Evidence Review of Smoking Ban
Response from Freedom2Choose

 Evidence Review on Little Evidence


Legislation banning smoking from all  hospitality venues was passed in February 2006, with the promise of a full Parliamentary review in June 2010.

There is a widely-held expectation that, properly conducted, such a review would confirm what most of us already know - that the ban has exacted a terrible toll on the viability of our pubs, clubs, restaurants, and Bingo halls in return for little demonstrable proof that it has improved the nation's health.

This Academic Review will come as a great disappointment to those who had hoped for impartiality and rigour.

Exposure to 'second-hand smoke

Despite being on fairly safe ground here, the reviewers are nonetheless hampered by insufficient post-ban data:

Childhood exposure records are available only to the end of 2007.

The bar-workers’ study lost almost two-thirds of its participants by the third and final assessment.

Changes in health and behaviour

Health, here, relates chiefly to hospital admissions for heart attacks.

Academic Review
...found a statistically significant reduction (−2.4%) in the number of admissions for MI following the implementation of smokefree legislation.
...incidence of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) has continued to decline at the same rate as before the smoking ban.

Two areas of behaviour change are looked at - ‘quit’ rates around the time the ban was implemented and changing attitudes to the ban itself. Both areas are compromised by lack of data.

Much of the behavioural section relies heavily on a study conducted in 2009.  This study recognises the deleterious effect smoking bans have on some people, but recommends similar legislation to tackle other ‘wicked issues’ like alcohol and food.

Impact on Hospitality Industry

Six sources of information were chosen from which to assess the impact of the ban on hospitality venues:

Source Result
Literature International evidence only
Labour Force Survey Sample size too small for analysis
Tourism figures Limited data
Licensing data Unavailable for England
Annual Business Inquiry Limited data giving mixed results
Gambling figures Bingo!

Gambling figures provide solid evidence that revenue from Bingo plunged immediately after the ban.

Linda Bauld (ASH advisory board) explains this away as an unspecified  'trend towards other forms of gambling.'


The review authors conclude:

Results from the studies conducted in England show benefits for health, changes in attitudes and behaviour and no clear adverse impact on the hospitality industry.

We strongly disagree with these findings. 

Our main objections are:

  • Poor quality data
Incomplete and irrelevant studies are used to assess all three areas, appallingly so in evaluating the impact of the ban on hospitality venues.
Dr. Linda Bauld's team may not have had time to properly research their subject, but others have:

  • Conflict of interest
We question the impartiality of a team lead by, and including, dedicated anti-smoking activists, some of whom provide the sources upon which this review is based. 

Whilst the assessment of smoke exposure, health improvements and behavioural change may reasonably be ascribed to health authorities, Dr. Linda Bauld has no expertise in the hospitality market, and every interest in finding it undamaged by the smoking ban.

  • Irrelevance to Policy
The cynical timing of this paper, to coincide with publication of the Government's White Paper on Tobacco Control, strongly suggests that the Review findings played little, if any, part in formulating the policies described within the White Paper.  Minds were already made up.

For example, evidence that...

...some older men and women with children reported that they had curtailed social activities and experienced a sense of loss of the pleasures of socialising in bars and cafés where they could smoke with friends.  

...was clearly ignored in the desire to 'drive down smoking rates'.

In effect, the Government's acceptance of this review is an affront to all those who are compelled to give up either smoking or socialising, and to an increasingly beleaguered hospitality industry.

This 'Evidence' Review  is based on nothing of the kind and serves only to justify the continued erosion of our adult leisure pursuits by Public Health.

Freedom2Choose seeks to protect the informed choices of consenting adults with sensible and achievable goals on the issues of smoking, We actively campaign to prevent victimisation of smokers, social division, social isolation and to alleviate the negative social and economic impacts of the smoking ban. We are funded entirely by donations from the general public and have no connections whatsoever with the tobacco or pharmaceutical industries.

Our membership consists of both smokers and non-smokers

c/o John H Baker 22 Glastonbury House, Priestfields, Middlesbrough, Cleveland TS3 0LF
Tel/Fax 0845 643 9469

Freedom2choose (Scotland):
c/o The Dalmeny Bar, 297 Leith Walk,
Edinburgh EH6 8SA
Tel 0845 643 9552