» Monday, July 5, 2004


Asked the Prime Minister’s reaction to the BMA’s call for a ban on smoking in public places, the PMOS said that a consultation process on this issue was currently underway, as well as an ongoing debate which we welcomed. However, it was important to await the conclusions of the consultation exercise before making any judgements.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news


  1. It’s worth noting that the document written by the BMA defines passive smoking as ‘living with a partner who smokes’, and their sample consisted of 4-5000 people from 1978-1981 who’ve been tracked.

    Now, the extrapolation down to lower levels of smoke inhalation is probably reasonable, but it’s difficult to back up the ‘1000 lives would be saved’ quote I’ve seen banded around as the predicted result of a public smoking ban.

    I suspect the anti-smokers still have an important point – I don’t think there is a statistically significant result for the health benefit of a public smoking ban.

    However, I’m still in favour in general, it’d be nice just to get rid of the smell.

    Comment by Pete Stevens — 7 Jul 2004 on 2:56 pm | Link
  2. The other thing to check in these studies is whether the sample non-smokers include people who have been told never to smoke again after having treatment for lung cancer or other diseases related to smoking. For instance, imagine that two smokers marry and live together for fifteen years, at which time the husband develops lung cancer and is treated for it. They then never smoke again; fifteen years on, they develop another tumour and die. If the husband’s prior history as a smoker is discarded, such a study might consider this a case where a nonsmoking partner of a smoker has died from a smoking-related disease.

    Comment by Chris Lightfoot — 7 Jul 2004 on 4:22 pm | Link
  3. In 20 years time a PhD paper will reveal that the banning of smoking in public places has had an adverse effect on public health.

    I too don’t like the smell of smoke too much .. but..

    When I was a kid we had coal fires [remember them?] and bonfires. the number of asthma sufferers was small.
    We banned all this smoke and ‘presto’ lots of people with breathing problems. Oh yeh and if you had congested lungs what did the doctor recommend – "Wrights" Coal Tar Inhaler.

    Researchers are now saying that in order to function properly the human body needs things like stress and pollution – that way it builds the immune system that keeps us alive.

    All of the ‘nanny state’ intervention and the promotion of things that kill 99.9995% of known pathogens is actually Killing Us….

    Comment by Roger Huffadine — 7 Jul 2004 on 5:28 pm | Link
  4. There’s nowt wrong with smoking. In actual fact I think it should be made compulsory, AND the legal age should be dropped to 12.

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 7 Jul 2004 on 6:04 pm | Link
  5. The moment public opinion and the daily experience of smokers supports the abolition of smoking in public places, it should be done.

    To do it before the people around me will enforce it, though, is just foolish.

    (And I’m a smoker.)

    Comment by Gregory Block — 8 Jul 2004 on 1:05 pm | Link
  6. I wonder if some of this "bad press" and attention smoking is getting is due to other factors. Asthma and respiratory diseases are undeniably on the up, but how much of this could be due to general pollution, background radiation level increases from nuclear tests (and non-tests), exhaust fumes etc. How seriously is this government committed to reducing traffic related pollution? How committed are people in general?

    A Steven Norris interview springs to mind, he said something like "it [the congestion charge] has reduced traffic and helped the environment, but rich people haven’t made as much money as usual" (okay, so the last bit is a trifle interpretative).

    Comment by Lodjer — 8 Jul 2004 on 3:54 pm | Link
  7. With reference to the smoking history of the passive smokers, the report notes that it’s difficult to tell if some of those passive smokers are actually occasional smokers, they believe it to be likely. As a result they suggest the study will tend to over estimate the smoke intake of a person from passive smoking.

    Comment by Pete Stevens — 8 Jul 2004 on 4:15 pm | Link
  8. So the Government will base policy on unreliable or overstated information? Surely not…..

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 8 Jul 2004 on 4:56 pm | Link
  9. Why is this so important?

    If there is a ban, and the wider public doesn’t support it, then it just isn’t going to matter, won’t have any impact, and smokers don’t really have to care because it can’t and won’t get enforced.

    Even without a legal ban, if the wider public *does* support it, smokers have an arguably larger problem in the fact that their peers don’t want them smoking near them. At which time, a ban will be a populist and enforceable action which in theory should improve health in at least some percentage of people.

    But arguably, if the wider public supported a ban, we’d already be on the streets and out of at least some public places – and we’re just not there yet. So it’s a lot of discussion about a theoretical bill that even if implemented probably won’t make a whole lot of actual impact on our daily lives.

    Besides, it’s hard to argue that the BMA are puppets of anyone other than the drug companies; they must be so busy pandering to Pfizer that they haven’t got time to cook the books on smoking. 😉

    Comment by Gregory Block — 10 Jul 2004 on 10:18 am | Link
  10. Yeah, but we have to whinge at SOMETHING…

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 10 Jul 2004 on 2:45 pm | Link
  11. The argument people forget is that non-smokers think that becuase they dont smoke they shouldent have to be in places where people smoke i.e public places so smoking should be banned, that is there right to want that, so the governemnt can ban smoking in public places, but what about the right, the free will for the smokers to smoke in public.

    I am myself a smoker, when eating out in resturants we usualy smoke between courses and at the end with a drink as we are all talking, but when in non smoking resturants, we eat each course, with litle time between each one waiting, then after the meal spend 10 minutes then leave.

    Smoking is one thing people enjoy, we are taxed on everything we do, from shopping, going out and council tax that we carnt afford to go out, so we need something in between to keep us sane, some thing for us to do.

    Comment by Andrew Rawlinson — 12 Jul 2004 on 2:17 pm | Link
  12. The usual argument goes something like:

    "Your rights as an individuals end where it impinges on the rights of another individual";

    the argument, in this case, is as to whether or not your right to a cigarette impinges on another’s right not to smoke second-hand smoke.

    If smoking is like a conversation, for example, then it’s difficult to say that you have no right to have a conversation in a place where others who want to not have to listen to your conversation are sitting. Some people argue that smoking is like having a conversation; it’s unreasonable for the law to decide that you can’t talk in a restaraunt.

    Others feel that smoking, because of the health risk involved, does impinge on the stereotypical right to "life, liberty, etc." of the others due to the health risk involved in second-hand smoke; if that health risk is severe enough, it may well trip over that line in the sand. In this case, smoking in a restaraunt is more like you leaning over the table to slap someone else in the face. Obviously, battery is illegal, as it damages the health of someone against their wishes.

    So, in the continuum, smoking sits somewhere between a conversation and a good smack on the nose to your neighbors. The law, as it stands, places it firmly in the "coversation" side of that particular argument; the law, as it might be, slides it further over towards "punch in the nose".

    Whether that’s right or not is dependent on how you look at it.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 12 Jul 2004 on 2:35 pm | Link
  13. Another argument could centre around the spread of infections.

    Because we don’t see cold and flu viruses or TB bacillus we don’t object when sharing a public place with people who are infecting us.

    Given the number of people who die each year from complications arising from colds, flu, TB and other air borne pathogens maybe the ban should be extended to banning anyone carrying an air borne ‘health hazard’ from public places.

    The fact that we can see and smell smoke has given the debate an unwarranted slant.

    Comment by Roger Huffadine — 15 Jul 2004 on 4:27 pm | Link
  14. Because the "seeing and "smelling" of smoke (from smokers), is so extremely disgusting and offensive to most non-smokers, that, ..This fact, in itself, is reason enough for the argument against allowing smokers within 20 feet (or more) of non-smokers. Those "other pollutants" you mention, are not readily noticeable, and would not interfere with another persons ability to enjoy a meal, or, wharever else they might be doing.

    Comment by Hope Williford — 8 Mar 2006 on 5:26 pm | Link
  15. you guys are homos, you enjoy killing yourselves and people around you slowly

    Comment by idontlikesmoke — 7 Mar 2007 on 10:05 pm | Link
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