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« Simon Chase, friend of Forest, RIP | Main | Blast from the past »

Philip Morris lobbies councils to go 'smoke free' harder and faster

I was on BBC Radio Essex this afternoon.

They wanted to talk about a ‘story’ that first appeared in September 2018:

England won’t be entirely cigarette free until after 2050, new research suggests. Some areas will go ‘smoke free’ sooner than others as experts call for more to be done to help smokers kick the habit.

Bristol, Wokingham and York to be the first parts of England to go smoke free in mid 2020s but people in North Lincolnshire, Derby and Cheshire are expected to still be smoking beyond 2050.

Based on a study by Frontiers Economics, which was commissioned by Philip Morris to carry out the research, the claims were widely reported with several headlines focussing on the prediction that Bristol could 'kick the habit' as early as 2024.

That's nonsense, of course. Nevertheless, on Saturday, six months after those reports were published, the study was resuscitated and given new life. In a report described by the Mirror as an 'exclusive', readers were told:

The cigarette’s days are numbered, and the last fag to be smoked in England will be puffed in Derby in 2050, researchers have predicted.

If current quitting trends continue, today’s 7.4 million smokers will dwindle to zero in 30 years, market analysts Frontier Economics found.

But the rate at which smokers quit their filthy habit, which kills 200 people a day, varies in different areas.

Bristol is set to be the first city to quit, having no smokers by 2024, followed by York and Wokingham, Berks, in 2026.

I've no idea whether Philip Morris was behind the Mirror's 'exclusive' but, either way, the comms team lost no time exploiting it:

Other councils Philip Morris has been tweeting today include Portsmouth, Reading, Blackpool, Southampton, Milton Keynes and East Riding.

The aim, clearly, is to nudge local authorities to implement more 'smoke free' policies with a view to stubbing out smoking harder and faster.

I'm sure you have your own views on that. I'll keep mine to myself for now, although the word 'shameless' comes to mind.

In the meantime I can't wait for the opportunity to test the forecast that Bristol will have 'no smokers by 2024'.

That should be fun. Perhaps PM's comms team would like to join us.

PS. This morning I was on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. Subject: eating, drinking and smoking in cars.

They put me head-to-head with Perry, a driving instructor, who spoke (unsurprisingly) just like a driving instructor.

If Perry had his way we'd keep both hands on the wheel at all times and not allow ourselves to be distracted by anything, not even the radio.

On the question of smoking, I pointed out that research suggests it is well down the list of things that are said to distract drivers and, unlike the use of mobile phones, there is no record of smoking having been responsible for any accidents.

Pushed (by me) to produce evidence that smoking has been responsible for a single accident, Perry admitted there isn't any but justified his concern by pointing out that drivers are not allowed to smoke during their driving test.

I'm not sure that was a winning argument. After all, if that's the bar we'd never listen to the radio, change a CD, chat to fellow passengers or carry children.

Then again, I think Perry would be quite happy with that.

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Reader Comments (7)

This quest toward prohibition must stop. Phillip Morris UK is merely seeking enhanced profits as they fear the cigarette market is shrinking. They should instead provide a range of choices to their customers--many of which prefer tobacco and real cigarettes. Joining with authoritarians to impose 'smoke-free' public spaces is totalitarian overreach.

Monday, March 25, 2019 at 19:22 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

My feeling is that IQOS are at least if not more dangerous than commercial cigarettes. Reminds me of all the BS of filter cigarettes (including for a while asbestos containing Kent) and 'tar wars'. How they supposedly were safer than regular cigarettes...when in fact they were just money making schemes for Big T (replacing tobacco with filter material and using less and less tobacco per cigarette). Or the supposedly healthier than butter margarine. Yeah right!

Monday, March 25, 2019 at 19:59 | Unregistered CommenterVlad

Now, wasn't it New Zealand who declared that it would be a "smoke free" country by 2012? Don't mention that a lot now, do they?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019 at 0:36 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

‘In March 2011 the Government adopted the Smokefree 2025 goal for New Zealand.’

I would be surprised if they hit that target. Don’t forget, though, that the most definitions of ‘smoke free’ suggest 5% of the population.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019 at 7:53 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

I think the tourist trade will rein in any measure cities such as York might put in place to get rid of smoking. And Blackpool is surely joking. Before I choose a holiday destination, I always investigate local smoking and vaping laws, and whether they are enforced (Sicilian bars in the evening).

Tuesday, March 26, 2019 at 13:17 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Bagley

Good point, Simon (above). If they do get down to 5%, it will be due to vaping, which the Tobacco Control Industry wants also to get rid of.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019 at 13:23 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Bagley

PMI has clearly been taken over by antismokers who are now making products for people who don't smoke. Let's hope this infiltration has not infected other tobacco companies that still value their consumers.

Smokers must get wise and stop funding all antismoker
organisations including PMI. Do not buy Marlborough and be sure to check that PMI has not made the tobacco or cigarettes you smoke - even if that is much harder to determine these days thanks to the theft of consumer rights to product information taken with gross packaging.

I think what they mean by "smoke free" now is criminalisation. It will start in 2024 and if smokers haven't been forced to quit by 2050, those that are left will face imprisonment. There is nothing "free" about this idea that these charlatan haters are pushing.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019 at 15:13 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

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