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« They call this evidence? | Main | Cameron: EU ban on ten packs doesn't sound very sensible »

Ban all tobacco products if you want to really stop people smoking

One of the world's oldest debating societies has invited me to take part in a debate, 'This House would ban all tobacco products', on Friday night.

Founded in 1842 at Durham University, the Durham Union Society hosts a weekly debate on topical issues.

I'm writing my 15 minute speech (opposing the motion!) today so if you want to contribute anything post a comment here and I'll try to incorporate it.

Meanwhile the IEA has chosen an interesting (and provocative) title for a debate in Dublin next week - 'How to really stop people smoking'.

I hope I'm wrong but it suggests a consensus in which the entire panel supports the idea that people should quit. The only issue, it would seem, is how to achieve that goal.

Speakers include Prof John Crown, one of Ireland's leading anti-smoking activists who supports plain packaging and wants to ban smoking in cars with children, and Chris Snowdon who I assume will talk about the need to encourage and not over-regulate free market alternatives such as e-cigarettes.

Hopefully someone will also speak up for those who enjoy smoking and don't want to quit because I fear their voice is slowly being drowned out as more and more people jump on the anti-smoking/e-cigarette bandwagons.

I'll let you know the outcome of both debates in due course.

Update: The IEA tells me the Dublin debate will be filmed and posted online. Watch this space.

Update: Good article by Brian Monteith over on The Free Society - If we must denormalise anyone, choose the politicians, not the smokers.

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Reader Comments (10)

Yes, probably a foregone conclusion.

It would be far more interesting to hear government and ASH opinion. It's not as though either have never had an opportunity to express one. The official consensus is that tighter controls, higher duty etc do not encourage the illicit market, and they keep telling us that tobacco kills at least half of its users. So why the silence? I can only assume that, in their minds, politics and money take precedence over health. Talk of prohibition among TPTB appears to be a taboo subject - perhaps you might like raise that during the debate?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 15:02 | Unregistered Commenterdavid

My life wouldn't be the same

I like many have enjoyed a perfectly legal product called tobacco for just a shade over 43 years. I’m a pipe smoker and once used to thoroughly enjoy the social ambience of pubs and bars with other like minded people. However since the introduction of the smoking ban on the 1st July 2007, I am sadly no longer tolerated in social society. I’m angered and hurt by this. My only crime is to enjoy a product that millions of others, by there own cognisance, find solace in too.

Millions of us join together on a regular basis to participate in the activity of smoking which allows us to express our freedom of choice which we can barely do now without the shadow of persecution and consequent acrimony.

Is it right that we are made to suffer openly in this way? Soon there will be a total climate of repression for people like us who will be hounded without equivocation and without mercy.

I can no longer meet with my dear friends of many years as I once used to, I am now nothing more than a recluse hiding away like someone who is too ashamed to show his face in this once beautiful and totally free country.

My freedom to participate in a completely legal practice has been all but taken away…will someone please tell me what crime I’m guilty of?

The smoking ban however has achieved two things of which intolerant people should be deeply proud. One, it has created a group of people that can be legally hated and two it has driven a poisonous wedge between decent and honourable members of society which had never been there before.

I don’t want to give up the enjoyment of my pipe…and I will not! Living alone with no family of my own means my pipe is the only enjoyment I have left now – do you really want to take that away from me?

Smokers have helped build this country too - please don't ever forget that.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 16:04 | Unregistered CommenterDennis

Some people don't want to be stopped from smoking and it should be our choice. No one is forced to smoke but we are being forced to quit which is unacceptable.

Dennis, would you email me as I'd like to use your Tabbers' Tale on #Octabber . Contact email is on the home page

Stories from tobacco consumers who are fed up of the bullying to force them to give up something they really enjoy and have done over a lifetime are here and it's clear they have no intention of quitting but they are getting very angry and demand to be heard not ignored, patronised, bullied, marginalised or excluded

I do hope there will also be someone on hand to stick up for smokers who don't want to use e-cigs and don't want to quit - I guess that'd be you Simon.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 16:52 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Q: What is the most widely used illegal drug in the UK?
A: Cannabis.
Q: When was cannabis banned in the UK (made illegal)?
A: 1928

Cannabis was not widely used in the UK in the 1920s and was only banned following Britain's signing of the Geneva Opium Convention in 1925.

The effect of the ban was to increase usage from a low base to the most widely used illegal drug in the UK.

If the house wants to potentially increase tobacco use then by all means support the proposition and all its consequences.

If the house wants to decrease the use of tobacco then an alternative should be sought.

My position is clear, informed choice. The house should not take a position on this matter.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 17:36 | Unregistered Commenterwest2

Pat I've sent you my comment as a word document attachment, get back to me if you need the comment to be in the body of the email instead.

Just one point. The email on the site has a capital first letter which needs to be lower case so that you can click on the address as a hyperlink.

Good luck with the site!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 19:04 | Unregistered CommenterDennis

This is how the debate goes.

(1) Antismoking side (pretty much everyone): "Infallible Science and Noble Experts tell us that tobacco is the deadliest thing around, kills half its users, and even seriously endangers the lives of everyone around them. Since this is all manifestly true, and everyone knows it, smokers are both suicidal and homicidal (as well as very likely crazy or stupid) and thus have no 'rights'. Anything and everything done against smoking is legitimate and desirable".

(2) Dissenting Voice (in the unlikely event that one is heard): "Of course, everyone knows this, and who are we to question Infallible Science or Noble Experts? It's just that some people still want to smoke anyway, so can't we go a little easier on them, because it's their choice?"

Guess who wins?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 21:30 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Jackson

Dennis, and Pat Nurse, above: I agree. It's my life. It's got to be near its end. How dare they dictate how I spend this time!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 21:53 | Unregistered CommenterNorman Brand

Thanks Dennis, I'll take a look and be in touch. Much appreciated x

Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 11:52 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Call me an old cynic but I'm deeply suspicious that the 'non standard' packs were blurred - I really wouldn't put it past them to have doctored the packs: those that I see on the shelves don't seem attractive to me let alone young children who require brght, primary colours unimpeded by almost half of the pack carrying a message in black, sober font.

Show them some real brand-free packaging - like a shiny silver or gold cigarette case - they will find that attractive.

It isn't the branding that's attractive and lack of it that's unattractive, it's the introduction of a larger medi-porn graphic that's unattractive: apples and pears.

And they expect people to take this seriously (sad thing is the drones will).

BTW read today that NICE instructs GPs to 'treat fat people with respect'. We smokers, however, should take comfort that we are the only 'group' that cane legitimately be hated, insulted, abused ans ignored We ae the scapegoat du jour, the only peole not protected by Yumanrights. It should fill us all with a warm glow that hatred directed towards us saves others from being on the receiving end.

Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 21:41 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

Yeah too true, you could equate us smokers to the saying that if prostitution was abolished no woman would be safe to walk the streets, like if smoking was abolished no person could escape the hatred, venum, aggression or feeling ostrasized by being the main scapegoat for humanity's problems.
Unless of course they turned their focus on the obese.

Friday, October 18, 2013 at 13:13 | Unregistered Commenterann

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