I’ve been reading the Tobacco Harm Reduction blog that seems to have started up in October of last year. It has several authors, and many of the posts seem to be critical of rabid antismokers, and to praise Michael Siegel, and to approve of e-cigarettes. So what was different between virulent obsessive antismokers and Tobacco Harm Reductionists? Eventually I found out:
Harm reduction is based on the idea of choice and autonomy. Smokers smoke for good reason (even if it is unhealthy) and only by accepting those reasons as valid can we develop attractive alternatives to smoking. Secondly, and quite a different point, is that the anti-smoking movement has created the very barriers that stop smokers from knowing about safer alternatives.
Sort of a good-cop bad-cop thing, then? But really, when you’ve been hauled into a police station and beaten up by bad cop, and then good cop comes in with a cup of coffee and a biscuit for you, are you likely to have your opinion of cops in general restored by that? Well, no you aren’t. You’ll still hate the whole damn lot of them.
They can sort of see that stigmatizing smoking might maintain smoking.
They can even see the parallels of post-Climategate global warming science with antismoking science.
Elsewhere on the blog, PLB writes:
Trying to get people to adopt safer alternatives is still trying to get people to do something they might not otherwise want to do. It’s still all about claiming to know what’s good for other people better than they know themselves.
Maybe they worked once. I’m sure they did. But I doubt they’ll work any more.
Over the past few years I’ve found myself a stranger in my own country, demonised and denormalised. I’ve lost a lot of friends, mostly because there’s nowhere comfortable to meet them any more, but sometimes as a consequence of head-on collision. I’m not going to forget it. When, one day, the antismoking bigots and bullies have been finally consigned to oblivion, as they will be, how does PLB think I’ll respond when he comes up to me and says, ‘Well Frank. How about giving up smoking now, eh?’
I can tell him already. I’ll tell him to Fuck Off. He’ll be lucky if he gets out of the room without an axe in his skull. I’ve had enough of people like him. I’ve had it up to here. I don’t make distinctions between any of them any more. They can all go to hell. Every single last one of them. And, believe me, as long as I live, I’ll be working to make sure they do all go to hell.
And that includes Dr Michael Siegel. He writes good stuff exposing the lies of antismoking zealots. But in the end, he’s just as much a zealot as they are. There’s barely a cigarette paper between them. He wants smoking banned in public places too. And he’s got 220 dead bartenders that can tell you why. Will I feel grateful to Michael Siegel when it’s all over? No, I won’t. He can go to hell too.
It’s all over for Tobacco Control. They went too far. I think that in a few years time they’re going to be seen as a bunch of Nazis (because that is, after all, what they essentially are), and it’s not going to be possible to say that some of them were Good Nazis. They’ll all be tarred with the same brush. And anyway there won’t be any more money in either antismoking or Tobacco Harm Reduction because the people who were handing them all that money will have been publicly strangled.
Tobacco Control is set to implode in the way that the Temperance movement seems to have imploded after the failure of Prohibition in the USA. I grew up in the world that followed. There was no war on alcohol on the 1950s and 1960s. It was over. But I kept picking up stories of a time, a decade or two earlier, when alcohol was demonised about as much as tobacco is now. My grandfather in the 1950s never went to any pub, but he’d drink one small bottle of Pale Ale every afternoon, and my mother absolutely insisted that he kept a small bottle of vodka or whisky with which to fortify it. I had an uncle whose terrible weakness for alcohol supposedly led him to go and live in Pakistan where he couldn’t get any. There were all sorts of stories like that about the demon drink. The Temperance campaigns demonising alcohol were over, but they continued to reverberate through society for decades. In retrospect, I’ve come to realise that my parents were rebels. They were rebels against alcohol prohibition in the 1930s and 1940s just like Sixties’ hippies were rebels against cannabis prohibition 20 or 30 years later. Through the 1950s and 60s, my father always kept a well-stocked bar in our living room, complete with high stools to go round it. Yet he hardly ever got drunk. I’ve come to realise, in retrospect, that it was his gesture of defiance. But the righteous had abandoned their war on alcohol by then, and had turned their evil eye on tobacco instead. The equivalent gesture these days would be to set up a little tobacconist shop in your own living room, with every single possible variety of tobacco available, complete with Tobacco Kills and Fumar Puede Matar labels, and pictures of dead bodies and black lungs. They’ll be priceless one day. Collect them while you can.
There was once a time when antismoking campaigns were socially acceptable. I didn’t used to mind them any more than I minded Jehovah’s Witnesses. Those days are over. Now they’re just evil. And it’s not going to be possible to return to the status quo ante, any more than it was ever going to be possible to return to ‘moderate’ antisemitism after Auschwitz.
The best thing anybody working in Tobacco Control these days could do is to look for another job. Like a petrol pump attendant. Or a cinema usherette. And better still get cosmetic surgery to give them a new face, and a new identity, and a small farm in Uruguay.
There’s going to be no forgiveness. It’s going to be a long and bloody revenge.