Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Another Evidence-Free Ban, This Time In SW1

Does anyone remember secondhand smoke, aka passive smoking?.

For those with short memories, this was a ruse imagined in 1975 by Sir George Godber to promote a policy of “fostering the perception that secondhand smoke is unhealthy for nonsmokers”, after which the tobacco control industry set about creating the junk science to go with it. The first studies - by rabid professional anti-smoking cranks, natch - started to filter through at the start of the 1980s and eventually in 1993 and 2004 respectively, two politically-driven meta-analyses tortured cherry-picked tobacco control 'science' in the US and the UK in order to convince us all that secondhand smoke was dangerous. It mattered little that their conclusions amounted to a tiny and inconsequential relative risk (1.19 & 1.24) which would be dismissed as irrelevant in any other field of research, it was only required to manipulate politicians into passing illiberal and unnecessary bans.

Of course, the charlatans were just chasing headlines so by the time legislation was proposed - the only goal of the whole crusade - many people believed a wisp of smoke was as deadly as napalm, as architect of the UK ban Patricia Hewitt illustrated in 2007.
Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said the ban was a "huge step forward" which would save thousands of people's lives. 
Ms Hewitt said the ban would protect everyone from second-hand smoke, while making it easier for smokers to quit.
"The scientific and medical evidence is clear - second-hand smoke kills, causing a range of serious medical conditions including lung cancer, heart disease, and sudden infant death syndrome," she said.
"This legislation will help to prevent the unnecessary deaths caused every year from second-hand smoke, and recognises that there is absolutely no safe level of exposure."
From rancid twisted conspiracy to bans on freely-chosen behaviour on the back of shonky propaganda, the whole process took 30 years give or take.

But, when the Health Act 2006 was tabled - and we're only talking about eight or nine years ago here - to implement a ban it was imperative that advocates had at least some evidence that smoking would 'harm' someone else, however fraudulent that 'evidence' transparently was. There was still some small recognition of J.S. Mill's harm principle where it relates to rights to self-determination and liberties.

Yet what have we now?
MPs who use e-cigarettes now have to go outside when they want their fix - because vaping has been banned across parliament. 
In a ruling made by the House of Commons Commission, backed by the House of Lords Committee, vaping is banned everywhere in parliament. 
This comes from an official note issued to politicians and staff which declares that "the use of electronic cigarettes is now prohibited across the Parliament Estate except for designated outdoor areas".
We can only guess at the reason behind this, because none is mentioned. Incredibly, where cigarette smoking by staff was allowed just eight short years ago in Westminster offices and bars, now completely harmless e-cigs are banned!

It hasn't taken any junk science, because there has been no credible study worldwide to say that passive vaping is harmful, so we can only assume it's because the parliamentary authorities think vapour looks a bit odd or makes someone feel uncomfortable.

Now, just recap what Patricia Hewitt said in 2007. She claimed that the smoking ban would "save thousands of people's lives" and "[make] it easier for smokers to quit", yet Westminster's ban is doing the polar opposite by punishing smokers who are trying to quit and arguably creating a precedent which will deter others from bothering. In fact, the only similarity this ban has with the 2007 one is that it is, once again, the selfish and intolerant who will benefit as - up and down the country - public sector authorities will cite this as a reason why they too should ban vaping.

Worse than that, this type of myopic and wholly indefensible ban encourages smoking - if I'm being shoved outside anyway, I may as well smoke rather than vape. There are over a million 'dual users' who will be be thinking exactly the same when some authoritarian knob jockey says "you can't use that here, more than my jobsworth" despite no-one except the most objectionable and odious in society giving a shit.

This speaks volumes about the way parliament and Westminster has changed for the worse in a very short time span. A principle of English law used to be that "everything which is not forbidden is allowed" and, by extension, that if you wanted to ban something you'd better have a damn good reason for it. But, in this case, there isn't one - an attempt at justification is not even embarked upon. It's just because they say so.

It doesn't reflect well on ASH in their new pretend role as friend of the vaper either. They have been making some positive noises on the subject of vaping recently, most notably with their latest research which revealed that there are now 1.1 million ex-smokers thanks to e-cigs, an increase of 400,000 in the past year, but their daily news hasn't touched upon the Westminster vaping ban at all, not even a brief reference. A stark contrast with 2009's revelation that delegates to the G20 summit would be provided with smoking lounges for Obama and his pals, when ASH were very quick to condemn the move in order to perpetuate the secondhand smoke golden goose.

Yet, as Westminster staff who vape are - to coin a Deborah Arnott phrase - "exiled to the outdoors" for no reason whatsoever, her organisation remains spinelessly silent despite being front and centre in political circles and fundamentally equipped to intervene if they chose to. Just as they have been equally lethargic - and, as a result, ineffectual - as motiveless e-cig bans run rampant on trains, buses, offices and pubs, as well as outdoors in sports stadia, on windy platforms and in provincial parks. All those potential quitters being herded into smoking areas with all that 'lethal' secondhand smoke, but they say next to nothing by way of condemnation. How many people are 'dying' due to their negligent lack of urgency? Odd, huh?

Still, I suppose it's all more proof that none of these bans has ever had anything to do with health. Secondhand smoke is nothing more now than a totem which has empowered a tiny minority of vile, anti-social, intolerant, self-centred and morally repugnant oafs in our population to object to just about anything which offends their delicate sensibilities.


24 comments:

Ray Turner said...

As a child, both of my parents smoked heavily. I remember those times well. I certainly didn't appreciate their secondhand smoke, whether indoors or inside the car, but couldn't do much about it. I was very pleased indeed when they stopped and I escaped the passive smoking.

Has it done me any physical harm...?
I can't really say for sure, one way or the other. When at school, I was always bottom of the class at sport, struggling for breath after a limited amount of running, I still have that problem, but there could be other reasons for it I suppose.

I subscribe to the better safe than sorry school of thought on this. Clearly it is not fair to inflict cigarette smoke or vape fumes on anybody who doesn't indulge in those habits themselves.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

There are 18 bars, cafes etc in the HoC. Just saying.

http://parliamentaryyearbook.co.uk/other/Restaurants-Bars.html

Stormchild said...

First of all Vape is safe. I had smoking parents and smoked from 14. I ran track and cross country. Played football, Rugby and Cricket until 45. Smoke is irritating for non smokers, I accept that but Vaping is totally different. Ask my wife who now loves the fact I am a walking air freshener. Better safe than sorry is also a recipe for a boring life.

Mike Loftus said...

'Better safe than sorry' is not a 'school of thought'. It is a mindless meme. A school of thought would have considered what evidence there may have been and come to a conclusion based on that evidence.

Xopher said...

'Better safe than sorry' - NO.

I remember a long-time ago ruling when a claim was made after a school accident - " It is better a child break his arm than break his spirit". Nanny and her associated hatred either breaks peoples spirit or sets them against her. Surely neither outcome is healthy in any society.

Jack Listerio said...

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) could not even produce evidence that passive smoke is harmful inside, this is what they wrote prior to the smoking ban in article 9 OC255/15 9 "The evidential link between individual circumstances of exposure to risk in exempted premises will be hard to establish. In essence, HSE cannot produce epidemiological evidence to link levels of exposure to SHS to the raised risk of contracting specific diseases and it is therefore difficult to prove health-related breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act". The reason the ban was brought in under the Health Act 2006, and not by the HSE, because no proof of harm was needed with the Health Act 2006, and the HSE have to have proof, seems the DM has lost rational thought about anything smoke related.

Jack Listerio said...

We did and it was deemed JUNK SCIENCE

Jack Listerio said...

.............OSHA also took on the passive smoking fraud and this is what came of it:

Jack Listerio said...

Even the pied piper couldn't make people believe a candle was as bright as the sun. that's what the SHS scams are all about.

Vinny Gracchus said...

The second hand smoke meme has gained momentum since 1975. It is broadly accepted as true by many due to extreme propaganda and repetition. The knowledge of the solid studies that repute the myth are routinely suppressed. Steps to expose this fraud need to be accelerated. Thanks for this step in that direction!

Jack Listerio said...

The Chemistry of Secondary Smoke About 94% of secondary smoke is composed of water vapor and ordinary air with a slight excess of carbon dioxide. Another 3 % is carbon monoxide. The last 3 % contains the rest of the 4,000 or so chemicals supposedly to be found in smoke… but found, obviously, in very small quantities if at all.This is because most of the assumed chemicals have never actually been found in secondhand smoke. (1989 Report of the Surgeon General p. 80). Most of these chemicals can only be found in quantities measured in nanograms, picograms and femtograms. Many cannot even be detected in these amounts: their presence is simply theorized rather than measured. To bring those quantities into a real world perspective, take a saltshaker and shake out a few grains of salt. A single grain of that salt will weigh in the ballpark of 100 million picograms! (Allen Blackman. Chemistry Magazine 10/08/01). - (Excerpted from "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains" with permission of the author.)

Jack Listerio said...

the deal is they've only ever been able to capture and truly identify about 800 chemicals and that's about it. The rest is based upon so called synergistic effects in theory. Or recombination. But my understanding is this is impossible in nature once chemicals have reached their natural states from the burning process.

common sense said...

BRAVO for the last two sentences. I am forwarding them to members of the Kansas Legislature tonight!

gray cooper said...

Is there any difference between ASH and FIFA?

Ray Turner said...

I disliked second hand smoke as a child in the 1960's, long before the problem even became a subject for discussion. The propaganda and repetition has nothing to do with it, so far as I am concerned.

As I said before, clearly it is not fair to inflict cigarette smoke or vape fumes on anybody who doesn't indulge in those habits themselves. Irrespective of the science, whether junk or otherwise.

Vinny Gracchus said...

Of course you don't have to frequent a smoking establishment.

Ray Turner said...

I try very hard not to...

JonathanBagley said...

Yes, FIFA is based in Geneva. A more apt comparison would be FIFA and the WHO. As George Galloway would say, two cheeks of the same arse.

JonathanBagley said...

No such thing as a vape" fume" and I'm sure you catch the odd whiff of coffee as you walk around. We don't know it's safe and it's frequently (see today's DM for example) linked with illness, so you should be worried about that.

Vinny Gracchus said...

It shouldn't be too hard as most (read almost all) are non-smoking these days.

Mike Loftus said...

Life, in general, isn't safe and it isn't made any safer by banning activities that aren't dangerous. Prove that it is dangerous, first, then you are on firm ground.

Mike Loftus said...

As I said before, clearly it is not fair to inflict smoke-free or vape-free areas on anybody who doesn't indulge in those habits themselves. Irrespective of the science, whether junk or otherwise.


There, fixed that for you.

Mike Loftus said...

One tries to blow fresh air in your face: the other is an anti-smoking organization.

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