Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Policy by public opinion poll according to ASH Scotland

The lull in anti-smoking legislation will soon be over, and Sheila Duffy will soon stop reminding the incoming government of its obligations to children and get down to some serious work. Her latest effort claims:
Our polling shows that the public are aware that there are risks to children’s health from exposure to tobacco smoke with a huge 88% saying that they think second hand smoke increases the risk to a child’s health ...
The agenda has clearly moved to children (adults are no longer exposed in the workplace), meaning we can expect restrictions on smoking in homes and cars. The reasoning is superbly executed ... most people think smoke endangers children, therefore policy must be 'x'. (Are most people right? We should be told, but not only by Sheila Duffy.) More:
This is not necessarily about getting smokers who look after children to quit. Rather it is about informing people about the harms caused by tobacco smoke and showing parents and carers that the best way of protecting their children from the harm caused by second hand smoke is to not smoke around them.
So they are not even bothered about getting adults to quit any more. They are after 'harm reduction', which means nicotine replacement therapy in ASH Scotland's language. This means that they may have absorbed the wisdom imparted by the likes of Tim Coleman that NRT doesn't work for most people once they have left the clinic. That is, it doesn't work as a quit smoking tool, but it can still be used to relieve temporary discomfort.

Ms Duffy then goes on to recommend a 'social marketing campaign' covering the dangers of passive smoke exposure to children. What happened to public information campaigns? The term 'social marketing' is itself instructive, as marketing is a form of deliberate persuasion. The messenger is quite uncritical of the message: it has been taken for granted as fact, removed from the realm of objectivity, and given to the marketers to deliver to the public.

ASH Scotland has yet to start pushing for third-hand smoke awareness, but it's only a matter of time. Third-hand smoke is discussed clearly by Chris Snowdon here; he quotes author Winickoff from a private email regarding his study on third-hand smoke:
Basically, the study found that IF you believe that thirdhand smoke is harmful to infants and children, then you were much more likely to have a home smoking ban.
Not much science there either really, is there? More logic, really, and certainly doesn't address the issue whether third-hand smoke is a danger to children, or an issue that would make it advisable to wear a face mask when changing bed linen. The line of argument is identical to Sheila Duffy's. If enough people believe it's dangerous, there is no need to prove it any more.


Bill Gibson said...

Here is an interesting link


Note: Page 2 with regard to the information on Carcinogenic Pollutants

But then ASH would claim that Eurovent has a vested interest being the European Association for Heating and Ventilation.

Bill Gibson said...

Again from Europe, an extremely easy document to understand ..