are not. And that could explain at least some of the "good" Danish numbers in the OECD statistics ...

woodsy42 said...

Since indoor smoking bans started all such places are plastered with signs showing a burning cigarette. No doubt the intent was simply to 'rub our noses' in their winning the ban but in reality, because of all the signs, cigarettes have become more visible since the ban.

Junican said...

Hear, hear, woodsy. Tobacco Control have advertised smoking more thoroughly than the Tobacco Industry could ever have done in their wildest dreams.

the phrase "chickens coming home to roost" springs to mind.

Junican said...

Further, thanks to Tobacco Control, many people have found ways to avoid the swingeing taxes. Even if Government saw the error of its ways, these people are hardly likely to go backwards.

Jens Mellin said...

Statistical magic instead of snus?

She (Dr. Pisinger) delivers such crap to the commission? Saying "it takes time but it is possible" [1 Page 19]

Gosh... She must have balls (BIG ONES!)


RooBeeDoo said...

TC is actually BT's BFF, proving Shakespeare's utter genius on so many levels when he penned the line 'The lady doth protest too much' (Hamlet, Act III, scene II).

Helen said...

Do you have some details on this in English somewhere?

Helen said...

Sorry, I didn't mean Pisinger but the manipulation of Danish smoking statistics.

harleyrider1989 said...

It says one think DP when criminal law becomes the game plan SMOKERS REBEL AND MORE START SMOKING. We know for a fact the TC crowd will produce favorable reports and studies to keep themselves in business and tax dollars. Because of this the numbers of smoking are likely much higher than that being reported everywhere!

harleyrider1989 said...

Remember James Dean the rebel smoker! Its his face and image that truly bring it home for the rebel in all of us!

harleyrider1989 said...