No such thing as a free lunch

  fourm member 19:21 28 Mar 2013

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 2013

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 2013

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

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

  fourm member 20:57 28 Mar 2013


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).

  fourm member 07:41 29 Mar 2013


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.

  Quickbeam 08:21 29 Mar 2013


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 2013

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 2013

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

  carver 11:00 29 Mar 2013

natdoor have you thought about making that word into a trade mark, it could work as an alternative.

And WTM well remembered, a fine explanation of what a word can mean.

  fourm member 12:09 29 Mar 2013


If the Scottish government passes a law saying tobacco-free means 5% or less then that is fine.

  Woolwell 20:43 29 Mar 2013

Doesn't the Child Poverty Act 2010 define child poverty - "a household falls within the relevant income group, in relation to a financial year, if its equivalised net income for the financial year is less than 60% of median equivalised net household income for the financial year."? Whatever equivalised may mean!

Of course it is an internationally agreed standard. But it is mathematically flawed as someone will always be below the median therefore you cannot eradicate it but perhaps lower the gap.

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