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Protecting children from smoke in cars

November 16, 2011

Two reports out today have sparked a debate on how best to protect children from the affects of adults smoking in cars.  The cross party group that I chair has called for government consultation on the various options.  The BMA, the doctors’ union, thinks the answer is a total ban on any smoking in cars.

Six years ago Parliament was debating whether to ban smoking in public places.  I was the Lib Dem Shadow Public Health Minister at the time and took part in all of the debates over many months.  Discussion at the time was mainly focussed on the rights of adults and how to protect employees.  In the end the House of Commons rejected the Government’s piecemeal approach and voted for a comprehensive ban on smoking in all public places, including work places. 

Since July 2007 cafes, bars, shops, public transport and all other places open to the public or places of work, including cars and vans, have been smoke free. It was controversial at the time but no sane person now suggests turning the clock back.  Adults at work and everyone in a public place now have the right to breathe fresh air. 

Various other anti-smoking measures have since been implemented or are in the pipe line.  The age for buying cigarettes is now 18.  Vending machines were banned last month – the only place you’ll see one now in Bristol is in our excellent MShed Museum.  Cigarette displays will be covered up in supermarkets from next April – I wrote about this on another blog earlier this week –

Now it is time to consider how to protect children from smoking in cars.  My liberal friends may consider this to be an intrusion into a private space.  I would be wary of laws that cross the front door of someone’s house. But a car is not really an Englishman’s mobile castle (Wales is considering legislation too) as it is already subject to a range of restrictive laws.  Seat belts, baby seats, speed limits, MOTs and so on already restrict liberties in order to protect passengers, other road users and pedestrians.

The evidence of the need for action is compelling.  First, we know that children are more susceptible to the health risks of exposure to second hand smoke.  Asthma, wheeze and other respiratory tract infections are the obvious conditions brought about or exacerbated by second hand smoke.  But exposure also has links to middle ear infection, sudden infant death and bacterial meningitis. 

The risk is heightened in a car because of the sheer intensity of the exposure to smoke.  In the evidence session that I chaired in the House of Commons we heard from Prof Geoffrey Wong of Waterloo University in Canada.  He tested the concentration of smoke in cars for a variety of journey conditions and compared them to levels of smoke in a smoke filled public bar, which mercifully we don’t have any more!   For a half hour car journey with the windows closed the intensity of smoke was 7 times that of a smoky bar.   Journeys like that would have been taking place all over Bristol in this morning’s traffic peak as parents ferried their children across the city to school.  I wonder how many smoking parents were aware of the heightened risk to their children’s health?   The BMA did similar tests and found the intensity to be a wopping 23 times a smoky bar.

So the need for action is absolutely clear.  The BMA wants a total ban.  But for Parliament to contemplate that we have to build the evidence base and get public opinion on board.  The Coalition Government has an excellent Tobacco Control plan – see my blog on 9th March.  Over the coming months I and my colleagues from all parties in both Houses will be pressing the government to consult on the options for change.  Our experience from 6 years ago showed that public opinion and behaviour moved dramatically before the law was changed.  I hope the same will be true as we now debate protecting children from smoke in cars.

You can read the report of the All Party Group on Smoking and Health here:

117 Comments leave one →
  1. Matt permalink
    November 16, 2011 11:41 am

    Whatever the arguments in favour of banning smoking when children are in the car, they don’t apply to smoking alone. The BMA would ban a childless person, on their own in the car from smoking. That violates the most fundamental of liberal principles. I’m a non-smoker, but if I did want to poison myself with tobacco smoke in my own car, who is the government to tell me I can’t. If I’m not harming anyone else, a liberal should agree that I should be left alone. The harm principle is pretty fundamental to liberalism, and it worries me when a Lib Dem chooses paternalism over liberalism. Leave that to the socialists and conservatives.

  2. November 16, 2011 12:22 pm

    Thank you Stephen, you have just guaranteed I will never, ever be voting for either yourself or the Liberal Democrats again. You have become nothing more than a Labour MP, with the zest to ban ANYTHING in order to “save the children” (standard tagline for any anti-anything zealot) as we saw for 13 years under Labour.

    You cite reports put together by quangos as scientific fact, all in the name of being seen as an MP that “cares” and leaves behind a puritan legacy and for this you should be ashamed of even considering yourself a liberal.

    The public are aware of the dangers of smoking, yet still they do it. This is known as understanding risk and deciding (as a responsible human being should) that the gain outweighs the negative. These is (and never has been) no evidence to suggest that second hand smoke is dangerous, but of course to someone such as yourself you are totally unprepared to consider that this may be the case, as your concerns lie with maintaining your nice, cushy job as chair of the cross party group on smoking and health, so as such you have decided you must be seen to be “protecting” people. There is nothing liberal, or indeed democratic about this and no amount of your pathetic stammering can disguise this.

    Now, bearing in mind I’m a non-smoker, whom has never touched a cig in his life, just you imagine what the smokers (around 22% of the population if I’m not mistaken?) must think of you.

    So please do feel free to continue to spout your utterly Orweilian claptrap. Hopefully at the next election it will force you to go back to a real job and live in the real world with the rest of us. I shall certainly be doing my all to make this be the case. In the meantime, have some reading:

  3. November 16, 2011 12:35 pm

    I notice that the debate on banning smoking in cars is effectively rebutted (by “Forest”, etc.) by suggesting that — if the driver alone is in the car, no-one else is affected, so the ban should not be total. why not draw the analogies of seatbelts and motorcycle helmets: a) the NHS has to pick up the tab for the damage even when self-caused; b) it is important to educate and develop good habits in order to overcome “careless” or bad habits, and the universal requirements accomplish this; and c) it is much easier to enforce, and therefore more likely to be enforced universally.

    I am surprised no-one mentioned either of these two examples (seatbelts and helmets) even though both are exactly relevant to the “driver-only” argument, and both are nowadays widely accepted by the public across the board.


    • Matt permalink
      November 16, 2011 12:43 pm

      OK, I’ll address your points:
      a) Not only do the taxes on cigarettes more than make up for the costs of treating smokers, on an overall basis smokers cost the NHS less than do non smokers. Why? Because they die quickly and young.
      b) Why is it the government’s job – or right – to enforce “good habits”? If I want to have bad habits, that’s no one’s business but mine. It’s certainly not the government’s.
      c) Being easier to enforce doesn’t make a law good.

    • Rick permalink
      November 16, 2011 1:53 pm

      The police hardly ever bother to enforce the use of mobile phones while driving, so do you really think they are going to bother dealing with smokers?

    • November 17, 2011 9:04 am


      If you go to the Charities Commission and download Action on Smoking and Health’s (ASH) 2008 accounts on page 8 of their numbering you will find them claiming that smokers cost £2.7 billion a year in health costs. The link below is from 2009 from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and projected revenue for 2009-10 is £8.779 billion, plus you have to add VAT.

      About 80,000 people are directly or indirectly involved in the tobacco industry like shop keepers, delivery drivers marketing jobs etc. Smokers die if you combine the sexes at and average age of 72 versus 79 for non smokers saving £3.5 billion in pension payments. One of the few benefits of smoking is a level of protection against Alzheimers as when one is aged the non smoking elderly need particularly costly nursing. I will also post later on a Dutch Health Ministry paper which says smokers cost 35% less to treat over their lifetimes than non smokers.

      If we all stopped smoking tomorrow income tax would have to rise 3-5p in the £1. Smokers probably contribute 10 times more than they cost the state. If you earn £30,000 a year or more and your holiday cost £400 the next smoker you meet shake their hand as they paid for it.

      Click to access table1-2.pdf

    • November 17, 2011 9:16 am


      On philosophy Mahatma Gandhi wrote “the worst thing to do with a bad law is to obey it.

      I am one of the people who do the opposite of what the state tells me. The minute the nanny state wags its finger at me I switch off.

      On withdrawing my NHS rights I am happy for you to do this on the condition you refund me contributions made so far minus what I have cost. I have done the figures and not only will the refund be enough to get me lifetime 5* private treatment but I have a £150,000 bonus to spend. Also the other condition you sell me my fags at costs and marketing price £1.50 for 20.

  4. robertjessetelford permalink
    November 16, 2011 1:03 pm

    I’m with you on this one, Stephen. The libertarian (not liberal – liberal really does mean completely different things in different contexts) view is that you should condone anything as long as it harms no one else physically.

    However, in the example Matt gives, how we would enforce one rule for childless drivers and another for those with children? Would men whose female partners are pregnant be absolved of their sin?

    I think that unfortunately the pragmatism question is key – to either ban or not ban. If the science says that this will stop even one child from developing the conditions that Stephen mentions, I think it’s worth it.

    • Matt permalink
      November 16, 2011 1:13 pm

      How would you enforce it? I’m sure if the police can see a cigarette being smoked they can see if there’s a child in the car. As for pregnant women: the law doesn’t even prevent pregnant women from smoking or drinking (though it probably should), so banning people from smoking in the car with them is a bit extreme.

      The “even one child” argument is even more draconian than the “just one life saved” arguments that gave us Labour’s illiberal anti-terror laws, ID cards etc. Pragmatism doesn’t mean bringing in sweeping laws that affect millions because it might help this theoretical child.

    • Matt permalink
      November 16, 2011 1:18 pm

      As for the meaning of “liberal”: it’s only in the US where it has gained the meaning of “left-wing” rather than “believes in individual liberty”.

  5. Rick permalink
    November 16, 2011 2:03 pm

    If the overriding thrust behind this is to protect children from smoking parents, then its natural extension is to ban those some parents from smoking in their homes. A living-room full of smoke would be just as noxious as a car filled with it. While Williams may be wary of this, his argument on the basis of health becomes weak since children spend far less times in cars than they do in their own homes.

    Another problem with his argument is that he has no data for the number of smoking parents who do actually smoke when a child is on board, nor what number open the window if they do. All the smoking parents I know, myself included, do not smoke in the car. It’s a sad day when a liberal feels the need to codify common sense to protect people from themselves.

    • November 17, 2011 2:07 pm


      I am afraid sometimes the Emperor is butt naked. Here is the Mishra paper from 2008 which demonstrated that exposure to nicotine actually reduces asthma.

      “To ascertain the effects of nicotine on allergy/asthma, Brown Norway rats were treated with nicotine and sensitized and challenged with allergens. The results unequivocally show that, even after multiple allergen sensitizations, nicotine dramatically suppresses inflammatory/allergic parameters in the lung including the following: eosinophilic/lymphocytic emigration; mRNA and/or protein expression of the Th2 cytokines/chemokines IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, IL-25, and eotaxin; leukotriene C4; and total as well as allergen-specific IgE.”

    • November 17, 2011 2:11 pm


      Here are two studies done into asthma and atopy (general allergic reactions).

      Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Robert Hancox (University of Otago, Dunedin) paper where they found people exposed to cigarette smoke had less asthma by a factor of 45%.

      “..the findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the immune-suppressant effects of cigarette smoke protect against atopy. The team found that the children of atopic parents were less likely to have positive SPTs at 13 years if either parent smoked (odds ratio [OR]= 0.55),…”We found that children who were exposed to parental smoking and those who took up cigarette smoking themselves had a lower incidence of atopy to a range of common inhaled allergen”

      This is a Swedish study which covered 3 generations of children and grandchildren exposed to second hand smoke by a reduced factor of 35%.

      “Children of mothers who smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day tended to have lower odds for suffering from allergic rhino-conjunctivitis, allergic asthma, atopic eczema and food allergy, compared to children of mothers who had never smoked (ORs 0.6-0.7)

      CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates an association between current exposure to tobacco smoke and a low risk for atopic disorders in smokers themselves and a similar tendency in their children.

  6. November 16, 2011 4:48 pm

    thanks for comments so far. I am not persuaded of the case for a full ban, even though it would make enforcement easier. Someone on their own in a car should be able to smoke if they wish, as long as they are driving with due care and attention.
    But if there are passengers present then their liberty and health is infringed by someone else (the driver or another passenger) lighting up. An adult could reason with the smoker, or choose not to travel in the same vehicle. A child doesn’t have this power. And the risk to child health is higher than to an adult body. I believe the debate over this issue will in itself change behaviour for the better but legislation can’t be ruled out. We will have evidence from Canada, Australia and California on how their new laws are working.

    • Matt permalink
      November 16, 2011 4:57 pm

      That’s good to hear. You’re spot on with your point about adult and child passengers, and hopefully you’re right that this debate will raise awareness and change attitudes. Education is better than compulsion.

  7. rosemary permalink
    November 16, 2011 5:08 pm

    I just wish you’d concentrate on the exhaust pipes and what they emit. Tiny children are pushed in buggies at exhaust pipe level, breathing in poison all day long. Exhaust fumes come in at people’s windows too, especially in a hilly and congested place like Bristol.

    Go on, Stephen, do something about the abysmal public transport in Bristol, and the lack of safe cycle lanes. And get that no 8 or 9 bus tweak to the hospitals. Get the smoking and non-smoking grownups out of their cars altogether, rather than let them go on poisoning their own and other people’s children. You’d never think fuel was expensive by the aggressive way some of them drive, and the size of what they drive too.

  8. John permalink
    November 16, 2011 5:17 pm

    There is no black or white answer to this type of topic. I always think that if I do something that effects others, who have no control over what I do to them, then I may need my actions controlled,but if my actions only effect me then, that is my business. Common sense & education is needed here & moderation. I grew up with smokers & hated the habit. I used to leave the room when they lit up. I could say BAN cigarettes all together but that would just put them underground with all the other banned substances.How about alcohol–the list goes on!
    I see mobile phones being used in vehicles & its rarely enforced, so how would additional smoking laws be policed.
    We need some freedoms in this imperfect world.

  9. November 16, 2011 5:20 pm

    I am afraid Stephen you have been misled on the 23x higher levels of chemicals in a car, even two arch proponents of smoking bans Ross MacKenzie MA, Becky Freeman MSc believe it is rubbish, in this paper published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and I quote:

    “While conducting research for a study on the Australian advocacy campaign to ban smoking in cars, one of us (BF) encountered many media reports that stated that second-hand smoke was “23 times more toxic in a vehicle than in a home.” In a subsequent exhaustive search of the relevant literature, we failed to locate any scientific source for this comparison.”

    “We recommend that researchers and organizations stop using the 23 times more toxic factoid because there appears to be no evidence for it in the scientific literature.”

    It seems as usual the harm of passive smoking is more a matter of faith rather than a matter of science.

    Click to access 130410.pdf

    • November 16, 2011 6:09 pm

      Dave – the multiple of 23 comes from the BMA, not my group’s report. We highlight research showing a range of multiples depending on the conditions (aircon, open windows etc) but highlight a typical 30 minute journey where just one cigarette is smoked being 7 times the exposure in a “smoky bar”. But common sense surely tells us that smoke in a small glass and metal box has higher levels of concentration than a room.

  10. Jeff permalink
    November 16, 2011 5:47 pm

    I’m slightly at a loss to see why “children should be protected from smoke”… ISTR that one of the largest studies ever done on the subject of ETS (Scarfetta et al, 1998, funded by the World Health Organisation) only found one, even vaguely, statistically-significant link and that was of children exposed to ETS – who had a LOWER incidence of “smoking-related” illnesses in later life.

    • November 16, 2011 5:51 pm

      Do you mean this one Jeff. The 1998 World Health Organization/IARC’s Boffetta report.

      “Results: ETS exposure during childhood was not associated with an increased risk of lung cancer (odds ratio [OR] for ever exposure = 0.78; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.64-0.96)”

      • November 16, 2011 10:16 pm

        That’s the one… “Bof” not “Scarf” – serves me right for going from memory rather than reference!

        It was notable that the childhood exposure result was the only one with a 95% CI that did not bracket unity, ie the only result that was even marginally significant.

  11. November 17, 2011 1:12 am


    Were it not for the enormous tax returns that smoking brings to the Government’s coffers (No pun intended!) I think there would have been a total ban on tobacco products years ago. Ban them now.

    • rosemary permalink
      November 17, 2011 10:09 am

      And the poisonous use of diesel in cities. It has long been banned in the Lebanon, a most civilized and enlightened country, despite its despotic neighbour, and whose capital was known as the Paris of the East.

      • Matt permalink
        November 17, 2011 10:11 am

        Modern diesel engines are cleaner than petrol, and have the lowest CO2 emissions.

      • rosemary permalink
        November 17, 2011 10:36 am

        And those enormous 4x4s, so beloved of Stephen’s constituents? And the fleets of filthy lorries and buses? How can their smelly diesel fumes be anything but poisonous? I wasn’t talking about the Co2.

        And I didn’t mean the modest and unthreatening little modern vehicles made by the South Koreans and Japanese.

    • November 17, 2011 11:06 am

      Just like cannabis, cocaine, heroin and amphetamines?

      About 3% of people in the UK take class A drugs but are responsible for ultimately 54% of people in jail, through the crime that is generated from paying for the habit.. According to the NHS 21% of us smoke cigarettes, 7% smoke pipes and cigars and another 6% are “secret smokers” who smoke a few times a year.

      The prohibition of alcohol unleashed an orgy of crime, hypocrisy and mass disobedience in the USA from 1919 to 1933, imagine what the illegalisation of tobacco will do. With the UK having the 3rd highest levels of taxes on cigarettes in Europe HMRC upper estimates of LEGAL and illegal importation of tobacco is 20% for tailor made cigarettes and 62% for hand rolling.

      In a Russian enclave called Kaliningrad ( correct) which is surrounded by Baltic state countries there is a brand called Jin Ling produced. Annually they produce 24 billion cigarettes about 7% of Europe’s cigarettes. Not one is legal and entirely sold and marketed on the black market. They are even sold in very low tax countries like Greece and Poland. I am sure like any good business expanding their production would not be that difficult.

      I have brought a packet (from my local off licence) for research purposes and the quality seems very good and I am now seeing discarded packets on London’s streets.

      John be careful what you wish for.

    • November 17, 2011 2:00 pm


      The major problem with the illegalisation of tobacco is that anti smoking advocates would be against it!!! Please read this lesson on rank hypocrisy.

      In North Dakota the state Senate debated whether to ban the sale of tobacco in 2003 and it was the anti smoking groups who were most against and I quote:

      “Republican Representative Wes Belter, chairman of the Finance and Taxation Committee, told the House that committee members were frustrated last week with the testimony from anti-tobacco groups that testified against the tobacco ban, including the North Dakota Medical Association, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, North Dakota Public Health Association and North Dakota Nurses Association.

      There’s no evidence banning tobacco would prevent and reduce tobacco use because no such approach has been implemented, the groups argued. The ban also could take away certain funding for these groups for tobacco control programs.”

      I’ll just repost the last line:


      As I have long suspected, for many, not all, tobacco control is not about health, it is about jobs, funding and control.

  12. Matt permalink
    November 17, 2011 10:44 am

    If you’ve ever taken a diesel for an MOT you’d know they test the emissions and won’t pass it if they’re too high. But yes of course they’re poisonous. So are petrol engines. The ban in Leb doesn’t just cover gas guzzling 4x4s and buses, it covers the unthreatening modern vehicles too. The petrol Land Cruisers that they love are at least as polluting as their diesel counterparts.

    • rosemary permalink
      November 17, 2011 11:31 am

      Yes, Matt, I’m with you on the petrol. It is very poisonous too, but not so noisy. Now if BCC ticketed people for running their diesel engines while stationary…(It’s usually done to avoid getting a parking ticket.)

  13. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    November 17, 2011 2:47 pm

    From memory, I recall this city signing up to an EU backed pledge to only allow low emmitance vehicles into the central area within ten years, and this seems a while ago now. Is it my memory wrong, has it been dropped, or is it going to happen?

    • rosemary permalink
      November 17, 2011 8:59 pm

      That was all of a piece with “Cycling City”, Paul. Just spin. Same as “Bristol: Green Capital of Europe.” The central area has been an AQMA for ages now. Do they even measure the poison? If they do, they probably do it in an unpolluted bit. What they have done though, is increase the number of spaces people can park in, by abolishing individual parking bays, so there’s a lot more pollution than ever there was. The vehicles are much bigger too now, and they let them park right over the pavements where there’s closely packed in sideways parking. Pity the poor people like John Rippon in wheelchairs. How do they get past those aggressive Raging Bull and Warrior bullbars and bumpers ?

      • November 18, 2011 3:02 am

        “Pity the poor people like John Rippon in wheelchairs. How do they get past those aggressive Raging Bull and Warrior bullbars and bumpers ?”

        Answer: we can’t!

  14. Fredrik Eich permalink
    November 17, 2011 6:51 pm

    “Two reports out today have sparked a debate on how best to protect children from the affects of adults smoking in cars.”

    This reminds me of the last anti smoking jolly, which was whether smoking should be banned in wet pubs as well as places where food is served. How about we just remind our selves that in a free country we just accept that some people like to dine where smoking is permitted and some people like dining where smoking not permitted and just accept that any pub or restaurant should be able to go smoke-free without interference from the state. The sooner the smoking ban is repealed, the sooner we can get back to normal. As well as giving smokers their restaurants back it would even help stem the tide of post smoking ban pub closures. the interweb keeps on ranting on about.

    • November 17, 2011 7:32 pm

      sorry to disappoint you Fredrik but there is next to zero chance of us going back to the pre 2007 situation of smoky bars and restaurants. Society has moved on.

      • Fredrik Eich permalink
        November 17, 2011 8:34 pm

        The smoking ban has to be repealed otherwise smokers will not be able to find a restaurant where smoking is permitted. Say, smoke-free places were banned overnight, including restaurants and pubs, 100% of space was given to smokers and 0% of space was smoke-free the only way people could find smoke-free places again would be for that law to be repealed. I would guess that even if smokers outnumbered non-smoker 4 to 1, such a law would have a short shelf life because people would eventually see it for what it really is – discrimination. It would be very similar to Section 28

        Some prominent MPs who supported the bill when it was first introduced have since either expressed regret over their support, changed their stance due to different circumstances which have evolved over time, or have argued that the legislation is no longer necessary.”

        Opinions can change quickly for all sots of reasons and any kind of discrimination is wrong.

      • rosemary permalink
        November 17, 2011 9:05 pm

        Pre 2007 the streets weren’t a disgusting mess because of club and pub patrons dropping their butts and gum outside instead of in ashtrays inside. You can’t get away from the smoke in the streets now: there’s always someone doing it, wherever you are. Whereas you could avoid going into pubs.The parks and squares are suffering too. Outside drinking is much worse because of the smoking ban. And pubs which were decent have gone bust.

        Concentrate on serious pollution: diesel fumes; and petrol fumes from old bangers.

      • November 17, 2011 9:54 pm

        Shame on you Simon.

  15. Felix permalink
    November 17, 2011 7:41 pm

    ‘The BMA did similar tests and found the intensity to be a wopping 23 times a smoky bar.”

    This turns out to be a myth and the BMA has issued a correction.

    It appears there are also good grounds to be sceptical about similar claims made on this subject. I wonder how much of the other evidence cited has been thoroughly peer-reviewed.

  16. November 17, 2011 7:57 pm

    Felix – the report published by my group has a range of figures, none anywhere near a multiple of 23. I included the BMA figure as it was widely quoted in the media yesterday. The point remains that cigarette smoke exposure in a confined space like a car is more dangerous than a larger room.

    • Jeff permalink
      November 17, 2011 9:39 pm

      A car is indeed a smaller place than a room, so the smoke, all other things being equal, is likely to be more concentrated, provided no ventilation is in operation – a ludicrous concept in reality. The point remains, however, that there is not one shred of proper research that shows that cigarette smoke is in any way more dangerous than any other form of smoke.

      The fact that the BMA have today backtracked from its “fully peer reviewed” (according to Vivienne Nathanson) “23 times” figure, to “11 times”. It seems to me that like “five a day” and “units of alcohol limits” they’re just flying a kite to see if gullible press and MPs fall for their invented numbers. Research it ain’t.

      • November 17, 2011 10:07 pm

        Are you really saying that there is no evidence that cigarette smoke is harmful?

      • Jeff permalink
        November 18, 2011 10:13 am


        Yes… That’s *exactly* what I’m saying.

        If your committee ever bothered to take evidence from someone other than ASH – who are notorious amongst the scientifically or statistically literate (as I retired physicist I count myself amongst that group) as nothing more than a bunch of liars who’ll happily invent scary figures that they quote as “fact” in order to promote a fanatical, puritan agenda – you might have your mind opened on the subject. As I said above, there appears to be no “respectable” research that indicates that environmental tobacco smoke is any more harmful than any other. There’s plenty of stuff that at first sight looks pretty scary but without exception when scrutinised properly it turns out to be either very poor research, or downright fiction.

        For example – a while ago it was announced that “scientists had found” that a non-smoker who spent a couple of hours in a smoky environment had measurable traces of nicotine in his/her bloodstream. This is in fact correct. What wasn’t mentioned, however, is that the only reason that it was “measurable” was the astonishing sensitivity of modern equipment and the amount of nicotine thus found was the equivalent of that received from eating one potato. There’s nicotine in all sorts of things, tomato, aubergine and many other vegetables. Vitamin B3 – essential to life – is called niacin, or to give it its proper title, nicotinic acid. We need some in our bodies in order to stay alive – but not many people seem to know that.

        The general level of scientific ignorance amongst MPs allows them to be bamboozled by charlatans confidently spouting rubbish and groups such as ASH and the radical wing of the BMA take full advantage of this in order to press home their repressive agendas.

      • November 18, 2011 10:20 am


        There is clear and unambiguous evidence of the harm of ACTIVE smoking. 7 years early mortality, 72% of lung cancers are a direct result of ACTIVE smoking and 90% of emphysema patients are smokers.

        However PASSIVE smoking propaganda is at best exaggerated and at worst is junk science of the most pernicious.

        Dr. Jerome Arnett a Consultant Pulmonolgist speaking in 2008.

        “In addition, influential anti-tobacco activists, including prominent academics, have unethically attacked the research of eminent scientists in order to further their ideological and political agendas. The abuse of scientific integrity and the generation of faulty “scientific” outcomes (through the use of pseudoscience) have led to the deception of the American public on a grand scale and to draconian government overregulation and the squandering of public money. Millions of dollars have been spent promoting belief in SHS as a killer, and more millions of dollars have been spent by businesses in order to comply with thousands of highly restrictive bans, while personal choice and freedom have been denied to millions of smokers. Finally, and perhaps most tragically, all this has diverted resources away from discovering the true cause(s) of lung cancer in nonsmokers.”

      • Jeff permalink
        November 18, 2011 10:29 am


        I suppose that I should make it clear that the “tobacco smoke” to which I refer is of the “second hand” variety. I am fully aware that active smoking is not good for many people’s health.

  17. November 17, 2011 8:59 pm

    Fredrik – please could you name the “prominent MPs” who regret supporting the ban on smoking in public places?

    • Fredrik Eich permalink
      November 17, 2011 9:15 pm

      Point taken! I confess I did not look any further than the wikipedia quote that it links to. But I would be very surprised if there are many MPs that realised that their support was mainly due to discrimination rather than protecting children.

    • November 18, 2011 7:34 am


      Natasha Engel, Labour MP for North East Derbyshire.

      “When I was canvassing during the general election, an ex-miner opened the door and shouted at me about immigration, MPs’ expenses and the smoking ban…”

      “When we stood outside, smoking in the rain, he told me about his father-in-law, who used to come to the welfare every night and spend all evening drinking one pint of Guinness. He was a chain smoker. Since the smoking ban he’s never been back.

      “He can’t stand outside in the rain like this. He’s an old man.” He told me about how his father-in-law never goes out any more. “He’s lonely and miserable. And he still chain smokes.” I voted for the smoking ban because I was convinced that smoking, even secondary smoking, is bad for you. If I had a second chance I wouldn’t vote for the ban again.”

  18. John Savage permalink
    November 18, 2011 12:16 am


    Three questions:

    1) What exactly is your relationship with ASH?
    2) Should taxpayers’ money and their subscriptions to charities like CRUK and BHF be used to fund a fake chariry like ASH, whose purpose is to lobby parliament to persecute over 20% of those taxpayers?
    3) Will you be addressing parliament to correct the ’23 times’ error or will it became yet another false anti-smoking ‘fact’?

    • November 18, 2011 2:27 pm

      I am chair of the All Party Group on Smoking and Health. The officers and members of the group come from all of the three main parties in the Commons and the Lords as well as reps of the smaller and non-aligned groups. ASH provides admin back up and this is properly disclosed. The group is run in a similar way to virtually all other cross party groups – there is a single issue that unites politicians from different parties who work together in furtherance of the single issue campaign. There are hundreds of groups, some not as active as this one. All of the larger groups, including this one, have an external partner, usually a charity, professional body or PR company.
      The issue of ASH funding is a matter for them, but it is all in the public domain and regularly subject to scrutiny and attack by the cigarette manufacturers and their front groups.
      The BMA made the 23 times claim, as I make clear. The report for which I take responsibility has a range of multiples depending on the condition, the highest value was 11.

      • John Savage permalink
        November 18, 2011 3:19 pm


        You did not answer my first question. Could you also clarify what exactly is the prominent APG member Kevin Barron’s exact relationship with ASH. Has Mr Barron not been praised for his work “behind the scenes” to further ASH’s “cause”? Should APGs not be IMPARTIAL and not a closed group of the puppets of unelected lobby groups?

  19. November 18, 2011 7:47 am


    Stephen is Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health. They meet twice a year and I quote “ASH provides the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health.”

    If you look at the list of persons giving evidence they are all ASH and/or anti smoking advocates. Stephen then has direct access to Andrew Lansley the Health Secretary to lobby and persuade the department for new laws.

    My request to Stephen to give evidence to the Committee has been declined.

    • November 18, 2011 8:10 am

      I’ve had a comment awaiting moderation for many, many days now which highlighted the same thing. My assumtion is that Mr Williams doesn’t want it read.

    • November 18, 2011 2:28 pm

      Dave – who do you represent? Please tell everyone reading why you asked to speak to the group. And silly assertions don’t help your case. We meet far more frequently than twice a year!

      • November 18, 2011 2:31 pm

        If you meet up more than bi annually surely I can pop along and give evidence then.

        Anything else in what I wrote wrong?

      • November 18, 2011 2:40 pm


        I am Chairman of Freedom2Choose a pro choice lifestyles group. I wrote to you from my F2C email address on the 12th October 2010, the reply from your office on the 9th November was:

        “Dear David,

        I have spoken to Stephen and shown him your email and he has said he is
        unfortunately unable to meet with you because of other pressing
        Parliamentary duties.

        Best wishes,
        B***** E**

        Assistant Researcher to Stephen Williams MP | Member of Parliament for
        Bristol West”

  20. November 18, 2011 9:56 am

    Marcus Aurelius’ is an industrial filtration expert who reviews the academic data from a number of universities including John Hopkins for tobacco smoke in bars, he concludes:

    “The three air quality test results replicated by three separate credible organizations prove that secondhand smoke concentrations when compared to OSHA permissible exposure limits (pel) for secondhand smoke, range between 15 – 25,000 times SAFER than OSHA regulations; in other words NOT A HEALTH HAZARD. (PEL)’s are the OSHA safe acceptable level of exposure to humans for an 8 hour day, 40 hour per week time period.”

  21. John Savage permalink
    November 18, 2011 3:29 pm


    Could you ask the BMA why has the incidence of these so called ‘passive smoking related’ childhood conditions, in particular asthma, increased so dramatically over the past few decades whereas smoking prevalence has halved? Not only has smoking prevalence decreased but also the locations were children could be exposed to secondhand smoke.

    • November 18, 2011 3:32 pm

      This is a Swedish study which covered 3 generations of children and grandchildren exposed to second hand smoke by a reduced factor of 35%.

      “Children of mothers who smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day tended to have lower odds for suffering from allergic rhino-conjunctivitis, allergic asthma, atopic eczema and food allergy, compared to children of mothers who had never smoked (ORs 0.6-0.7)

      CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates an association between current exposure to tobacco smoke and a low risk for atopic disorders in smokers themselves and a similar tendency in their children.

    • November 18, 2011 3:40 pm

      Probably the most pernicious anti smoking gambit is blaming SHS on the deaths of children from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or cot deaths.

      As remarked here by UK journalist Charlie Booker in a piece entitled “Fiddling those smoking figures again.” The only snag was that the years between 1970 and 1988, when cot deaths shot up by 500 per cent, coincided with the very time when the number of adults who smoked in Britain was falling most sharply, from 45 to 30 per cent. To anyone but a
      fanatical anti-smoking campaigner, this might have suggested that “environmental tobacco smoke” was unlikely to be the chief cause of cot deaths.”

      Finally some real research was done last year. “Neuropathologist Hannah Kinney, MD,
      neuroscientist David Paterson, PhD, “and colleagues examined brainstem tissue from 31 infants who died from SIDS and 10 who had died from other causes. They documented the most comprehensive set of defects known to date: deficiencies in the serotonin receptor 5HT1A, an abnormally high number of neurons that make and release serotonin; a preponderance of immature serotonergic neurons; and insufficient amounts of the serotonin
      transporter protein, which “recycles” serotonin so neurons can reuse it. Male SIDS infants had significantly fewer 5-HT1A receptors than females, offering a possible explanation why boys succumb to SIDS twice as often as girls.”

  22. November 18, 2011 9:58 pm

    BTW, out of interest, is the offence of smoking in your own car (with children or not) likely to be an endorsable offence? The reason why I ask is because three years ago I was (rightly) pulled up for having an expired MOT and was happy that there was not going to be points on my licence as this has never happened so far (a point of pride) .
    Is the plan for this new offence to be an endorsable one or not?
    Will it be like speeding or like driving in a bus lane?

    • November 18, 2011 10:09 pm

      Fredrik – this debate is very much at early stages. If the government goes ahead with my group’s request for consultation then the scope of a ban and the issues around enforcement would all be up for discussion.

  23. November 19, 2011 11:32 am

    Stephen, Thanks for that. The reason why I ask is that I hardly ever wear my seat belt and have never been
    pulled up for it. But the problem with the law banning smoking in cars is that smoking is easier to spot. Now at the moment
    white van drivers are very good at ignoring the current anti-smoker legislation (and quite rightly so) but of course when the law bans everyone from smoking in their own private vehicles
    there will be no doubt that an offence is being committed. So I shall invest in dark windows but if it is an endorsable offence then I could end up loosing my (clean) licence and therefore my job, which I think is even more unfair than having to hand over money to the state for smoking my own cigarettes in my own car. But
    in my mind, if parliament can get so drunk on power that it is prepared to ban smoking in restaurants,pubs and with all the loss of jobs that that entails, I can see no reason why parliament wont put me on the dole too. One day
    MPs will hopefully get back to the concept that they are there to curb the excesses of the state and not to hold encourage it. Smokers are a minority and need their freedoms protected just like any other minority. In my mind this
    current anti-smoker jolly is just as bad as Section 28 which was driven by dicrimination against against a minority using the very same child welfare/cognative disssonance and the very same current anti-smoker jolly is just as bad as Section 28 which was driven by dicrimination against against a minority using the very same child welfare/cognative disssonance and the very same cognative disssonance
    that says that pubs don’t close after smoking bans and that heart attack rates are reduced by smoking bans.

    • November 19, 2011 9:54 pm

      I have a post awaiting moderation, I think it is likely in your spam box because it has links
      to charts and , well , that is usually enough to put a post in the spam box. The thing about spam boxes is that they stop everything except spam!!

      • November 20, 2011 3:14 pm

        it was in the auto spam filter so I’ve released it. For the avoidance of doubt I only remove postings that are personally abusive to me or other people who are commenting. But the fact that you are another one who feels the need to cite homosexuality as an equivalent persecuted minority to smokers is quite crass.

      • November 20, 2011 11:55 pm

        Quite right: as a Gay non-smoker I object to this assertion and it gives me the creeps to think that anyone with such views is participating in a LIBERAL DEMOCRAT blogsite

      • December 3, 2011 11:15 pm

        “But the fact that you are another one who feels the need to cite homosexuality as an equivalent persecuted minority to smokers is quite crass.” – Stephen.
        Stephen, Sorry it has taken me a while to respond but the stuff has been hitting the fans at work and I have been out of commission for a while.
        I talked about Section 28 because I wanted to give an example of a law (which was, rightly, later repealed) that was I believe driven by discrimination and moral panic using child wellfare as the excuse. But on the broader point of discrimination against the smoking community, could you please indicate what evidence I would have to provide that would satisfy you that the smoking community is now bieng discriminated against in a way similar way to the gay and lesbian community? In order for you to not think me crass to point it out?

    • November 22, 2011 12:23 pm


      Before they passed the seat belt law in 1983 I always wore a seatbelt as I thought the government made a good case for wearing one. The nudge went to shove, i.e. it became illegal not to wear one I stopped wearing one. The exceptions were if I was going to be travelling over 30 mph (I live in London) or my children were in the car.

      I might add I have 27 years no claims bonus.

  24. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    November 19, 2011 6:34 pm

    For years the building industry argued that it was only blue asbestos that was dangerous, and to their cost, tens, if not hundreds of thousands of workers are now paying with their lives. I worked in the tobacco industry when they were still claiming that smoking was perfectly safe. Lead was allowed in petrol, arsenic in wallpaper paste, and the thought of mercury in thermometers that were often put into my mouth, still makes me shudder. I don’t know if passive smoke is dangerous, but
    history shows it’s best to ere on the side of caution. Too many “agendas’ when the health of our children should be paramount!

    • John Savage permalink
      November 19, 2011 7:04 pm

      Around 600,000 homes in the UK are at risk from radon. Around 75% of schools still contain asbestos. Aren’t these infinitely more important than introducing a law that will be nigh on impossible to police?

    • rosemary permalink
      November 19, 2011 9:23 pm

      Yes, Paul, you are right in what you say; and don’t let’s forget the children are being experimented on by the mass use of mobile phones and masts. The big IT companies will almost certainly have erred on the side of caution and taken out insurance policies to cover the future health claims. It is said to be much more dangerous in a confined metallic space, and that their use is therefore banned in train carriages in advanced countries.

      I don’t know what the truth of it all is, but I never used one near my children.

    • November 19, 2011 10:20 pm

      “health of our children should be paramount”
      Of course but there is no evidence that smoking in the presence of children is a significant health risk. Most of the tobacco control industry’s evidence relys on cryptopgenic chronic diseases , which cleary does not apply to children. The car is a risk due to the speed of travel, the smell of tobacco smoke in a car is not a risk, it carries zero risk of death or injury, unlike cars. The reason why the tobacco control industry claims harm against children is because it works in their favour and they could not care less about anything else other than the eradication of smoking and therefore smokers. They wear the wrong uniform.

      • rosemary permalink
        November 20, 2011 8:10 pm

        Yes, Frederik, I would much prefer the driving around of children in cars to be restricted: they should learn to walk, to use public transport, and to cycle. Not only safer out fo a car, but better for their health, and their moral welfare too, as it would teach them to be independent and discerning, as well as responsible for the environment. As things are, far too many of them go straight from being strapped into the back of Mummy’s car to being strapped into the front of their own. Lots of them even go away to Uni in their own cars, before they have earned their own keep. No wonder Bristol’s traffic so often grinds to a halt, quite apart from the horrifying accidents. And why is it that so little is said about accidents? It feels as if it is all hushed up – almost as if not to put off the children, though I know it isn’t really.

  25. John Savage permalink
    November 19, 2011 10:12 pm

    Regarding my enquiry concerning the exact relationship with ASH of Keith Barron, MP an influential member of your group, would you like to comment on the following:

    From the minutes of a meeting of the Health Select Committe committee, at which Deborah Arnott of ASH was present to give ‘evidence’, the chairman (Barron) is minuted thus in item Q477 (about half way down):

    “Thank you. I suppose I have an interest to declare in terms of ASH. I am a member of your Council.”

    Has this apparent conflict of interests been declared? Should it be allowed?

    • John Savage permalink
      November 19, 2011 10:22 pm

      I correct myself, Kevin Barron. (On re-reading the minutes, it would seem that Arnott was in the chair, not Barron!)

  26. John Savage permalink
    November 19, 2011 11:26 pm

    Stephen, I’ve looked at the latest accounts for ASH and note that, apart from taxpayers’ money and ‘laundered’ public donations made in good faith to other charities such as BHF and CRUK, a significant part of their income comes from ASH International. ASH International, in turn, are partly funded by Pfizer, who have major financial interests in “quit smoking” treatments, in particular the lethal “suicide drug” Champix. Isn’t the very presence of ASH in the All Party Group, even merely providing “secretariat services” ( does Arnott only do the photocopying and refill the water jugs?), a serious conflict of interests?

    • November 19, 2011 11:55 pm


      According to the Parliamentary website they do a bit more than supply to notepad and ball point pen.

      “Action on Smoking and Health (a charity) provides administrative support to the group, which includes sharing of information with members of the group, provision of briefing material at meetings, and funding for group receptions and for design, printing, and dissemination costs relating to group publications and stationery.”

      • November 20, 2011 12:02 am

        Dave and John. This is getting boring. A group of like minded MPs from different parties work together towards a common goal. That goal is also the sole purpose of a charity, which works alongside the MPs. Said charity’s purpose is important to the work of several other charities, which in turn lend their support. All is disclosed and in the public domain. There is no conspiracy or scandal here….

      • John Savage permalink
        November 20, 2011 12:35 am

        @Stephen. But how much is this anti-smoking vendetta costing the taxpayer? Is it actually achieving any significant results, verified by actual SCIENTISTS rather than by the mercenary, career prohibitionists of ASH? Not only is it diverting funding for addressing the REAL risks to the public, it is also diverting the public’s awareness of those REAL risks.

        Exposure to radon in homes is believed to cause over 1,000 deaths from lung cancer a year. Around 600,000 homes are at risk from radon. Correct me if I am wrong but is the budget to address this serious health issue a mere one million pounds a year for the whole country? Or, to put it another way, £1.67 per home affected?

        75% of SCHOOLS still contain ASBESTOS. Teachers are DYING from asbestos-related diseases. What long term effects is it having on the kids? The initiative to remove the asbestos started years ago. What is holding it up?

  27. November 20, 2011 12:13 am

    I have a burning question for Stephen. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) costs the country: “Figures from the NHS Information Centre show that £74m was spent on stop smoking services in England in 2008/9,”

    NRT has a quit rate of: “The long term (that is, greater than six months) quit rates for OTC NRT was 1% and 6% in two studies and 8–11% in five other studies. These results were not homogenous; however, when combined the estimated OR was 7% (95% CI 4% to 11%). Conclusions: OTC NRT is pharmacologically efficacious and produces modest quit rates similar to that seen in real.”

    The most effective way of quitting smoking are the Allen Carr Easyway book and clinics. Before I let ASH tell you that it has a peer reviewed 53% success rate, why is it not recommended, especially as it is 7 times more effective than NRT? The book costs £6.25 from Amazon about 2 days NRT. Anyway Deborah Arnott extolling the virtues of Allen Carr.

    “Today Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), the public health charity has apologised to Allen Carr’s Easyway Organisation for unfounded comments made by its Director in November 2006.

    In November of last year, Deborah Arnott, Director of ASH claimed that specific success rates quoted by AllenCarr Easyway were “plucked out of the air” and “basically made up.” She made these comments whilst on the BBC Radio 4 “PM” programme during a piece concerning the death of Allen Carr, founder of Allen Carr’s Easyway organisation.
    Deborah Arnott’s comments referred to two independent studies conducted by eminent experts in the field of smoking cessation which had already been published in peer reviewed journals indicating a 53% success rate for Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking Clinics after 12 months.

    Following a complaint by Allen Carr’s Easyway International, Deborah Arnott and ASH now acknowledge that it was wrong for Ms Arnott to have made the comments relating to the 53% success rate and have issued an unreserved apology.

    ASH has agreed to pay the legal costs incurred by Allen Carr’s Easyway.”

    Can you see why we have a jaundiced view of ASH?

  28. John Savage permalink
    November 20, 2011 12:48 am

    Stephen, “A group of like minded MPs from different parties work together towards a common goal.” That is appalling. Basically what you are saying is that you are abusing your position to drive through a personal agenda. You have decided your ‘goal’, now let’s fabricate the evidence to support it. I do not vote for an MP to become a puppet of an UNELECTED group of fanatics like ASH, which, admit it, you and the rest of your phoney group are.

  29. John Savage permalink
    November 20, 2011 1:45 am

    I have taken a copy of the blog (in case certain entries ‘disappear’) and will be sending it to my MP, expressing my concerns over the abuse of parliamentary powers to drive through personal agendas and the influence of unelected organisations on our elected representatives. I will also be sending it to the press – Littlejohn and Liddle come to mind. Any other suggestions? Stephen, perhaps you should have cleared your comments with the boss, Ms Arnott, before you posted them. Expect a summons to her office in the near future!.

    • November 20, 2011 9:23 am

      @John and Stephen

      Stephen if you want to edit this post you have my full permission, if it is too personal..

      To be fair to Stephen from my research his involvement in reducing smoking is based on conviction and altruism. His father was a heavy smoker and I believed died from emphysema. I therefore think he is doing this for all the right reasons and is completely free of any implied impropriety.

      Stephen’s father grew in a time when tobacco companies vehemently denied he link between lung cancer and smoking. It was not until the late 1980s and even into the early 1990s did they begrudgingly admit the causal link. Now we have the full facts and tobacco company websites state the health implications. .

      This week with my media appearances I have trotted out my usual stats of 7 years early mortality, 86% of lung cancer patients are smokers and 90% of emphysema. Now we can all make an informed decision and hence be left alone by the state.

      John, while ASH have a questionable façade, Stephen is above suspicion.

      • November 20, 2011 3:17 pm

        just for clarity (you obviously have some sort of file on me) my father died at 42 from bowel cancer and respiratory failure. I have campaigned for better public health policies relevant to both conditions for many years.

      • November 20, 2011 4:52 pm

        No I do not have a ‘file’ on you as such it is just research which I memorise. Thank you for your frank comments, I was not aiming to pry.

        My sole aim in research is to find out where people are coming from, if you like empathy. Again please tell me if I am wrong but the Junior Minister for Health Anne Milton was a cancer nurse and no doubt had to deal with many smokers.

        On discrimination of smokers it is open season. Led my the previous Chief Medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson he said in 2007 ‘But if we want to go further we have got to reinforce all these other tobacco measures and denormalise smoking completely,’ said Donaldson.”

    • November 20, 2011 4:57 pm

      In my interview with Deborah Arnott of ASH and myself on CNN where she openly admitted she wanted the “denormalisation of smokers,” i.e. discriminated against.

  30. Greg Burrows permalink
    November 20, 2011 2:42 am

    Yougov recent Poll UKIP 7% Liberals 8%, Stephen time for you to think where your agenda of representing fanatical non-smokers is good, wake up and smell the coffee, people are tired of people like you coercing people to follow your agenda, you and your ilk seam to have no common sense and also have no statistical significant evidence that SHS is even harmful, Check HSE OC255/15 article 9 (covered up but can be Googled or from F.O.I produced August 2006) The truth is at last getting to the general public, after the gross exaggeration of harm from SHS by the Labour party and your party backing them on this corrupt agenda.
    UKIP will amend the smoking ban giving people the right to choose.

  31. Jon Rogers permalink
    November 20, 2011 10:36 am

    The cross party group that Stephen chairs “has called for government consultation on the various options.”. They cite clear and compelling evidence that smoking in a car when children are present is damaging to their health. There is decades of evidence that children of smoking parents have worse health outcomes than children of non-smokers.

    Smoking in cars leads to significantly higher levels of harmful tobacco by-products in the air.

    Ergo, we should consider a ban on smoking in cars when children are present. As a retired GP I agree.

    The British Medical Association then seems to have jumped the gun by demanding a ban on all smoking in cars, and therefore unnecessarily polarised the debate.

    • November 20, 2011 11:03 am

      This is Dr Gio Batta Gori, Former Deputy Director of the National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Causes and Prevention, Acting Associate Director, Carcinogenesis Program, Director of the Diet, Nutrition and Cancer Program, and Director of the Smoking and Health Program.

      “The world must protest the ongoing deceit and the squandering of public monies for rigged and incompetent ETS studies. And people should feel offended by the complicity and sham paternalism of health authorities and of profitable tax exempt charities. Such an officially imposed tyranny has no place in countries that claim and presume to be free, enlightened, and just. We are not children, nor bumbling simpletons who need to be deceived for our own good..”

      Click to access v30n1-5.pdf

    • November 20, 2011 11:10 am

      The late Dr. Alvan Feinstein was a Yale Epidemiologist who was sceptical about the harm of second hand smoke. Here he is reporting on a comment on a World Health Organization official. You will note I researched this in the database of anti smoking documents held at the University of California, San Francisco.

      “Yes, it’s rotten science, but it’s in a worthy cause. It will help us to get rid of cigarettes and become a smoke-free society”.

    • November 20, 2011 12:12 pm

      I urge you to read this paper from Professor Carl Phillips who is the former Professor of Public Health at University of Alberta. It is chilling in the way that scientists have been silenced who do not agree with anti tobacco activists.

      “The two we published, by James E. Enstrom and Michael Siegel, both deal with the issue of environmental tobacco smoke. This commentary adds a third story of attacks on legitimate science by anti-tobacco activists, the author’s own experience. These stories suggest a willingness of influential anti-tobacco activists, including academics, to hurt legitimate scientists and turn epidemiology into junk science in order to further their agendas. The willingness of epidemiologists to embrace such anti-scientific influences bodes ill for the field’s reputation as a legitimate science.”

      “The situation described in the article by James Enstrom [2] has gone even further, representing not only a bastardization of epidemiologic research by anti-tobacco advocates and an excommunication of a long-time member of the anti-smoking research club, but a concerted effort by political activists to destroy the career of a scientist because of one result that appeared in his data, which he chose to publish rather than suppress or alter to be more politically correct.”

      “Enstrom cites the reign of terror over biology under Stalin as one example of politics trumping science. Though the Soviet case is rather extreme (we North Americans who dare question the scientific orthodoxy only have our careers threatened; not our lives, at least so far), it is not the most extreme. Many cultures were hobbled for centuries because of religious adherence to pseudoscience, and damage to people’s health was one of the many results.”

    • Greg Burrows permalink
      November 28, 2011 1:35 am

      Where is this decades of evidence I am 51, I went to four schools, with abought 2000 children in all, I only ever new one child out of these who had asthma, 50% to 60% of people smoked in the 60’s and 70’s, every other child seems to have asthma today with no tobacco smoke prevelant to them.
      See Enstrom Kabat epidemilogical study also look at the 1998 WHO study, two of the largest studies undertaken
      We have the longest life span in Britains history today and this is from the generations that mainly smoked and everyone who did not smoke was in the company of people who smoked.
      Why is that Japan and Greece have the longest longevity in life than other countries, in europe and asia? both have the highest smoking rates.
      The common sense facts do not equate to your hypothesis on this subject.

  32. Paul Lack permalink
    November 20, 2011 11:38 am

    I think that a MASSIVE point that gets over looked is that most smokers who are in the car would have the window open or even fully down as I do myself, so all these comments about smoking in a closed car is rubbish, yes if you have kids in the car or even a guest in YOUR own car it would be polite to ask, but what is it coming to

    • November 20, 2011 3:03 pm

      if you look at the actual report you will see that the smoke tests were done under various conditions, incl with window open, aircon on etc. Point remains it isn’t good for others in car, whatever the conditions. The version we’ve highlighted is half hour with windows shut, a fairly typical journey in Britain!

      • John Savage permalink
        November 20, 2011 4:14 pm

        “The version we’ve highlighted is half hour with windows shut, a fairly typical journey in Britain!” – Is this yet another ‘fact’ fabricated by ASH? According to ONS, the average car journey time is less than 24 minutes, which includes journeys made commuting to and from work. The average ‘commuting’ distance for kids taken to school by car is 1.5 miles and the percentage of kids being taken to and from school by car is increasing (currently around 44%). Instead of wasting taxpayers’ money on introducing a law that would be practically impossible to police and given that we have a child obesity ‘epidemic’, wouldn’t the money be better spent encouraging and facilitating more children to walk or cycle to school?

      • November 20, 2011 11:50 pm


        Nobody in their right minds would subject others in a car, let alone children, to suffer their arrogant, selfish, smoking needs: it is not only dangerous to the health of non-smokers in the car but it is also very rude.

        Am I the only one who is utterly bored by all the ludicrous bumph your blog has produced??!!

    • November 21, 2011 12:20 am

      Paul Lack: do not talk such arrant NONSENSE!

      “I think that a MASSIVE point that gets over looked is that most smokers who are in the car would have the window open or even fully down as I do myself”

      In the middle of WINTER you would actually drive with the window down? More likely you would most certainly have the window firmly closed and the car heating on which mainly recirculates the air in the car and makes things far worse!

      • November 21, 2011 11:38 pm

        “In the middle of WINTER you would actually drive with the window down?”

        Err, yes. Because the world isn’t populated by pussies like yourself. With all due respect, etc etc

  33. Concerned Lib Dem Party Member permalink
    November 20, 2011 10:16 pm

    Hi Stephen

    You say “…the need for action is absolutely clear. The BMA wants a total ban. But for Parliament to contemplate that we have to build the evidence base and get public opinion on board.”

    You and your fellows on the All Party Group on Smoking and Health are in a privileged position and yet feel totally comfortable stating that you intend to “BUILD the evidence” and “GET PUBLIC OPINION ON BOARD” ….Your language is very telling.. you are not seeking to “assess all the evidence” , you are not suggesting that you will ” consider all the arguments” you are not “consulting with all parties concerned” and you are certainly NOT “seeking to ask/consult the public” …. you are trying to get public opinion around to your way of thinking ..

    Your mind has been made up… you are closed to anything that is not produced by ASH/BMA no matter how flawed their data or recommendations…. That being the case your group is just a lobbying group but with huge parliamentary privileges…

    I thought we (the Lib Dems) had signed up to the Colaitions determination to stop vernment lobbying groups lobbying government… isn’t that what you are? We intend to stop this sort of nonsense inside and outside of the Lib Dems.

  34. rosemary permalink
    November 21, 2011 8:15 am

    Do by all means object, John, but the more-persecuted-than-thou minorities are in danger of weakening their own arguments, in any field.

    Lots of other minorities feel persecuted too – genuinely – and it is difficult for the majority to get under their skin. The degree of bullying or criminalisation in the past can of course be asserted as special pleading, but it is the future we are talking about, and that is what most minorities fear.

    • rosemary permalink
      November 21, 2011 8:21 am

      PS Sorry, this was meant to appear under John Rippon’s point about this being a Liberal Democrat blog-site, see below.

  35. John Savage permalink
    November 21, 2011 2:01 pm

    Stephen: Could you provide a link to Prof. Wong’s actual study. I trust that you have read it yourself to confirm the evidence on which you base this proposed legislation. Or is this yet another example of Tobacco Control’s “science by press release”?

    Another paper co-authored by Prof. Wong claims that legislation is warranted by the criteria “under the worst ventilation conditions” and “in terms of peak contamination”. Couldn’t this equally apply to any known or perceived health hazard, for example perfume or aftershave?

    Another ‘justification’ is “exposure to smoking in cars is still commonplace” (hardly a scientific statement!). Is this indeed the case? Surveys have found that the vast majority of smokers NEVER smoke in their cars and the overwhelming majority of the remainder would not smoke in their car in the presence of children.

    Do we really need any more “sledgehammer to crack a nut” legislation that will be practically impossible to enforce?

    • November 21, 2011 2:11 pm


      I have nearly finishing researching the claims of “worse than bars” and guess what they are? BS. One of the papers I will be citing is part of the BMA paper which claimed the 23x level. It shows the levels of PM2.5 reach 272 mg/m3 and that is only for 10 minutes while some bars are 304 mg/m3. Infact the worst figures from cars do not approach anything near the levels in bars.

      As usual the dangers are a matter of faith and press release rather than fact.

      In the meantime you may like to read my piece in The Commentator, strap line: “Be in no doubt that we live in troubling times for liberty and scientific integrity – smoking bans constitute the most sinister assault on private property rights outside of an authoritarian regime.”

  36. Paul Bemmy Down permalink
    November 21, 2011 3:44 pm

    I listened to a guy on the radio last night,who was so proud of the fact he had found a one letter discrepency in a licence that meant that thousands of motorists who had parked illegally would now most likely get their fines reimbursed. No thought to the fact these people had parked in places causing danger to others. Just that he had found a way to get them off. I’m reading this blog and thinking as I did last night. Why do we get so obsessed and lose all reason. Just restrain from smoking in a car if you have a child with you. Is that really such a problem? We all have to make compromises at times in our life and the sooner we all accept this, life will be far simpler for all.

  37. timbone permalink
    November 22, 2011 12:16 am

    “Since July 2007 cafes, bars, shops, public transport and all other places open to the public or places of work, including cars and vans, have been smoke free.”

    Mr Williams sir. The only people who know where they did not smoke before 2007 are smokers. With the greatest respect, that is an ignorant statement. Shops, public transport, cinemas, and many places of work, including business vehicles like taxis for example, had been non smoking for years, in most cases, decades.

    Smokers always respected the request not to smoke. In fact, a good 50% of restaurants and not far off 50% of cafes were also non smoking establishments.

    The ONLY places where the majority still allowed smoking was pubs and clubs, (not food areas though!). Why? Because it would be bad for business. That is why, after 1st July 2007, thousands and thousands of pubs lost business – before the recession may I add. Hundreds of thousands of people became unemployed, not just the landlords and bar staff, but the suppliers and delivery staff.

  38. timbone permalink
    November 22, 2011 12:19 am

    “Since July 2007 cafes, bars, shops, public transport and all other places open to the public or places of work, including cars and vans, have been smoke free.”

    Mr Williams sir. The only people who know where they did not smoke before 2007 are smokers. With the greatest respect, that is an ignorant statement. Shops, public transport, cinemas, and many places of work, including business vehicles like taxis for example, had been non smoking for years, in most cases, decades.

    Smokers always respected the request not to smoke. In fact, a good 50% of restaurants and not far off 50% of cafes were also non smoking establishments.

    The ONLY places where the majority still allowed smoking was pubs and clubs, (not food areas though!). Why? Because it would be bad for business. That is why, after 1st July 2007, thousands and thousands of pubs lost business and closed – before the recession may I add. Hundreds of thousands of people became unemployed, not just the landlords and bar staff, but the suppliers and delivery staff.

  39. John Savage permalink
    November 22, 2011 12:39 am

    A recent report by the Environmental Audit Committee in Parliament suggested that over 30,000 people died in the UK due to air pollution from vehicles, industry and other environmental factors in 2008.

    A study found that “in many traffic conditions pollution levels inside cars can be up to EIGHTEEN times higher than those in “ambient” air”.

    Is that an elephant sitting in the back seat next to little Tristram or Poppy?

  40. November 22, 2011 3:11 am

    Dick Puddlecote:

    I am not a “Pussy”

    I am a 74 year old Severely Disabled person with terminal Neuropathy and osteo arthritis with artificial joints already fitted. I am pretty well bound to my flat and have to keep warm at all times to remain relatively pain free. At the moment I am fighting Cancer, which doesn’t help at all either. I do not have a car and to get around I have to brave the Winter cold in my wheelchair.

    So please do not make arrogant assumptions. With ZERO respect for you etc.

  41. November 22, 2011 12:53 pm

    You maybe interested in this cohort (which means real people studied over a period of time) on cabin staff from 1953 – 1997 when smoking was allowed on flights. These people would of been exposed to large amounts of second hand smoke (SHS) what did it say about lung cancer:

    “We found a rather remarkably low standardized mortality ratios (SMR) for lung cancer among female cabin attendants and no increase for male cabin attendants, indicating that smoking and exposure to passive smoking may not play an important role in mortality in this group. Smoking during airplane flights was permitted in Germany until the mid-1990s, and smoking is still not banned on all charter flights.”

    Overall the paper says:

    “The cohort included 16,014 women and 4,537 men (approximately 250,000 person-years of follow-up). Among women, the total number of deaths (n = 141) was lower than expected (SMR = 0.79, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.67, 0.94). The SMR for all cancers (n = 44) was 0.79 (95% CI: 0.54, 1.17), and the SMR for breast cancer (n = 19) was 1.28 (95% CI: 0.72, 2.20).

  42. November 22, 2011 1:30 pm


    At the risk of being pedantic the chap’s name is Professor Geoffrey Fong, not Wong.

    The paper is below that Stephen was quoting from and is the URL below. I have had a quick glance and he is right that if there are no windows open and the air conditioning turned off it would be 11x that of a smoky bar. HOWEVER from Fong’s own figures if all the windows open the concentrations of PM2.5 never reach a hazardous level and that peak is only for 10 minutes. Also if the driver’s window is open that too does not reach hazardous levels either.

    If you look at the appalling biased Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health (SCOTH) report 2004, written by ASH Trustee Dr. Martin Jarvis admits that the amount of SHS ingested by non smokers is 1% and I quote “The increased risk associated with exposure to SHS is about 25%, a substantial fraction of the risk from active smoking, although uptake of smoke by non-smokers is typically only about 1% of that by active smokers.” (Page 8)

    I rather think Dr. Jarvis has made my point about the junk science of SHS and lung cancer. Any way smokers are breathing in 100x of PM2.5 than that of the non smoker and even after 40-50 years smoking this has an effect with 7 years early mortality?

    Click to access special_mar_2008.pdf

  43. Jan Houselander permalink
    February 13, 2014 12:51 pm

    I watched my x husband continue to smoke in the car when our daughter was already an asthmatic. Unfortunately opening the window does not help as it blows back in half the time. Frequent requests for him not to smoke in the car when my daughter was present fell on deaf ears as his addiction made him irrational and selfish. He now has emphysema and has also had a heart operation to open his airways. Here follows a slow debilitating death. He is now in his 60’s. If people want to be STUPID with their health then do so but don’t effect vulnerable children.

  44. February 13, 2014 2:05 pm

    you do not have ythe backing of the people, this is just another diktak . as usual its what the lib dems, (the nobody party) wants and to hell with the rest. government is for the people, by the people, NOT THE FEW


  1. Tobacco plain packs – a protection against the “Silent Salesman” « Stephen Williams' Blog

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