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Myth 3

Chris Broscomb
10th December 2006

'There is widespread public support for smoking bans'



This myth of widespread support appears to be backed up by the results of various polls so it appears to be true but polls can be biased.
From the MORI website

“No matter what the project, Ipsos MORI has a range of different and imaginative techniques and methods to make sure each project is precisely designed to fulfill client needs.”

And

“Our clients' individual needs are paramount. Our research programmes are tailor made to match individual priorities, needs and requirements. We can contribute our own approaches and understanding to optimize key stakeholder, employee and customer relationships”

No poll is free so when a client commissions a poll they get one “ tailor made to match individual priorities, needs and requirements”. If they don’t get what they want, just like any business, they will take their money to a company that will satisfy their agenda.


Polls and how pollsters 'might' have biased the outcome

YouGov gave an explanation of differing poll results – Do the Public support a ban on smoking in pubs? August 25th, 2005

There is a little press release spat going on between the Tobacco Manufacturers Association and ASH, the anti-smoking pressure group over a poll published by ASH earlier this week. The poll, carried out by the BMRB, claimed to show that 73% of people would support a complete ban on smoking in all workplaces, including all restaurants and pubs, some of which are to be excluded from the government’s proposed ban.

A couple of hours later, the Tobacco Manufacturers Association hit back with a press release claiming that the figures were distorted and that in reality less than a third of people supported a total ban. So, what’s the real picture? (1)
Very Interesting – A straight yes/no to ban shows many in favour but a poll with alternatives shows the opposite!!!!! A complete ban is only the first choice of a minority of people; most people prefer a more tolerant approach.

The Government response when the Office for National Statistics figures are quoted to challenge their claim of overwhelming support for a ban is; The ONS survey does not actually ask 'Do you support/oppose a ban on smoking in all public places?'

Government quote ASH & CRUK polls results from their yes/no polls yet when the question was asked there were still alternatives on the table for MPs to vote on!!! This actual question was not appropriate nor did it match the wishes of the majority who preferred a more tolerant approach.

YouGov again commented on poll results - Smoking in pubs…again September 1st, 2005 A Populus poll for Forest asked people to choose between the four options set out in the Government’s white paper: the present voluntary approach, giving local authorities greater powers to limit smoking, a total ban, or the governments’ preferred option of a partial ban. The partial ban was the favoured option of only 18% of respondents, 23% supported devolving powers to local authorities while the rest of the sample was evenly split between a total ban, or keeping the present voluntary situation.

This shows that the Forest polls matched the proposed options and gave a more accurate result!! Only around 30% supported the total ban.

TMA Media -Press Release: 08/06/2005 Public Rejects Ban on Smoking in Pubs

Check the
actual results


Similar for Wales Smoking ban not wanted, says Welsh poll May 25 2005

POPULUS ASKED THE RIGHT QUESTION SO WHY WERE THESE POLLS NOT ACCEPTED?

The answer is simple; they did not give the required answer for groups and the DoH who have a declared agenda that favours a smoking ban.
From the Health Committee Report Volume 3 Memorandum from ASH pg 110 of 128 It is clear from extensive polling evidence that the public would give majority support to comprehensive smokefree legislation................
It would appear that there is a concern in some parts of Government—carefully fostered by the tobacco industry and its front groups—about whether the majority of (at least) the English public backs comprehensive smokefree provision. This arises because many polls (including the Smoking Related Behaviour and Attitudes module conducted by the Office of National Statistics, and all polls conducted by the tobacco lobby) segment the issue by asking about smokefree legislation in relation to particular categories of public place.

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