I completed an essay earlier this evening, and was all set to publish it, when somehow or other – maybe by pressing return instead of backspace – I lost the whole damn thing. Vanished. Gone. Usually when I write I keep a copy. But this time I was relying on Livejournal’s own backup. And when I needed it, it wasn’t there. Too bad. Stuff happens. So the following is a reconstruction of what I wrote. It’s not quite as good as the lost original, nor perhaps quite as defective, but it reproduces most of its themes, and sometimes even its original words.
Unlike more or less any other industry, the antismoking industry is one which produces few benefits and many costs. Most industries serve to improve people’s lives, and to bind them together into communities, by providing food and shelter and a variety of useful goods. The antismoking industry, however, acts to make life harder for many people, and to shatter communities. If it produces any goods at all, they are not ones that anyone wants to buy.
The benefits of antismoking measures are for the most part only discernible to antismokers themselves. And they are entirely imaginary in nature: they consist in projected or imaginary numbers of lives saved, conjured out of mortality figures using estimated risk factors based upon inaccurate and partial data. However the costs of antismoking measures are real. The costs are experienced by real people in the form of fragmented communities, broken friendships, isolation, increased social conflict, and sometimes even death.
The antismoking industry has few satisfied customers, largely because it has no customers. Its business model is not that of a trader, but of a predatory criminal.
The method of the antismoking industry is one of extortion. Taxes, which increase every year, are extorted from smokers. And when these smokers are forced to try to give up smoking, more money is extorted from them by selling them largely ineffective nicotine replacement therapies. In addition to this, in America, the Master Settlement Agreement extorts hundreds of billions of dollars from US tobacco companies.
In this manner, smokers themselves provide the funds which allow for their continued and increased persecution and harassment, just like a flock of sheep provides the flesh that keeps alive the wolf pack that feeds upon it. And antismokers have been multiplying and growing rich on the backs of smokers. It’s money like this that funds the likes of Professor Robert West and Professor David Hunter, and other professional antismoking activists.
In another era, antismoking predators would be regarded as racketeers, or as a mafia feeding off society. Such mafias usually demand protection money against some imaginary threat. And if necessary, they make real this imaginary threat with beatings of non-payers or trashings of their businesses. The antismoking mafia also offers protection against the imaginary threat of smoking. And if necessary it acts to make real the threat, by creating a climate in which smokers are isolated and excluded, fired from their jobs, refused medical treatment, and sometimes physically assaulted. A divided community of isolated and defenceless smokers allows them to be picked off easily, one by one. That’s how predators work.
To see the antismoking industry as predators helps to explain a few things about them. Like why the dangers of smoking are arbitrarily multiplied by 10 every few years, so as to maintain the perceived threat level. It also explains why they increasingly just make stuff up without even bothering to provide any sort of scientific justification for it – e.g. third hand smoke, which is a purely imaginary threat -. The pretence at any sort of scrupulous or even-handed scientific reasoning is just the mask that conceals the predator’s true intentions.
Antismokers live parasitically as predators of smokers, living off flesh that has been gouged out of smokers. In spring, as sheep begin to multiply, the wolves multiply too. But come winter, and the numbers of sheep dwindles, the wolves dwindle also. Their attacks upon the flocks become more intensive. The modern predatory antismoking industry has grown fat on the backs of a dwindling number of smokers through economic boom years. But now that recession has come, it faces sharp reductions in its customary income. The baying banshee howl of antismoking propaganda is likely to begin to fade as the money runs out. The voices of smokers will begin to be heard instead, as their stories, hitherto drowned out, gradually emerge.
The US prohibition era which ran from 1919 to 1933 began in a period of American prosperity – the Roaring Twenties -, and was lifted as depression bit in the aftermath of the 1929 Wall Street crash. During the fat years, Americans could carry a burden of parasitical prohibitionists that fed off their wealth and their sense of guilt at that wealth. But once depression bit, it was too much to carry. Life was hard enough without having to bear unnecessary, additional restrictions. History is repeating itself. The modern antismoking industry grew up in a time of economic growth and prosperity, but as recession – and perhaps even depression – begins to bite, it will become too much to bear. Bad laws, which make life harder for people rather than easier, will again bring the whole of the law into contempt. Smuggling has already multiplied. The real social effects of smoking bans, as opposed to their imaginary benefits, will begin to emerge.