‘My unconditional love for the nicotine stick’

As the one-year anniversary of England’s celebrated Smoke Free policy approaches, pens a love-letter to the one filthy addiction she just can’t give up

Female smoker

As the one-year anniversary of England’s celebrated Smoke Free policy approaches, Antonia Shaw pens a love-letter to the one filthy addiction she just can’t give up.

I often engage in romantic nostalgia – memories of being propped up at a bar, sipping a drink, my fingers curled around a cigarette. It seems an age since smokers were permitted to enjoy themselves comfortably indoors. Yet, unbelievably, England’s Smoke Free policy will only be celebrating its one-year anniversary on July 1.

I can clearly remember the eve of the smoking ban. As a seasoned smoker, I had pledged to spend that night on the town consuming as many cigarettes as I physically could, cursing the forthcoming ban between long drags. I worked my way through a 20 pack and came home reeking of smoke. I awoke the next morning with a sore throat and chesty cough, nonetheless resenting the ban that would irrevocably force me to alter my smoking habits. Never again would I be able to smoke in a public space.

I am more than aware that my unenthusiastic views of the smoking ban place me in a minority. Considering less than a fifth of adults smoke, I’m even marginalised amongst my fellow addicts as, according to government statistics, 77% of people agreed with England adopting a smoke-free policy. Conversing with many of our campus population, it is easy to feel entirely on my own. Madeleine Adams, a second year English student, doesn’t “disagree with the smoking ban but [I disagree] with the fact that smoking is not illegal… either go the whole hog and ban it, or don’t.”

In York, smokers and non-smokers alike have strongly supported the ban. Steve Adamthwaite, Principle Environmental Health Officer for York City Council (incidentally a graduate from the University), proudly stated, “The smoking ban has run very smoothly. It has proved to be largely self-regulatory, the public have really taken it on board and there have been very few contraventions of the law. There were initially problems with signage in businesses and issues with smoking shelters not complying with regulations. There have been some problems with taxi drivers and van drivers and action was enforced. But overall it has proved to be very successful… the public are so keen on the idea. It has created a litter problem in some areas and outside certain business but the council has tried to put outdoor ashtrays in these locations.”

It’s hardly surprising that Smoke Free England has attracted such public backing. It is impossible to be unaware that smoking is bad for your health. We are constantly bombarded with adverts attempting to persuade smokers to quit and articles citing the dangers of smoking accompanied by “shocking” statistics. One of the key arguments for the ban, the dangers of passive smoking, don’t go unmentioned either. Apparently, my lovely cigarette smoke emits 4000 chemicals into the atmosphere, including the highly poisonous carbon monoxide. My dirty habit infects the clean lungs of the righteous, increasing the passive smokers’ risk of contracting lung cancer and heart disease by approximately 25%. Just 30 minutes of secondary smoke can cause reduced coronary blood flow.

Despite my hatred of the smoking ban, I can’t help but feel guilty that my choice of lifestyle had affected passive smokers to such a horrendous extent. Sam Thomlison, a non-smoking philosophy student, said, “I enjoy going to pubs a lot more, and it’s a more pleasant experience. I hated breathing in all the smoke when I was there.”

Non-smokers are not the only ones who reap the benefits from the ban. Although I find the imposition incredibly irritating, I am the first to admit that it’s lovely to leave a pub without smelling like an ashtray. Fellow smoker Sam Mammolott told me, “the first few weeks of not being able to smoke in the clubs was somewhat annoying – but at the same time obviously I appreciated why the ban came in. And it’s quite nice not to be in an environment where it’s all smokey.” The ban has also helped smokers ditch their habit. 78% of smokers have attempted to give up since the ban, 72% would rather they didn’t smoke and the overall number of smokers has dropped by 5% in the last 10 years. Former smoker, Ben Ridgeway “found it much much easier to give up [since the smoking ban came in].” I have dabbled in quitting myself, both prior to the ban and after. The last time I tried to kick the cravings was last Christmas. I managed to go without nicotine for three months. It definitely helped that temptation was removed/lessened when socialising. Ultimately, however, the draw of the drag was too much for me.

As a first year I have only experienced a smoke-free York. I have heard fairytales of smoking in halls and Vanbrugh Bar. Edward Fisher, a second year student, told me “Smoking in Vanbrugh Bar was beautiful… your nice fair-trade coffee and your not so fair-trade cigarette – they didn’t make a film called Coffee and Cigarettes for nothing.” However, Ridgeway does not have such idyllic memories. “Vanbrugh Bar was terrible. People used to go there just to smoke. It was really, really smoky and at lunchtimes, when people were eating, it was a problem.”

Buzz Palmer, head of campus events security service Doorsafe, tells me: “We tend to have a particular area for people to smoke and you’d be surprised at the small number of people going out. It makes me wonder if more people have quit due to the smoking ban… It has actually helped us because [the smokers] have gone outside, they’ve talked and they’ve sobered up a bit which is always a good thing as they’re less likely to cause any trouble. And it’s a nicer environment to work in without the smoke.” Ridgeway has worked in The Old Starre Inn since before the ban came into action, and tells me that it now has a more pleasant atmosphere. “For someone working there it’s a lot easier. I used to come home after a Saturday night really smelly, and even back when I was a smoker, when other people are smoking around you for six or seven hours it really gets in your face. People were never allowed to smoke at the bar but it never really made that much difference.”

Ridgeway feels that there are teething problems with the ban. “Currently, in the beer gardens, for some silly reason, we don’t seem to put ashtrays out. It’s all part of that discouragement tactic I think, but there are fag butts and cigarette packets all over the place. It has definitely gotten worse since the smoking ban. We also have a non-smoking beer garden, which people are very surprised at. Some people find it absolutely ludicrous. It’s crazy.”

Smoking on a night out is definitely problematic. Scrambling through the hordes in Ziggy’s, losing your friends inside, and catching pneumonia whilst curbing your cravings in the rain. Madeleline Adams, a second year, says, “it’s alright on campus because there are lots of places outside to sit. Its more annoying if you’re out in town.” Palmer acknowledges that, “In town, big clubs have struggled a little way to come to terms with the smoking ban. On the main road outside Gallery, you have twenty or thirty people having a cigarette with a busy road in front of them and it wasn’t ideal, though of course that has been rectified now [with a small smoking area to the back of the club].” That said, the relegated smokers often bond during their enforced torment. It’s the perfect place to chat, flirt (or ‘smirt’, as this new phenomenon has been named) and meet new people, given that you not only share a common bond but can actually hear each other’s drunken attempts at seduction.

Whilst England may have gone Smoke Free, my fellow addicts and I still can’t quite bring ourselves to do it. I shall just have to accept that on a night out, my perfectly coiffed hair will be ruined, my mascara will run and I will die of pneumonia; all for my unconditional love of my little nicotine stick.

45 comments

  1. Just a little thought for you on the whole 4000 chemicals front (which I’m not sure isn’t the total number of different additives that can be added to any cigarette in the process of making them): Given that 78% of exhaled smoke is the same nitrogen that was inhaled and that cigarettes each only weigh a few grams, then there really can’t be very much of any of them.

    Incidentally, you mentioned coffee: a cup contains at least 1000 different chemicals. Of those 1000+, have a guess at how many have even been tested for being carcinogens?

    22. And of those 22 can you guess how many were carcinogens?

    17. So after the war on smokers (oops sorry, smoking), alcohol and fatty foods have been milked for as much as they can be, I’d expect the next one to be a war on “the demon bean”.

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  2. How dare you endorse this draconian smoking ban you stupid, smug idiots!! Don’t you know It’s all LIES! People’s social and business lives are being DESTROYED by complacent pathetic people like YOU! Smokers and their tolerant non-smoking friends and family are in the MAJORITY – the true statistics prove this i.e the majority did not want a total blanket ban on smoking in public places. It’s the anti-smokers who are in the minority. How can you just sit back and let them get away with it? Your whimpish article does no one any favours. It goes against the many honourable and dedicated Groups out there doing their best to get this stupid ban overturned. You would do better to join one of these Groups and fight for your FREEDOM TO CHOOSE.

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  3. Jo: I’d rather not give someone the “choice” to eliminate my right to clean air, without consulting me.

    Do you have links to these statistics that you quote? 113% of statistics are made up by people on the spot, you see. We have to be careful.

    As for these hard-working groups which you claim are trying to overturn the ban, I’m not sure how “honourable” they are, FOREST, for example, is funded by the tobacco industry…

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  4. I’m a non smoker who enjoys being able to go into a smokefree pub, especially to eat. Yet i’m really concerned with the effect on the pub trade.

    When trade is down 40% in some establishments (source: York Press) it makes me wonder why the government hates pubs so much. The tax increases have been crippling on the pub trade and have (if the tabloids be believed) increased binge drinking – 4 pints for £10 or a crate of 24 from the supermarket?

    The smoking ban has only added to the misery for publicans, i wonder why a smoking room with adequate ventilation wasn’t a possibility?

    It;s also killed off the shisha bar, a much-loved meeting point for people from the middle east, and a wonderful example of arabic and turkic culture. These non-alcoholic bars serving flavoured tobacco and turkish coffee provided a meeting point for people who for religious reasons feel uncomfortable around alcohol, and being a smoking bar, no non-smokers went in anyway.

    Why shouldn’t lorry drivers smoke in their cab either? Especially if it’s only one person by themselves?

    The intentions are good, but it’s just too draconian, pubs should be forced to provide a non-smoking room, yet to deny publicans and smokers the choice just seems like another government-knows-best assault on being free and enjoying ourselves.

    Whats next for NuLabour’s killjoys? Fatty foods? Sugary foods?…Ageing?…

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  5. Chris,
    and ASH are funded by the Pharmaceutical companys !Choice should of been given ? an O.N.S study two years running showed 67% of people wanted a choice that,s why pubs have shut in their thousands since the start of the ban,the quote of 77% wanted a total ban is propaganda 67% wanted a choice i.e smoking rooms or pubs etc.,about 10% wanted a total ban and the rest wanted no smoking restrictions at all!

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  6. This ban has done nothing but cause devastation to the economy, to social lives and communites (particularly in rural areas), to certain political parties and to families. I can see no reason why it was voted in, particularly on the grounds of health! The health of millions (smokers and non-smokers) is deteriorating rapidly as a result of it! Choice should have been given and the government has no right whatsoever imposing restrictions on private property and businesses

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  7. “I’d rather not give someone the “choice” to eliminate my right to clean air, without consulting me.”

    You are deluded. There is no such thing as a right to clean air outside the confines of your skull.
    Oh, and if you understood rights you’d know that a RIGHT = CHOICE. It is ONLY a right is you can choose to waive it. The right to remain silent does not oblige you to do so for example.

    “As for these hard-working groups which you claim are trying to overturn the ban, I’m not sure how “honourable” they are, FOREST, for example, is funded by the tobacco industry…”

    So what? What about Forces or Freedom2choose or the host of other that are funded purely by their own members?
    Unfortunately, the best way to fight Big Pharm sponsored groups is to get some handouts from the tobacco companies. Not that you’re likely to get much. Smoking bans trigger an increase in the number of smokers, we must assume tobacco companies love them as well.

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  8. Helen – no doubt the ban is also causing the sun to be blotted out by swarms of locusts and the rivers to run with blood, etc., etc.

    The truth is, choice should *not* have been given. Smoking is proven to have detrimental effects on individual health; not only that, but exposure to the indulgence of others is also proven to be very harmful.

    Now, if you want to kill yourself by smoking, that is fine, and I’d agree that the government would have no right to legislate against your right to drown in your own mucus. However, you and the population at large have no right to put the lives of other members of society in jeopardy by smoking in public enclosed areas, any more than you have the right to fire a gun in a crowded room and defend yourself by claiming that anyone who didn’t like it could leave.

    You may not like the smoking ban, you may not like having to stand out in the rain whilst taking a puff, but your level of suffering is hardly acute compared to that of someone who ends up dying a very nasty death because they wanted a pint down their local. Hopefully, we will actually see a decline in deaths caused by passive smoking over time, which will in turn do nothing but good for the NHS and the economy; and as for smokers, Helen, if your health is declining, perhaps you should consider quitting?

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  9. Honey, stop with the smoker guilt.

    I gave my own guilt up well over a year ago, and haven’t looked back. I actually started feeling healthier and happier once I decided that I wasn’t going to beat myself up, anymore. Never underestimate your mind’s influence on your overall well-being.

    Best of Luck,

    Joey in Wisconsin, USA

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  10. Michael
    Thank-you very much, but my health is perfectly fine. I can’t see how a smoker ban is going to create a decline in deaths due to passive smoking over time – there hasn’t been any deaths. How can there be a decline on something that doesn’t exist? The anti-smoking lobbies are continually being asked to name just 3 people who have died from passive smoking; they cannot even name one! They’re good at their ‘guesstimates’ though, having been involved in the culture of brainwashing for the last 30 years.

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  11. Okay, this appears to have opened a can of worms.

    bemused: I agree with your points about how supermarket special offers are also partly responsible for the decline in pub trade, however that is something different from the smoking ban, and is a result of capitalism, rather than government control.

    I also agree with you that some of the edge cases caught in the smoking ban probably should be revisited – your lorry driver example should not be covered by the smoking ban (however the safety aspect of smoking whilst driving remains to be seen), similarly if smoking in an area where there really is no-one else ever going to be, I see no harm in it.

    Helen: I personally have not heard of any communities ruined by the smoking ban, nor do I know of any pubs closing as a direct result. I pose the same challenge to you, can you name me three pubs that have closed as a result of the smoking ban?

    Also, I find your claim that peoples health is reducing as a result of the ban to be absolutely absurd. Do you have any facts to back this up?

    Do you work behind a bar? If not, then your jibe regarding your health is daft, because one of the main reasons given for the ban being brought in was to protect bar staff.

    RTS: Okay, maybe I don’t have a right to clean air, but bar workers do – read Article 31 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. As for your point about having the choice to waive rights, when did I ever say otherwise? In fact, you’re contradicting yourself. I do have the choice to waive a right to clean air, but in this case, some smoker is waiving my right for me.

    Finally, I distinctly remember in primary school at the age of about 9 or 10 one of my friends having to go to hospital to have a lung removed as a result of lung cancer. Both his parents were heavy smokers, and I distinctly remember him telling me that he got lung cancer because his parents were smokers. The smoking ban wouldn’t have saved his lung, because his parents were doing it inside their own home, but the idea that second-hand smoke is harmless is completely ridiculous to me.

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  12. This country has gone from a democracy to a dictatorship under 15yrs of Nu Labour. Never have so many people been so bullied and badgered for so little reason – and the smoking ban is a perfect example.

    A smoke filled room is as dangerous as a room full of clean air. Hard to believe but there’s no dangers to passive smoke. It’s a fraud.

    Similarly the novel idea that by taking away ‘risk’ from our daily lives the State is doing us a favour and looking after us couldn’t be further from the truth. We like to make our own decisions and we don’t like dictate.

    With a few exceptions (ie. war)we don’t need organising or being told what to do. That is the measure of a democracy which Britian now patently fails to live up to. We have more security cameras than any Totalitarian State on the planet to save us from what precisely?

    This is a paranoid, dictatorial embattled Labour Party that has sold democracy to the lowest moral bidder and the EEC without any public consent. At the next election Labour will be hammered and deservedly so for turning a once great country into a miserable dictatorship.

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  13. To John, and all the others who are ignoring the evidence, can you please tell me which medical articles have proven that second-hand smoke has no effects, specifically ones that contradict these articles:

    The US Surgeon General – http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/secondhandsmoke/

    The World Health Organisation – http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol83/volume83.pdf

    The UK’s own Department of Health – http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_4101474

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  14. Chris N.
    I’ll name my 3 – The Lynton in Cleethorpes, The Hawkesmore Inn in Hanley, Pressure Point in Brighton. The news articles relating to the closures of each of these stated that it was a result of the smoking ban. Furthermore there has been 60 in East Lancs alone who have shut their doors as a result, their MP has even expressed his concern about it. In 2005, 102 pubs closed; in 2006, 216 pubs shut. Yet in 2007 (since the smoking ban half way through the year) 1409 have closed – figures from the Beer & Pub Association. In addition to this, some 80 social clubs have shut their doors (blaming the ban) and several bingo halls.
    I’ll wait to hear the names of your 3.
    With regards to health – there have been suicides and increased violence on our streets (resulting in murder) as a result of this ban. Thousands have lost their jobs and homes, plunging themselves into stress and depression. Increased rapes are being reported due to increased drink spiking, the police have reported in the news that domestic violence is on the up as a result of the ban, the list goes on. The dangers from second hand smoke do not exist as more and more are beginning to realise. Even our own H&S Executive confirmed this, but it was quickly hidden away by ASH and this government as it wasn’t what they wanted to hear. There was no risk to pub workers to start off with, you’ve been reading and listening to too much propaganda from heavily funded anti-smoking lobbyists who are chasing the filthy lucre that goes with it.
    There’s been a ban on smoking in many public places for years, including public transport; smoking rates have also been falling; why then is lung cancer on the increase?
    Also, if smoking is as bad as they lead us to belive, why then have the majority of the world’s oldest people been smokers?
    If they are wanting to reduce smoking, why introduce blanket bans? Research shows that bans have the opposite effect – Ireland smoking rates now up 2% since the introduction of their ban 2 years ago – there’s one county in England (can’t remember which one) which has just reported smoking rates up 3% just 9 months since the ban.
    Blanket bans do not work. It should be up to the owners of these establishments to choose whether they allow smoking or not, afterall these are privately run businesses and the state should not interfere with them. This way everybody would be catered for

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  15. Chris N
    Michael Siegal, (the anti-smoking lobby’s hero, and one of many involved in the lobbying for smoking bans) has contradicted the reporting of the US Surgeon General report. On his website on Wed 28 June 2006, he clearly stated how much this report had been exaggerated to the extent of what we hear now in the newspapers. The title of his article was ‘Surgeon General’s Communications Misrepresent Findings of Report; Tobacco Control Practitioners Appear Unable to Accurately Portray the Science’. I do believe a lawsuit is currently being prepared/considered against it.

    The notion that passive smoking can kill you is a scientific fraud. Or rather, it’s a witch hunt (on smokers) masquerading as science. The main reason it’s very unlikely that passive smoking is deadly, is that the dose is extremely low – about one thousandth of the dose a smoker typically receives (source: Covance Laboratories). And indeed, most studies fail to show a statistically significant correlation between passive smoking and disease. For example, a very large study commissioned by the World Health Organization showed no link between passive smoking and lung cancer or heart disease. The results even indicated a possible beneficial effect of passive smoking on the health of children. The reaction of the World Health Organization, which is vehemently anti-smoking, was to attempt a cover-up of the study (source: The Economist, 12 March 1998).

    On 8th August 2006 the HSE in the document OC 255/15 article9 stated
    ” HSE cannot produce epidemiological evidence to link levels of exposure to second hand smoke to the raised risk of contacting specific diseases”.
    Good job a copy of this was kept as it quickly disappeared for some strange reason and was replaced with OC 255/16 Paragraph
    14.

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  16. Helen: Facts, facts, facts. Unless you can back up your claims with some links to actual, scientific facts you’re just spouting crap.

    Increased suicides and murders? A smoking ban making people homeless? As the HSE is a government body, they have to publish all their reports, so if you find me a copy on Metalib or on the OPSI website I’ll believe you.

    Are you honestly saying that the scientific community is wrong? Plus, your claims that this is all a conspiracy are obviously bunk – obviously it’s in the government’s interest to allow smoking, it benefits from taxes and lower healthcare/welfare costs, due to people living not as long.

    >> “The dangers from second hand smoke do not exist”

    What about my primary school friend who had his lung removed due to second-hand smoke?

    Saying no-one’s ever died from passive smoking is like saying no-one’s ever died from old age. Just because it’s never been stated on a death certificate doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

    Bars close down for many reasons, smoking isn’t always one of them, but I can see how it makes a convenient scapegoat. I don’t see Heslington Hall claiming the smoking ban is the reason for closing JJs, no they’ve realised it’s changing habits, people prefer to buy from supermarkets and drink. In fact, I’m pretty sure B Henry’s profits have gone up since the smoking ban – why? Because they’re smart enough to innovate. All businesses need to innovate and move with the times, if someone who runs a pub can’t do that, then that’s their tough luck, they shouldn’t blame a law on their inability to run their business.

    I therefore challenge you to come back to this article with some actual scientific facts to back yourself up with.

    Finally, here’s some food for thought.

    British-American Tobacco say that second-hand smoke is harmful. [http://www.bat.com/group/sites/UK__3MNFEN.nsf/vwPagesWebLive/DO52AMJ4?opendocument&SKN=4]

    Philip Morris accept that second-hand smoke can cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. [http://www.philipmorrisusa.com/en/cms/Products/Cigarettes/Health_Issues/Secondhand_Smoke/default.aspx?src=search]

    RJ Reynolds Tobacco accept that the US Surgeon General is a solid reference, and therefore second-hand smoke is dangerous. [http://www.rjrt.com/smoking/summaryCover.asp#PublicHealth]

    Would these tobacco companies be included in the anti-tobacco lobbyists you accused of spreading misinformation earlier?

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  17. Helen: Selective quoting isn’t going to help you. Here’s what 255/15 says in full:

    The evidential link between individual circumstances of exposure to risk in
    exempted premises will be hard to establish. In essence, HSE cannot
    produce epidemiological evidence to link levels of exposure to SHS to the
    raised risk of contracting specific diseases and it is therefore difficult to prove
    health-related breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

    All that says is that’s it’s *hard to prove* in *individual cases* health afflictions are due to second-hand smoke. That’s quite a leap you’re making to suggest that it’s saying that the HSE believe second-hand smoke to be harmless.

    (Additionally, I apologise as you’ve answered many of my questions in my most recent post in your most recent one, which I didn’t see as I assume it was being moderated at the time).

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  18. Chris – yes they are facts. I notice that you couldn’t answer my question though – name 3. Don’t worry, the anti-smoking scientific experts can’t either. Strange really when there’s supposedly all these hundreds of thousandths of lives ‘saved’ every year now. It is very unfortunate what happened to your primary school friend and I trust that he/she is fine now, but didn’t you know that there are numerous reasons for lung cancer, not just smoking. I know that the anti-smoking lobby would have us believe that lung cancer would be more or less eradicated if smoking was banned altogther. Many people speak this way because of this rubbish that they keep delivering via the media. This is not the case. I just wish as much funding went into the real causes of it instead of investing so much into the anti-smoking agenda. Perhaps then the rates of lung cancer would begin to reduce, instead of spiralling out of control which they are at the moment (irresepective of reduced smoking rates and bans in force for many years)

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  19. Chris –

    You mention (inter alia) that “Philip Morris accept that second-hand smoke can cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.”

    Gosh – how scientific !!

    Perhaps I might also point out another obvious, and empirically-established fact: ‘secondhand smoke’ (lucky YOU don’t have to pay for it) ALSO causes outbreaks of hysteria, quasi-religious mania, and the unmistakable odour of self-righteousness among the Antis.

    Now, we can bandy statistics all night – so allow me to put a simple proposition to you.

    Allow us grown-ups a CHOICE between pubs and clubs that allow smoking, and those that don’t (a decision for the landlords and owners – who else?).

    We could call them (for want of anything better) ‘Smoking Pubs'(and Clubs) and ‘Non-Smoking Pubs'(and Clubs).

    YOU (and you friends) can choose the one for YOUR entertainment and leisure, and I (and my friends) can choose
    the other for ours’.

    Simple, isn’t it ?

    I’m happy – and you’re happy (or should be).

    The Health of the Little Ones is irrelevant (who wants them in an adult environment, anyway ?), and (we mustn’t forget) The Staff can make up their own minds (just as coal miners, North Sea trawlermen, professional rugby-players, and SAS troopers do – like Grown Up People).

    I repeat – simple, isn’t it ?

    Furthermore, The Public will pretty soon let us know FOR SURE what it REALLY wants (no need for any more fluffy propaganda from the Health Lobby and the saintly Deborah Arnott).

    If you have a problem with that, then kindly explain WHAT it is.

    Or does the concept of FREEDOM disturb you ?

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  20. Firstly, many thanks to Helen; Bemused; Chris W; RTS and John, for ‘taking up the baton’ regards the TRASH spoken by Chris Norwood…. It’s late and I cannot be bothered with dragging up websites for Chris N to muse over. Nevertheless, I’ve just finished reading Colin Grainger’s latest excellent post entitled “SHS is a Fraud. Here is the Proof”. So, to Chris Norwood, please keep an open mind and see this article on http://www.freedom2choose.info. Thanks, Jo

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  21. Chris (again) –

    In all the excitement, I almost forgot.

    How about testing your own objectivity by visiting Joe Jackson’s excellent website at:

    http://www.joejackson.com/smoking.php

    Among other Sources of Enlightenment, you will find a link to his excellent (alpha double-plus) essay ‘Smoke, Lies, and the Nanny State’ – which will afford you some valuable new insights into this subject.

    And no – he’s NOT in the pay of Big Tobacco (sorry !) – or Big Pharma or Big Government.
    And being a smoker doesn’t make him any less than a Seeker After The Truth than you.

    Check him out – I DARE you………….but be warned: he does talk an ENORMOUS amount of common sense – more than some can handle in this Age of Timidity.

    And – while we’re at it – you might also add the opinions of an NHS anaesthetist to the list, at:

    http://pro-choicesmokingdoctor.blogspot.com/

    A rather more reliable source than your unfortunate friend on the ‘dangers’ of passive smoking. Sorry – but lung cancer didn’t begin with Tobacco (or the water-vapour it gives off)!

    All I ask is: THINK FOR YOURSELF……(Unless, of course, you have TOTAL trust in Government, Pharmaceutical Companies, and The Surgeon General).

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  22. Helen:

    >> I trust that he/she is fine now, but didn’t you know that there are numerous reasons for lung cancer, not just smoking.

    He’s dead now (not smoking related I should add, he was hit by a car). The point I was trying to make is that the reason he gave for the lung cancer was the passive smoking from his parents.

    >> I notice that you couldn’t answer my question though – name 3.

    I’m no expert in the subject, so I can’t answer this question. However, if second-hand smoke leads to someone losing a lung, does that make it okay, just because he didn’t die from the passive smoking?

    >> I know that the anti-smoking lobby would have us believe that lung cancer would be more or less eradicated if smoking was banned altogther.

    Again, conjecture. I believe most people are smart enough tobacco smoke isn’t the only cause of lung cancer.

    >> Perhaps then the rates of lung cancer would begin to reduce, instead of spiralling out of control which they are at the moment

    I’m sorry, but I’ve looked and looked but can’t find any evidence either way. The only evidence I’ve found relating to the rate of lung cancer is this rather interesting article on the US’s National Institure of Health: http://web.archive.org/web/20030217151857/http://press2.nci.nih.gov/sciencebehind/cancer/cancer31.htm

    Martin V: The point I was trying to make is that is tobacco companies accept these facts, then surely they’re not just propaganda bandied around by the pro-clean air groups, and maybe, perhaps, there’s some truth to them?

    >> YOU (and you friends) can choose the one for YOUR entertainment and leisure, and I (and my friends) can choose the other for ours’.

    Yes, but please point out to me whereabouts in York there’s a non-smoking club (prior to July 2007). Additionally, of York’s famed 365 pubs, I only knew of 1 that was non-smoking. That’s not really much of a choice, is it? In fact, I’d say that despite smokers being in a minority of the population, they had a monopoly over drinking venues in York, which is unfair discrimination against those who don’t smoke, and don’t wish to inhale second-hand smoke, but have no choice.

    >> The Health of the Little Ones is irrelevant (who wants them in an adult environment, anyway ?)

    I don’t know about you, but when I was younger, I often was taken to pubs by my grandparents for a nice family Sunday lunch, and considering that the evidence points to infants being more affected by second-hand smoke, surely this is anything but irrelevant?

    >> Furthermore, The Public will pretty soon let us know FOR SURE what it REALLY wants

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by this.

    >> Or does the concept of FREEDOM disturb you ?

    Nope, I’m all for freedom. It’s just inconsiderate smokers that think their freedom is worth more than mine. I’ll explain to you what my Freedom is, it may help you understand me better. “Everyone is free to do whatever they want, without fear, prejudice or discrimination, as long as what they are doing does not impinge on the freedom of others”. Smoking in public places with people who do not want to inhale second-hand smoke, for whatever reason – health, social or otherwise, would therefore come under the second clause of impinging on the freedom of others.

    I’m sorry if you don’t find that Freedom acceptable, and I’m interested in finding out what your version of Freedom is.

    Jo:

    I resent the implication I’m talking trash. I’ve read the article in question, and as a student, there are two main flaws with it: It only makes reference to two sources and does no original research of its own. Secondly, the second source it mentions, Enstrom & Kabat when published contained the editorial comment: “The authors of this article have massively overstated the negative link.” (or words to that effect). It bases its whole structure around the premise that a lower CI makes that one particular study worthless. It completely disregards the hundreds of other studies (including the ones done by the DoH in the UK) out there proving the link between second hand smoke.

    Martin V (again): My Dad’s an NHS consultant anaesthetist, I’m more willing to trust him than some random blogger (the link you gave doesn’t load, btw) – undoubtedly I will now be accused of being indoctrinated against smoking from a young age because of his profession. This could be true, in which case you might as well stop. I’m always going to believe my Dad over some random Internet commenters.

    I may be naive, but I do have trust in the scientific community as a whole, and if there’s an overwhelming bulk of scientific evidence pointing one way, well…

    This argument does remind me a lot of the creationism vs. evolution debate. A bunch of angry fanatics swearing blind they’re right, even though the voice of scientific reason flies in their face.

    I’ll have a read through the Joe Jackson stuff in a bit.

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  23. I’d just like to say, Jo, that I’ve not taken up the baton against Chris, I think he’s talking a lot of sense.

    Second hand smoke does have an effect on people. Replacing oxygen with toxic gases is harmful! All the evidence points towards passive smoking being dangerous to public health.

    But many things we enjoy or permit have the risk of harm associated with them. Drinking, (and we really don’t need any more curbs on that wonderful pasttime!) fatty foods, even driving on a motorway.

    It is the issue of choice that should be driving the smoking debate, not disputing the science (although of course it would be wrong to stop discussing the science, for the time being and at this level of debate i think we should accept the concensus among the medical profession). If people consent to the possibility they may harm themselves, I have less of a problem with smoking areas.

    My ideal solution would be to allow certain establishments to open a completely isolated smoking room, where staff would have to consent to working in a smokey environment (with the option of not working in smoke available by law.)and adequate ventilation should be provided. A ban on meals in the smoking area seems appropriate too.

    This suggestion doesn’t seem too different to the current law, except there’d be walls and a ceiling on the smoking area, rather than making people smoke in uncomfortable conditions.

    Of course, the vehicle smoking ban is a step too far, and the system should allow lone workers to smoke in a vehicle, or if fellow workers consent, to smoke with more than one occupant.

    Let’s try and get the argument back onto the choice debate, not throwing stats at each other, when, lets face it, i doubt we’re all health professors…

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  24. Chris N. You must be very young. Passive smoking only began to be recognised after 1998. In fact, in 1998 the WHO were saying that there were no dangers from second hand smoke. This is just 10 years ago! You say that you were in primary school when this happened? And the doctors confirmed that it was down to passive smoking? It has only been the last 6 years that the anti-smoking lobby have been beating this drum.

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  25. Helen: Please don’t put words in my mouth. Where did I say that I was told by doctors that my friends lung was removed due to passive smoking? Why would be friends doctors even be telling me anything? No, it was from him that I heard that.

    And even so, I doubt I would consider the average demographic of this newspaper to be “very young”. Considering the average age of students at University is something like 18-22 (and as a third year, I’m 20), which would make me 10/11 in 1998.

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  26. Okay, to address bemused’s point, I agree with you, a completely isolated smoking room is acceptable. However, it would be important to ensure that this doesn’t have loopholes so venues designate their whole space a “smoking room”. As you say, that’s not too different to the current law, except the smoking room wouldn’t be the big outside room with a blue ceiling, it’d be in an indoors one only for smokers. I think there are also issues to consider if, for example, you put a bar in this room, or start expecting glass collectors to clean up in there, whom might not be smokers and may feel pressured to work in the smoky environment against their will. I’ll accept that a blanket ban isn’t a perfect solution, however I think it’s a step forwards from where we were.

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  27. Chris – you stated earlier:
    “Finally, I distinctly remember in primary school at the age of about 9 or 10 one of my friends having to go to hospital to have a lung removed as a result of lung cancer. Both his parents were heavy smokers, and I distinctly remember him telling me that he got lung cancer because his parents were smokers.”
    You now state that this would have occurred in 1998. Sorry Chris, the notion of second hand smoke being harmful hadn’t even been dreamt up then – 1998 WHO report

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  28. To say the smoking ban has not effected the pub trade is the kind of thing people who wanted this ban in the first place would say. Leftist hippies who never went to the pub in the first place and on the one occasion they might ordered a wheat juice. My local is called The Boot in Bovingdon, and it has suffered outrageously since the ban. Before my gap year I went there twice a week and no matter what day of the week it was rammed with locals from the village most of whom smoked. My party didn’t smoke but we didn’t care because that is what a pub was for to do sociable things. While many will say smoking is unsociable, in this particular boozer it was sociable. I went to Australia and came back about a week after the ban came in. Since that time whenever I went to the Boot it was about a third full. Also where I work in Devon, The Ferry Inn, in the winter it get no one in the oub and I mean no one where before there would be 10 or 15 locals. If you can’t smoke in a pub, people won’t go out, they will stay at home with a couple of beers and some cigarettes.

    I am a smoker now, and many places I will admit have benefited from the ban. If you overturned the ban now many places would still not allow smoking, for example Wetherspoon’s who implemented their own ban in may pubs before the countrywide ban came in. Yet a publican should be able to decide for themselves about the ban and put measures in place to accomodate both. Some places have benefited from the ban, but many certainly haven’t. The pub trade is a British institution and another source of pride Labour are trying to kill off……

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  29. Helen: So, basically, you’re accusing me of lying?

    This report on passive smoking dates from 1996: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8619139. This one from 1992: http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/267/1/94, and the one from 1986: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3097495.

    So I’m not sure where you’re getting this idea that passive smoking didn’t exist before 1998 from.

    Jack: Trust me, I’m anyone but a leftist hippy. The decline in pubs is unfortunate, but I would continue to argue that it’s just lazy landlords who don’t move with the times that are suffering and using the ban as a scapegoat.

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  30. Not sure if my last comment got through (it’s not appeared here as pending moderation which it normally does…)

    Helen: Are you calling me a liar?

    I suggest you’re the one that’s mistaken, as you think passive smoking didn’t become known until 1998. There are plenty of reports that predate that:

    South African Medical Journal, 1996: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8619139
    National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1992: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1727204
    American Heart Association, 1991:
    http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/83/1/1
    US Surgeon General, 1986: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3097495
    etc

    As you can plainly see, the first major study in the scientific community giving a link from lung cancer to second-hand smoke is at least 1986, and between heart disease and second-hand smoke is 1991.

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  31. Chris
    I leave you a link as well. For every report that shows a link between passive smoking and lung cancer, there are 6 that show it doesn’t.
    http://www.forces.org/Scientific_Portal/
    Based on the 2 reports that our wonderful Dawn Primorola bases justificaton for the ban on (SCOTH and US Surgeon General), both are exposed as exaggerations, by anti-smoking scientists themselves. SCOTH actually (if you read it correctly), also shows that there is no risk (rr of less than 3), which is exactly what our own H&S Executive stated. The US Surgeon General report has been blasted by anti-smoking scientists and even this week, we hear yet another muted apology from ASH regarding the exaggeration of this report.
    Sorry Chris, there was no justification for this ban. Choice should have been given to pub and club owners to be smoking/non-smoking or have separate smoking rooms, depending upon the market they were delivering to.
    Further link out today showing SHS does not exist as well:
    http://69.60.11.130/~freedom2/news_viewer.php?id=725

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  32. Helen: Your insistence that SHS does not exist is flies in the face of scientific consensus and undermines your whole argument, so let’s move away from that point and back onto the point of choice.

    The problem is that the free market wasn’t really working, because the choice that you keep going on about didn’t exist. I’ll repeat my earlier argument for you, as you appear to have either missed or ignored it:

    >> YOU (and you friends) can choose the one for YOUR entertainment and leisure, and I (and my friends) can choose the other for ours’.

    Yes, but please point out to me whereabouts in York there’s a non-smoking club (prior to July 2007). Additionally, of York’s famed 365 pubs, I only knew of 1 that was non-smoking. That’s not really much of a choice, is it? In fact, I’d say that despite smokers being in a minority of the population, they had a monopoly over drinking venues in York, which is unfair discrimination against those who don’t smoke, and don’t wish to inhale second-hand smoke, but have no choice.

    >> Or does the concept of FREEDOM disturb you ?

    Nope, I’m all for freedom. It’s just inconsiderate smokers that think their freedom is worth more than mine. I’ll explain to you what my Freedom is, it may help you understand me better. “Everyone is free to do whatever they want, without fear, prejudice or discrimination, as long as what they are doing does not impinge on the freedom of others”. Smoking in public places with people who do not want to inhale second-hand smoke, for whatever reason – health, social or otherwise, would therefore come under the second clause of impinging on the freedom of others.

    I’m sorry if you don’t find that Freedom acceptable, and I’m interested in finding out what your version of Freedom is.

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  33. Chris
    Are we leaving the science alone because you know I’m right. Afterall, the truth will always shine through, no matter now much funding the anti-smoking lobbyists have. Tell you what, why not try to name 3 deaths from passive smoking throughout the world (afterall the lobbyists here are talking billions of people saved). You can’t though, because not one person has ever died from SHS.
    I’m over in the North West. There were quite a few non-smoking bars and restaurants where I lived before the ban came in. Everyone had a choice where to go depending upon what the market wanted. It prevented the economic, social, health and political damage that this blanket ban is causing.
    Take a look at these posts on people’s experiences and thoughts of the ban:
    http://takingliberties.squarespace.com/taking-liberties/2008/6/20/forest-in-the-house.html#comments
    Still don’t think that the ban is causing damage? Still think it’s so successful like we keep being told by main-stream-media? I’ve not met one person who agrees with the ban – smoker or non-smoker – granted, I post to many anti-smokers – but not one person I actually know agrees with it.
    The ban also defeats the object. Obviously smoking rates will come down in the short term (people buying more abroad in protest, so the sales go down, 16 – 18 year olds not counted in the figures), but the trend will rise, just like in Ireland. People will not be bullied.

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  34. Helen i’m confused, the notion of second hand smoke didn’t just spring up in 1998.

    Infact the dangers of impure substances have been known for far, far longer than 10 years. Whether or not ‘second hand smoke’ was the terminology doesn’t affect the science. Various buzz-words come and go…but you seem to imply that impure air wasn’t seen as a health risk before 1998…therefore smog wasn’t seen as dangerous, working up chimneys wasn’t dangerous etc…

    The argument makes no sense.

    Another point, as smoking is on the decline, how would pubs have dealt with a generation who don’t smoke as much without the ban?

    Jack is also spot on about the government’s contempt for the greatest of british institutions. The price of beer is the main killer though, most of the increases go to the government. The pub has become a symbol of everything labour hates – enjoyment, community, and being responsible for your own consumption.

    High rents mean pub buildings more attractive proposals for property developers. The phoenix by fishergate bar is on the market now not as a pub but as a property. The same is happening across the country.

    The government should step in to keep the pub buildings as pubs. Not flats, but pubs.

    Pubs are a cultural symbol , why not have some of the culture cash given to the pub trade to promote british beer as opposed to supporting pointless works of art which nobody likes, or jetting ministers off around the world to ‘research’ other cultures?

    Certainly in york, pubs also face stiff competition from more expensive bars frequented by stag nights. Louder, more modern places such as most of micklegate charge a hell of a lot more than the nearest proper pub, yet get the custom of rowdy groups with a big budget and an urge to get drunk. Sadly us students don’t do our bit for the traditional pub either! Stop going to nags and rumours and crap places like that and go to some real pubs instead! Or maybe that’ll upset the locals…

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  35. Forget the politics and Science,all I know is I very rarely go to the pub these days because of the ban as we rarely have the weather to smoke in comfort outside and after smoking in pubs for years it,s impossible to accept ,a pub to me is not welcoming anymore an alian enviroment !,i,ll save my money and go on holiday to Spain or Portugal where there is a choice,smoking in bars under 100 metres and one side smoking in larger bars,that,s what I call Democracy.

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  36. >> Chris, Are we leaving the science alone because you know I’m right.

    No. It’s because I’m fed up of talking to an ignorant woman.

    >> Tell you what, why not try to name 3 deaths from passive smoking throughout the world (afterall the lobbyists here are talking billions of people saved). You can’t though, because not one person has ever died from SHS.

    And even if I could, you wouldn’t believe me because you’re so narrow-minded and ignorant you believe second-hand smoke isn’t dangerous. Like you casually discarded my friends lung cancer “because scientists didn’t discover second-hand smoke until 1998”, which is obviously a load of bull, as bemused so aptly puts it.

    >> I’m over in the North West. There were quite a few non-smoking bars and restaurants where I lived before the ban came in.

    Great for you. This is a newspaper about the University of York, so York is what is being discussed… Anyway, how many is a few? 3? 4? In the *whole* North West, which is a pretty big part of England.

    >> I’ve not met one person who agrees with the ban

    Maybe you’ve scared all your friends to the extent they don’t want to disagree with you because you go on personal attacks and accuse them of lying?

    >> The ban also defeats the object. Obviously smoking rates will come down in the short term (people buying more abroad in protest, so the sales go down, 16 – 18 year olds not counted in the figures), but the trend will rise, just like in Ireland.

    I don’t think that was the point. I believe the point was to protect people who were forced to work in smoky situations.

    Chris W: Great, that’s your personal choice. Here’s the opposite: I have a friend, she’s a music student, an opera singer to be precise. She now goes out *more* because she doesn’t have to worry about the smoke in the air irritating her throat when she has to practice the following day.

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  37. Pathetic article, another whiney smoker who can’t be bothered to read up and educate herself on the mystic phenomena and lies of the great SHS swindle, but who thinks if she acts all embarrased and ashamed and tries to be weely weely cute, people will still like her even though she smokes. Godalmighty love, do us real a favour and pack in.

    Bouncing through these comments, I may have missed an earlier reference to it, but 2 guys named Elstrom and Cabat followed some 100,000 californians smokers, non smokers living with smokers, etc for 40 years. For 38 years, this study was sponsored by the American Cancer society. When the preliminary findings were revealed 2 years before the full 40 years was up – NO causal link had been found re passive smoking and ‘passive’ heart atacks, lung or any other cancers. The ACS was so outraged at being handed the ‘wrong’ results it withdrew funding for the final 2 years of the study. The funding which enabled these scientists to complete and compile their results IN THE LAST 2 YEARS ONLY came from an industry related to the tobacco industry. The ACS (and most of the hysterical anti smoking mob) denounced the study on the basis that it was funded by ‘big tobacco’ – despite having funded it themselves for 38 years. When the results were published in the BMJ, the response was so vitriolic – many taking the view that it should not have been published – that the then editor said – he had never witnessed such hostile opposition to any papers hitherto published, adding that the the detractors argument had ‘little to do with science, and everything to do with prejudice. The fact is that ANYONE in the medical/scientific community who goes against the ‘message’ is treated like a holocaust denier, and FYI, it’s no different re ‘global warming’. You figure it out.

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  38. Dunhillbabe: Considering how much emphasis you’re putting on that article, you’d have thought you’d have spelt the authors’ names right. It also sounds like you never read the article. Here it is: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/326/7398/1057.

    The fact that this one article keeps coming up again, and again, and again, despite the fact the flaws in the study have been pointed out, and there are many, many articles directly contradicting Enstrom and Kabat’s findings, is just showing how desperate you are in attempting to justify your polluting lifestyle choices to yourself and others.

    Your comparison to the climate change argument is apt, as the same is happening there. People attempting to justify their lifestyle choices in order to not have to change point at the same flawed scientific studies and ignore the large mass of facts out there that goes in contradiction to the scientific consensus.

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  39. It is fantastic that this article has provoked such debate.

    I would like to point out that the crux of this article is neither a debate on SHS nor whether the ban should have been implemented. Rather it is looking at how the ban has affected students. I am aware that this feature is not comprehensive due to limitations of space. Thank you for the comments that explore issues of the ban and SHS further.

    All statistics quoted are from government resources. Obviously people are entitled to believe that the government doctors these.

    “Dunhillbabe” – I find your comment particularly interesting. It certainly is a feat to establish a persons character from 1000 words. I’m sure I could form a judgment of you from your comment. However it would undoubtedly be as incorrect as your assumptions on me. I believe SHS is dangerous and I believe that the ban is a positive action, despite the annoyance of it. I make no apologies for my beliefs. I’m sure they are just as valid and well researched as your own. Simply because my opinions seem to be shared by the majority does not make them weak; just as your views are slightly more controversial and radical does not negate them. Lastly, if anyone is small minded and petty enough to dislike me because I smoke, they would be no loss to me.

    Once again, thanks to all who have made interesting and informed comments.

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  40. A good article, but I must comment on what Chris Northwood said. It is obvious that he is suffering from the psycological problem known as Discounting. In his case he knows in his heart of hearts that both smoking and passive smoking are dangerous to those who take part, but choses not to acknowledge the risks. He latch onto any “facts” or “research” however doubtfull which supports his destorted view of reality quoting them as proven facts. There have been many investigations into smoking and passive smoking. All of these, except those conducted by interested parties, such as the tobacco industry or FORREST, have concluded that smoking and passive smoking are dangerous. How can it be dangerous to smoke, but safe to breath second hand smoke? This is not possible and he knows it. The smoking ban is the best law to come out of parliament in years and research has shown it to be working as smoking related health problems have fallen significantly. I rest my case.

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  41. >> A good article, but I must comment on what Chris Northwood said. It is obvious that he is suffering from the psycological problem known as Discounting.

    Eh?

    >> In his case he knows in his heart of hearts that both smoking and passive smoking are dangerous to those who take part, but choses not to acknowledge the risks.

    Somehow you’ve managed to completely misread every single one of my comments and come to the exact opposite conclusion of every single point I was trying to make.

    >> He latch onto any “facts” or “research” however doubtfull which supports his destorted view of reality quoting them as proven facts.

    The research I quoted is widely recognised by the scientific community as being valid.

    >> There have been many investigations into smoking and passive smoking. All of these, except those conducted by interested parties, such as the tobacco industry or FORREST, have concluded that smoking and passive smoking are dangerous.

    Exactly.

    >> How can it be dangerous to smoke, but safe to breath second hand smoke? This is not possible and he knows it.

    You’re right I know it. It’s the point I was attempting to make.

    >> The smoking ban is the best law to come out of parliament in years

    I wouldn’t go that far.

    >> and research has shown it to be working as smoking related health problems have fallen significantly. I rest my case.

    Your case is exactly the same as mine. Either you’ve completely misread my comments, or I’m terrible at making my point. I suspect it’s the former.

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  42. Nouse strikes again with another overly pretentious article…. just a little tip, when you try sound intelligent and your not, you actually end up sounding extremely stupid.

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  43. Much like somebody who comments on an article from July 2008 as though it were something new…

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  44. It’s ranked number two on the ‘most read’ section, this obviously means it is still relevant as people are still reading this article today. So yeah good comeback.

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  45. And doesn’t understand the difference between “your” and “you’re”….

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