Wanton, Wicked Cruelty

Why aren’t there more doctors who will speak up like this? Perhaps because most of them aren’t retired? H/T Belinda for this letter in the Irish Times:

Sir, – I have never smoked, but as a retired hospital doctor I am horrified by the primitive savagery of the HSE’s new edict forbidding smoking anywhere within the boundaries of a hospital in the Republic.

The HSE seems unaware that addiction to a drug alters brain receptors so that the sufferer is left with an insatiable desire for more. Renouncing such a drug is far more difficult than giving up chocolate for Lent.

The habitual smoker is an addict who in hospital needs the comfort of smoking to cope with an already gruelling experience. Its deliberate deprivation is an act of wanton, indeed wicked cruelty at a time when he or she is most in need of cherishing and comforting.

I have looked in dismay at the degradation heaped on smokers in our hospitals in recent years. Forced to huddle under an outdoor lean-to roof for a drag on a desperately needed cigarette, often with intravenous drips in their arms and frequently wearing only pyjamas and a dressing gown on a cold, wet day, now even this solace is to be denied to them.

Lepers in the dark ages received greater care and more love than our enlightened age allows to the poor, old, ill smoker.

If Minister for Health Dr James Reilly is worth his salt, he will overturn this appalling ruling immediately. Indeed he will go further and require hospitals to provide safe, warm and properly ventilated indoor smoking rooms for those sufferers who need them.

After all, even smokers are still our sisters and brothers. – Yours, etc,

JOHN NOLAN, FRCSI,

That’s Ireland. Meanwhile in Wales:

Smokers who light up outside three hospitals in north Wales will trigger an alarm and loudspeaker message telling them to stop.

The warnings have been installed at the main entrances and maternity units of Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor, Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan and Wrexham Maelor.

Even lighting a match will set-off the bilingual message.

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37 Responses to Wanton, Wicked Cruelty

  1. dickiedoubleday says:

    Watching ill patients hanging around entrances to hospitals smoking really is shocking and an embarrassment to the health service. they should have indoor areas without doubt and justify it by saying that this smoking situation is about addicts who are sufferers and they need the right care like everyone else does who goes in hospital with different needs and then have these smoking rooms as help and education areas at the same time with stop smoking posters, leaflets, videos etc

    • Frank Davis says:

      I’m glad you think there should be smoking rooms in hospitals. That alone makes you about 10 times more tolerant than these hospital administrators.

      • Briar Tuck says:

        Notice that these reports are from Ireland, Wales and (probably) Scotland. It is my strong impression that in England, a health authority (and, in fact, anyone else) cannot enforce a ‘no smoking’ rule outside any building, as the law (Health Act 2006) does not provide for this.

        I’m pretty sure that if you’re outdoors, you can smoke legally, no matter what else. This small fact will not of course deter them from putting up all manner of misleading signs (also legal). But such strictures are outside the current scope of the law, and the general media is either ignorant of this, or has decided not to mention it.

    • yvonnebones says:

      My mother trained as a nurse in the 1940′s when nursing meant to nurse, not offer ‘advice’ on lifestyle and choice.
      Although she was a non-smoker part of her role nursing the sick was to light a cigarette for those too ill to do so for themselves. She just did not inhale.
      Nowadays, patients are an inconvenience and smokers even further down the pecking order.
      She lived with my smoking father, when ashtrays were beside the easy chair not on the naughty step outside and no, she did not die of a ‘smoking related illness’.

  2. Could be endless fun then.

  3. Hal says:

    Trolls will keep at it if shown any leniency. If “respectful” posts are not deleted, the trolls begins to look human in the eyes of new readers who do not know the complete history. In my 7 or 8 month experience deleting trolls, I made the mistake of not deleting some of their more “restrained” comments. As a result, when one reads posts and comments, it looks as if trolls are being unfairly treated. And they take advantage of that, and whine endlessly about censorship. No more. Based on their previous vicious insults and mockery, I delete anything and everything they post. No exceptions.

    Trolls do have a positive effect, for they sure increase the number of comments, as people respond to their provocations. But it is a high price to pay. If left unchecked, trolls destroy blogs and forums in the end, as users first waste their energies in endless pointless discussions (trolls do not want to reason, just to harass and destroy) and second abandon the page feeling unprotected.
    Just my two cents.

    Finally, I do not want the pity of that misinformed, ignorant and segregationist doctor. I do not need nor want his help. I am no more an addict for smoking than I am for having a coffee. If I felt smoking was an addiction, I would not smoke. I do not do drugs.

    • Reinhold says:

      … trolls destroy blogs and forums in the end, as users first waste their energies … and second abandon the page …

      That’s right, I often saw it happen this way.
      And all the silent readers in the background quickly lose interest and stay away, saying: you can’t read that blog any more, it has become a playground for madmen.

      • Hal says:

        I’ve seen it happen too. It is also true what you say about silent readers.

      • beobrigitte says:

        If left unchecked, trolls destroy blogs and forums in the end, as users first waste their energies in endless pointless discussions (trolls do not want to reason, just to harass and destroy)……

        ….And all the silent readers in the background quickly lose interest and stay away, saying: you can’t read that blog any more, it has become a playground for madmen.

        In the “denormalisation programme” it is mentioned that it is vital to ensure smokers are to be discouraged by any means (!) from forming groups. The reason is obvious (but has also been stated many times)
        This probably is one of their most despicable action.

        With respect to the letter by JOHN NOLAN, FRCSI:
        The HSE seems unaware that addiction to a drug alters brain receptors so that the sufferer is left with an insatiable desire for more. Renouncing such a drug is far more difficult than giving up chocolate for Lent.

        The habitual smoker is an addict who in hospital needs the comfort of smoking to cope with an already gruelling experience. Its deliberate deprivation is an act of wanton, indeed wicked cruelty at a time when he or she is most in need of cherishing and comforting.

        Excuse me? I wonder how many cups of coffee Mr. Nolan might consume in his work breaks, may it be to relax or gather his thoughts for his next work challenge. Would it be the same if his coffee was replaced with water, or, worse even; none at all?

    • Frank Davis says:

      I agree about the “addiction” bit. But it seems to be quite normal for many doctors to see smoking (and any other behaviour you care to mention) as an “addiction”. What I found remarkable about this doctor was that he could see just how utterly barbaric these hospital smoking bans really are. For that, I think he should be commended. As should the commenter who thought there should be smoking rooms (albeit filled with antismoking posters and pamphlets). We may not be agreed about anything else, but we are at least agreed about that.

      Personally, I’d like patients to be able to light up in bed. Many years ago they used to be able to do that, after all.

      • Hal says:

        I also agree there should be smoking rooms in hospitals (not filled with antismoking propaganda). From what I read in wikipedia, even California allows them.

      • carol42 says:

        I remember these happy days well Frank. I was in hospital a few times in the 60s, must have gone through two packs while in labour! also remember once having to take my own ashtray in to have by the bed. Really don’t know why I am still alive if you believe all they say which no one with a modicum of common sense and the evidence of their own eyes does. I guess the only hope is that all the fanantics about cigarettes, food or alcohol finally overreach and somebody calls a halt. I was able to use an electronic cigarette in hospital 8 days ago with no problem, better than nothing I suppose.

  4. carol42 says:

    You know sometimes I am glad I am getting old, I hate what our country has turned into, inconceivable just a few short years ago. I would vote for anyone who would just leave us alone, can’t see it happening though.

  5. Tom says:

    “Even lighting a match will set-off the bilingual message.”

    So, they must be talking about this device then, it does not detect smoke, it detects someone lighting up a match and sets off alarm bells. The company website sounds very proud of its product.

    http://catchasmoker.com/

    And, after the device has been set off and the smoke-police arrive with guns and handcuffs, the culprit can be further interrogated by use of this device, approved by ASH.

    http://no-smoking.org/may01/05-25-01-1.html

    I guess after that it is a required appearance in court, huge fine and possible jail time, then back out on the street, to the stocks, for additional public humiliation and hateful tirades against the criminal smokers by fake-coughers and self-righteous passer-bys, which is about everyone thanks to tax funded advertisements encouraging such cruel and violent behaviour 24/7/365.

    • Just cover the flame! It has to have a minimum candle power sensitivity level to detect from, other wise just turning the bathroom lite on would set it off. A laser pen sighted on its lens should disable it quite well. The same effect on a vidicon tube in a camera or direct sunlight over time puts sun spots on a tv camera tube. Any lite sensitive element can be defeated using extreme lite into its lens.

    • Given that BCO has a half-life of between 3 and 4 hours and can decline by 2.1 to 7.5 ppm per hour, depending on the initial BCO level[44], there was sufficient time for BCO to decline below the cutoff. Smokers consistently reported periods of heavy and light smoking with a greater amount of tobacco smoked in the first few days after fortnightly paydays. Similar to smoking patterns documented in other Indigenous communities[42], the majority of participants reported regularly running out and frequently requesting tobacco from family and friends. This provides a plausible explanation for self-reported tobacco smokers who only smoke occasionally and/or have low BCO. Although those who smoke few cigarettes per day can also have normal BCO[21,23,44], lapsed time since last cigarette, independent of the number of cigarettes smoked, accounted for most self-reported smokers with low BCO in this study.

      http://www.pophealthmetrics.com/content/8/1/2

    • nisakiman says:

      I love the little catch-phrase at the bottom of the catchasmoker page:

      “We’re the company with the sunny disposition.”

      About as sunny as the Gestapo, I’d say.

  6. Tom says:

    And, while I am on the subject, regarding the ASH approved methods for nabbing criminal smokers, a telling little quote about a very creepy methodology ASH suggests doing.

    http://no-smoking.org/may01/05-25-01-1.html

    “Last year Paul Manley, a housemaster at Eton college, Berkshire, set up a Pounds 20,000 night-vision surveillance camera to catch smokers. Using a console in his study, he was able to zoom in and admonish them by loudspeaker. “

    • same effect,nite vision equipment destroyed by a single lazer pen!

      • How much will they waste replacing equipment,easier just to post warning signs that the equipments in use,shouldnt take long to find out which it is……..

      • Tom says:

        I was being a little cynical maybe, trying to give an example of someone whose main goal in life apparently is to sit up day and night watching a surveillance camera just to catch someone smoking a cig, so he can yell at them. But it’s a good example of just how obsessive these people are.

        A good idea maybe then is to carry one of those small battery lasers on a keychain in one’s pockets at all times to zap intrusive security cameras, as you suggest.

      • Frank Davis says:

        Is it really that simple? Can all these snooping cameras be disabled with laser pens, or just the night vision ones? I’ve been wondering for years what the best way to disable them might be.

  7. O/T but frank may be interested

    Euro Leaders Race to Salvage Rescue Plans
    European leaders will this week try to rescue under-fire efforts to deliver new fiscal rules and cut Greece’s debt burden as they urge investors to ignore Standard & Poor’s euro-region downgrades.

    Greek officials will reconvene with creditors on Jan. 18 after discussions stalled last week over the size of investor losses in a proposed debt swap, raising the threat of default. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will also meet as the European Central Bank warns governments against “watering down” a revamp of budget laws.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-16/euro-leaders-race-to-salvage-rescue-plans-rebuked-by-s-p-rating-downgrades.html

    • The immediate gut reaction to Friday’s news is also a reminder that the crisis and its resolution are taking place in parallel universes. Angela Merkel’s comment that the EU should now quickly complete the fiscal treaty is a typical example of that disconnect. No matter what happens, fiscal discipline is their answer. The crisis response fails to recognise the overarching role of the private sector in the eurozone’s internal imbalances. The conclusion of the fiscal treaty, which is the top priority of EU politics right now, is at best an irrelevant distraction. Most likely, it will enhance the trend towards pro-cyclical austerity of the kind we have seen in Greece. I also expect to see the EU administer a dose of regulatory revenge against the rating agencies. Justified or not, this too is a distraction.

  8. The part we want to hear:

    Even economic reforms, necessary as they may be for other reasons, cannot solve this problem. This is another European illusion. We are now at a point where effective crisis resolution would require a strong central fiscal authority, with the power to tax and allocate resources across the eurozone. Of course, it will not happen.

    This is the ultimate implication of last week’s ratings downgrades. We have moved beyond the point where a technical fix would work. The toolkit is exhausted.

  9. “Using a console in his study.” Like something out of an American teen movie.

  10. On one level, Friday’s news was not really surprising. The French rating downgrade was a shock foretold. As was the breakdown in talks between private investors and the Greek government about a voluntary participation in a debt writedown. A proposition that was unrealistic to start with has been rejected. We should not feign surprise.

    More
    On this story
    Wolfgang Munchau Grim lessons from the 30 years war
    Lex Eurozone
    In depth Eurozone in crisis
    Martin Wolf’s exchange What has the ECB done in the crisis?
    Record use made of ECB deposit facility
    On this topic
    Sarkozy promises reform after downgrade
    Portugal condemns ‘inconsistent’ S&P downgrade
    Austria checks on bank risk after downgrade
    Tony Jackson Gilts attract foreign investors
    FROM Wolfgang Munchau
    UK will fare better in this Anglo-French spat
    Snags, diversions – and the crisis goes on
    Wolfgang Münchau Not another silly stability pact
    Wolfgang Münchau Eurozone has only days to avoid collapse
    And yet both events are important because they show us the mechanism behind this year’s likely unfolding of events. The eurozone has fallen into a spiral of downgrades, falling economic output, rising debt and further downgrades. A recession has just started. Greece is now likely to default on most of its debts and may even have to leave the eurozone. When that happens, the spotlight will fall immediately on Portugal, and the next contagious round of downgrades will begin.

    Europe’s insufficient rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, now also faces a downgrade because it had borrowed its ratings from its members. The way the EFSF is constructed means that its effective lending capacity will thus be reduced. Even though the French downgrade did not come as a surprise, the eurozone member states have no plan B for this, just a few stopgap emergency scenarios. They may decide to run the EFSF and its permanent successor concurrently. They may also provide the latter with a full immediate allotment of its capital. But this will create gaps in national budgets in a bad year.

    By downgrading France and Austria but not Germany and the Netherlands, Standard & Poor’s also managed to shape expectations of the economic geography of an eventual break-up. A downgrading of all triple A rated members would have been much easier to deal with politically. Germany is now the only large country left with a triple A rating. The decision will make it harder for Germany to accept eurozone bonds. The ratings wedge between France and Germany will make the relationship even more unbalanced.

    The immediate gut reaction to Friday’s news is also a reminder that the crisis and its resolution are taking place in parallel universes. Angela Merkel’s comment that the EU should now quickly complete the fiscal treaty is a typical example of that disconnect. No matter what happens, fiscal discipline is their answer. The crisis response fails to recognise the overarching role of the private sector in the eurozone’s internal imbalances. The conclusion of the fiscal treaty, which is the top priority of EU politics right now, is at best an irrelevant distraction. Most likely, it will enhance the trend towards pro-cyclical austerity of the kind we have seen in Greece. I also expect to see the EU administer a dose of regulatory revenge against the rating agencies. Justified or not, this too is a distraction.

    I argued a while ago that the December summit was the last chance for a comprehensive systems reboot. Back then, one could have envisaged a grand bargain that combined a joint eurozone-level budget, a eurobond, a policy regime to address intra-eurozone imbalances and, in this context, also hard national budget constraints. Ms Merkel and her acolytes in Berlin and Brussels celebrated the outcome of the December 8-9 summit as a victory because it included none of the above, except the budget balancing component.

    Now that she has got everything she wanted, the system continues to unravel. With each turn of the spiral, the financial and political costs of an effective resolution increase. We have moved past the point where electorates and their representatives are willing to pay the ever-rising costs of repairing the system. Last week a couple of senior parliamentarians from the ruling CDU party, whom I had previously considered voices of moderation, argued that a Greek exit from the eurozone would not be such a big deal. Expectations are changing quickly, and so is the acceptance of a violent ending.

    And no, the European Central Bank’s huge liquidity boost is not going to fix the problem either. I do not want to underestimate the importance of that decision. The ECB prevented a credit crunch and deserves credit for that. The return of unlimited long-term money might even have a marginal impact on banks’ willingness to take part in government debt auctions. If we are lucky it might get us through the intense debt rollover period this spring. But a liquidity shower cannot address the underlying problem of a lack of macroeconomic adjustment.

    Even economic reforms, necessary as they may be for other reasons, cannot solve this problem. This is another European illusion. We are now at a point where effective crisis resolution would require a strong central fiscal authority, with the power to tax and allocate resources across the eurozone. Of course, it will not happen.

    This is the ultimate implication of last week’s ratings downgrades. We have moved beyond the point where a technical fix would work. The toolkit is exhausted.

    munchau@eurointelligence.com

  11. best I could get frank thats the whole story

  12. ‘I bet she thinks she’s Rosa Parks now’: Woman files complaint after being told to move to back of bus for smelling of cigarette smoke
    By Daniel Bates

    Last updated at 4:56 PM on 16th January 2012
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2087383/Woman-told-to-the-bus-smelling-cigarette-smoke.html?ITO=1490

  13. High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/66647cd2-4068-11e1-8fcd-00144feab49a.html#ixzz1jenM3uxV

    S&P downgrades eurozone bail-out fund
    By Joshua Chaffin in Brussels and Quentin Peel in Berlin
    Standard & Poor’s on Monday stripped the eurozone’s bail-out fund of its AAA credit rating, potentially constraining its ability to contain the region’s debt crisis and focusing attention on efforts to create a more robust successor.

    S&P lowered the European Financial Stability Facility’s rating to AA+, following its decision on Friday to remove the triple-A ratings of France and Austria, two of the find’s guarantors.

    High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/66647cd2-4068-11e1-8fcd-00144feab49a.html#ixzz1jenRBhDI

    The EFSF relies on the triple-A ratings of its guarantors to raise cash in debt markets, which it then lends to stricken eurozone governments at a small mark-up. France and Austria account for some €180bn of the credit guarantees underlining the fund, created after the first Greek bailout in May 2010 and supposed to serve as a firewall sealing the eurozone’s core economies from the crisis.

    Shorn of its top-tier credit rating, the EFSF is likely to be forced to pay higher premiums or operate with less cash at its disposal.

    In a statement, S&P held out the possibility that Eurozone governments could shore up the fund, something that officials have said they were exploring.

    But that possibility appeared remote after Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, argued that the EFSF already had ample resources, and that no further support from Berlin, its biggest sponsor, would be forthcoming.

    “It is sufficient,” Mr Schäuble told Deutschland Radio. “The guarantee sum that we have is sufficient by far for what the EFSF has to do in coming months.”

    The German finance minister also joined other top European officials, including Olli Rehn, the economics commissioner, in bashing the US rating agency for failing to understand the reforms under way in the eurozone, including the creation of a “fiscal compact” to give sharper teeth to budget rules.

    The EFSF has so far committed €43.7bn to Ireland and Portugal, and was expected to contribute another €150bn to help underwrite a second Greek bail-out and recapitalise banks.

    Although it is sufficient for those tasks, analysts have long complained that it lacks the firepower to assure financial markets that much larger eurozone economies, such as Spain and Italy, could be protected if the crisis deepened.

    Even before S&P’s move, European officials had accepted that it would be politically impossible to secure support in Germany and other triple A-rated countries to increase their exposure to the fund.

    As such, they are now focusing their efforts on bringing to life its €500bn successor, the European Stability Mechanism, which is supposed to come into service on July 1 – a year ahead of schedule.

    The ESM will boast €80bn in paid-in capital contributions from eurozone governments as opposed to the mere guarantees underlying the EFSF – a construction that should make it more robust.

    But EU officials acknowledged that they must quickly clear several legislative obstacles if they are to have the fund up and running in less than six months.

    Doing so will require ratification of a framework agreement by all 17 eurozone governments – a process that proved tortuous for the EFSF. All 27 EU members – even those not involved in the ESM – would also have to ratify an amendment to the Lisbon treaty.

    “We have to move as quickly as possible,” one EU official said.

    Some key issues about the fund are still unresolved, including its size. In December, eurozone leaders agreed to consider an increase above €500bn by March – although Germany has been resistant.

    Officials in Berlin believe that concluding an agreement on the new “fiscal compact” may be essential to persuade German legislators to back the ESM – particularly after eurozone leaders last month dropped a plan to force private creditors to shoulder losses in future bail-outs.

    “It is a political link, not a legal one,” said one senior official, “but it probably matters to Germany more than anyone else.”

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/66647cd2-4068-11e1-8fcd-00144feab49a.html#axzz1jenJsPWz

  14. smokingscot says:

    Agreed. Senior military officers as well as civil servants (and a few medical people) only speak openly about unfair policies……once they’ve retired.

    It’s possible – just – that there are many more in the medical profession as well as the civil service who don’t agree with many aspects of the smoking ban. Perhaps it’s fear of limiting career advancement, or being fired that helps maintain the charade.

  15. Pingback: Climate and Tobacco Wars | Frank Davis

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