The Stubbornness Effect

So the workplace ban didn't stop people smoking?

Now this is strange because I was always lead to believe the workplace ban was there for the sake of bar staff and other employees?  Are they finally admitting that its sole purpose was to marginalise, demonise and denormalise smokers?

That aside, there is nothing surprising in the report. 

Basically the workplace ban affected two groups of smokers.  The first group is the person who is employed in a workplace environment – office staff, bar workers, shopkeepers and so on.  The second group are those who only enter a workplace by choice – the self employed, workers in an outside environment [builders, farmers and the like] and the unemployed.

The first group are the ones who were hardest hit as they suddenly found themselves forced to completely abstain apart from smoking breaks.  This is the group one would expect to have the highest quit rate.

The second group were only really affected if they had to enter a place of employment such as shops, hotels and of course pubs.

Within the timeframe of the study there have been several massive price hikes levied on tobacco, so I would expect a decrease in overall rates.  One would expect though that the first group would be the greatest quitters as they have to suffer the price hike plus the workplace ban, whereas the second group only gave to bear the price hikes?  Yet the study shows the reverse is true?

My theory is quite simple – it's the Stubbornness Effect kicking in.

People don't like to be ordered around.  They don't like laws, rules and regulations.  The more you order them to do something [particularly something illogical] they more they will resist and refuse to comply.  Smokers see themselves as being ordered to quit so naturally they respond with the two fingers.  Our first group, while having to endure the workplace ban are financially better able to weather the price hikes and are therefore better able to continue to resist.  Our second group however are more likely to have suffered financially from the downturn and in many cases have joined the unemployed and have therefore been forced to quit.

From the turn of the Millennium Ireland has been subjected to a whole raft of Draconian legislations.  We have suffered from the workplace ban, massive price hikes, a ban on sales of 10 cigarettes [I still can’t find the logic in that], a ban on all advertising and sponsorship, a ban on vending machines and a ban on even the sight of cigarettes in shops, yet the smoking cessation rate remains at one of the lowest in the world.  With the possible exception of the price hikes not one measure has had the slightest effect on smoking rates in Ireland.   The more they demand, the more the smoker resists.

By the very nature of the bans, they have succeeded in creating a subculture whose membership consists of exiled smokers.  Walk up to any group outside an office or pub and if you have a cigarette [or pipe] in your hand you are instantly welcomed.  There are many anecdotal reports of non-smokers actually taking up the odd puff just to join in the camaraderie of the subculture, which proves that in some cases the laws have actually become counterproductive.

If they really wanted to cut the smoking rate here in Ireland they would stand a much better chance by simply reversing all that petty legislation.

OECD Smoking Rates

The Cesspool Effect

Herself was browsing around Farcebook the other evening.

"Good Grief!" says she [or words to that effect] "Take a look at this!"

I took a look and this is what I saw –


Herself has an electrofag which she uses quite a lot and this alarmed her to the point where she looked even more worried than usual.

I followed the link and it led to a site called Spirit Science and Metaphysics, which in turn cited Organic Health.  Both site names rang my internal alarm bells and when I read the content my worst fears were confirmed.

Both these sites had written their bilge laden nonsense on foot of the infamous Guardian article which has been widely and rightly discredited as a steaming pile of elephant dung.

I calmed Herself down and explained why it was junk science, but unfortunately I haven't the luxury of doing that with everyone who saw that Farcebook rubbish.  And this is where the problem lies.

People on Farcebook love to put up snappy items which are designed to startle.  They then ask people to pass them on so that ultimately they spread like wildfire.  Readers tend not to go beyond the snappy headline [“10x More Cancer Causing Ingredients?  Wow!  I must pass this on.”] and few read the actual article.  Those that do read the article are taken in by the "something must be done" breathless reporting and almost none go any further.  If they had even gone as far as the comments in the "Spirit Science" site they would have seen some enlightening comments which soundly demolish the article as alarmist and junk.

Farcebook is rife with what I call the Cesspool Effect.  This is where the shite floats to the top and is the only thing visible to the public.  The alarming and the startling grab the attention and get passed around.  The dull truth gets ignored and sinks without trace.  It has reached the stage where I don't take anything at face value from Farcebook.  If it might have some interest, I immediately research it and 99.999999% of the time, it's crap.  Unfortunately the Farcebook generation has the opposite reaction – if it's on Farcebook, it's true.

Herself is back happily using her electrofag, but how many others have been taken in and now believe electrofags are ten times worse than cigarettes?

Farcebook is dangerous.

Mind blowing laws

They are talking about decriminalising cannabis here.

This is possibly the most vague pronouncement yet from our Glorious Gubmint, which is famous for its hot air, lies and spin.

They say they are going to decriminalise, not legalise the stuff.  Now in theory, that means they are to remove all laws relating to cannabis, rather than introduce new ones.  I can't see that happening.

And what are they going to decriminalise?  Growing the stuff?  Supplying?  Using?  Knowing our lot, they'll decriminalise the use, but keep a ban in place for growing and supplying so you are free to smoke your spliff but you can't get one to smoke in the first place.

Our new Minister for Drugs says that he tried drugs [presumably cannabis] when he was a student but had not taken any illegal drugs.  He slides around this by saying he was in Amsterdam at the time, which shows just how daft the legal system is.  Smoke in Amsterdam and you're fine, but do the same thing here and you're a criminal.

He also says that he believes that "someone who has an addiction issue should be dealt with through the health system and not the criminal justice system".  I completely agree, but how does he reconcile this with our current anti-smoking laws?  They are forever spouting that Nicotine is so fucking addictive [more addictive than Heroin!] so why are smokers treated like criminals?

All in all, a lot of hot air and confusion.  I more than suspect that this is just a new minister trying to get his name  the papers.

I wish he'd make his plans clear though.

Us horticulturalists have to plan ahead.


The overlooked Isle

I have been doing a little light reading.

People tend to forget that Great Britain extends a little beyond England, Wales, Scotland and Norn Iron.  The likes of the Channel Isles and the Isle of Man tend to be overlooked in the rush and people overlook the fact that each has its Legislature Assembly.

The Isle of Man Tynwald has been holding a "consultation" with a view to tightening its anti-tobacco laws.

I say a "consultation" but it appears to be the usual whip around between the usual suspects, though they have included businesses on their consultation list so either this was a mistake, or they are considerably more liberal than the countries that surround them.  Apart from the odd brewery, the rest seem to be the usual suspects of "charities", vested interests and QANGOs.

The questions they pose have the standard yes/no/don't know options which nicely reflects the black and white mindset of governments everywhere.  This allows for considerable leeway on the interpretation of the responses, which again is fairly typical.

For example they ask "Do you believe that there should be further restrictions on the advertising and promotion of tobacco and related products?".  This is nicely vague and can mean anything from not having the word "tobacconist" on the front of the shop through to forcing the retailer to sell tobacco down in the basement behind steel doors, where no one can see the transaction. 

The results of the consultation surprised me, I confess.  I thought they would get the usual "overwhelming support", but in fact the answers seem remarkably honest.  For example when it came to the "further controls" questions, they barely got a majority of 55% which would tend to indicate that people have become somewhat weary of the constant push for further legislation. 

The question on plain packaging was interesting –

Do you believe that plain packaging of tobacco products (e.g. cigarettes and bagged tobacco) would help reduce the uptake of smoking by young people?

The response of No – 61.6% against Yes – 27.3% does seem to reflect the general public apathy to this notion.  What is more remarkable is that this result came despite a declaration in their original documentation that –

"There is good evidence that tobacco advertisements and ‘cool, fun and attractive’ displays do influence young people to take up smoking, and studies have shown that impulse buying of tobacco products as a result of seeing a display remains high, especially amongst young people."

As an aside – I would love to see their "studies" on impulse buying, and surely "young people" can't impulse buy if they are underage? 

Some of the questions give an insight into the probable future "salami slices" legislation that will come down the line – banning smoking in all private vehicles, and banning smoking in private homes.  

No doubt the results of the "consultation" will have little or no impact on the final laws that are introduced.  I get the impression that these procedures are in place merely to judge the level of backlash when the Draconian measures are introduced, and to give them a chance to spin their response in advance.

The full result makes interesting reading.

Take a look for yourself.