Thursday, 1 July 2010

The Second Hand Smoke Quiz

Taken from the comments on this page of Nick Clegg's frankly AWESOME 'Your Freedom' government website, where members of the public are invited to suggest which draconian, unnecessary laws they want to see scrapped. I hope this one makes it onto the bill, and if it doesn't I might well see about a motion to conference next year - I've long argued that it's disgusting to tell owners of pubs they can't allow a legal activity on their own premises!

Test Your SHS (Second Hand Smoke) IQ

1. Who was the first European politician to implement comprehensive smoking bans?

a) Adolf Hitler

b) Bertie Aherne

c) Patricia Hewitt

2. In the government's own survey by the ONS in 2006 what % of the public did NOT want a complete smoking ban in pubs?

a) 67%

b) 37%

c) 17%

3. Which of the following has been linked to the highest increased risk of lung cancer?

a) drinking 3+ pints of milk a day

b) drinking 4+ cups of coffee a day

c) SHS

4. In 1998 a World Health Organisation study found what link between parents smoking & the risk of their children later developing lung cancer?

a) 20% reduced risk

b) no change

c) 20% increased risk

5. What’s the minimum no. of cigarettes that would need to be smoked in a sealed 20x22x9ft room in one hour for chemicals in SHS to become toxic?


b) 120

c) 12

6. In 2006 the NHS spent £31 million on advertising campaigns, inc. new nurses, blood donation, drugs, immunisation, sexual health, etc. What type of advertising made up 73% of the total spending?


b) recruiting new nurses

c) blood donation

7. Following a single complaint to OFCOM, what scenes from Tom & Jerry did TV channel Boomerang have to cut out?

a) Tom smoking

b) Tom hitting Jerry with an axe

c) Jerry plugging Tom’s tail into an electricity socket

How did you score?

Mostly a) Congratulations, you already know a lot about the SHS myth!

Mostly b) There’s hope for you yet but the truth is still out there.

Mostly c) Oh dear, you appear to have been brainwashed by the anti-smoking lobbyists :)


Anonymous said...

Smoking is a filthy and disgusting habit. If you must do it - then do it in private where NO-ONE else has to put up with it.

Do you mind if I urinate all down you? Yes - I thought you might.

Steph Ashley said...

Did you actually read the linked page where this quiz on second hand smoke was a supporting comment? Here's the gist:

ALL private businesses should be allowed to choose for themselves, whether to be totally smoking, totally non-smoking, or half and half.

Then people would be able to choose for themselves which places they want to visit.

Where in that does it say you have to put up with my smoking? You wouldn't - just stay the hell out of places where me and the business owner like doing it! I would be doing exactly as you say, smoking in private spaces where no-one else has to put up with it unless they choose to.

Also, anonymous trollface, you've done so well in devaluing your own already ignorant comment by comparing smoking on the same premises as someone to urinating on them. Get a grip, frankly.

burkesworks said...

Hooray for a pro-smoking post that doesn't emanate from the self-styled libertarian end of the political "blogosphere".

There's nothing liberal about a smoking ban; but being the eternal pessimist that I am, sadly I've a feeling this won't make it onto the Freedom/Repeal Bill. Take a look at the Coalition benches, and ask yourself how many of them you can imagine drinking in a back street locals' pub or a WMC. Meanwhile more licensed premises close their doors for good.

The choice should be entirely down to the licensee, taking the clientele in mind; what works for a gentrified gastropub in NW3 won't necessarily do so in deepest Cleckhuddersfax.

Arty "Fucking" Smokes said...

I always had a gut feeling that most of the issues surrounding SHS were hyped up (smokers were made a scapegoat for many of society's ills), but some of the info you have here is amazing.
I wish it was official Liberal Democrat policy to deliver the real facts about smoking to people. Sadly, I think a couple of decades of propaganda have already done too much damage and just about everyone has been convinced that SHS is as deadly as cyanide tablets.

If you need another anecdote, then I can tell you that I took up smoking because it was promised that it would kill me. I'm still alive, dammit!

Anonymous said...

A smoking ban means it is against the law to use or permit a legal pruduct on 'private' property

ChrisB said...

It's quite refreshing to spot a LibDem writing against the party's previous manifesto policy.
My own LibDem MP refused to accept my criticism of the basis for a ban or of its excesses. He preferred to accept the word of the medical professionals who, despite declaring themselves to be anti-smoking and actively participating in 'funded' anti-smoking events, provided unbiased opinion!!!
Far from discouraging smoking I believe that anti-smoking promotion has brought more attention to the words 'smoking' & 'cigarettes' than any Big Tobacco campaign could ever wish for. Their demand that smokers be outside in full view of all rather than out of sight in the adult environment of a pub shows how inept their thinking is!
Their overkill has promoted the 'forbidden fruit'.
In these days of expenditure cuts I can see no better saving of money than disbanding groups such as ASH, cancelling conventions such as that held recently Scotland, cutting advertising campaigns and reducing the use of ineffective NRT products.
Let's return to the effective past when smoking prevalence reduced naturally without imposed denormalization.
An interesting piece of condemned evidence to the Health Committee is on pg. EV117 at -- How true this is but of course Roger Scruton had connections to Big T.

Anonymous said...

could we possibly have a link to the research on number 3?

I find it very hard to believe and seeing how this fact was discovered may convince me...

Anonymous said...

and also I have this:

I don't wish to demonise smokers any more than I would people who eat too much or anything else (i.e. not at all!) But surely some curbing of smoking in public places such as hospitals etc is good for workers.

I like to partake in a ciggie occassionally but do not at all think I should have the right to expose anyone else to it...

There could be some places to smoke but doesn't that mean some people have to take jobs in an environment that could be detrimental to their health when there are very few jobs around to be picky about?

Steph Ashley said...

*sigh* I love it when someone skim reads something I write, makes assumptions about what I'm saying, and can't be arsed to read properly OR to go use google to check out something they're not sure about before just mouthing off anonymously.

First off - here you go, a study that controls for smoking and finds that people who drink full fat milk three times a day double their risk of lung cancer:

As for protecting workers.. even notwithstanding the fact "risk" associated with secondhand smoke is negligible, incredibly hyped and overstated (hello, that's the point the quiz is making - passive smoking is bollocks-all harm), I'm not advocating that anyone be forced to take a job in an environment where smoking is permitted. I accept there are people who find it distasteful and would rather not share a room with smokers.

What I am advocating is for owner-occupiers of licensed premises and cafés to be given back their right to choose whether to allow a perfectly legal activity on their premises - that is after all what the original request on the Your Freedom site that triggered this post and is linked at the top says. What you're saying is that this will force some people into working in places where they're exposed to smoke. Well gutted for them if it did, frankly - how about labourers refusing to work on potholes in the road because of the fumes from the standing traffic? The phrase 'get a grip' springs to mind. Anyway, I think you'd find the jobs in the 'smoking permitted' bars would be snapped up by people who like the convivial atmosphere of groups of friends having a cigarette together, so there wouldn't be any left for sanctimonious pricks to be 'forced' to take.

Thanks for popping by, don't bother coming again x

Steph Ashley said...

Oh and I forgot to add - the study you link to says in summary that people experience less secondhand smoke in a population after a legislative smoking ban. And? And nothing, um, that's it.

There's limited evidence that it helps people to stop actively smoking. There's no evidence of an improvement of the health of people who didn't smoke before.

The one thing they come up with that they can crow about is a reduced number of cases of acute coronaries across the population as a whole. Well fuck me, if people who smoke find they can't do so throughout the day when they want to because every time they step into a pub, a shop or a train station they're made to put it out, then they're going to smoke less and probably reduce their risk of heart disease. Is that a good thing? Depends if on balance those people would rather live shorter lives where they're allowed to do what they want when it's not harming anyone else, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your replies. (But not so much for asking me not to visit again-seems a little harsh..I am only engaging with your blog and as far as I can tell, haven't been rude to you-if I have, then I apologise.)

I wasn't "mouthing off" I was asking you which study your particular post relates to. I feel that if people are putting up "facts" for everyone to read in order to educate, (especially about health) they should tell us where they are from. I don't think that is too much to ask...whether they belive in SHS causing harm or not.

I would say that as SHS at home is not affected by the ban, any improvement on health that removal of all SHS would have on someone is likely to be underestimated by this cochrane review of 50 studies.

Of course it is up to people to decide whether they want to smoke or live longer, but the evidence related to coronaries is about second hand smoke and the health of the general population improving, not just the health of smokers. If that is the case without removing SHS at home then I am in favour of it as other people's health improves by the restriction of smoking.

Finally, I can't get the full text of the study about the milk and therefore can't tell for sure how good a study it is, but taking the authors at their word, from the abstract, it says that you double your risk of lung cancer if you drink full fat milk, over those who have never drunk full fat milk. Doubled from what, I can't tell. It could be from 1 in 14 million to 1 in 7 million...and how it compares to the risk from SHS you can't tell from this either.

Even the doubled risk of cancer from full fat milk could be much less than the risk from SHS.

If you have something which addresses this, then I am totally willing to change my mind on this issue. And I know you don't seem to like me asking but as you have clearly stated as a fact, on the internet, for millions of people to see, that drinking milk is linked to the highest risk of lung cancer I feel that really it isn't that much to ask at all. Esp as you claim that if we think the answer is C, we have been brainwashed.

P.S WHO has previously come out in favour of homeopathy because of political, not scientific reasons, so I probably won't buy that one either, without looking at the article. (see Trick or Treatment by Prof. Ernst).

Anonymous said...

And wow-if you don't want to work in a smoky atmosphere, you are a "sanctimonious prick" again, harsh.

Whether you believe SHS causes problems or not, many people with existing asthma/lung conditions will feel the effects of smoking in the atmosphere and personally on balance, I would rather they were freer to work in the hospitality industry than that I have a larger number of places to be able to smoke in.

While I understand if you disagree with this, for issues of civil liberty for smokers (and I am not unsympathetic, especially because there is a high proportion of people in mental health institutions who smoke and are stuck in a place that is not their home)I would personally prefer that these people were able to smoke somewhere indoors without affecting staff who work there.

Anyway my issue is not so much concerned with the policy of allowing smoking indoors itself as that is to do with balancing rights of different groups of people, to which there is no right answer.

It is about whether SHS does harm and how much harm and whether this quiz represents facts on which to base the debate about where people should be allowed to smoke.

Steph Ashley said...

I don't like it when people want to engage in discussion in complete anonymity. Reading back, no, you weren't all that rude, and I apologise for choking you off the way I did, but you'll generally find me on the defensive if you won't put a name to your comments.. the sort of people who don't put a name to their comments are more often like the first commentor on this post than anything like reasonable.

but the evidence related to coronaries is about second hand smoke - Really? Where do you get that from? All I can see is a statistical correlation between a legislative ban and admissions to hospital with acute coronary conditions. Given that SHS effects are negligible, I'm willing to bet that if there's any causation to that, it's the smokers who have cut down against their will as a result of the ban.

You're right you know, I can't vouch for the standard of that milk study, and I didn't check it before I reposted this quiz that someone else wrote. However, a doubled risk (assuming the findings were correct) of lung cancer from drinking full fat milk three times a day, as opposed to the latest US Surgeon General's estimate here that says living with a smoker increases a nonsmoker’s chances of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent.. it would appear that at least while I'm using google for my sources, the facts genuinely are on the side of the quiz rather than the passive smoking bogeymen.

I'm well aware I'm no kind of expert. That's why this is a political opinion blog rather than a website dedicated to the dissemination of health facts. Bite me, frankly. And as for exposing millions of people to the information contained herein.. uh my reading figures are nothing like that, and I'd be worried if they were coming to me for advice on how to avoid cancer instead of I dunno, their doctor maybe?

You say there is no right answer, but to me there clearly is, and that answer is to allow owner-occupiers of businesses the right to allow smoking on their own premises. Potential employees and customers can choose to apply to or patronise the establishment based on whether they prefer a smoking or non-smoking pub/café/shop. A great many small pubs only have the people who own them working there the majority of the time, delivery vans too - it's like a bad joke to tell these people that they're not allowed to exercise their right to smoke because "it's a workplace". What you're doing there is prioritising the rights of someone who might want to apply to work there at some point in the undetermined future when a vacancy might become available (ie someone who in all likelihood does not even exist), over the rights of the filthy second-class citizen smoker.

And even assuming that secondhand smoke causes appreciable harm, which I don't believe, that's not an acceptable reason to ban it in all enclosed public places including those operating as private businesses. Government buildings, schools, hospitals, sure. But pubs, clubs, music venues, eateries? Going back to what I was saying about the labourer in the standing traffic earlier.. there are plenty of situations where people are exposed to health risk as a part of their job. You choose to work that job knowing the risk, or you choose to work somewhere else.

I don't even think it would limit 'career opportunities' in the hospitality trade. Given that the way I want the law changed is so that owner-occupiers have the option of allowing smoking, many if not most places you could get a job behind a bar would remain non-smoking premises. I actually have a sneaking suspicion a measure like this would save the independent local pubs from the march of the identikit chain outfits as a side-effect. How marvellous.

the Great Senn said...

If one gives up the cigs one looks about where usually their is a bit of second hand smoke to be had for free so one can secretly chastise the government for impounding so much tax on em
pub entrances are good for getting second hand smoke so are high streets and some alleys are brillaint cus the smoke does not dissipate in the same way and one can eally breathe it in with much less carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons in the air, not mentioning sulphur diox from diesel engines which much worse than the smell of tobacco

Anonymous said...


thanks for the apology and you wish to be free to smoke in pubs, so I wish to be free to engage in anonymous debate. I am sorry it annoys you, but it is my the moment anyway.

Yup 20-30% increase, if correct is less than doubling a risk.

I am a little suspicious because I don't know where you find people who have never drunk whole milk in their whole life and therefore what confounding factors apart from smoking may be involved in the doubling of the risk. And therefore whether this risk is overestimated.

You are right that the studies show a correlation between the ban and coronaries rather than a direct relationship-my bad.

The incidence of coronary attacks also as much as you think it may just be smokers, it could equally be non-smokers and neither of us has the information to know that.

"Given that SHS effects are negligible, I'm willing to bet that if there's any causation to that, it's the smokers who have cut down against their will as a result of the ban. "

I think I would disagree and say "given that this evidence is not comparing SHS exposure with a total lack of SHS exposure, there is not enough information to know the precise risk of SHS...we therefore don't know, if there is causation, whether it is down to smokers being forced to cut down, or a genuine health benefit to non-smokers."

Any role of SHS has not been tested that well, if we compare public ban against no public ban, as people are getting SH smoke at home still.

Anyway, as your argument for smoking in businesses is regardless of whether or not appreciable harm is caused, it probably doesn't matter that much!

I would like to just add however..."What you're doing there is prioritising the rights of someone who might want to apply to work there at some point in the undetermined future when a vacancy might become available (ie someone who in all likelihood does not even exist), over the rights of the filthy second-class citizen smoker."

Or are you prioritising the rights of smokers over non-smokers who already work there and do not wish to breathe in other people's smoke?

If we ignore any harm, I don't know how to choose which way to go to be perfectly honest with you.

Hmmm though having read what you say about keeping "public" public spaces smoke free (which I suppose is the main thing) and allowing small owner occupied premises to have smokers, it does seem I have been slightly blinded by wanting to debate the facts in the quiz and that that in itself is probably not that big a deal.

I know you aren't a doctor or a science journalist, which is maybe where most of my frustration should be aimed....but I still feel that if someone presents a "fact" it should be in context and with links that back them up....but maybe that's just like how you hate debating with anonymous people!