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Cigarette companies encourage the booze-smoking link

Smoking companies are subsidising the provision of outdoor drinking facilities – such as open air rooftop gardens – so that smokers can be accommodated in pubs and clubs when restrictions of smoking come into operation in July 2007 in Victoria. One can draw several conclusions about this action by these multi-national cancer vendors:

It is a rational type of investment on their part given the synergies that accrue to the cancer vendors. Apart from encouraging continued smoking it should prove to be a sound investment in the entertainment industry. Smoking and drinking are complementary products so that it is particularly attractive for cancer vendors to invest in booze.

The move is socially advantageous since it should cut down on whatever dangers do accrue from passive smoking – these are debateable though there are likely to be costs for children – and might even cut down on the health damages to smokers by reducing their exposure to smoke-filled air. Certainly workers in these environments – such as bar-people – will experience a lower sustained exposure to carcinogens.

While the long-term objective should be to phase out smoking altogether, intermediate steps which make smoking more expensive and more of a hassle for smokers are useful. They protect the rights of those addicted to cancer-causing drugs as well as those who cohabit the world with them and the rights of those who have to earn their living by working with them.

14 comments to Cigarette companies encourage the booze-smoking link

  • Sam Ward

    Cancer Vendors?

    Are you intentionally trying to parody yourself?

    Do you refer to burger shops as “heart disease vendors”?

  • Jason Soon

    these guys can never win can they? so you got your ban on indoor smoking. you got your concerns about second hand smoke addressed even though not all non-smokers care about second hand smoke. and now, you’re against outdoor venues where smokers can segregate themselves and harm no third parties because it enhances their ability to enjoy pubs and we can’t have that.

    you’re a fascist, harry.

  • hc

    I think Jason you should reread. I think these arrangements – having outdoor facilities improve things and say so. It reduces passive smoking dangers to others particularly workers servicing the smoker clients. It is also a useful stepping-stone towards the goal of phasing out smoking together.

    Sam, Cigarette vendors themselves recognise that their product causes cancer, heart disease and various other avoidable medical conditions. I am merely calling a spade a ‘bloody shovel’. I hadn’t thought about burger shops. Mmmm.

  • Sam Ward

    “They protect the rights of those addicted to cancer-causing drugs as well as those who cohabit the world with them and the rights of those who have to earn their living by working with them.”

    Too bad about the rights of the venue owners, though.

    ” I am merely calling a spade a ‘bloody shovel’.”

    Bullshit Harry. You are intentionally vilifying tobacco companies. It is quite obvious that the only way they could make you happy is by closing down.

    This may surprise you but Tobacco companies are not staffed by evil demons but honest, well intentioned people like you and me. They provide a product that their customers want and do their best to make sure they can get it. Nothing more.

    Just FYI, here is a list of known and suspected Carcinogens. It may surprise you to learn that Tobacco isn’t the only thing listed there. Many of these substances are available for sale just about anywhere, and many of them can be purchased even by children!

    The great Australian Barbecue is also a great source of carcinogens:

    “Cooking protein-rich food at high temperatures, such as broiling or barbecuing meats, can lead to the formation of many potent carcinogens that are comparable to those found in cigarrette smoke (i.e., benzo[a]pyrene).”

    I sure hope you haven’t been responsible for causing cancer in any of your friends by having them over for a barbecue, cancer merchant!

    In fact it is entirely impossible to spend a day without being exposed to many thousands of carcinogens.

    Until you equally apply the label of “cancer merchant” to any company that sells any product containing any of these substances, you will have to accept that you are addressing this subject with a complete lack of rationality.

    The fact is, Harry, that just about everything you do, eat, touch or look at increases your risk of contracting cancer. It is unavoidable. As you age the chances of you contracting cancer get closer to 100% with every year.

    Everybody knows this. And this is why John and I have repeatedly tried to explain to you that people come to different conclusions regarding risk vs reward. If you want to continue eating barbecued meats, then you should know that you are increasing your risk of cancer by doing so. If your logic is applied in the same fashion, then barbecues should also be banned, or “incentivised” out of everyday life.

    I personally am not going to give up barbecues because of a fear of cancer. I am sure though that there are some people out there who have done so.

    You could live in a plastic bubble and never go outside and your chances of getting cancer would decrease significantly. I don’t think that this is worthwhile but there probably are some nutjobs out there that do.

    The point is that one person’s risk/reward calculation is not the same as the next, and that no one person (or group of people) should be able to legislate what risks are acceptable and what aren’t.

    All this debate comes down to is the fact that you believe that your judgement is correct and that you should be able to force the rest of society to live their lives by your own values.

    As Jason said, that makes you a fascist.

  • hc

    Sam, Thanks for the links. You seem to be suggesting that since lots of things cause cancer (including the barbequed snag) that excessive concern with smoking is unwarranted. It isn’t you know – 30% of all cancers are caused by smoking . The biggest cause of cancer around the world – around 440,000 Americans die in the US each yeatr from smoking-caused illnesses – including 87% of lung cancers.

    This isn’t my judgement – its the view of thousands of doctors, researchers and people who have taken the trouble to determine the facts.

    I don’t think I have vilified cigarette companies. I wouldn’t work for one myself or invest in one but don’t seek them any harm other than forcing them out of the business of supplying an addictive product that kills people. If you think that makes me a fascist so be it.

    Smoking is bad news.

  • Sam Ward

    Harry, how do doctors decide whether your cancer is caused by whether or not you smoke?

    They don’t have a magic multimeter that tells them why their patient got cancer.

    This is how it works – if you are a smoker and get cancer, then according to the medical authorities that cancer is “caused by smoking”. Now you might well have got cancer anyway, but that is irrelevant.

    Cancer is a cause of 30% of all cancer deaths because that’s about the percentage of people that smoke.

    And if you smoke and get cancer, then your cancer is caused by smoking by definition.

    Why don’t you ever mention that 70% of people that get cancer have never smoked in their lives?

    All that smart decision-making and they still died anyway! Poor blighters, at least they could have enjoyed themselves while they were alive.

    “I don’t think I have vilified cigarette companies. I wouldn’t work for one myself or invest in one but don’t seek them any harm other than forcing them out of the business of supplying an addictive product that kills people.”

    I’m not really sure what could be harmful to a business than you know, sending it out of business. But maybe that’s just me…

    Anyway Harry, you can’t possibly win this argument and still tell yourself that you are a liberal who values freedom, but that doesn’t matter.

    Despite losing the moral and logical argument, your side is winning where it counts – in the legislation, so I guess you can be happy with that.

  • Anonymous

    Harry,

    “The move is socially advantageous since it should cut down on whatever dangers do accrue from passive smoking – these are debateable though there are likely to be costs for children”

    What about the children you cry. The smoke that kids of smokers breathe in clubs and pubs is negligible compared with what they get at home or on a drive. By your reasoning , smoking should be banned anywhere children are present, including private vehicles and homes.

    If fact, banning people from smoking in pubs and clubs means people are now more likely to stay at home and smoke – exposing their children to second-hand smoke. A recent paper evaluates the effect of smoking bans empirically and finds:
    “smoking bans have on average no effects on non smokers. While bans in public transportation or in schools decrease the exposure of non smokers, bans in recreational public places can in fact perversely increase their exposure by displacing smokers to private places where they contaminate non smokers, and in particular young children.”

    And your other argument is that it “reduces passive smoking dangers to others particularly workers servicing the smoker clients”. But no-one forces them to take this work. If they don’t like passive smoke, then don’t take a job in which you serve smokers.

    Many workplaces are unsafe or potentially unsafe. That creates a disincentive for many people to accept such jobs and allows perhaps less well-qualified and less particular workers to take the jobs. The element of danger or discomfort also forces employers to offer higher wages than otherwise. For those then willing to take the jobs, it means higher pay. By making workplaces smoke-free, some better-qualified workers will now be attracted to those jobs, driving the lesser-qualified workers into even less-desirable work—possibly at jobs with more immediate dangers—or out of work altogether. Workers too should be free to work where they would like and make their own risk/benefit tradeoffs.

  • hc

    Anonymous, Do you have a link or reference to the claim made in your third para. Its a good point and one I missed.

    I do think it is a bad idea for parents to smoke in cars while kids are present. Ditto in closed rooms in a household. How to stop? I don’t know.

    Your last point amounts to the claim that work-safety legislation is unwarranted – just articulate the risks and workers will make their own informed risk/reward tradeoffs. I don’t buy it.

  • Anonymous

    Just google some of the quote I provided and you will find it at
    http://econrsss.anu.edu.au/pdf/DP509.pdf.

    And you’ll need a more logical argument than that Harry. Coal mines are dangerous places. That doesn’t mean we should close them all down to reduce the dangers to coal miners.

    Surely for work safety legislation to be justified on efficiency grounds there must be some asymmetric information (the workers underestimate the risks and the regulators do not) plus the assumption that the regulators care about efficiency. But everyone knows about the risks of second-hand smoke. In fact, people vastly over-estimate the risks of passive smoking, just as smokers over-estimate the dangers of smoking.

    But you don’t seem to care about efficiency Harry, as current levels of taxation on cigarettes vastly exceed any plausible negative externality.

  • Sam Ward

    “Your last point amounts to the claim that work-safety legislation is unwarranted – just articulate the risks and workers will make their own informed risk/reward tradeoffs. I don’t buy it.”

    This is not the case Harry. Work-safety legislation is designed to eliminate *unnecessary* risk in the workplace due to negligence or poor work systems or whatever. The idea has never been to eliminate dangerous work altogether. If that was the case all mining/fishing/labouring type work would be illegal.

    You can argue that bars don’t *need* to accept smoking customers just like mines don’t *need* to use explosives to extract iron ore, but in both cases the operation is going to be a lot less profitable if (when) it is banned.

    I still haven’t seen any anti-smoking activist put forward a good reason why bars and restaurants couldn’t offer monetary incentives to offset the “danger” of passive smoking.

    Everybody is well aware in any case that there is no danger associated with passive smoking anyway, merely the inconvenience of smelly clothes and possible minor allergic reactions – but I think that many establishments would be willing to offer an incentive anyway if it meant they could keep their smoking customers.

  • Lucy Tartan

    Well, I don’t smoke and the smelly clothes thing (and smelly hair, and smelly air in general) is a big, big turn-off stopping me from going to bars and pubs. I used to go and see bands a lot when I was younger, then stopped, and recently started again when the Northcote Social Club made their band room smoke free.

    Sam I hope you can see that none of the above objections interfere with anyone else’s freedoms – I dislike smoky environments in a completely selfish individualist way.

  • Sam Ward

    “Sam I hope you can see that none of the above objections interfere with anyone else’s freedoms -“

    What about the owner of the bar lucy? Can you wrap your little brain around that?

  • Lucy Tartan

    I didn’t say I thought bar owners should be forbidden from allowing smoking on their premises, Sam. No need to be insulting.

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