Sunday, 3 July 2011

Job losses and business closures worth it, says Evening News leader

In response to a story in Friday's Edinburgh Evening News that publicans in Scotland's capital had been warned about flouting the ban, its leader today declares: 'on the whole it's a price worth paying'. That is to say, business closures and job losses are an acceptable price of the smoking ban, which is bringing us 'signs of a cut in smoking and cancer rates'.

I don't much care for this piece: it is too early to speak of any unusual change in the cancer mortality rate, and apart from an explosion of interest in smoking cessation there is little to suggest any long-term success rate. As for its conclusion, they have to be kidding – do they really believe this:
Yes, many of the boozers which have closed will be long-lamented.
But those of us who mourn their passing will probably remember them more - for the simple reason that we'll live longer.
I won't bother to mention the impending increase in elderly dementia that faces us over the next few decades.

At least the Evening News is clear that smoking bans damage business, even if it does consider such damage 'a price worth paying'. Neither Action on Smoking and Health nor ASH Scotland has accepted this, both insisting that other factors are more important. Last year ASH Scotland rejected the results of a report commissioned by the Save our Pubs and Clubs Campaign that laid the blame for business closures largely on the smoking ban, blaming its conclusions on the fact that the report had been commissioned by the campaign.

The position of Action on Smoking on Health, as expounded in a press release marking the fourth anniversary of the smoking ban in England, has been covered in Chris Snowdon's blog (Direct from the ASH bunker) – and it also includes a link to a retaliation from Imperial Tobacco. (For good measure, you can also enjoy Amanda Sandford blogging in Left Foot Forward about the spin by tobacco companies.)

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