Metro this morning reports that:
The smoking ban should be extended to areas outside pubs and bars to curb 'social smoking', according to scientists.
The restriction has led to a decline in the number of people smoking but ildulging socially has risen among young adults.
Social smokers aged between 19 and 25 said they limited where and when they lit up only to 'spiritually' distance themselves from full-time smokers. They added that they usually smoked when they had been drinking, with the two 'going hand in hand'.
Prof Janet Hoek, of the University of Otago in New Xealand, saud: 'Introducing smoke-free outsoors bars could reduce social smoking by removing cue that stimulate this behaviour and changing the environment that facilitates it.'
The story is the result of a "small qualitiative study" published in the journal Tobacco Control, part of the BMJ Group.
Yesterday I was sent the press release (headlined 'Extending smoking ban outside bars could help curb “social smoking”') and when I read it one small but important point stood out. The 'study' is based on interviews with just 13 people, “social smokers, aged between 19 and 25, who were recruited through the online social network Facebook and via posters in cafes, supermarkets, and on community noticeboards.
Thirteen! That must have been one hell of a recruitment campaign.
Needless to say the number of participants has been ignored by Metro and will no doubt be missed by millions of people who will read no further than headlines such as 'Study backs ban on smoking outside bars' (Stuff.co.nz), 'Smokefree areas for outside bars – study' (Sky News Australia), 'Call to ban smoking outside bars' (TVNZ), and so on.
The Daily Telegraph, like some of those other reports, does mention the size of the study but most people won't read past the headline Pub gardens ban 'would help smokers quit'.
Anyway, here's the quote I gave the Telegraph (which they used):
"This study can't be taken seriously: it's based on just 13 people.
"Aside from that, the smoking ban was brought in allegedly to protect bar workers. Banning smoking outdoors would have nothing to do with that.
"I would also query that social smoking, having the odd cigarette, is an unhealthy activity."
And this is the quote from the Forest press release:
"It beggars belief that anyone could draw any conclusions from such a small scale study but the tobacco control industry will spin any research, however modest, to suit its agenda.
"The smoking ban was introduced, allegedly, to protect the health of bar workers. There is no justification for banning smoking outside bars nor is there evidence that the majority of smokers, social or otherwise, would support such a measure."
David Bowden of the Institute of Ideas has also commented here.