Sunday, 12 June 2011

Too little too late: Duffy answers Waterson

The response, when it came, was barely audible. Sheila Duffy's retaliation to Paul Waterson's suggestion that perhaps we should review the smoking ban came five days later, and somewhat tepidly reiterating the same tired points that we have been hearing for years now.

The smoking ban reduced heart attack admissions by 17 per cent in the year following implementation. Except they didn't, as was blindingly obvious from the moment Jill Pell's study was announced to the world (nine months before the actual study was published).

Asthma attacks in children declined by 18 per cent (the smoking ban did not affect child venues) – this was not true either.

Duffy also remarks on the state of the hospitality sector, remarking that it has not suffered overall. However, certain sections have suffered, namely pubs, clubs and bingo halls. The licensed trade association would not be calling for a review if its members were not suffering.

Duffy finally asks 'who would compromise or roll back on these health gains'? The problem has been that she and her like have lost much credibility over these supposed health gains. Consider ASH Scotland's next project: extending the smoking ban to prisons and mental institutions and intervening to stop people from smoking with children at home. It's the issue of children that exposes the poverty of the secondary smoking claims. It is an article of faith among anti-smoking activists that smoking bans do not increase children's exposure to secondary smoke. But the smoking ban inevitably involved at least the risk to children of considerably more exposure to secondary smoke. Since the strategy was denormalising smoking, the politically acceptable route was to prohibit smoking in public places and then conduct a very thorough 're-education' to persuade parents not to smoke at home. (Coming soon to a town near you.) It might have been more credible simply to have made some very strong statements about secondary smoke to encourage parents to smoke away from home, but left adult venues alone, with perhaps some encouragement to use extraction systems. That would have both reinforced smoking as an adult activity and protected children further from exposure to smoke – but of course would not have 'denormalised' smoking or made smokers an object of public vilification.

As a rebuttal of Paul Waterson's piece, Sheila Duffy's fails: Mr Waterson's is better researched and more reasonable. I would not agree with his recommendation of separate smoking rooms, unless he wants bars hit with rules from licensing boards about when staff may enter specific rooms in pub premises. An indoor air quality standard and extraction systems could do the job, clear the air of  all the stale air as well as the smoke, and open up pubs for business to their core punters again.


budgie said...

Duffy is paid under contract to spout this nonsense. If she didn't, or disagreed with her bosses, she'd be out of a job. Same as any employee of any company or organisation.

Anonymous said...

Her bosses are the Scottish Government who bankroll ASH Scotland to the tune of nearly £1 Million a year of taxpayers money.

Get rid of ASH Scotland, review the smoking ban to allow air filtration , set up an indoor air quality standard, and finally turn ASH Scotlands HQ at 8 Frederick Street into a pub.

Bill Gibson said...

Now that EN 13779 has been implemented across all EU Member States (since 2009) there is no escape route for Governments with regard to Ventilation, Air Filtration and Clean Air.