Alex Massie

Statistics in a cloud of smoke

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If Philip Morris commissioned research which found that the smoking ban in England & Wales, a year old today, had been a dismal failure many, perhaps even most, people would dismiss said research, considering it partial. Well they would say that wouldn't they?

So why are figures* from anti-smoking organisations such as ASH or Cancer Research UK accepted uncritically? Maybe they are indeed sound but I see no great reason for ignoring the vested interests at play on their side of the dispute while pointing out those that might influence more tobacco-friendly findings.

*I should say that while I do indeed view the figures cited by Cancer Research with some scepticism, I also consider them irrelevant given that the arguments about smoking are primarily, as far as I'm concerned, about control, property rights and freedom rather than health. 

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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