As with any tobacco control milestone, you’ll hear all kinds of
shenanigans bullshit from the usual suspects. But before we get into that, let’s rewind a bit. 10 years in fact.
At the tender and innocent age of 27 (snark), at (oddly enough) this exact time of year I was on the usual lads holiday. A week of sun, sand and lots and lots of beer. Well, it’d be rude not to.
There was also a lot of smoking. Having dutifully packed away 200 smokes for the week ahead, I found myself wondering what would happen on the stroke of midnight on the 30th June 2007. Knowing full well that the impending ban would make me, and all the other fun party goers instant pariahs.
Frankly, I needn’t have worried so much. The club I was in didn’t give a fuck. You could smoke right up until they closed. At 0600 on the 1st. They did that deliberately. Y’see, upon finding the owner of said club, I discover that he too was a smoker and more than a little put out by the imposed ban. Unlike some useful idiots we could mention.
Now, you’re probably wondering why I took a short trip down my addled memory lane, well there’s a jolly good reason for it. Y’see, I went back to the same place the following year for the same lads get away and, shock-horror, the club was closed. Had been for 6 months. No notice of new management or refurbishment. Just closed. Fuck.
Y’see, that club was a lovely little place. Friendly, played all sorts of tunes and the staff were terif. Yet, since the smoking ban came in they lost an incredible amount of trade (as did a number of places in the area – funny that). Tourism in that area, upped sticks and fell on its arse.
Intended consequences natch. Close a club, two pubs and at least 6 seaside café. What a score for the puritans! Three genteel watering holes, and 6 food outlets. Gone. Not only did the smoking ban double up in this area as a massive kick in the bollocks for drinkers (and general party-goers), but for the diners too.
That is just one area. Looking across the whole of the United Kingdom, there has been a large decline in the genteel watering holes (from 57,500 in 2007 to 50,800 in 2015, according to the British Beer & Pub Association). Now that really is a kick in the bollocks for us pub-goers isn’t it? Especially smoking pub-goers.
Naturally, ASH and co are delighted about the “landmark legislation“. They are so delighted in fact, that their lies are becoming more and more transparent. Chris Snowdon covers the bollocks published in The Guardian, which turns out to be another “heart attack miracle”, except er, it isn’t.
When I first read this, it wasn’t clear what the statistics pertained to. The figures appear to be about the number of smokers dying of heart disease, but it would be odd if smokers were getting a health benefit from a reduction in secondhand smoke exposure.
And yet that does seem to be what the figures are for – more or less. The implication is that the smoking ban has made lots of smokers quit. We all know that was the real reason for the ban
Yes Chris, we all know the reason for the ban, and as you rightly point out it didn’t actually happen in practice. As recent data from ONS shows, a large number of folk were quitting smoking, but (again, shock-horror) in the period immediately after the smoking ban of 2007, the decline er ceased to be. It was an ex-decline. Or rather, it became an insignificant decline. Roughly 0.5% in 5 years.
Going back to the commentary (via ASH) of the CIEH (you’ll remember I wrote about them before) there’s various parts I want to mention:
I think we can agree it has been one of the more successful examples of public health legislation.
No. It actually hasn’t. As the ONS data has shown, the prevalent downward trend in smoking prior to the ban nigh on flatlined.
Smoking rates have declined, visiting places like pubs and restaurants is a more pleasant experience, and non-smokers in the workplace or in public buildings do not have to breathe in second-hand smoke against their will.
Not for those that enjoy a smoke, mostly it’s because of twonks like you that have made them unwelcome and now, thanks to you insipid bed-wetters, they’ll likely be expelled from beer gardens too.
As I’ve mentioned before, the second-hand smoke thing is a myth. There is no conclusive evidence that says it does the untold amounts of harm you think it does. However, if you can find a worthwhile pub, the beer prices will make your eyes water. These few and far between pubs, it’s likely to be dull, boring, quiet and probably not the kind of social venue you expect.
Broadly, our members have told us that businesses were happy to comply with the ban. This meant that when 1 July 2007 rolled around, there were relatively few cases of people flouting the new rules.
Natch. Can’t have the Proles revolting now can you?
This reflected the approach of many; that the ban was as much about influencing changes in behaviour rather than stopping people smoking.
A not so subtle second meaning here. Not only was the ban sold as a means to “encourage” people to quit smoking (it didn’t work like that), it was all about ‘nudging’ people to behave in the manner the state wants. That is, getting smokers used to being pariahs exiled outdoors to enjoy their legal pastime.
Wider issues relate to complying with regulations that say 50% of the structure needs to be uncovered. Many owners are originally not from the UK and are not necessarily aware what they need to do when setting up their business, while also getting lost in a myriad of different council departments. Furthermore, some bars have been found to be operating under the radar and naïve of fire safety regulations.
Think we know what that means don’t we? Fines and no doubt other legal measures to get these shining examples of stick-it-to-the-man types to do what the state says.
Looking back I think the key success for all concerned has been the behavioural change. Colleagues, who now lecture on the subject, have remarked that when they tell their students that people used to smoke at work or in public places, they are incredulous.
Of course they are incredulous. I would be too. You forced a lot of people, against their will, to change their lifestyle. No longer could they stroll to the pub, in all weathers, sit in comfort with a well-earned pint and have a few tabs.
Amusingly, we now have a health minister that consistently voted against the ridiculous smoking bans, and other ASH led, puritanical measures. It’ll be interesting to see how that turns out.
In a timely release, a new report from Forest (written by Rob Lyons) details exactly how this draconian legislation has devastated the wet-led pub trade.
Truth is, the old style boozer is dying out fast. I’ve no problem with things evolving according to customer demand but the smoking ban had a brutal impact on many pubs, forcing those that were already struggling out of business.
This is one of those consequences that I’d wager ASH et al foresaw and, along with their friends in Alcohol Research neé The Temperance Alliance, and both will no doubt be celebrating this unique milestone.
Read more about the destructive smoking ban and it’s effects:
Puddlecote – The Illiberal Ruinous and Pointless Smoking Ban
Snowdon – 10 years of lying about the smoking ban
Junican – The Tenth Anniversary of the Smoking Ban
Davis – Multi-Tasking
Legiron – Ten Years in Exile
(image credit shutterstock.com/Lecic)