Sunday 26 March 2017

The Debate Will Never Be Over

Two sound bites you will regularly hear from those in the tobacco control industry is that, when it comes to smoking bans and secondhand smoke, "the science is settled" and "the debate is over". This is classic political rhetoric designed to sway the public into backing the winner, a natural human psychological tendency.

It was, as Debs Arnott of ASH boasted at the time, "a confidence trick".
It is essential that campaigners create the impression of inevitable success. Campaigning of this kind is literally a confidence trick: the appearance of confidence both creates confidence and demoralises the opposition. The week before the free vote we made sure the government got the message that we "knew" we were going to win and it would be better for them to be on the winning side.
Of course, part of the reason they like to say the science is settled is because it simply isn't and they'd prefer you didn't look into it too much; and the reason they say the debate is over is that they simply don't want to debate the issue fairly because they know they'd lose. They even have an international treaty article specifically designed to silence all dissent - which they wield at every opportunity and purposely misinterpret - to con politicians into thinking that they are the only voices which should be listened to. This is necessary only because they know damn well that their case is extremely weak, some would say even criminally fraudulent.

The whole thing is a decades old pack of lies based on deliberately manipulated junk science and massive exaggeration of risk, as I mentioned earlier this week.

Sadly for them, though, the very weakness of their case means that however much they propagandise to the media things that they know very well are bald-faced lies, they will always struggle to get away with it.

Via WalesOnline:
A poll has revealed almost 60% of Welsh people want smoking rooms in pubs but nearly 50% want the habit banned on beaches. 
The survey was carried out by pollsters Populus, who asked 1,000 adults in Wales about their views earlier this month. 
It showed 58% backed smoking rooms and 48% backed beach bans - 46% thought people should be allowed to puff on the sand and 6% did not know.
Ten years on from the smoking ban being rolled out in Wales, this shows that the debate is still live, and it's live because there are significant numbers of people who simply don't believe something as benign as a few wisps of smoke warranted the destruction of the hospitality industry in Wales and subsequently the UK. If it was about health - which it wasn't - there were plenty other solutions which could have been considered, but none would have satisfied the vile bullies in tobacco control.

And bullies is the right word. If you have not seen it, and if you can stomach it, you can read in this document how the tobacco control lobby didn't simply present their junk science and hope that a ban would appear. It is a gleeful account from Arnott and Martin Dockrell about how they forced a government to abandon a democratically-accepted manifesto commitment by using division, chaos, propaganda, personal attacks on opponents and, yes, "a confidence trick".

The truth is that when the Health Act 2006 was passed there was absolutely no appetite for the ban we had inflicted on us in the UK. Only 33% of the public favoured an outright ban, as documented by the ONS [pdf] until they stopped asking the question so as to save the Labour government's blushes.

Click to enlarge

It doesn't look like things have changed that much since either. A majority of the sane (only 26% of those polled were smokers) still believe there are better options than the hideous result we now have to suffer.

Even the bansturbators themselves seem confused about what the ban was meant to be about, as the WalesOnline article also shows.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of anti-smoking charity Ash, dismissed the poll. 
“The benefits of smoke-free laws are not a matter of public opinion,” she said.
Hmm, interesting. That doesn't stop her and her freedom-stifling ilk from relying on public opinion when there is no threat to health whatsoever though, does it?
“The reason there is a complete ban on smoking in pubs, and smoking rooms in pubs are forbidden is that they do not protect the workers from the harmful effects of smoke.”
Wow! The bar workers get a look-in again! She must have got her feather duster out to clean that argument up, so long is it that we've heard it. Because once the bans were passed in Wales, Scotland and the UK, the emphasis instantly changed and was all about how the legislation would lead to a reduction in smoking prevalence (which didn't actually happen until e-cigs arrived later).

She is also being disingenuous because she knows very well that the studies corralled and tortured to come up with the paltry and largely irrelevant 24% increased risk in the SCOTH report were based on persistent exposure to smoke indoors over decades. They did not, and never will, measure harm from a "separate, well-ventilated designated smoking room" as was the focus of this poll. There's a reason for that, it's because they know that even their trademark brand of fake science has no chance of establishing any significant credible risk, so they'll not even attempt it.
“In England the Department of Health commissioned a report on the impact of the ban on smoking in public places,” she said. 
“It found bar workers’ health increased considerably after the laws came into force and their respiratory function improved. 
“In the first year there were 1,200 fewer admissions for heart attacks, purely because of the legislation.”
This is Debs at her junk-science toting best. Spouting about the now much-derided heart attack "miracle" scams puts her into the same kind of category as anti-vaxxers and people who believe the moon landings were faked. Quite apart from their being quite impossible, heart attack miracles have been rubbished even by those who think smoking bans are a great idea.

Besides, the Welsh authorities have a different, and undoubtedly more accurate, justification for the bans.
The Welsh Government said the smoking ban “played an important part of our efforts to reduce smoking rates in Wales, with the percentage of adults smoking now at a record low.” 
“Welsh Health Survey 2015 showed 19% of adults reported they currently smoke, down from 26% in 2003-04,” a spokesman said.
Yep, bullying smokers to quit, as if we didn't know it already.

So it looks like the debate isn't over, after all. And much as the richly state-funded sock puppets in the tobacco control industry would like to think the science is settled, it isn't because they have only innuendo, sleight of hand and conniving lobbying on their side. It seems that the public have noticed this and are ensuring that however much the liars in tobacco control lie, this is one subject that will not go away. Nor should it. 

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