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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

No smoke without fire

I note that there is at least one policy of the Assembly Government that Peter Hain does agree with. He is to institute a ban on smoking in all workplaces in Northern Ireland, including bars and restaurants, from April 2007.

Since the Assembly voted to do the same all AMs have been bombarded with letters from both sides of the argument. Many of them contain polls conducted with the specific aim of providing a result sympathetic to the objectives of the funder.

Back in September I received the latest of these polls from the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association. It claimed that only 3% of the population wanted to see a smoking ban. Today I received a correction from the same source. It seem that they had inadvertently quoted data obtained from heavy smokers and attributed it to the population as a whole. Thus it was 3% of heavy smokers who wanted to see a smoking ban. The figure for the whole population was in fact 31%. Aren't statistics fun?
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