Smoking In Movies

Lawyer Herald:

Hollywood Studios defend freedom to feature smoking in movies from lawsuit blaming film industry over children’s addiction to tobacco

On Friday, notable names in the Hollywood industry including studios, trade associations and theater owners defended their rights not to be fined for misguided morality play. They have filed court papers asking a judge to reject the case that blames them for making children addicted to tobacco.

Good for them. About time an industry stuck up for itself against these bastards.

And while on the subject of smoking in movies, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie seems to have smoking all the way through, judging from this trailer:

And this is how it’s done properly, of course:

bogart-bacall7

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Losing Touch

Express:

TONY Blair has called for Britain to surrender MORE powers to unelected Brussels bureaucrats and insisted mass migration from eastern Europe has been GOOD for the country as he made a bizarre case for staying in the EU.

The Europhile former prime minister claimed the UK will be unable to defend itself from Islamic State (ISIS) and Russia without the help of France and Germany and said David Cameron should give up further influence to Brussels’ growing security services.

Describing the potential consequences of a Brexit as “very serious”, the maligned Labour grandee warned it would be “irrational to be alone” when faced with competition from India, China and the US.

His comments came as the leave campaign opened up a huge six-point lead in the polls, with voters increasingly losing faith in Mr Cameron’s ability to secure a good deal from European leaders.

But Mr Blair, who is tipped as a future EU president, appeared to back the farcical negotiation even though he admitted he was “against” giving people a say on Britain’s future in the first place.

Blair and the European political class just want Europe to regain the place in the world that it lost after two world wars. They hate being politicians in insignificant little countries. So their plans are all about building a powerful new bloc that can face India, China, and the USA as equals. That’s all that matters to them

But what they want is the opposite of what ordinary people want, because the bigger the EU bloc becomes, the less democratic it becomes, and the less responsive to the people inside it, and the more bureaucratic and the more controlling and the more dictatorial.

The bigger the EU gets, the less say its citizens feel they have in it, and the more disenchanted with it they become.

Janet Daley, writing in the Telegraph:

Rage against the machine – the people’s furious dissatisfaction with the loss of any real sense of control over their own lives – has hit the governing classes of the West with a bang…

Hatred is directed specifically at the remote structures and people whose commands must be obeyed, and yet who appear indifferent to the wishes and concerns of the governed. Surely, this was exactly what the great democratic revolutions were designed to correct? How do we find ourselves once again under the rule of unaccountable oligarchs who are oblivious to what Thoreau called the “quiet desperation” of ordinary men?

And what else does any banned smoker feel but “quiet desperation”?

Politicians like Blair have lost touch with ordinary people. And all he can do is repeat the imperial political imperatives of the European political class, right down to their disdain for the people they are misgoverning.

Much the same is true in the USA. And that has opened the way for populist outsiders – like Donald Trump – who haven’t lost touch with ordinary people.

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Smoking Ban News from Russia

Comment today from Dmitry Kosyrev in Russia:

…we’ve got news here, in Russia. In March there was an annual report of the Human Rights commissioner to the President. The end of the chapter 2.5 says that our anti-smoking law is a clear breach of human rights and should be reviewed and amended. Something to cheer us all up, right?

I waited for the officilal English translation to find its way to the Ombudsman’s English website, there is still none, thought it’s very much there in Russian. So maybe you want to see my very unofficilal and not-so-British translation of that piece…
So this is how it looks –

From the 2016 Report of the Russian Ombudsman for Human Rights to the President of Russia, ch. 2.5.

The ability to reach a public consensus is the basic indication of a healthy nation. The ongoing fight for a healthy way of life has demonstrated that we are having problems with being a healthy nation.

The harm of smoking does not require discussion. But the 2014 law “On safeguarding of public health from the effects of environmental tobacco smoke and the consequences of tobacco consumption” had from the very start leaned exclusively towards limitations of rights of the smoking citizens. According to various estimates, there are more than 30 million of such citizens in Russia, constituting a significant part of adult population. Their elementary rights have not been taken into account at the drafting of that law. As a result, the law does not contain the minimal necessary range of rights of smokers, such as would not be encroaching on the rights of non-smokers.

The result is the predictable discontent of both smokers and non-smokers, since the law, being based on bans and limitations, irritates one group of population and does not meet expectations of the other group.

As a reaction to the “excesses” of the anti-smoking law the public discussion has been started on the need of rebalancing the situation, on correcting the basic bans that irritate the smoking citizens and softening the potential factors of social discontent.

In the year 2015 the smoking community has been actively discussing the following proposals:

= Designation of the special places for smoking in the airports, as well as the smoking carriages on the trains (the idea being supported by the Russian Airports Associations and the Railways of Russia Corporation).

= Amendment of the order of establishing the smoking rules at the workplaces (the Federation of the Independent Trade Unions of Russia promotes the idea of transferring the right of decision on that matter to the joint trilateral committees of employers, employees and the trade unions).

= Loosening the bans on smoking in restaurants and hotels (the Federation of Hoteliers and Restaurateurs is in favor of legislating the smoker’s restaurants and designating special places for smoking in all and any hotels and other such places).

Numerous other well-founded proposals are under discussion.

We deem necessary the reviewing of the results of implementation of the current law and passing of the necessary amendments to it.

The report have been presented to the President on March 25, 2016. The English version will be published on the website http://eng.ombudsmanrf.org/ . All in all, the document is devastating, notably on the subject of income inequality and taxation and the rest of related subjects.

The ombudsman is a lady, Ella Pamfilova, used to be a minister in the first Russian reformist governments in early 1990-s and a prominent politician afterwards. On March 27 she had been appointed head of national Election Committee, which is a promotion, especially before the September elections to the Parliament.

Asked what chance there was of the law being amended, he replied:

…it’s hard to say. We are having a new Parliament after the September election. We know that the most ugly anti-smoking lobbyists have been disowned by their own parties since bans are very unpopular with the public. But we still do not know the overall picture, like who will be elected, who will vote for or against.

On the brighter side I may say that the general mood has changed. The failure of the bans is obvious, as many people predicted (nobody observes them). The clever ones are scuttling crab-fashion from that topic. The idiots who are still in, are hysterical, demanding new bans. We (the Smoker’s Rights Movement) are slowly inserting the right ideas into the public, so now the public or at least a part of it knows that this is a failed project of an ugly foreign medical lobby (yes, a bit of xenofobia is good for you, especially if it is based on real facts).

All in all we are moderately optimistic, but are ready for a long fight.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an ombudsman like that in the UK? Can you imagine it? Can you imagine anyone saying that the elementary rights of smokers hadn’t been taken into account in the UK smoking ban?

Nope. I can’t imagine it either.

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A Surprising Response

A couple of weeks back I wrote about a suicide and a protest at Swansea prison after a smoking ban had been introduced there.

I didn’t mention at the time that I had also written to my Westminster MP about it. I don’t often write to my MP. My letter (or rather, email) was short and to the point. I cited two newspaper reports, and went on to say:

Prisoners are now being forced to stop smoking. We are constantly told that nicotine is highly addictive – so isn’t this like imposing cold turkey on heroin addicts (something we don’t do)? It amounts to cruel and unusual punishment being inflicted on them, over and above the sentences they are already serving.

It would appear that any barbarity is now permissible in the name of “health”.

I usually get acknowledgements from MPs for my letters. And usually they tell me they don’t agree with me.

But a day or two back I got a short email reply from my MP in which he wrote that he had taken up the matter with the government on my behalf, and said he would let me know when he got a response. There was even a reference number attached.

Nothing like this has ever happened before! My MP doesn’t seem to be an antismoker, but I don’t believe he’s a smoker either. I’ve been wondering what induced him to take the matter up with the government.

Perhaps it was because my letter was short and to the point? Perhaps it was because the barbarity of what was happening appeared as obvious to him as it was to me? Perhaps he’s getting about as sick of health nazis as I am?

No doubt the government will in due course respond with some vague banality. But I’m rather cheered that, after years of writing to them, one of my several MPs has done something.

Perhaps there’s hope yet for British parliamentary democracy? I’ll keep you informed of any further developments.

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Pubs Are Like Girlfriends

Strange thought this morning: Pubs are like girlfriends.

They’re all different. Some are young, and some are old. Some are small, and some are big. Some are all done up in the latest fashion, while others make no effort at all. Some are quiet, and some are noisy. Some are fun, and some are staid. Some are homely, and some are standard airport lounge. Some are well-upholstered, and some have no upholstery at all. Some decorate their walls with paintings and posters and antique farming implements, and some wear little such decoration at all. Some are glad to see you, and some aren’t.

Maybe you like them all, but you usually get to prefer one of them more than the rest. And so you stay faithful to it… until one day maybe you chance upon a beautiful little bar that you never noticed before, and it steals your heart away.

And when pubs open, it’s like there’s a new girl in town. And when they close, it’s like an old girlfriend just left.

And the introduction of a smoking ban is like losing a girlfriend. In fact, it’s much worse: it’s like losing all your girlfriends on the same day. It’s like they all tell you on the same day that It’s Over, and I’ve Got Someone New. And he doesn’t smoke like you do. And he washes his hair every day. But We Can Still Be Friends, can’t we? Coz it’ll be your fault if we aren’t friends.

I always used to grieve for months whenever I lost a girlfriend.

And back when I was in Devon, I grieved for months after the UK smoking ban was imposed. It left a hole in my life.

And I think it must have been the same for a lot of smokers. And for women too, because for the girls pubs are probably like boyfriends. They provided a reason to get dressed up and put on the war paint.

So I think there were a lot of grieving smokers in England on 1 July 2007.

I think it’s probably like that everywhere, whenever smoking gets banned. It’s heartbreak.

They say that One Day You’ll Find Someone New. But in the case of pubs I don’t see it happening. They used to all be different. But now they’re all the dreary uniform same.

 

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Various Smoking News Items

Antismokers head for Turkmenistan:

Government officials to attend anti-smoking meeting in country run by mad dictator

Turkmenistan leaders have banned beards, ballets and pet pooches in recent years

THE Department of Health will send two officials to a nanny state anti-smoking conference in Turkmenistan tomorrow despite the country being run by a mad dictator, The Sun can reveal.

The British government say they have “significant concerns” about human rights in the repressed central Asian country that has banned smoking outside and only sells fags from state owned shops.

Turkey’s smoking ban isn’t working:

Why Turkey’s anti-tobacco efforts went up in smoke

Following the introduction of a strict smoking ban in Turkey in 2008, the great Turkish folk singer Neset Ertas became the first person to publicly challenge then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan over his tough attitude toward smokers. In a television program in 2009, the late Ertas interrupted Erdogan as he spoke on the issue and said, “Those miserable poor people are already beat. Electricity bills unpaid, water bills unpaid, not even bread and olives to eat. The cigarette is the only thing they have left. Don’t meddle with the people’s cigarettes.”

The link Ertas drew between poverty and smoking seems to have been spot on. The ban, which covers workplaces, restaurants and cafes, among other public spaces, proved effective in discouraging smoking in its initial years, but today Turkey is back to ground zero.

MP calls for money to be diverted from useless antismoking campaigns:

Minister rejects plea to offer meningitis vaccine to children under 11

…But David Nuttall, the Tory MP for Bury North, said money should be diverted away from helping smokers to pay for the extra jabs.

“I am not one to bring problems without trying to find solutions for government, so let me also suggest another source of funding,” he told MPs.

“The millions of pounds spent on trying to persuade those adults, who despite years and years or warnings of the dangers of smoking, nevertheless continue to do so.

“If they have not stopped by now, when will they? These adults have a choice. They choose to continue to smoke. Some of the millions spent on increasingly ineffective stop smoking campaigns could be spent on children who have no choice.”

Lung cancer no longer just a smokers’ disease:

Lung cancer is no longer just a ‘smokers’ disease’, according to a leading doctor.

Dr Harpal Kumar said that while the number of smokers is falling, which is leading to an overall reduction in the number of those developing lung cancer, there are still a steady 6,000 people developing the disease who do not smoke.

Of those, causes of the cancer include asbestos exposure and air pollution.

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The Functional Minimum

As I was writing last night about pill poppers, I remembered a conversation I’d once had with my father many, many years ago.

We were living in the Gambia in West Africa. And I was six years old. And we were talking about food, and I’d just declared that in the future food would come in the form of tablets. And my father asked if I was really sure about that.

“Wouldn’t you like there to be big plates of eggs and bacon and sausages and beans and toast?” he asked, conjuring up the image of a sumptuous dish.

“No!” I replied very firmly, shaking my head vigorously. And my father looked surprised and disappointed. Because my father loved food, and he particularly loved eggs and bacon.

But then for me, at age six, eating was just a chore. I had better things to do than sit at a table eating, particularly if a lot of the food consisted of vegetables that I didn’t like: I had important games to play outside in the garden with my battleship fleets.

For me, eating was something that had to be done, and the sooner it could be got over and done with, the better. And in many ways, 62 years later, my attitude to food remains much the same. I want fast food. And if I’m cooking for myself, I want the cooking done in 15 – 20 minutes or less. I’m no sort of gourmand. I don’t linger over my food, savouring each mouthful, or anything like that.

And I was thinking last night, after I’d posted up The Pill Poppers, that maybe antismokers had a similar attitude. They didn’t enjoy food. And they didn’t enjoy drink. And maybe they didn’t enjoy anything. When they went to a restaurant they just wanted a plate of edible food placed in front of them as quickly as possible, for them to eat as quickly as possible, so that they could leave as quickly as possible. And they didn’t want to have to endure music tinkling in the background, or anyone’s conversation, or (least of all) anyone’s smoke. And they had the same attitude to any bar or cafe. They went there to get something non-alcoholic to drink, and they wanted it as quickly as possible, so that they could drink it as quickly as possible, and leave as quickly as possible. For them restaurants should just sell food, and bars should just sell drink, and that’s all they should do.

But when I go to a bar, I usually want to stay as long as possible. I want to listen to the music, and hear snatches of conversation, and catch the odours of food and perfume and smoke. And I’ll linger as long as I possibly can over a beer and a few cigarettes (or at least I used to). And I won’t want to leave. Because I don’t actually go to bars to drink. I can do that at home. I go for the companionship and the conversation and the music and the pool games and everything else. The drink is almost irrelevant.

In many ways, what the antis are doing is to strip pubs and restaurants down to their functional minimum. Once they’ve got smoking banned, they’ll next want alcohol banned, and music banned, and conversation banned. They’ll ban everything which is irrelevant to the core function of pubs and restaurants – selling food and drink. In one essay by Michael Siegel, years ago, he mounted exactly this argument against smoking in bars and restaurants. The core function of a bar or restaurant, he wrote, wasn’t to provide a smoky atmosphere, so why should it be allowed? At the time I remember thinking that the core function didn’t include music or candles or conversation or newspapers or chess games, so why should they be allowed either? But he was solely fixed on smoking.

The antis strip away the unnecessary. And that’s why modern architecture is devoid of ornament. It’s not part of the core function of a building to have caryatid columns or elaborate friezes showing prancing horses and gods and heroes – so it’s all stripped away by the architectural modernist antis, who’ve been in command for 100 years.

But when all the inessentials have been stripped away, the end result may be strictly functional, but it’s usually also cold and barren and heartless. Maybe there isn’t any “core function” of anything? Maybe everything is multi-functional? Or has no “function” at all?

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