No such thing as a free lunch

  fourm member 19:21 28 Mar 13

As the saying goes.

The Scottish government has published its tobacco control strategy for the next 20 years. It's called Creating a Tobacco-free Generation.

Chapter 2 says 'we have defined ‘tobacco-free’ as a smoking prevalence among the adult population of 5% or lower'.

Since when did governments determine the meaning of words?

The UN estimates that 5% of the world's population uses illegal drugs. Does that mean we have a drug-free world?

  WhiteTruckMan 19:30 28 Mar 13

When I use a word… it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less :-Humpty Dumpty, Alice in wonderland.


  morddwyd 19:33 28 Mar 13

You yourself are guilty of what you accuse the Scottish Government of.

You are trying to make an official definition of "weasel words"!

  spider9 19:45 28 Mar 13

fourm member

I think you are being a tad unfair on this issue, and rather pedantic (perhaps even a bit naughty!).

It is clearly stated what the policy is and what it hopes to achieve, and presumably is trying to use a form of words that capture intent easily.

Certainly an attempt to get 'free' is laudable, and, as explained, under 5% would be massive, but to turn the discussion into a lesson in defining words is a bit childlike, given the seriousness of the issue of smoking.

  fourm member 20:57 28 Mar 13


You recently posted 'I agree that 'scared' people will believe rubbish, as long as it's presented by 'authority figures'' on the subject of immigration.

I started this thread because this seems to me to be along the same lines. Rather than trust the public to be able to understand what reducing smoking prevalence to below 5% is, the Scottish government has gone for the punchy 'tobacco-free' with an explanation of what it says that means in the text of the report.

I don't believe it is possible to achieve a complete end to tobacco use so I'm not criticising the government for accepting that but I do find it wrong for them to take the Humpty Dumpty line (thanks to WTM).

  spider9 22:12 28 Mar 13

fourm member

I don't really think this comes into the 'scaring' category, the text quickly says what the 'free' meant, in their slogan, and so I'm happy with that - I certainly don't see any deception intended.

Surely saying, at the beginning what they intend their slogan 'tobacco-free' to mean (in this instance, less than 5%) is not being in any way, deceptive.

Methinks a case of agreeing to disagree, this time round?

Like you, I believe there will never be a 100% success, but good on them for trying!

  fourm member 07:41 29 Mar 13


As you say we'll have to disagree because I find the idea of a government deciding what words mean to be worrying in a broad context.

Suppose, the UK government decided to redefine 'poor' in order to reduce the number of welfare claimants?

The strategy, though admirable and pragmatic, will not result in Scotland becoming tobacco-free.

In the 1960s, the UN introduced a drug control regime intended to make the world drug-free. The policy has been a disaster and a failure but, if people can define 'free' to suit themselves, it means UNODC and INCB can claim it has worked.

  spider9 08:13 29 Mar 13

fourm member

But surely if the Government said eaxactly what they meant by 'poor', as they did in the 'free' discussion,then that would be OK with me.

As you say there is no chance of becoming tobacco-free, but a 'grabbing slogan' (as long as accurately defined) is certainly helpful in my mind.

Having said that, I can appreciate where you are coming from.

  Quickbeam 08:21 29 Mar 13


What a well remembered line of writing, I would never have thought to look to Alice for such depth of philosophy!

  natdoor 10:40 29 Mar 13

I agree with fourm member that such inappropriate use of language is reprehensible. In my view an even worse example is the intended redefinition of the word marriage to include same sex couples. Surely we can invent a new word for such unions, such as cameroniage for example.

  Quickbeam 10:59 29 Mar 13

There are still those that would say sacrilege is the correct word for that...

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

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