The Fracas in Ireland re the IEA Originated Debate

Some readers might not know what happened.

The Institute of Economic Affairs arranged for a debate to take place at the College of Physicians in Dublin. The subject of the debate was: “How to really stop people smoking”.

Generally speaking, debates follow a semi-strict formula. In the first place, the subject matter is either a statement or a question. The subject as described above is a bit peculiar. The words ‘How to’ implies a question, but the phrase is not a question. But the phrase could mean: “This is how to ….”, as in, “How to replace a washer in a leaking tap”. If that is the meaning of the phrase: “How to really stop people smoking”, then it is not open to debate – it is a set of instructions.

But the introduction of the word: “really” is also odd. What does it mean? Why is it there? The subject of the debate ought to have been: “How to stop people smoking”. There are various possibilities for ‘a motion’ which makes more sense.


It therefore is extremely weird that Senator/Professor Dr John Crown agreed to take part in the debate. Senator/Professor Dr John Crown is an out-and-out aristocrat of the Tobacco Control Industry. When I say ‘aristocrat’. I mean a person who has ‘droit de seignior’. In today’s terms, the ‘droit de seignior’ means ‘an expert’.


Also, normally as I recall, debates had three speakers ‘for’ the motion, and three speakers ‘against’ the motion. Generally, the principal speakers for and against had the longest time to make their case. The other two were subsidiary and simply backed-up the principal speaker. Often, they introduced comical aspects of the subject.


Senator/Professor Dr John Crown seems to have claimed to have been mislead by the organisers of the debate. As far as I can see, he does not seem to have explained what led him astray. From what I have read, he seems to have dwelt upon how he was tricked into taking part in the debate, and became irate, The more that he dwelt upon it, the more irate he became. Being unable to extract himself without loss of face, he decided to brazen it out. Rather than debate, he decided to make a statement. After making his statement (condemning the IEA as a Tobacco Company shill) he left the podium and sat down in the front row and played with his ipod or whatever. But to make things worse, a Ms  Kathleen O’Meara, head of advocacy (ie. lobbying) at the Irish Cancer Society, marched into the room, arriving late for the debate, grabbed the microphone, made a statement, and then left. I cannot help but feel that Prof/Senator Dr John Crown and Ms  Kathleen O’Meara, head of advocacy (ie. lobbying) at the Irish Cancer Society, had arranged their actions beforehand, with the objective of killing the debate stone dead. Whether the succeeded or not, I do not know. But it is a clever trick, isn’t it? Two ‘aristocrats’ scuppered reasonable debate.

If that is true, then it displays the level of aristocratic control over the Government of Ireland. The Irish People fought long and hard to rid themselves of aristocratic control, but look what they have landed themselves with  – EU aristocratic control.


It seems that the UK is going in the same direction. It can only lead to ‘droit de seignior’ and serfdom.


17 Responses to “The Fracas in Ireland re the IEA Originated Debate”

  1. J Brown Says:

    Interestingly, I cannot give the Irish ‘politic’ as much credit as you seem to infer in this article, wherein insidious theatrics plays a part in scuppering this debate. I question the purpose of the debate, as well. In any event, having watched Irish politics for some time, my opinion would be that the lady really did come in late with no other intention (Irish people are rarely on time for anything) and the Dr. Crown felt he was superior to the debate (and silliness) of the original question. While it is true that the Irish people fought to rid themselves of aristocratic control, it is also true that they continue to carry with them a ‘victim’s mentality’ where, despite whatever disagreement and unrest they may have with their current politicians and policies, they only mutter to themselves about it, and do little, if anything, to change it. There have been attempts to mobilize the Irish public on other important issues…it has been to no avail.

    • Junican Says:

      I have often wondered why Ireland was chosen to be the guinea pig. I suppose that there were several considerations:
      1. A smallish population.
      2. An island.
      3. Proximity to the UK and support therefrom.
      4. A booming (though unstable as it turns out) economy.
      But I have always thought that ‘The Troubles’ might well have also been involved. Perhaps the Irish People were sick of fighting and just wanted a quiet life. In other words, they were ripe for a well-organised, well-funded campaign.

      • Michael J. McFadden Says:

        I believe there was another very important factor at play, although I’m speaking from assumptions from afar. That factor has to do with the devilishly clever way Antismokers have framed the laws to make it appear that the bar owners/workers are responsible for enforcing them. Often, perhaps almost always, that’s not actually the legal case: the owners are required to formally “prohibit” smoking and hang signs and perhaps even “ask” smokers not to smoke. They’re usually not required to have wrestling matches with smokers who refuse to leave until they’ve finished their drink.

        The bans are presented in such a way that the owners BELIEVE they are going to be held legally responsible unless they put themselves and their workers at risk by physically enforcing bans — even though the health agents themselves refuse to even be required to ASK smokers to stop smoking without police backup standing next to them.

        And the patrons believe that if they refuse to cooperate that they’ll be “hurting” their friends, the pub owners … and thus cooperate out of politeness and consideration for those pub owners even if they know the owners themselves disagree with the laws. In Ireland I believe there was more of a “friend-pub-centric” culture than in many other societies, so they were more vulnerable to that sort of social/psychological pressure. Thus the “success” of the Irish ban.


      • Junican Says:

        Oh, indeed, MJM. The whole thing was calculated tiny bit by tiny bit, including the last minute change in the exemption of wet-led pubs and clubs. Ministers at the time said that the dropping of these exemptions happened because a commons committee had pointed out that the health of workers in pubs and clubs would still be at risk. Well, that was absolutely obvious before the exemptions were made. The exemptions were a trick to minimise objections until it was too late.
        As regards the duties of publicans not to permit smoking, the language of the Act was vague, which allowed magistrates to interpret it as they wished. They came down heavily on the side of the interpretation that publicans must literally stop customers from smoking.

      • beobrigitte Says:

        Antismokers have framed the laws to make it appear that the bar owners/workers are responsible for enforcing them. Often, perhaps almost always, that’s not actually the legal case: the owners are required to formally “prohibit” smoking and hang signs and perhaps even “ask” smokers not to smoke. They’re usually not required to have wrestling matches with smokers who refuse to leave until they’ve finished their drink.

        Indeed the anti-smokers have calculated and planned this smoking ban to the last detail. It was quite clear that pub owners would not want to see their livelihood disappear (the anti-smokers knew that this is what happens when you dictate a smoking ban) and therefore simply ignore the ban. The trick was a disproportionally high fine and a telephone snitch-line; a pub owner I know was milked for £2000 for someone smoking in his pub after the dictation of the smoking ban.

        I don’t put ANYTHING past tobacco control!

      • John Mallon Says:

        In reality, some Irish Publicans accept the ban and others do not. Before it came into force, the Irish Police, (The Gardai) formally refused to enforce the ban and stated they would only respond to calls about civil disorder due to the ban. They actually stated at the time, (2004) that their members would not be going into pubs to check who was smoking.

        Then the publicans said it was not their place to enforce either. My own local publican has told me more than once, that if I light up in his pub, there is nothing he could do about it. But the fines of €3,000 for the smoker and €6,000 for the pub owner are what really prevent Irish smokers from simply ignoring the whole farce. However, there are only eight people, seconded from our Health Service who are the smoking police for the whole country.

        As regards the Office of Tobacco Control, it is merely a Quango whose employees are political appointments. It is a token to the ‘charities’ with no powers of their own. Any figures from them are supplied by the leading anti’s. When the charities are looking for public money, the rates of smoking are high and when they want to boast about success, the OTC shows a fall in the rate. All absolute nonsense of course. It must be the same everywhere else too I suppose.

        There is one other clarification I would like to make. The year the ban was introduced, Ireland was going through an unprecedented economic boom and with the flood of money came a whole lot of stupid fads too. The ban was just one of these. People had little to worry about so they were supplied with ‘little worries.’ With more money than sense and no major problems, it was an ideal time to float the nonsense about ETS.

      • Junican Says:

        About the fines, in England and Wales, the fine for actually smoking was only £50, but for the publican it could be as high as £5,000. In fact, the House of Lords opined that these publican fines were way too disproportionate. Nevertheless, they stood and, in effect, forced publicans to become enforcers.

      • J Brown Says:

        I don’t believe that Ireland was ‘chosen’. They volunteered – their way of ensuring that they are viewed as progressive and a viable entity.

      • beobrigitte Says:

        They volunteered – their way of ensuring that they are viewed as progressive and a viable entity.

        Progressive and a viable entity?

        Perhaps the Irish politicians were fed this nonsense, just as they were nudged into agreeing by: “all the others HAVE already agreed, you are the last…….”

        Perhaps we need to be much more careful who we vote for; a whole political party falling for this ancient trick hardly installs confidence.

      • J Brown Says:

        Sadly, I believe that Ireland was a forerunner in the smoking ban in public forums – as they intend to be the ‘first’ with regard to banning smoking in cars with children. If I recall correctly, the UK put the smoking ban into effect afterward – we used to travel to the North after Ireland initiated the ban, to enjoy a civilised meal, where you could actually sit and smoke after your meal, rather than having to stand outside in the gutter.

      • Michael J. McFadden Says:

        J, I’ve often wondered how the pubs near the border on the North side reacted when their own ban came in. After enjoying the overflow from the South they must have gotten hit REALLY hard (unless there wasn’t that much overflow… I guess the drinking/driving laws might have kept it lower than it could have been.)

        – MJM

      • Junican Says:

        Hi JB,

        The NGOs (Non-Government Organisations) are taking it in turns. Ireland was first to have an indoor ban, Australia was first to introduce plain packs, the USA was first to introduce wide-spread outdoor bans, Ireland is definitely intent upon banning smoking in cars, etc. Also, there was the escalation – Ireland, then Scotland, then England and Wales.
        But it is starting to fall apart.TC claimed that 90% were in favour of the full ban. Now, it seems that 70% are against the ban.
        TC shot themselves in the brain when they went for the full ban, clever though it may have seemed at the time, what with compliant politicians and all that. Non-smokers who enjoy pubs have seen how once cheerful pubs are now mausoleums – if they are still open. And they don’t like it. Non-smokers are becoming more and more aware that, if they enjoy a pint or a glass of wine, they are going to be next. They MUST have observed the ‘minimum pricing’ fiasco. Also, people generally MUST be getting fed up with the constant hectoring to lose weight, exercise, cut their salt intake, etc.
        People just get sick to death of misery.

  2. John Mallon Says:

    Jim makes good and interesting points here about how we are in Ireland. But to clarify things for you, prior to the introduction of the smoking ban, the numbers smoking had been falling every year for eight years. The year after the ban (2005) it had fallen to 23.5 per cent according to the Office of Tobacco Control.

    Then, in a matter of five years, it shot up to 31 per cent (Eurostat), one of the highest in the EU. We also have the highest prices for tobacco in the EU and some of the most intrusive restrictions as well. The point of the debate was that it all hasn’t worked over the last ten years of trying so, “How do we really stop people smoking?” seemed very relevant.

    Force. coercion and de-normalisation are being ignored, criminality encouraged and the combined medical trade are talking “at” us rather than “to” us. The discussion was a chance to come up with new ideas and Crown prevented that from even starting.

  3. Junican Says:

    I was aware of the stats from reading other material. They make you wonder about how accurate the Office of Tobacco Control stats were. We know how devious Tobacco Control is.
    The point I made about the title of the debate was not important. I was wondering what might have caused Crown to believe that he had been misled. There again, it may have been the intention of Crown and O’meara to disrupt the debate all along. Who knows?
    I think that we bloggers all agree that the word ‘stop’ in the phrase ‘stop people smoking’ has implications of force rather than persuasion, and I think that we would all agree that force ought to play no part in matters of the health of the public. Note that I did not say ‘Public Health’. Public Health is right to force employers to ensure that their employees do not work in a dangerous environment, for example, but has no right to force individuals to be healthy.

  4. Michael J. McFadden Says:

    Re: ” the fines of €3,000 for the smoker and €6,000 for the pub owner are what really prevent Irish smokers from simply ignoring the whole farce.” and the note on the UK fines as well…

    Are the laws TRULY phrased to force publicans to physically tangle with smokers and potentially risk their lives in brawls in acting as enforcers if they want to avoid a fine? If they are NOT so phrased, then what ARE they required to do under the law. What is the specific wording? And are there other laws in the UK or Ireland drafting private citizens into law enforcement activities in other areas? If you see someone littering can you be fined if you don’t run after them, grab them, drag them back to the spot, and beat on them until they pick it up? Would either such a “smoking enforcer” or such a “litter enforcer” be immune from any lawsuits by parties who might be injured in such fracasses?


    • Junican Says:

      The law said ‘must not allow/permit’. Thus you see the vagueness.
      From wikipedia:
      “…..for instance Hugh Howitt, also known as Hamish Howitt, the landlord of the Happy Scots Bar in Blackpool who was the first landlord to be prosecuted for permitting smoking in a smoke-free place under his control.On 2 August 2007, Howitt appeared before Blackpool Magistrates’ Court and pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of failing to stop people smoking in his pub”
      Some pubs have been raided after time when the doors were locked and the public excluded. That is, the remaining patrons were ‘friends’ of the publican. They were still prosecuted and fined. I have read of instances where publicans have forcibly taken drinks away from smokers and banned them, but I am also aware of publicans who have called the police – which seems to be their only defence against their absolute responsibility to stop people smoking indoors.

  5. Michael J. McFadden Says:

    “I am also aware of publicans who have called the police – which seems to be their only defence against their absolute responsibility to stop people smoking indoors.”

    And this is where they (and we) fell down back when it started. All that would have been needed was for all publicans to assign a staffer to the job of ringing up the police every time they saw someone light a cigarette. (And maybe another staffer to stand outside and push a buzzer button as soon as they saw the police approaching so that everyone could put them out before the police entered.)

    My sense with Mr. Howitt’s case was that he EXPLICITLY allowed smoking. If he had been able to build a strong case on the basis that the smokers were acting on their own despite his telling them they were “not allowed” to smoke, then perhaps things might have gone differently?

    As for the wording of the judgment: “12 counts of failing to stop people smoking ” THAT was the key for an appeal if indeed he’d gone the first step of verbally forbidding it. “Failing to stop” implies strongly that publicans are expected to use force to enforce the law, and I strongly doubt that a higher court would have been willing to get into the tangle of what level and types of force would be expected and justified for vigilante enforcement.

    Remember: you DO have good cases over there of public servants refusing to act as direct enforcers without police guards. So there’s clearly no grounds for private citizens to feel forced to take on the role.

    Two examples from TobakkoNacht, one from Ireland and one from a midwestern American state:

    Dangerous Donuts?

    Dear Editor,
    Doyle’s column noted that for the transit smoking crackdown, “two plainclothes inspectors board buses, backed up two uniformed inspectors and a driver. In areas where there may be a risk to the safety of inspectors a Garda presence accompanies the inspection team.”
    Now I don’t know how it is in Ireland, but here in America, most busses and trolleys also supposedly prohibit eating or drinking. If it’s that way in Ireland as well, will you be sending out six-man hit squads to go after the morning coffee slurpers and donut chompers? Will a six-man force be sufficient to take down someone armed with both a hot Starbucks and a launchable chocolate creme croissant?
    I’ve been saddened to read about the destruction of Ireland’s small pubs and the resulting social damage caused by the New Puritans that have taken over my ancestral country.

    Police Without Portfolios…

    Dear Editor,
    So the health supervisor’s officers not only refuse to approach people to ask them to stop smoking but will not even dare to identify such people unless they are “accompanied by a police officer”?
    Meanwhile, they expect bartenders and waitresses to plunge right into confronting smokers to enforce the law on their own. His suggestion that staff should call the police if they expect to have problems is laughable. Do the police want to be called EVERY time a staff person sees someone smoking in a bar? Does Madison want to hire that many extra police officers? Would workers end up getting fined themselves for making nuisance calls?
    If the “smoking police” themselves fear to confront smokers, how can they possibly insist that bar workers put their own lives on the line?


    – MJM

    – MJM

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