Contrary to previous news, official reports in England claim that the smoking ban and public health campaigns have reduced the proportion of smokers in society — from 22% to 21%! I haven’t seen the full report, but I’m not even sure that’s within the margin of error. The report also finds that smoking has actually increased among teenage boys, suggesting that the anti-smoking campaigns might have perversely made smoking cigarettes appear cooler than before. Congratulations England.
Here’s the really interesting stat:
Just 1 per cent of men now smoke pipes compared with 12 per cent in 1974, while the proportion who smoke cigars has fallen from 34 per cent to 2 per cent over the same period.
This might seem like a good thing, but since many of these people are probably substituting cigarettes it’s actually something to be concerned about. Smoking pipes and cigars is safer than smoking cigarettes because the smoke isn’t inhaled into sensitive lung tissue. The fact that they take so much longer to enjoy means that they’re consumed less frequently. The inconvenience makes it unlikely that users will develop nicotine dependency since they can’t regulate their intake throughout the day. Craving a cigar is more like craving a good steak than like craving a cup of coffee in the morning; it’s wonderful to enjoy every once in a while, but it’s not addicting.
The trend against cigars and pipes has gone on for a long time, but smoking bans exacerbate it. Cigarette smokers can step outside in nearly any weather and light up for two or three minutes. But if it’s too cold, too hot, too windy, too wet, or too anything, pipe and cigar smokers are out of luck. I’ve smoked a cigar outside in Virginia’s December and believe me, it’s no fun. Unless these smokers happen to be near one of the few, if any, cigar bars their jurisdictions still allow to exist, their hobby is hard to pursue. It’s easy to see why they’d turn to cigarettes.
Tobacco is never going to go away entirely. Governments have imposed death sentences for smoking and taxes far higher than they do now and still smoking endures. What’s changed is the way people do it. As citizens lash out against the bans, lawmakers should consider accommodating the older, safer forms of tobacco usage. A society in which people smoke less and smoke better has its advantages.