Mathias Hasselmann

New Year

A new year started, let's see if it can match the last one.

It did a good start with finally bringing new anti-smoking laws into action. It was an really embarrassing situation, that you had to choose between entering a restaurant/cafe/ice-parlor or keeping your health. It was annoying that you had change clothes immediatly after leaving such a place. What gives smokers the right to dictate, which places non-smokers can enter? What gives them the right to injure our bodies? It's just sad, that Berlin's authorities don't have the guts to ignore a shrill minority speaking against that laws and give keepers another transitional period of six months. That's unfair towards the non-smoking majority, it's unfair towards the staff in such localities. This laws are known for several months now - that was enough of transitional period! Well, but what to expect from a senat, were even the senator of health smokes...

Comments

karl lattimer commented on January 2, 2008 at 2:17 p.m.

I'd say equally what gives non-smokers the right to dictate smokers must stand outside regardless of the weather?

I think injure your bodies is a bit strong, I'd say that injury is something tangible but an increase in a fraction of a percentage point of increasing your chance of possibly one day developing a smoking related illness is well over the top... Seriously though, if you're that worried about it killing you, stop eating and stop breathing, everything will kill you and I'd rather that I had choice rather than someone dictating to me how bad it is for MY health.

Getting on a high horse about this isn't going to help anyone, however to quote Bill Hicks, "I know you have some kind of eternal life fantasy so I hate to break it to you but... non-smokers die everyday, at least when I get sick they'll have the technology to cure me!"

http://youtube.com/watch?v=w9ySCcnoo3c

Mathias Hasselmann commented on January 2, 2008 at 2:52 p.m.

> I'd say equally what gives non-smokers the
> right to dictate smokers must stand outside
> regardless of the weather?

No, you can't:

1) Nobody forced a smoker to start smoking.
2) It are the smokers who do harm to other people, so they have to respectful the other people's wish of not getting hurt.

Regarding the weather: Use nicotine pads if you are adicted and don't like the weather.

> I think injure your bodies is a bit strong...
Harm of smoking and the even bigger harm of passive smoking have been prooven. No way to deny it. No bonus for self-inflicted addiction.

> Getting on a high horse...
No high horse in sight, I just request my human-right on physical integrity[1]. IMHO non-smokers suffered far to long from false understanding of tolerance towards smokers.

Hmm, learned right now, that just the German Grundgesetz[2] guaranties that - IMHO obvious - human right. Really sad what low level international communities manage to settle on. Well, but also strange that we need a separate anti-smoking laws in Germany, as the Grundgesetz already implies, that smoking in public rooms cannot be legal.

[1] http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%B6r... (use Google to translate - hard to believe Wikipedia has no English article ragarding that topic)
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_La...

karl lattimer commented on January 2, 2008 at 3:06 p.m.

"Harm of smoking and the even bigger harm of passive smoking have been prooven" - Citations please?

I'd love to actually see something that proves any of this, which is unbiased (that means not supported by a self richeous lobby group)

FYI, particulates in the air in london are higher than a smokey bar room. So if I were you I wouldn't go to london, or any big city, as the free radicals will kill you!

I've only ever heard of one person who has died of passive smoking, that was Roy Castle, who played trumpet in smokey bars for some 30 years, the deep inhalation repeatedly while playing and constant exposure caused his illness, however in a century when bars have filtered air conditioning and the air is regularly evacuated and freshened I don't see how this would continue to be the case.

Seriously, accusing a smoker of injuring you is way too strong! Especially when used in the same post as something like "oh it makes my clothes smell bad"... So after the 6 months we've had a smoking ban in the UK the smell of piss and stale lager that leave with me every time is better?

I think you should stop caring about how other people affect your life span, after all its not the vice that kills you, its worrying about how the vice will kill you...

Alan H commented on January 2, 2008 at 3:13 p.m.

Smoking where food is being prepared or served is frankly vile and disgusting and I've always found it in very poor taste (pun intended). It surprises me how French people are both so very serious about their food and so readily deaden their sense of taste by smoking.

Ireland went for an outright ban of smoking in the workplace in the name of protecting workers health, a sly way of framing the legislation to make opponents seem callous and thoughtless but frankly the half measures had failed utterly to make any difference at all. Comments about the French smoking ban seem to imply it will mean some savings to their nation health budget.

Get used to it. Once the changes come in non-smokers will soon wonder why they put up with the unpleasant smell and extra laundry smokers cause them.

One critic pointed out you do not have a "non-peeing" section at the swimming pool.
Wags joked that at least the smell of smoking masked other worse bodily odors.

Knowing what we know now if smoking tobacco wasn't legal already it would stand a very small chance of being allowed at all.

Tobias commented on January 2, 2008 at 3:17 p.m.

Shrill? shrill. thank you.

Jussi Kukkonen commented on January 2, 2008 at 3:43 p.m.

> Citations please?

Oh, come on. There's not really any argument anymore (e.g. WHO, US CDC, Surgeon General and EPA all agree). Wikipedia should get you started: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_...

Try e.g. the U.S. Surgeon Generals report on January 2006: it concluded that passive smoking increases risk of lung cancer and heart disease significantly and that "nonsmokers need protection through the restriction of smoking in public places" because air conditioning does not seem to help.

> So after the 6 months we've had a smoking ban in the UK the smell of piss and
> stale lager that leave with me every time is better?

Karl, only a smoker could compare these two... the occasional body odour / urine smell at a bar is not even on the same scale as the horrible stench of stale tobacco on last nights clothes in the morning.

> after all its not the vice that kills you, its worrying about how the vice will kill you...

I'm fairly sure my lung cancer risk has not increased by 20% by worrying.

anonymous commented on January 2, 2008 at 3:46 p.m.

Yeah, right. And what about the polluted air caused by the excessive amount of cars used every other day? I think that is much, much worse than the few air you can breathe in a restaurant if there is people smoking in it. And you can do nothing to prevent it.

Baris Cicek commented on January 2, 2008 at 3:51 p.m.

Ironic thing is smokers pays more tax money to government and this tax money is spent for non-smokers as well.

If you want to divide people into smokers and non-smokers (which is a stupid classification) endless debates are inevitable.

These bans show hypocrisy of governments. They let selling of such an addictive material, tobacco, getting billions of tax money due to its trade, then try to save people from avoiding its harm.

blah commented on January 2, 2008 at 4:16 p.m.

Baris: This is naive. Health care costs due to smokers with cancerous diseases has been topping the cigarette tax income in almost every country that provides healthcare at all. That's actually the primary reason for cracking down on tobacco consumption at such a scale. It's way more expensive to treat patients with cancer than the state can earn by imposing taxation on the products they get the cancer with.

It's actually right the other way round than you are suggesting: the smokers' health care is payed for by non-smokers.

karl lattimer commented on January 2, 2008 at 4:16 p.m.

...anyone who quotes wikipedia as a reliable source shall forever be struck from the record of humanity...

I said unbiased reports, self righteous anti-smokers not included... Also, trying to tell people its worse when its in the air than it is when inhaled directly into your lungs is like trying to tell me that I'm at less of a risk of dying in a F1 race by being in the car than spectating... Its simply false logic.

I think my point about all of this is, why the f**k does anyone care that much? Can't people simply say, they live life their way, why should I ruin it by forcing them out into the rain etc... Tolerance is more important than the smell of your clothes or an extra couple of minutes onto your life (which lets be honest that's pretty much all it boils down to).

Anti-smokers (not non smokers, non smokers can be of the ilk that just don't give a rats ass) seem to think by mitigating their access to smoke they're somehow winning a battle to live forever...

The average life span of a human being is around 75 years, I know people who've smoked their whole life and lived longer, I've known people who've never smoked who've died sooner. So rather than wasting your time and effort complaining about those who smoke think about the fact that they might just be enjoying their life a little bit more than you because stuff like this, just doesn't bother them... My grandmother died as a result of smoking, however it was her life, and she enjoyed smoking I wouldn't have denied her a last cigarette even though it was killing her, and to be quite frank, I loved my grandmother a lot more than any anti-smoking lobby groups or their members.

and re: "I'm fairly sure my lung cancer risk has not increased by 20% by worrying."

Jim Fixx, worried his whole life about having a heart attack, he jogged every day to stay fit and one day, while he was out jogging he died of a heart attack. His arteries were massively clogged with cholesterol...

Ironic huh?

Murray Cumming commented on January 2, 2008 at 4:38 p.m.

Karl, people who deny that passive smoking causes cancer are just overly enthusiastic about denying conventional wisdom in general. Maybe it's cool in your social set. Deny the moon landings instead please. It does less immediate harm.

karl lattimer commented on January 2, 2008 at 4:45 p.m.

Murray: I'm not saying there is no effect, I'm saying that its far less severe than the anti-smoking lobby let people believe. In all seriousness you are exposed to far worse chemicals in the air from car pollution etc... than from secondary smoke in a well ventilated bar.

I'd also like to point out the hilarity at you using the phrase "immediate harm", what like people drop dead immediately because of passive smoke? I think the phrase you were looking for was "cumulative exposure to the risk of the harmful effects of smoke", although it really doesn't fit the flow of your statement...

My analogy of an F1 car still stands, sure people in the crowds can get hit, but its the man driving at most risk.

Murray Cumming commented on January 2, 2008 at 5:07 p.m.

Karl, no-one's claiming that it'll make you drop dead on the spot (or that your friend's statistically-insignificant grandmother lived to 100 smoking sixty cigars a day). But it causes cancer, and a lot of it. People don't like cancer, and don't like to be told that a little cancer is OK.

Yes, cars are killers too. I consider them a hateful dangerous luxury and would like to see a lot less of them blighting our cities. But even given the massive numbers of people that they slaughter and maim every year, that's nothing compared to the numbers that die of smoking-related illnesses. Take it outside.

Phil Bull commented on January 2, 2008 at 5:22 p.m.

Hi Karl,

While there are questions about the reliability of Wikipedia as an authoritative source, you should note the extensive list of references at the bottom of the article which Jussi linked to. I would consider most of these sources to be of high quality, and many of the bodies in that list should in theory be unbiased (i.e. WHO, US Surgeon General).

I would consider myself to be anti-smoking. I don't have any major qualms about the health impact of smoking (it's your body, after all), although I do believe that smoking causes health problems in many people. I do take issue with the anti-social aspect of smoking, however.

I find the smell of cigarette smoke very unpleasant. When someone smokes, people within a radius of several metres can smell the smoke. Just as it is unpleasant to live within "smelling distance" of a chemical factory, I also find it unpleasant to be within smelling distance of a smoker.

You suggest that "Can't people simply say, they live life their way, why should I ruin it by forcing them out into the rain". Here, you say that being forced outside in the rain has a negative impact on your life - it is inconvenient for you. Can you not also see that, for many people, being exposed to cigarette smoke has a similar, if not greater, negative impact? As such, your argument here is hypocritical.

It is also worth noting that smokers can control when they want to smoke, and so can control when they are exposed to bad weather by going outside. As such, smokers have a choice. Non-smokers cannot control when someone nearby decides to smoke, and so have no choice.

karl lattimer commented on January 2, 2008 at 5:28 p.m.

Murray: I'm not exactly the kind of person who takes well to the nanny state I live in, I've listened to this same argument for years about how smokers put other people at risk... Well non-smokers put smokers at risk too and you can't state "immediate harm" or "injury", instead of salting the wound why not simply walk away with glee that your lobby groups have managed to get things YOUR way.

I listen to more and more nanny state public health warnings (have you seen the BBC lately?) in one report I was told I was increasing my risk of colon cancer by eating bacon more than once a week.

I like bacon! I like to eat it more often than once a week! I'm not going to change my life to live a little longer, everyone is given their three score and ten dude... I'm of the firm belief that when your time comes, your time comes and there is nothing you can do about it.

Being intolerant of smokers isn't going to stop you from dying of cancer, just one or two types of cancer. Remember that Bill Hicks died of pancreatic cancer (not a smoking related illness) at the age of 32 and he was a smoker... and he said...

"The world is like a ride in an amusement park and when you choose to go on it you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and around and around and it has thrills and chills and it's very brightly coloured and it's very loud. And it's fun - for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question; is this real? Or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, and they say, "Hey, don't worry, don't be afraid, ever, because... this is just a ride."

Murray Cumming commented on January 2, 2008 at 5:35 p.m.

Karl, but some of us want to stay on the ride longer, and enjoy it in good health without dragging an oxygen tank around. I suspect that Bill Hicks would have liked to live a bit longer. Your priorities might be different. Luckily there's more than one ride and you don't need to force me to be on your ride. And nobody is taking your ride away from you. Just take it outside.

karl lattimer commented on January 2, 2008 at 5:38 p.m.

WHO? Would that be the same world health organsiation that is against production of generic drugs because they would financially impact the big drugs manufacturers?

http://www.eatg.org/news/newsitem.php...

Oh, yes it is! Before quoting an authority as unbiased, have a look at who's pockets they're in... The problem with the WHO is you don't know who's pockets they're in.

RE: My apparent hypocrisy, you'll see I intend this to be a comparative discomfort as you suggest. I don't see why we don't simply have smoking rooms in bars, the false dichotomy here is that it isn't simply, "take it outside" or "bring discomfort to others"... there are more than just two options... was I really the only one to notice that?

Mathias Hasselmann commented on January 2, 2008 at 6:01 p.m.

anonymous wrote:
> And what about the polluted air caused by the excessive
> amount of cars used every other day? ...
> And you can do nothing to prevent it.

Well, registration of new vehicles stagnates for years now. So something seems to prevent infinite growth of cars in use. Guess one reason is the high quality cars have reached. Another might be, that globalization leaves much less money in the hands of average people - so new cars got too expensive.

But also could imagine, that high fuel prices have an impact on car use already. At least you see such an effect on German motorways: I still remember days, were you were a slow foo, when driving "just" 150, 160 km/h. Today I feel like an insane speeder when choosing that speed, which was considered "slow" some years ago. Most drivers seem to crawl at 130, 140 km/h. Many owners of smaller cars even go 110, 120 km/h - on our great, unlimited Autobahnen.

Also there is the concept of city tax for cars or inner city eco zones - which seems to work quite well. Just would wish public transportation would work more efficient with the money they get:

When my wife and me want to enter Berlin city the S-Bahn tickets cost us both: 4 * 2,70 EUR = 10,80 EUR. Not much compared to other cities, still quite the same price like using the car: 40 km * 9 l / 100 km * 1,40 EUR/l = 5.04 EUR for fuel, plus 5 EUR for garage. So you pay more, need more time and are less flexible at depature time. Definitely needs some ecologic conscience to use public transportations in that scenario. Hmm... Ok, still have to add 7 EUR per day as cost of ownership (taxes, insurance, repairs, purchase price). Hmm... Need to use this damn car more often to justify that fixed cost! :-D

But really it gets bad for long distances: Berlin-Stuttgart by train costs us two about 244 EUR, unless we would be very luck and get one of the rare 29 EUR tickets. Add 10 EUR for S-Bahn tickets - Stuttgart is expensive. My very old car consumes about 55 liters of fuel on this journey (tested more than five times, for stochastic fans), which currently costs 77 EUR. Quite insane to use a train in that constellation.

Also quite interesting that even DB admits using a car would be more sane in that case[1] . Regardingless how much they try to fake the result, by comparing a single person's emission, instead of accumulated emission. By using a Diesel car by default. By using a quite wasteful car by default (64 l, instead of the 55 l my 16 years old Vectra consumes).

[1] http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/quer...

Jussi Kukkonen commented on January 2, 2008 at 6:04 p.m.

> ...anyone who quotes wikipedia as a reliable source shall
> forever be struck from the record of humanity...
Fortunate that no-one did so, then.

Karl, I have provided you with a wealth of links (via the wikipedia link) to research supporting the idea that passive smoking is hazardous to your health and very bad to the economy. Unless you are going to dismiss all of them (including the Surgeon General, U.S Department of Health, The Journal of the American Medical Association and the British Medical Journal) as biased and corrupt, you should start linking to some research that supports your view.

I'd prefer something not paid by the tobacco industry, but really anything from the last five years is acceptable. In case you didn't know, the industry has been dropping their research for some reason... Here's the what Philip Morris USA says about this at the moment: "We also believe that the conclusions of public health officials concerning environmental tobacco smoke are sufficient to warrant measures that regulate smoking in public places."
http://www.philipmorrisusa.com/en/hea...

I've complied with your request, now it is your turn.

iain commented on January 2, 2008 at 6:06 p.m.

"So after the 6 months we've had a smoking ban in the UK the smell of piss and stale lager that leave with me every time is better"

Karl: Maybe you should stop pissing yourself?

Mathias Hasselmann commented on January 2, 2008 at 6:13 p.m.

iain: Karl's oppinion on that topic is strange, but no reason to insult him.

Jussi Kukkonen commented on January 2, 2008 at 6:13 p.m.

...including the British Medical Journal in my list just moments ago may not further my view that much: they also published the controversial Enstrom and Kabat article in 2003 -- whoops :)

Anyway, the point is that there is solid (IMO overwhelming) evidence supporting the regulation of public smoking. It would be nice to hear about conflicting studies from independent organizations.

Christian Kellner commented on January 2, 2008 at 7:57 p.m.

The amount of fine particles (Feinstaub in .de) caused by smoking in bars and pups is *way* higher then the pollution (caused by cars and such) in normal european cities.

Source: Section 1.2 of: http://www.helmholtz-muenchen.de/file...
As its german here a very short translation of the important numbers:

Normal amount of fine particles in households: 20-30 μg/m3

Amount of fine particles in Restaurants: 178 μg/m3 and in discos/clubs up to 808 μg/m3.

Smoking a single cigarette cause an increase of 150 μg/m3 in a laboratory test room.

Remember: The maximum allowed amount of fine particles in the EU is 50 µg/m³ since 2005 and will be 20 µg/m³ in 2010.

So please stop giving me this smoking/passive-smoking doesn't hurt nobody bla bla and please just go outside to smoke. Thanks

Phil Bull commented on January 2, 2008 at 8:10 p.m.

Hi again Karl,

"Before quoting an authority as unbiased, have a look at who's pockets they're in..."

Well, I *did* say that the WHO should be unbiased "in theory"... Even so, to discount all WHO reports as biased on the basis of a single (unrelated) issue would be rash.

"I don't see why we don't simply have smoking rooms in bars"

That's a possibility, but it's difficult to stop the smoke from diffusing out of the room, and even a small amount of smoke smells. Don't forget that bar staff would have to enter the smoking room too, and the landlord would have to shoulder the expense of creating a smoking room in the first place.

Many bars and restaurants now provide smoking shelters (e.g. parasols with heat lamps) outside. Surely this is adequate to protect you from the weather?

Jeff Walden commented on January 3, 2008 at 8:27 a.m.

> > I'd say equally what gives non-smokers the
> > right to dictate smokers must stand outside
> > regardless of the weather?
>
> No, you can't:
>
> 1) Nobody forced a smoker to start smoking.
> 2) It are the smokers who do harm to other
> people, so they have to respectful the other
> people's wish of not getting hurt.

Nobody forced the non-smoker to eat at the restaurant that allowed smoking. If you don't like smoke, don't patronize restaurants that allow it. Restaurants are businesses; they'll listen if people don't eat there due to the smoke (especially if you specifically make a complaint -- have you ever done so?).

I'll probably get a smackdown if I don't say this, and I think it's sad that I have to explicitly say it because of late discourse tends so easily toward accusations of bias, but: I don't and won't smoke. I have no affiliation with any smoking companies, except possibly at one time I believe I owned (don't believe I do now but might be wrong) some shares of RJ Reynolds. I actually enjoy not having to think about smoke in restaurants.

However, I absolutely believe the decision about whether to allow it, as well as the decision about whether restaurants must be required to segregate smokers and non-smokers if they allow smoking, should not be made by laws. (Of course visitors to a restaurant must respect that segregation if the restaurant chooses to have it, their being private establishments and all -- compliance with the restaurant's policies is already mandatory.) Market forces are clearly doing their jobs and forcing more and more restaurants to become smoke-free, and I see no reason to waste time, energy, or taxpayer money when the problem is already being invisibly handled by the market.

That said, if this decision is to be made by government, better local government than national government. A local regulation most accurately reflects the views of the people most affected by the presence of the smokers, and it affects as few who disagree with the decision as possible. It also potentially provides greater freedom for smokers to move elsewhere when they disagree with local anti-smoking laws, in that they might only have to move to a different city, county, borough, province, state, etc. to again enjoy that right to smoke in restaurants which allow it.

Mathias Hasselmann commented on January 3, 2008 at 9:26 a.m.

> Nobody forced the non-smoker to eat at the restaurant that allowed smoking. If you don't like > smoke, don't patronize restaurants that allow it. Restaurants are businesses; they'll listen if
> people don't eat there due to the smoke (especially if you specifically make a complaint -- have you ever done so?).

That's excactly the point I make: Currently most places allow smoking. You cannot choose between smoking and non-smoking restaurants. Germany tried the market approach for several years now, and the experiment failed. Dramatically. Expensive campaigns were run to educate locality owners. Response? Nothing. Despite for some fast-food restaurants (isn't that ironical?), nearly no restaurant owner listened to the positive case studies from Italy, Scotland, Irland, ...

Reasons? Small margin and the resulting fear of lose. Owners, who are adicted by themself.

You also have to consider that most owners have mountains of debt. In that situation you just don't risk being an early mover.

Result? Stagnation. Monopoly of smoking restaurants. Market failure.

Currently the only choice non-smokers have is between bars/cafes/restaurants, or fast food restaurants - which ironically are early adopters of the smoking-free restaurant concept.