At the time of the introduction of the ban on smoking in public spaces, anti-tobacco zealots frequently championed the claim that the new law would lead to a dramatic reduction the amount of people smoking.
Such claims were made with such evangelical zeal that one could have been forgiven for thinking they were backed up with a detailed scientific study - or at least some basis of fact. Not so. Indeed, now such research has been carried out it has proved their claims to be totally bogus.
According to statistics released in the National Statistics Office's annual general lifestyle survey 21% of the public describe themselves as smokers today - the same proportion as in 2007.
The Financial Times carries a quote today from Amanda Sandford, the research manager at Ash, the anti-smoking campaign charity was understandably upset that this sliver of nanny-statism had failed to have the desired effect of controlling people's personal habits.
“It’s a bit disappointing to see that the overall rates of smoking appear to be stagnating. We know how extremely hard it is for people to quit”
Ms Sandford's response was sadly predictable:
"She called for Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, to help reduce the impact of branding by allowing cigarettes to be sold only in plain packets carrying a health warning and to ban their open display in shops to deter children from smoking"
Big Brother Watch have outlined the folly of this position before; most recently with a post from Mahendra Jadeja, a successful independent retailer and a former president of the National Federation of Retailers and Newsagents. You can view Mahendra's post here.
The mantra of the anti-free choice, anti-smoking lobby is increasingly predicable: "if at first regulation doesn't succeed, regulate and regulate again".