The Irish Fracas (Take Two)

I have been thinking a little more about the disrupted debate as mentioned yesterday.

Let’s just describe the facts again. Professor/Senator Crown demanded to speak first, which is unusual, since most debaters would prefer to speak later so as to have a chance to take into account what earlier speakers have said. In the event, he made his speech, insulting the other panellists, and then left the panel and played with his ipod. Another speaker ‘for’ the motion (?), O’meara, head of advocacy (ie. lobbying) at the Irish Cancer Society, did likewise, arriving ‘late’ (which may just mean that she waited for a while to avoid sitting with the other panellists), marched in, spat vitriol at the ‘other side’ and flounced out. Strangely coordinated behaviour for two people who had accepted invitations to take part in the debate.

Crown claimed that he had been misled. I wonder why? Since he doesn’t seem to have said why he thought that he had been misled, we can only guess. My own thinking is that he misled himself. Perhaps he thought that it would be an opportunity to to say how much more could be done via indoctrination of children, banning smoking in cars with children, and then, the BIG prize – banning smoking in homes with children. Perhaps someone pointed out that the debate was organised and the speakers were from, the Institute of Economic Affairs, and that they would be talking about THE ECONOMICS. He must have gone pale when he realised that that he was going to have to defend the cost of the anti-smoking campaign and its failure.

In this vein, I’ll quote here John Mallon’s comment on the previous post:

J.. 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.

Specifically, I became interested in the statistics:

2005………………23.5% smoking prevalence according to Tobacco Control.

2010 (?)………….31.0% ……………………….”………………………Eurostat.

We know that Tobacco Control have a dishonest tendency to put the best gloss on figures to portray “huge success”, but I think that we can ignore that in this case since the figure for smoking prevalence was taken only shortly after the Irish ban.

There is a saying in science – “Trust but verify”. In that spirit, I thought that I would find verification of John’s figures. Search as I might, I could not find any reasonably up to date stats  apart from this:

Regulation-Consumption-Chart - cigs - Ireland

It shows consumption of 31% in 2008 and 29% in 2011 and 2012. I also found a similar graph which showed consumption up to 2009 and also showed 29% at 2009. But the above figure is interesting …. It shows this:




[The ‘X’ indicates no figures given in the graph]

So, depending upon where the figures are obtained from, at the worst, consumption has certainly not dropped since the smoking ban in Ireland.

But I did find some figures which I found most interesting. They came from ‘National Income and Expenditure 2012 – Central Statistics Office’:

On pages 14 and 15, there is a table going back to 2007 which gives annual figures for alcohol and tobacco consumption in billions of euros per an. There are two tables, tables 13 and 14. They are slightly different. Table 13 gives consumption figures ‘at current market prices’, while table 14 gives these figures having been adjusted to allow for inflation and such. Let’s take table 14.

The first item of interest is the amount of money spent on alcohol in billions of euros:


Alcoholic beverages

(total incl pubs)………..7.22…..6.71……5.96….6.18……6.27….6.34.

Clearly, the drinking of official alcohol has gone down somewhat.

The second item of interest is the amount of money spent on tobacco in billions of euros:



There is also a table of percentage change per annum. No need to give all the detail. Suffice to say that the percentage change between 2007 and 2012 for alcohol was minus 2.6% per year. And that for tobacco was minus 5.7% per year. 

And yet, it appears that the actual consumption of tobacco has not fallen at all.


But there is yet more. If you now go to page 21, you will find Table 22. That gives details of taxation income from 2007 to 2012. Unfortunately, it does not distinguish between different forms of duty. But let me just copy the information:

[Billions of Euros]………………..2007….2008…2009…2010….2011…2012.

Excise duties including VRT…….5.99…..5.54…4.90…4.82….4.90…..4.80.

Officially calculated expenditure on alcohol and tobacco has fallen and income from duties has fallen, and yet, it appears that the actual consumption of tobacco has not fallen at all.


Now let us take ourselves back to the position of Professor/Senator Crown and Ms O’Meara. They might not know the detail of the above, but they would probably know in general what has been happening. They have accepted invitations to debate with economists, who will undoubtedly know these figures. What alternative do they have but to try to disrupt the debate and stop these figures being revealed? 

But they may also have been concerned about another economic matter. What is the real cost of tobacco control? To arrive at the real cost, you have to factor in the extra cost of customs; the extra cost of shipping cargo examination; the extra cost of border patrols with the North. Further, tobacco is not only imported surreptitiously as cigarettes – it is also imported in bulk as leaf. I should imagine that it would not be difficult to smuggle in bales of tobacco leaf designated as blankets, especially if they were supposedly destined for an Oxfam warehouse.


But let us look back one more time at the consumption graph:

Regulation-Consumption-Chart - cigs - Ireland

The black line indicates the increase in tobacco duties. Since 2007, these duties have sky-rocketed, But consumption, however calculated, has remained much the same. Ought not duty revenue also have sky-rocketed? It hasn’t – it has gone down.

Tobacco Control has turned out to be a massive liability.


Perhaps Professor/Senator Crown and Ms O’meara know that their activities could not stand up to economic scrutiny, just as the evidence in the McTear case could not stand up to legal scrutiny.

12 Responses to “The Irish Fracas (Take Two)”

  1. legiron Says:

    Grotesquely off topic, but the Blocked Dwarf tipped me off to a technique that can cure tobacco in 24 hours. Looking at it scientifically it makes sense. It would be too expensive for a commercial producer but it’ll work for we little guys. I’ve put the video on my place.

  2. Samuel Says:

    It would be interesting to see the figures for the income and profits of the tobacco companies as well as the revenues absorbed by the government that have been devoted to tobacco control. It is obvious that these two parties work together for their mutual benefit while pretending to be enemies. You have often written that it is strange that the tobacco companies haven’t fought harder against tobacco proscription. It produces hardship for the customers and the retailers but benefits the large companies by reducing their competition. Government also gets a boost through fines and fees and confiscation added to the regular levy of taxes assessed that are devoted to control.

    • Junican Says:

      The ‘Master Settlement’ in the USA was ‘definitely’ an agreement between States and Tobacco Companies. Much was made by Tobacco Control of the settlement by claiming that the companies had ‘been fined massive amounts’. That was not correct. The companies put up the price of fags by 50 cents and passed the proceeds to States, supposedly to pay for tobacco related health costs. Tobacco Control has recently been moaning that it is not getting its fair share of the proceeds. There is little doubt in my mind that there has been collusion. I suspect that it suits both parties to have smoking cessation proceed at a gentle pace.
      Ecigs have thrown a spanner in the works and threatened this long-term, remunerative arrangement. Nor is it an accident that tobacco companies are defending their brands with much greater force than smoking bans and health warnings.

  3. Moss Says:

    Junican “TC a massive liability.” I wouldn’t doubt that for one second. The whole thing is working back to front, and I believe that’s because they’ve gone full circle, and they are well over exposed.
    I don’t smoke cigarettes, but many of my friends enjoy them. The one thing that I’ve noticed whilst in their company, whether in my home or in theirs is that, whenever an anti-smoking advert is shown on TV, they automatically reach for their ciggies, and light up – none more than her in doors. Such adverts have now developed into tobacco adverts, and through senseless , and over usage, become favourable to to the tobacco industry.
    What really concerns me about this farcical pantomime is – how can any government support it, and expect to win an election?

    • Junican Says:

      Yes! That applies to me also! Moreover, whenever I see ‘no smoking’ signs on buildings, that also reminds me that I fancy a fag. Regarding the government, we must remember that there are two governments – the gov departments and the politicians. The Health Dept is completely sewn up, but other departments might possibly be becoming rather sceptical about the ban, especially with the inroads being made by ecigs and other methods of not paying taxes. It’s hard to know if the cabinet have any opinion at all.
      I agree with you that the full ban has been a catastrophe for tobacco control. The original ban was said to have the support of 9 out of 10 people. A wikipedia article which I have just read says that, five years after the ban, 7 out of 10 are against it.
      Maybe it would take only one of the ‘big three’ parties (almost certainly the conservatives) to start talking about an amendment to the full ban for their chance of election to be greatly improved.

      • nisakiman Says:

        A wikipedia article which I have just read says that, five years after the ban, 7 out of 10 are against it.

        Have you got a link to that article, Junican?

      • Junican Says:

        Here you go:

        Erm …. I made a slight ‘faut pas’ – the article said that it was 7 out of 10 licencees who wanted the ban amended to allow smoking rooms. But not to forget the Daily Mirror poll which showed that 7 of 10 were simply against the smoking ban.

  4. Rose Says:

    Tobacco lobby link to debate in RCPI

    “One of the Republic’s leading medical organisations that campaigns against smoking has admitted it rented out its premises this week for a debate organised by a UK group that receives funding from the tobacco industry.

    The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) said it was unaware that the Institute of Economic Affairs, which held a debate on smoking in the college’s premises at Kildare Street in Dublin on Wednesday night, receives support from British American Tobacco.

    “We only found out about this shortly before the event. We’ll have to look more closely at this in the future. I can’t see something like this happening again,” said a spokeswoman.”

    Very much reminds me of –

    Tobacco Retailers Concerns ‘Air-Brushed Out’ By Government, UK

    Which on the same day was also reported as –

    MPs fall foul of ‘dirty’ tricks by tobacco giants
    http: //

    • Junican Says:

      Only in the last sentence of that newspaper article is it stated that only 2% of the IEA’s income is from BAT. Note also that there are no comments allowed.
      Maybe that was part of the reason that Crown and O’Meara got their knickers in such a twist.
      All it shows to me is that Tobacco Control is all bluster. Do they not, one way or another, receive ALL their funding from smokers, one way or another?

  5. smokingscot Says:

    I know he did this workout to show how much it costs Britain to get someone to quit smoking (£410,846), however the basis of his calculations are there for all to see.

    Sobering stuff and if the figures in Ireland are broadly similar, then yes it would explain why the talking heads want to keep debates banal.

    Grateful thanks to Handyman Phil

    • Junican Says:

      I’ve just read HandymanPhil’s post.
      I like his take on the effects of closing pubs – more people claiming benefits. Each of those people will claim X per week for a given period of time. If the actions of Tobacco Control caused the closures of those pubs, then TC has caused the cost of the unemployment benefit. That cost should therefore be added to the costs of Tobacco Control. But there are other knock on effects – beer sales. gaming machines, artistes, – all of whom have lost income directly as a result of Tobacco Control activities.
      I’m off for a beer….

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