Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Smoking Ban Works!

Generally speaking I am not a fan of governments telling us what to do. Quite the opposite in fact, I am a great believer in citizens determining their own future through community development and ‘bottom up’ planning.

However there are times when direction from above is very effective and this week we’ve seen a great example.

The smoking ban in public places is one year old this week and it is reported that 400,000 smokers have quit since the ban was introduced.

That is fantastic news.

I think we should celebrate it and thank the government for the positive leadership. It’s not a party political point scoring thing on my part – just a statement of fact.

Sometimes we just have to be told what is good for us.


JOHN O'LEARY said...

Trevor, it's too bad that government has to become involved, but it is after all a legitimate role of government to protect its citizenry from health hazards.

On the related subject of "smoking cessation" I just read a BusinessWeek article on doctors receiving consulting fees from Pfizer who are advising their patients to take a Pfizer drug, Chantix, to help them stop smoking. The fact that consumers apparently have to take the drug for a lifetime makes it an EXTREMELY valuable product for Pfizer. One problem: Chantix has undesirable psychiatric effects on some consumers, including the generation of suicidal thoughts. Another problem: the doctors aren't telling their patients they're taking money from Pfizer. (I can't fit the URL of the article in this comment box, but you can google: BusinessWeek and "Doctors Under the Influence.") This is quite an ethical controversy in the States (doctors not divulging to patients that they're being paid by Big Pharma.) And what's more galling is the defensiveness of these doctors who are widely quoted as seeing nothing wrong with this practice. It's unfortunate that doctors are beginning to enjoy the ethical status of politicians.

Unknown said...

I have been smoking for 50 years and I never met a true smoker who quit because of a smoking ban.

Anonymous said...

Trevor, do you actually, really, truly believe that the claim about 400,000 quitting because of the ban is true? Remember: these are the same folks who are claiming that the ban hasn't hurt the pub trade while the pub association notes that closings have gone from 3 per week in the two years before the ban to 27 per week after the ban.

Trevor, go to:

and read the Stiletto you'll find there. The Stiletto exposes the lies that bans are based on. If you disagree with it, great! Just find the things you disagree with, post them up here, and see if I can defend my points.

I believe I can.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

Trevor Gay said...

I should have perhaps said I smoked for many years until almost 5 years ago. BUT I am definitely NOT one of those annoying ‘reformed smokers’ who 'rant' about people who smoke; I believe it has to be an individual choice. I have great sympathy for those who smoke and cannot quit – I’ve been there.

I made the decision to quit because I want to do as much as I can to preserve my health and my longevity – simple as that – nothing more, nothing less and nothing to do with the ban of course because my decision was over 4 years ago. To me the evidence is overwhelming that if I smoke the chances are my life will be shorter and less healthy. We all have to make our own choice based on information and feelings - and for those whose choice is to carry on smoking – that’s fine by me.

Do I think the ban caused people to stop? – Yes and know – it possibly did help some people make the decision to quit but I agree with snowbird the decision must come from within the person if it is to be really effective and lasting.

Thanks for your links Michael – I will read them. I am old enough to remember the outcry when compulsory wearing of seat belts was introduced by the government. I recall there were people who fought against that because it was seen as an infringement of individual rights. I just cannot imagine now getting into a car and not putting on my belt – it just seems absolutely crazy – indeed suicidal - not to. It took law to make it happen. Time moves on and I wonder in 50 years time – I won’t be around – if people will say – ‘It’s amazing how it was legal to smoke back in the early 21st century in an alleged well informed articulate and intelligent society - when the facts staring folks in the face confirmed that smoking was a self inflicted and very expensive - early death sentence for people who smoked’

John - Thanks for the tip off about the Pfizer/Chantix article – I will look at that. I had heard of the potential negative side effects of non smoking medicines and I hope we do not see reliance on one drug to take us off another when both have harmful effects – that just seems crazy!

I am not in favour of making smoking illegal– it must be a personal and individual choice but I do agree with the ban in public places. I believe the non-smoker has the right to be in a non smoking room.

Great discussion guys and thanks for your views – one of the greatest joys of life is ‘difference.’

Anonymous said...

Full disclosure: I'm an ex-smoker who did NOT quit because the gov't told me to, but because the gov't kept raising the cigarette tax to the point I could no longer afford the habit.

Let's keep in mind that the smoking bans in the UK and parts of the US are based on the health of OTHERS, not on what is good for the smoker. It is all about second-hand smoke.

The problem I have with smoking bans, helmet laws, and seatbelt laws is the fact that they do indeed infringe on the rights of the individual. I absolutely hate the BS arguments people make about my decisions costing others money due to my need for health coverage. If that argument were true, we should ban people from having children.

In the US we have already begun waling the slippery slope toward socialism and I see no end in sight, especially with the likelyhood of Mr. O. becoming our next president (the mere thought of which makes me sick). Smoking bans, trans-fat bans, carbon taxes, you name it--we have not yet begun to give up our God-given rights for the sake of false security and a nanny state that will "take care of us." We have become sheep. Shame on us.

Anonymous said...

HI Trevor,

I too quit smoking because it has become so unacceptable. I also recently started again due to job stress. I used chantix and now I will use it again (as soon as this particular project has ended!) I also agree with Mr. Gardner, the more you let the government tell you to do the worse you will become. Our country was built on the principle of free will. The way we are going we will soon be a communist country with little say regarding "personal" decisions. As a comedian stated, "he doesn't go to a particular store because he doesn't like that store.” Individual business owners should be the ones to decide whether or not smoking is allowed NOT the GOVERNMENT. Smokers today, alcohol tomorrow, then obese people and homosexuals... we are all at risk when you give up the rights that others have fought for because those we elect think they are smarter than us.

Marilyn Jess said...


You've started quite a discussion here. Personally, and as a health care professional who has seen the suffering tobacco causes and has studied the science of addiction a bit, I have strong feelings about this.

I don't care how one rationalizes it, smoking is a physical addiction. Tobacco companies know this, and intentionally make and market the product to do this.Your life will be shorter and your health will decline faster if you smoke. How 'free' is the choice to smoke, really?

Michael J. McFadden said...

Trevor, thank you for an excellent response. Do indeed read the "Stiletto" at my link. You'll note that I do not in any way try to argue that smoking is on the whole good for you physically, but I *DO* make a very strong argument that the whole secondhand smoke thing is simply propaganda used for the purposes of social engineering.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

Trevor Gay said...

Mike – Just like you, I don’t want to be told what to do by government …. But I realise in hindsight there are some things where ‘I don’t know best’

Wearing of seat belts in cars is the greatest example in my lifetime. It’s just absolutely crazy not to wear seat belts - no argument - and that is not BS. People were unnecessarily dying through not wearing seat belts – now people do not die – nothing could be simpler. Had the government not made seat belt wearing compulsory thousands more people would have died in the last 30 years totally unnecessarily. Sometimes rights come second I’m afraid. Ask a parent of someone whose child died through not wearing a belt about what is most important - compulsory seat belt wearing or freedom to choose.

Anonymous – thanks for your comment – I genuinely appreciate your views. As stated above I too am inherently against the government ‘telling’ anyone what to do but I feel there are just some things that have to be legally enforced. Otherwise people just carry on doing stupid things – like killing themselves earlier than necessary by smoking or killing themselves in cars through not wearing seat belts. Democracies will not allow the government to run riot with autocratic laws – that just does not happen because people will not allow it. I’m an avowed pragmatist and I think some things are necessary evils. All this talk of democracy reminds me of Mahatma Ghandi who famously replied, when asked what he thought of democracy in the west, ‘I think it would be a very good idea’ - I love the idealistic view of individual business owners deciding … if only that were realistic … Sadly most businesses are interested in profit first and people second.

Marilyn – I am not a clinician but I worked in healthcare for over 35 years. I saw much suffering caused by smoking and even then it took me a long time personally to quit so I agree with you about the addiction issue. It is interesting that tobacco companies use this addiction to ‘sell’ their product thus making more profit from the addiction of people who are paying lots of money to kill themselves earlier than necessary and at the same time lining the deep pockets of these companies. It’s a soap opera - you really couldn't make this stuff up could you?
Michael – I will read the Stiletto and I look forward to that. The widow of Roy Castle who was a famous entertainer in Britain might argue with you about the effects of passive smoking. Roy Castle died from lung cancer. He never smoked and his doctors reckoned he died as a result of passive smoking from performing for many years in clubs where most of the audience members smoked. I am not qualified to argue about whether passive smoking is or is not ‘real’ – but I cannot believe it is good for any n on smoker to inhale smoke from other people's cigarettes.

Thanks all for your wonderful comments - the joy of my Blog is that not everyone agrees with me and that is fine. As long as we all remain friends of course :-)

JOHN O'LEARY said...

Michael, I did not know that the dangers of second-hand smoke were seriously in question - except by the tobacco companies of course. You have now put it on my radar. Thanks. A quick peek at Wikipedia, however, seems to indicate that the dangers are fairly well-documented.

Trevor, maybe you want to choose a less controversial topic for your next post. Like, say, global warming.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks John - Global warning would be a great topic ... or better still:

John Lennon versus Elvis - please discuss :-)

JOHN O'LEARY said...

Great idea, Trevor, which I may devote an entire post to! Off the top of my head...
in INFLUENCE, you have to give it to Elvis. If no John Lennon, there would still be rock & roll and an even healthier R&B scene (which the Beatles totally disrupted in 1964). If no Elvis, no rock & roll. He opened the door for everyone who followed. In TALENT, I think it's an equal no-brainer, but in favor of JWL, who was half of the greatest pop music songwriting team in history and an exceptional singer and a solid rhythm guitarist. Elvis was a terrific singer but unremarkable as musician and songwriter. But it might be fun to explore - on a later occasion - who was the better business man. They both made mega-fortunes of course, but they were naifs in some respects in the ways of the business world. Each benefited enormously from their respective managers.

Trevor Gay said...

Great comments John - I would love to see more of your thoughts on this – I will keep an eye out on your Blog for further chapters!!

I am an amateur of course compared to you. I think your observations illustrate that it cannot be a straight and simple comparison – we have to think about breaking down the question into headings like talent, musical ability, influence, writing etc,

My heart says John Lennon because he was always my hero as a kid growing up in England in the 60’s as a teenager and being very much a part of ‘Beatle mania.’ My head tells me Elvis because he simply broke the mould.

I guess my answer would be … Does it really matter? – Both were world icons that I am happy to say were alive in my lifetime …

How sad too that both of them are no longer with us ….

Thanks again John – stay well my friend

Anonymous said...

Just try to stop smoking. I got an uncle, he's aa heavy smoker, he could smoke at least 2 packs per day, at the age of 40, he died, his lung burns.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks 'worldpeace' - your comment says it all - thanks for sharing.



Anonymous said...

It’s interesting to see that even a boring topic like medicine can capture such media space and have so many words devoted to it. To quote an instance we can mention chantix. Its one of those drugs that almost represents the whole concept of the quit smoking drugs, or rather publicity has made it that. Irrespective of the fact how chantix works or how effective it is it has managed to gain a fair amount of attention and make way to the people’s homes. Thanks to publicity or rather publicity agenda superstardom for a drug was an unthought of concept a few years back.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Dr Scott - it seems Andy Warhol's '15 minutes of fame' can even apply to drugs! - Thanks for your insights.