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?