Tuesday
Apr112017

"There is never a situation where it is better to smoke than it is to vape." Never?

Further to yesterday's post Dick Puddlecote reports that the Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) has amended its code of conduct.

As I wrote yesterday one point previously read:

"Vape products are for current or former smokers and existing users of vaping devices, therefore [you should] never knowingly sell to anyone who is not a current or former smoker, or a current vaper."

The word 'sell' has been replaced by 'market' so it now reads:

"Vape products are for current or former smokers and existing users of vaping devices, therefore [you should] never knowingly market to anyone who is not a current or former smoker, or a current vaper."

Credit to the IBVTA for responding quickly to widespread criticism of this section of its code and making the necessary adjustment.

The bad news is that, like many vaping advocacy groups, they continue to insist that:

"There is never a situation where it is better to smoke than it is to vape."

They just don't get it, do they? Setting aside the fact that many smokers live long and healthy lives, smoking is not just about health. A great many people smoke because they enjoy it.

Pleasure brings its own benefits. David Hockney, 80 this year, is on record saying that smoking is good for his mental health.

Smoking works for him. I don't know why, I'm not an expert. It just does, and there are millions more like him.

Imagine saying "There is never a situation where it is better to eat a jam doughnut (or a hot cross bun) than it is to eat a cereal bar or a bowl of muesli."

Sometimes you need comfort food. For many smokers a cigarette is precisely that.

Yesterday the Telegraph reported that:

A hospital in Denmark has released a photograph of a patient fulfilling his dying wish – enjoying a cigarette and a glass of white wine while viewing the sunset from a hospital balcony ...

Although the hospital has a no smoking policy, an exception was granted for Mr Hansen, whose bed was wheeled out to the balcony for him to have a final drink and smoke while admiring a beautiful sunset.

Apart from the fact that this story demonstrates far more compassion than NHS administrators show to smokers, it also refutes the claim that "There is never a situation where it is better to smoke than it is to vape."

OK, this was an exceptional situation but the point – as The Pleasure of Smoking report by the Centre for Substance Use Research makes clear – is that many smokers take pleasure from smoking in a way they don't from vaping, not yet anyway.

To ignore the importance of pleasure and individual choice in favour of bland statements like "There is never a situation where it is better to smoke than it is to vape" is to ignore why so many smokers continue to smoke despite the well-publicised health risks.

It also underlines the arrogance that threatens to undermine the vaping industry because there are few consumers, in my experience, who like being lectured in such dogmatic terms.

There is a lot to commend e-cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products. But a little humility and a greater understanding of why confirmed smokers continue to smoke wouldn't go amiss.

Perhaps the IBVTA should invite Dr Neil McKeganey, lead author of The Pleasure of Smoking and director of the Centre for Substance Use Research, to address one of their meetings.

At the very least they should read his report.

Monday
Apr102017

How the IBVTA shot itself in the foot

Others have written about this already but, for what it's worth, I'll add my bit.

On Friday the Royal Society for Public Health published the results of a special investigation into the sale of e-cigarettes in vape shops in the UK.

The BBC report (Vaping shops selling to non-smokers) was typical of the way the story was covered by the media:

Almost nine in 10 e-cigarette shops in the UK are selling vaping products to non-smokers against the industry's code of conduct, an investigation reveals.

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) said 87% of shops were knowingly or unwittingly prepared to sell e-cigarettes to people who have never smoked or vaped.

Only later in the report did it credit the "industry's code of conduct" to the Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA).

The specific point the media focussed on reads:

"Vape products are for current or former smokers and existing users of vaping devices, therefore [you should] never knowingly sell to anyone who is not a current or former smoker, or a current vaper."

There are several issues here.

1. This 'investigation' could be said to amount to a form of entrapment. Non-smokers were sent in to vape shops with the specific intention of finding out whether they could purchase e-cigarettes in breach of the "industry code of conduct".

2. It is not against the law to sell e-cigarettes to adults so not one vape shop was doing anything illegal or even morally wrong.

3. The "industry code of conduct" is nothing of the sort. The IBVTA is one of several e-cigarette trade associations and cannot be said to represent the e-cigarette "industry" as a whole.

4. Membership of the IBVTA is, I believe, quite small (fewer than 50 members according to its website) and it was not disclosed how many of the shops 'investigated' by the RSPH were actually members. If many/most were not members of the IBVTA it was disingenuous of the RSPH to suggest that "nine in 10 e-cigarette shops in the UK are selling vaping products to non-smokers against the industry's code of conduct [my emphasis]".

If the RSPH does not come out of this 'investigation' very well, the IBVTA has suffered what is arguably a worse blow.

The RSPH, after all, is a leading tobacco control body. We know the depths to which they will sink to control people's behaviour. In contrast the IBVTA should be on the side of the consumer fighting for freedom of choice.

Instead the declaration that "vape products are for current or former smokers and existing users of vaping devices" and should not be sold "to anyone who is not a current or former smoker, or a current vaper" is beyond fatuous, it's nonsense.

I agree that e-cigarettes should not be marketed at non-smokers, teenagers or otherwise, but that's as far as any code of conduct should go.

The suggestion that a vape store worker should have to ask a potential customer whether they are a "current or former smoker, or a current vaper" is a disgaceful invasion of privacy.

If a non-smoker (me, for example) walked into shop and asked to buy a pack of cigarettes I would be appalled if I had to confirm or, worse, prove I was a smoker before they would serve me. I'm 58, for Christ's sake!!

I agree with the ban on proxy purchasing of tobacco for anyone under 18 but I might be buying it for an adult friend. Or I might simply fancy a smoke myself.

Unlikely perhaps but what business is it of anyone else, and why should the shopkeeper be put in that position?

The same is equally true of e-cigarettes. If, as a non-smoker, I choose to walk into a shop and buy an e-cigarette, that's my right.

The reality, of course, is that the number of never smokers who have taken up vaping is insignificantly small so on this point the IBVTA's code of conduct is a solution to a 'problem' that barely exists.

Even if never smokers are attracted to try e-cigarettes, so what? As long as they're adults they can make that decision for themselves.

What the IBVTA has done is to fall into the trap of trying to appease the tobacco control industry which sees e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid and nothing more.

The idea that anyone – smoker or non-smoker – might choose to vape for pleasure is anathema to them. Vaping, in their eyes, is merely a stepping stone towards a smokefree (sic) world, and after that ...?

As I have written countless times, the Utopian endgame is not smoke free, it's nicotine free.

Public health has far too many jobs invested in tobacco control to quit when smoking rates dwindle to five per cent or less. There will always be the 'next logical step'.

A code of conduct mandating shops to question their customers about their smoking history opens a can of worms.

Codes of conduct, like guides to etiquette and 'voluntary' bans, have a nasty habit of being enforced in law.

Put an idea into the head of a public health professional or politician and it rarely goes away. Like a nasty case of indigestion, it rumbles on. Often it's only a matter of time before campaigners lobby government to regulate ... and we know what happens next.

A few years ago a former Labour government advisor, Professor (now Sir) Julian Le Grand, proposed a £10 licence to smoke (BBC News).

The idea has yet to fly but I'm sure it will be resurrected at some point. After all, if you want to restrict the sale of cigarettes to existing smokers, or people born after the year 2000, one way to do that is to insist on some form of ID – a licence to smoke, for example.

Likewise, if you want to prohibit never smokers from purchasing e-cigarettes, the best way is to insist that "current or former smokers and existing users of vaping devices" are identified as such.

Insofar as protecting their members' interests is concerned, the IBVTA no doubt meant well. But appeasing tobacco control almost always ends in tears.

The RSPH 'investigation' and the way it was reported by the media is a classic example of that.

Anyway, here is a selection of blog posts on the subject. The growing antipathy towards the allegedly 'pro vaping' members of the public health industry suggests a welcome realisation that tobacco control will never be a friend to vapers or consumer choice in general.

Unfortunately, to use a Spitting Image analogy, there are some pro-vaping bodies who seem happy to play David Steel rather than David Owen. And how did that go, exactly?

Real implications of the RSPH “sting” of ecig vendors (Carl Phillips)
Dear Public Health: This is why we're angry (Fergus Mason)
Today's lesson in who not to trust (Dick Puddlecote)
Much ado about nothing (Paul Barnes)

Update: Here's another blogger less than impressed by the IBVTA.

Should e-cigarettes be sold to non-smokers? (Andrew Allison)

Sunday
Apr092017

Another one bites the dust

Can't believe I missed this.

Healthier Futures, formerly Tobacco Free Futures and before that Smokefree North West, has bitten the dust.

In the words of Monty Python it has kicked the bucket, it has ceased to be.

"Rejoice!" as someone once said.

In my defence there has been nothing about the closure of Healthier Futures in the national or local media (or nothing I'm aware of), unlike the demise of Smokefree South West which was a top story on the local BBC and ITV news.

Both broadcasters even reported Forest's reaction which was sympathetic, as you can imagine:

"Taxpayers already pay for NHS smoking cessation services and national anti-smoking campaigns.

"When budgets are so tight, and other services are being cut, it's difficult to justify the use of public money to support yet another tobacco control group.

"The health risks of smoking are very well known and widely publicised by other bodies including Public Health England which has a regional office in Bristol.

"In terms of public health, the impact of Smokefree South West closing will be negligible."

In contrast the only reference I've seen about the closure of Healthier Futures appeared in the British Medical Journal in a feature headlined 'Is the government still serious about reducing smoking?'.

Journalist Sophie Arie didn't even mention the name of the organisation. Instead she wrote:

An effective collaboration of 12 local authorities in north east England is threatened because its almost £1.2m contract is up for renewal on 31 March. A similar collaboration in the north west will end on 31 March, as did its equivalent in the south west last year because of lack of funding.

According to the Healthier Futures website (which is now little more than a holding page), Fresh NE (formerly Smokefree North East), whose future is also said to be "threatened", will "now hold the IP and associated assets" of the defunct organisation.

Sounds like a poisoned chalice to me!

Btw, I've just re-read what I wrote after Tobacco Free Futures rebranded as Healthier Futures last year:

According to chief executive Andrew Crossfield, it marks the "start of the next chapter in our story". She added:

"In addition to tackling tobacco – which is still a vital part of our work – we are excited to now be taking on responsibility to tackle a range of health issues. Our new mission is to help people live longer, healthier, happier lives."

Readers will recall that a last minute re-launch couldn't save Smokefree South West.

In February, just three months after it became Public Health Action (adding alcohol to its portfolio), SFSW aka PHA was forced to announce its imminent closure.

Does the same fate await Smokefree North West aka Tobacco Free Futures aka Healthier Futures?

And what about Smokefree North East aka Fresh?

See Tobacco Free Futures to rebrand as Healthier Futures.

Sunday
Apr092017

Obrigado

Just back from Lisbon and I can't speak highly enough of the place, even though I learnt only one word, 'obrigado'.

According to the tram tour commentary the city enjoys more than 260 days of sunshine a year.

The temperature this week (26oC) was slightly higher than the seasonal norm and it was very pleasant indeed.

We didn't do very much, apart from eat and drink. Fish and meat dominate the menus but several restaurants offered a fusion of Portuguese and African cuisine.

I also developed a liking for vinho verde, the national wine, and Branca, a local beer that came served in a glass within a glass, which helped keep it cool.

Our hotel was in a tourist hot spot, next to the castle, but with only 14 rooms and a private terrace it provided the perfect oasis from the crowds.

It was also very quiet, most of the time. There were some noisy neighbours – a pair of peacocks, both male, who strutted around displaying their plumage whilst squawking very loudly.

The hotel – like the castle – was at the top of a series of steep and increasingly narrow cobbled streets.

There are lots of hills in Lisbon so the best way to see the city was by tram – not the modern, bendy-bus style tram but the tiny old-fashioned sort that managed to squeeze through the tightest of spaces.

This was the first time I'd been to Portugal since 1971 when my family spent a two-week holiday in the Algarve.

(Ironically, given this week's news, my sister and I were taken out of school for the full two weeks!)

Anyway it won't be the last time I go there. The flight from Stansted was two and a half hours. The journey from airport to hotel was another 25 minutes but given the temperate climate and relaxed atmosphere I can't think of many better places to spend a short holiday or long weekend.

Warmly recommended.

PS. Just catching up with a few things, notably the fallout from the Royal Society of Public Health 'investigation' into the sale of e-cigarettes to non-smokers by vape shops.

As several bloggers have commented, neither the RSPH nor the Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) come out of this very well.

If I can be bothered I may add my own tuppence ha'penny worth later.

Tuesday
Apr042017

Pole to Pole

An old schoolfriend, who now lives in Ireland, set off for the North Pole today.

I've written about Bill before. As I explained only yesterday I spent part of my honeymoon with him in the Cayman Islands.

In 2011 (as reported by the BBC) he climbed ten unchartered peaks in Greenland.

The previous year he climbed the Eiger. Before that it was Mt Blanc and before that it was Mts Kenya and Kilimanjaro.

There was also the little matter of reaching the South Pole, on foot.

A few years ago I also posted a picture of the pair of us, with two other friends, taken in the Lake District in 1975.

As I noted then, that experience clearly inspired his subsequent exploits. (I was joking.)

The North Pole Last Degree expedition is described by the Norwegian guides as follows:

This is the real way to the North Pole. In about 10 days you will experience everything the Polar Sea has in it’s armour: The cold, the pressure ridges, the leads, the drifting ice, the stunning light, the team spirit, how to survive and conquer the harshest environment on earth!

To reach the 90° North will fill you with both pride and immense happiness – this is a world and an experience for the very few.

Anyway, you can follow their progress on this dedicated blog.

Bill writes:

Please follow along and enjoy the journey. We have been training hard for several months and it should prove to be a big challenge at minus 35°C and approximately 120km (60 nautical miles). There may even be pictures depending on the satellite.

As it happens my wife Clare and I are joining up with Bill and his wife Patty (a keen walker) in August.

Together we're going to New York on the Queen Mary. No walking, no climbing, no exercise, nothing strenuous except regular visits to the many restaurants and bars located throughout the ship.

Now that's my idea of an expedition.

Monday
Apr032017

25

It's our 25th wedding anniversary today.

To celebrate the occasion my wife and I are flying to Lisbon for a few days.

I met Clare in 1990 at a party in Edinburgh. I was living in London at the time and she lived in Glasgow so for two years we spent most of our weekends flying back and forth.

We got married on April 3, 1992, at 11.00am in a small Catholic church in Eaglesham, Scotland's first conservation village, just south of Glasgow.

After the service we led everyone across the common to a small tea room where guests were served cakes, champagne and tea.

Two hours later, with our eyes firmly on the clock, we set forth by car for the Isle of Skye where we were joined by 18 friends and relatives.

In unseasonably bright sunshine the journey took five hours but no-one got lost and everyone arrived in good time for dinner.

Hotel Eileen Iarmain overlooking the Sound of Sleat wasn't our discovery. Our friends John and Susie had stayed there a few years years earlier and shortly after Clare and I met we stayed there too.

It seemed the obvious place for our wedding dinner and for our guests it was a bit of an adventure.

Two days later we returned to Glasgow before driving south to Heathrow where we caught a flight to Miami. Discovering that we were newly married BA even upgraded us, which is a bit of a cliche, but we weren't complaining.

For the first week of our honeymoon Madsen Pirie had very kindly offered us the use of his holiday house in the Florida Keys.

He even threw in the use of his car that was conveniently parked at the local airport when we arrived on a small plane from Miami.

We loved it there but our return flight to Miami was the worst I've ever experienced.

Our small plane reacted like a bucking bronco when the pilot - who we could see grappling with the controls - tried to navigate around a thunderstorm.

It was probably only 30 seconds but it felt like several minutes. An abiding memory was Clare furiously counting her Rosary beads in prayer!

For week two we flew from Miami to the Cayman Islands where we were guests of an old schoolfriend who had only recently got married himself.

Bill was working there as a corporate lawyer. Today he and Patty live in Ireland with their three children.

Clare and I have two children of our own who were both born in Edinburgh.

Forest brought me back to London for work and we've lived in Cambridgeshire ever since.

My one regret is ... in all that time we've never been back to Skye!

PS. I still see Bill when I'm in Dublin and tomorrow, a few weeks after his own silver wedding anniversary, he sets off for the North Pole.

When I get a moment I'll post a link to the expedition blog.

Monday
Apr032017

Feeding tobacco control's addiction to public money

The Welsh Government has just announced plans to cut smoking prevalence in Wales to 16 per cent by 2020.

That's a three per cent drop from the most recently reported rate of 19 per cent (2015).

It has also announced funding of over £400,000 over three years to reduce the number of smokers.

No prizes for guessing where that money will go. Last night, when I drafted this post, I didn't have the full details so I wrote, 'Some of it will undoubtedly go to ASH Wales, a lobby group that probably wouldn't exist without annual handouts of public money.'

This morning the BBC reported that every penny will go to "campaign charity ASH Cymru". See £400k to cut smoking in Wales, Welsh Government announces (BBC News Wales).

Chief executive of ASH Cymru Suzanne Cass, said the funding would help them support the remaining 19% still addicted to tobacco to choose smoke-free and lead "healthier, happier lives".

It will certainly make Suzanne's life happier. In fact I imagine she'll be doing a little dance in her office.

After all, her salary is paid for by the Welsh Government which means her contract has effectively been extended by three years at the public's expense. Nice work.

There's nothing new in this, of course. Public funding of anti-smoking lobby groups been going on for years.

In October 2010 Forest published a report, Government lobbying government: the case of the UK tobacco control industry.

I wrote about it here (Forest: cut public spending on tobacco control groups) and on ConservativeHome (The state should stop giving anti-smoking groups public money to lobby the Government).

The report highlighted the public money given to tobacco control 'charities' such as ASH.

ASH UK, for example, received a direct grant of £142,000 from the Department of Health in 2009 (£191,000 in 2008 and £210,400 in 2007) plus £110,000 from the Welsh Assembly Government in 2007.

In 2008-09 ASH Scotland received £921,837 from the Scottish Government followed, in December 2009, by a £500,000 grant from the Big Lottery to fund a major three-year research project into smoke-free homes in Scotland.

ASH Wales meanwhile received £115,800 from the Welsh Assembly Government in 2008-09 and £113,000 in 2007-08.

In comparison with Britain's national debt these sums may seem relatively trivial – hence they don't get the attention they deserve – but year after year they add up to tens of millions of pounds, much of it used to lobby ministers and other politicians to introduce further tobacco control measures.

Interestingly, last month's Populus poll (commissioned by Forest) asked respondents the following question:

Lobbying is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in government, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies. Do you think that taxpayers' money should or should not be used to lobby the Government?

The response was:

Should be used – 12%
Should not be used – 63%
Don't know – 24%

The poll also invited respondents to rank a list of national and local issues in terms of importance. Asked about NHS priorities:

Respondents rated investing in new doctors and nurses as the top priority among the Government priorities listed – giving it an average rating of 9.06 out of 10 on a scale of importance.

Addressing response times at A&E was the second highest ranked priority overall, rated on average 8.76 out of 10 in terms of importance.

Addressing care for the elderly was ranked third, with an average score of 8.70 out of 10.

Among the ten issues listed, tackling smoking came out as the lowest priority, at an average of 6.38 out of 10.

Asked about local government priorities:

Respondents rated refuse collection, street cleaning and other environmental issues as the top local government priority, giving it an average rating of 8.22 out of 10.

Maintenance of roads, bridges and pavements was the second highest ranked priority overall, rated on average 8.04 out of 10 in terms of importance.

Housing strategy, including the provision of social housing was ranked third, with an average score of 7.50 out of 10. Women rated this priority higher than men (7.68 vs. 7.32 out of 10).

Among the ten issues listed tackling smoking came out as the lowest priority, at an average of 5.84 out of 10.

Naturally we'll be sending this information to the Welsh Government and members of the Welsh Assembly. Unfortunately I don't think they're listening.

Meanwhile governments throughout the UK continue to feed tobacco control's addiction to taxpayers' money.

Demands for the Westminster Government to set out plans to fund a multi-million pound anti-smoking programme have reached fever pitch in recent weeks.

Responding to recent figures showing the number of smokers in Britain has fallen to its lowest level since records began in 1974, Deborah Arnott, CEO of ASH, said:

"The government can’t leave it to individual smokers to try to quit on their own. If the downward trend is to continue, we urgently need a new tobacco control plan for England, and proper funding for public health and for mass media campaigns."

One way tobacco control wants to raise the money to fund all this is to impose a levy on tobacco companies.

To date this has been rejected because it's fairly clear that the cost would be passed on to the consumer, many of them from poorer backgrounds, but the public health industry isn't worried about penalising smokers financially if it forces them to give up.

The lack of empathy for people who are less well off never ceases to amaze, but it's hardly surprising. Many tobacco control executives and researchers enjoy good salaries, often funded by the taxpayer.

Today's announcement by the Welsh Government will no doubt be celebrated by ASH Wales because it keeps them in business for another three years at least.

The day of reckoning is fast approaching however when every anti-smoking group or stop smoking service will have to justify every penny of taxpayers' money.

It's already happening.

Last year Smokefree South West hit the buffers, denied further handouts by local councillors who realised that tackling smoking is not a priority for local government.

Tobacco Free Futures (formerly Smokefree North West) has reinvented itself as Healthier Futures, tackling obesity and alcohol as well as smoking, a clear admission that smoking is no longer a unique priority.

Fresh (Smokefree North East) should face similar questions.

Stop smoking services are also struggling to justify their existence, and no wonder. The number of smokers using them to help them quit fell by 51 per cent from 2010-2015.

Some are now promoting e-cigarettes in an attempt to maintain some relevance to the quit smoking landscape.

But the success of e-cigarettes has nothing to do with stop smoking services. Vaping is a victory for the free market, not taxpayer-funded smoking cessation services.

In fact, if tobacco control succeeds in promoting e-cigarettes as a quit smoking aid rather than an enjoyable recreational product in its own right, there's every chance it will damage rather than enhance the attraction of the product.

PS. BBC News Wales reports:

Simon Clark, director of smokers' group Forest, said any further anti-smoking measures would be "fiercely resisted" as adults were entitled to smoke without "unreasonable restrictions on their habit".

"Instead of punishing smokers the Welsh Government should engage with consumers," he said.

"A carrot is far better than a stick and the best way to reduce smoking rates is to embrace choice and encourage smokers to switch to alternative nicotine products such as e-cigarettes."

Sunday
Apr022017

Smoking rates may have fallen but what about the health of bar workers?

Ten years ago, on April 2, 2007, I was in Cardiff to comment on the introduction of the smoking ban in Wales.

I arrived the night before and checked into my hotel (the same hotel I stayed in last week).

Receptionist: "Good evening, sir. Are you here on business?"

Me: "Yes, I'm here for the smoking ban."

Pregnant pause.

Receptionist: "Are you a tobacco control officer?"

Seriously, that really happened.

The next day, as I described here, I was interviewed on BBC Radio Wales, BBC News 24, Wales Today (BBC1) and Channel 4 News.

Since then we've struggled to engage with the Welsh media which seems to prefer local, anti-smoking voices.

Last weekend, as I reported here, we released the results of a Populus poll that found that 58% of adults in Wales would allow well-ventilated smoking rooms in pubs and clubs.

The poll was reported by Wales on Sunday, Wales Online and the South Wales Evening Post (all owned by Trinity Mirror).

It was also discussed on BBC Radio Wales where I went head-to-head with Suzanne Cass, CEO of ASH Wales.

In the light of our struggles with the Welsh media that wasn't a bad return. I was disappointed though that BBC News Wales and ITV News Wales both overlooked the poll, despite several calls to the respective newsdesks.

Today, on the direct anniversary of the ban, ASH Wales hit back with their own angle on the smoking ban.

Since the introduction of the ban, we're told, smoking rates have fallen from 24 to 19 per cent and there are 94,000 fewer smokers in Wales.

Conveniently it implies that the smoking ban is directly responsible, ignoring the fact that other anti-smoking measures have been introduced in that time, not to mention that the decline in the number of people smoking only accelerated after 2012 when the Chancellor reintroduced the tobacco tax escalator and an increasing number of smokers began switching to e-cigarettes.

Also, unlike our poll which was conducted only last month, the decline in smoking rates is hardly news. ASH Wales is quoting 2015 figures that have been in circulation for some time.

They've also trotted out 'research' that found that "81% of people in Wales supported the ban - including three quarters of smokers themselves".

I'm guessing this is based on a YouGov/ASH poll, and not a particularly recent one either.

What you can be sure of is that YouGov (whose president is on the ASH Board of Trustees) did not give respondents the choice of allowing well-ventilated designated smoking rooms when they asked them if they supported the ban.

Despite this ASH Wales' spin on the smoking ban has been reported by Wales on Sunday/Wales on Sunday, BBC News Wales and ITV News News.

The good news is that BBC News Wales has finally given the Populus/Forest poll a mention, unlike ITV News Wales which has published - not for the first time - a report that is so one-sided it's actually laughable.

(It's just past ten o'clock on Sunday morning and I've already been on the phone to complain!)

More interesting, perhaps, ASH Wales' spin on the 'success' of the smoking ban focuses largely on the number of people who smoke.

They argue that "hundreds of thousands of people are no longer subjected to the deadly [sic] effects of passive smoking" but there are no actual facts that prove the smoking ban has improved public health.

In particular there's no suggestion that the health of bar workers has benefitted from the ban.

Mention of bar workers is of course problematic for tobacco control for two reasons.

One, there's no evidence their health has benefitted (it's pure conjecture).

Two, as a result of the smoking ban hundreds of pubs in Wales closed and thousands of bar workers lost their jobs.

So the smoking ban was never about the health of bar workers, as we were told. It was designed, quite simply, to force people to quit smoking.

In other words, ASH Wales has just confirmed what we've known all along.

Update: Following a second call to ITV News Wales this morning (and a couple of derogatory tweets) they have now updated their report to include a quote from Forest and a reference to our poll.

It shouldn't have to be like this!!