Monday 26 June 2017

The Illiberal Ruinous And Pointless Smoking Ban

As we approach the tenth anniversary of the smoking ban in the UK - otherwise known as "literally a confidence trick" by Debs Arnott - there will be a hell of a lot of unadulterated garbage in the media about how it has ushered in a world of rainbow-coloured unicorns and a national breeze of pixie dust.

So it's good that Forest have today released a report detailing how it has wreaked carnage on businesses, freedom of choice and property rights for no valid good reason whatsoever, you can read the report here.

Written by Rob Lyons, it runs through the major issues with the ban, and is fully referenced including this quote from Lord Lawson which sums up the whole ignorant charade perfectly.
"Passive smoking is an example in which [government] policy demonstrates a disproportionate response to a relatively minor health problem, with insufficient regard to statistical evidence."
Of course, there is no decent evidence whatsoever that passive smoking harms the health of others, however much the massed ranks of state-funded tobacco control industry parasites try to pretend it does. It's simply a pre-determined and long-concocted lie to bully smokers, and is backed up with junk science from soothsayers, mouth-breathers and snake oil salesmen waving shrouds while burying their snouts deeper into the trough of taxpayer cash.

The ban on smoking in private places - yes private, to say it is on public places is just another mendacious tobacco control sound bite - has also, as Lyons points out, never enjoyed popular public approval. There was no demand for it amongst the public, with the ONS data consistently showing that there was little support for the draconian and fascistic blanket ban that the hospitality industry had imposed on it, as I have written about many times before.
Since 1996, they have split the responses between those who approve of an outright ban, those who favoured some restrictions, and the numbers calling for none at all.
The figures up to 2005 were: 
2003: 20%, 70% and 8% respectively.
2004: 31%, 63% and 5%
2005: 33%, 61% and 5%  
Note that the first figure is those in favour of what has now been inflicted on us. The significant majority didn't want it.
Data taken from the ONS here
Lyons also comments on how the ban has had almost no discernible effect on smoking rates - the true reason for its implementation if you talk to any tobacco controller privately, it certainly wasn't about the health of bar workers - with evidence actually showing that, if anything, it slowed the long term decline in smoker prevalence.

He also runs through the barking mad and scientifically impossible 'heart attack miracles' and other trademark tobacco control industry junk science thrown together to try to justify the ban, but his assessment of the damage to the hospitality industry is truly damning!
- The smoking ban has however had a major impact on pub closures that increased significantly following bans in Scotland, England and Wales. 
- Since the introduction of the smoking ban in England in July 2007 over 10,500 pubs have closed, almost 20% of the pub estate a decade ago. In Wales over 860 pubs have closed, approximately 21% of the pub estate in 2007. 
- Pubs hardest hit by the smoking ban were in urban, inner-city or economically deprived communities. 
Far from 'celebrating' the smoking ban in a few days time, we should be appalled that something so illiberal, regressive and incredibly socially damaging was passed without public support - and without any credible scientific evidence to back it up - all at the behest of a small clique of greedy elitist snobs working to continue being in receipt of state cash, or as Lyons put it:
In effect, those who seek to prohibit smoking are placing their own views and prejudices ahead of those who choose to smoke. Not only do anti-smokers have an aversion to smoking – a perfectly reasonable question of taste – they also think other people shouldn’t smoke, that it is wrong to enjoy something they themselves dislike or have weaned themselves off. 
Lyon's Forest report doesn't forget to note the huge role the ban played in greasing the slippery slope, either. Can anyone, for example, imagine that e-cigs would be banned in pubs if it weren't for the fact that cigarettes have been. Yet it is increasingly more difficult to find pubs that allow vaping. As vaping ban after vaping ban is implemented in bars, clubs, hospital car parks, beaches and squares up and down the country, tobacco controllers who claim to be supportive of e-cigs remain totally silent. For them, the jewel in the crown of the smoking ban is too precious for them to lift so much as a finger to protect vapers.

This is why I continue to say that the Health Act 2006 was the most socially destructive legislation the country has ever had to suffer. It wasn't about bar workers, it wasn't about health, it was about a small bunch of prohibitionist fucksticks taking control of civil society and ripping apart the fabric of tolerance and free choice. Lyons make the very same point.
What we are seeing is creeping prohibition driven by the precautionary principle, the idea that if something is potentially harmful it must be regulated out of existence regardless of the evidence or concepts such as choice and individual freedom. Whether we smoke or vape, consume alcohol or sugary drinks, adults must be free to make informed choices for ourselves. Moreover it’s in the interests of non-smokers to support the right to make informed choices because once we establish the principle that governments can intervene to prevent us from doing perfectly normal (albeit potentially ‘unhealthy’) things like smoking we’re on a slippery slope that will inevitably lead to further restrictions on personal choice.

The report ends with a call for a more liberal and sensible policy, and for a properly independent assessment of the damage the ban has caused rather than the disgraceful tobacco control industry whitewashed farce that tried to pass itself off as one.

As Snowdon quite rightly observed yesterday in his article astutely entitled "10 years of lying about the smoking ban":
There is nothing to celebrate in this act of cultural vandalism. We should be having a wake. 
Indeed we should.

Do go read the Road to Ruin report in its entirety by clicking here, it is highly recommended. 

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