The Absent Antismokers

One thing my e-cig has done this winter has been to allow me to spend much more time inside my local pub. Over the previous couple of years I simply stopped going between about October and March, and when I did go, I’d always sit outside.

One result has been that I’ve been rediscovering pub culture a bit, and got back on speaking terms with a few regulars I hadn’t said a word to in over two years. Many of them are smokers, but are indifferent to the ban. It’s not a talking point. It’s just another fact of life, like every other law. They’d prefer to be inside smoking, but they can’t and there’s nothing they can do about it.

And so they sit at the bar with their drinks, talking about this and that, and then one of them will head outside, polish off a cigarette in less than 5 minutes, and then come back in again. And most of them probably don’t mind it because, as telephone engineers and builders and the like, they spend a lot of time outside anyway. They’re used to it. Not me, though. A few minutes standing around outside and my fingers have gone numb, and my toes aren’t far behind.

Theirs is a slightly different pub culture than mine. They drink, smoke, talk, play the fruit machines. But I used to mostly sit alone with my pint and cigarettes, in quiet contemplation. Getting up every few minutes to go outside doesn’t go at all well with quiet contemplation.

One thing I’ve noticed since coming back inside is that nobody is at all hostile to smoking. The smokers don’t talk about giving it up. And the non-smokers don’t have any bad words about it either. I spent quite a long time talking to one ex-smoker, who’d given up 10 years beforehand, and who said that he still dreamed about smoking, but had nothing bad to say about it. There was no hostility towards the habit. Another evening I spent a while talking to someone who’d given up smoking 2 months beforehand. He said he’d just been coughing the whole time, and it had become unbearable, and he’d really had to give up. Nobody had pressured him. It was his own decision. And I could (for once) sympathise, given that about 4 months ago I’d been coughing non-stop after a bout of flu, and had begun to wonder if I should give up. My e-cig saved the day back then.

So none of the regulars are hostile to smoking, but there also aren’t any hand-wavers passing the smokers outside the door. And in the entire time that I’ve sat outside smoking, I’ve never seen a single hand-waver either, or heard any remarks passed. But I never saw or heard any before the ban either. Perhaps I’m just lucky, but in this little patch of Devon, life has continued more or less exactly as it did before, only now the smokers periodically and uncomplainingly duck outside to smoke.

I think that it’s probably because most anti-smokers don’t want personal confrontation. On the night that the smoking ban came into force, somebody – presumably a righteous antismoker – smashed all the pub’s outside ashtrays. But that’s not confrontational. And they haven’t been back to smash their replacements.

In some ways, the start of the smoking ban seems to have marked the high tide of the antismokers. A near neighbour of mine, an antismoker who once lectured me righteously about smoking a few months before the ban came in, hasn’t breathed a word about smoking since. If she had, I’d have let her have it, with both barrels. Nor has anybody else. Perhaps that’s because even antismokers can see that it’s a nasty, divisive, and vindictive ban.

I suspect that very few antismokers do much in the way of confrontation. The way they actually work is behind the scenes, framing antismoking legislation, making antismoking ads, printing off antismoking leaflets. None of that involves face to face confrontation with anybody. They get other people to do the confrontation for them. That’s what the law is. It’s a way to get other people to provide the muscle you daren’t risk. So when you, as antismoker, see smokers huddled outside pub doorways, you don’t go up to them and complain. No, you just slip an amendment into the regulations at the next committee meeting. It’ll be somebody else who’ll be telling the smokers to move along next week.

Exactly the same is true for all the MPs who voted for the smoking ban. They weren’t personally going to have to enforce it. All they had to do was walk through one lobby or another. All the rest would be done by somebody else.

It’s also how the Nazi holocaust worked. Most of the organisers of it never got their hands dirty. They left it to other people to carry out their dirty work. There were probably lots of people who were arranging and scheduling transport trains in nice clean offices in Berlin, only vaguely aware of the reality of what they were doing, and not wanting to know any more than they did. And then, as now, it was all justified by fraudulent pseudoscience and breath-taking lies, and disguised behind weasel words. “Jew-free”. “Smoke-free”. And the Nazis were just as moralistic and righteous as any of their contemporary counterparts. After all, you have to be mind-bogglingly righteous to consign entire peoples to death. It must have been an awful shock for many of those righteous Nazis to find themselves in court a few years later, charged with crimes against humanity.

Today’s antismoking equivalents of Adolf Eichmann would never dream of tackling a smoker face to face. If they were sat on a non-smoking compartment of a train, and somebody lit a cigarette, they wouldn’t lift a finger or say a word. No. But next day they’d be on the phone first thing to bawl out the absent inspectors, and to demand larger No Smoking signs, and further extensions to the ban.

Minus the force of law, and a chain of command whereby superiors in government get inferiors to do their dirty work for them, there wouldn’t be any antismoking movement at all. Nor would there have been any murderous antisemitism in Germany. These people can only get anything done by co-opting the state and the law. It is the only way they can ever gain the kind of leverage to lend real force to their petty prejudices. In such manner are all the worst atrocities committed. They could never do it on their own. And would never even dream of trying.

About Frank Davis

smoker
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8 Responses to The Absent Antismokers

  1. Anonymous says:

    Good stuff, Frank.
    “On the night that the smoking ban came into force, somebody – presumably a righteous antismoker – smashed all the pub’s outside ashtrays.”
    Funny, I think I’d have presumed that it was a smoker angry with the ban. In the area I live, I notice that particularly large or obnoxiously phrased signs have a tendency to get knocked down. I saw this very ashtray and sign behind a workplace near mine. It didn’t last long.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well, the hotlink worked in the preview. I think that site has a preventative mechanism in place against hotlinks. Sorry about that.
    Oh, yes, WS on above.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “These people can only get anything done by co-opting the state and the law. It is the only way they can ever gain the kind of leverage to lend real force to their petty prejudices. In such manner are all the worst atrocities committed. They could never do it on their own. And would never even dream of trying.”
    We have a new catch-phrase here in America for the phenomena you describe. It helped to get our current president elected.
    “Yes, we can!”
    WS.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Frank
    The only problem with patronising the pubs,
    it encourages the health freaks to contemplate harsher
    initiatives.
    Hardly surprising some publicans dont give a hoot as long as some idiots buy their ale and do the hokey cokey
    all night, in out,,in out,,in out,,shake it all about.
    Smoking Samurai

  5. Anonymous says:

    I guess the fact is that anti-smokers, each and every bitter and twisted last one of them, are bullies, deep down inside, and even if at a conscious level the idea of being such a thing isn’t something which they could cope with (hence the plethora of weasly self-deceiving excuses for being an anti: “I’m allergic to it,” “I’m worried about my children’s health,” “I get asthma,” “My great-uncles’ second cousins’ twin brother died of lung cancer and …..” etc, etc). And it’s one of the few real truisms in life that all bullies are cowards, hence the lack of confrontation. It is, probably, the main reason that I hate antis with the venom that I do.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Another one from the television programme “8 out of 10 cats”. The panels were asked to guess which things annoyed people most in a survey. Top of the list? smoking? no. It was third in the list. So how many people in this survey said that they found people smoking annoying? 30%. Hang on, that means that 70% of the people asked were not annoyed by people smoking.
    timbone

  7. Anonymous says:

    I am at this moment watching the news on BBC1. The main point has just been that RBS bank has ‘lost’ 6 billion £s. Question: Do you believe it? Answer: No! So how do you explain the ‘loss’?
    The simple fact (and no one explains this) is that PROPERTY VALUES, including homes and commercial properties, have fallen. Thus, RBS seem to have suffered a loss. In fact, no money has been lost. In fact, RBS has made lots and lots of cash. If property values rose substantially, they would suddenly become very profitable, even if they made a cash loss! It is frightening how much we are being lead astray by words!
    And so we see the same sort of thing in respect of the smoking ban. We hear politicians saying, “The smoking restrictions have been accepted. Our laws have been a success! The majority have agreed!”
    In reality, all that has happened is that the swingeing penalties have had the effect that they were designed to have. After all, who amongst us would dare light a cigarette in an airport when the penalty is likely to be that you will be ejected from the airport and lose your holiday for which you have paid a fortune? We do not do it, and so the smoking ban has been a great success – except that there are 15 000 000 people out there who are resentful, even if they do not know quite why they are resentful.
    If the Tories had any sense AT ALL, they would take advantage of this resentment. Will they? I have this feeling that they will, but only if they have to, and then only temporarily unless we smokers can persuade them otherwise.
    Also, and I am sure that the Tories do not know, ordinary intelligent people are going to be watching from now on what MPs are doing. The days of MPs not knowing what they are voting for are numbered, and this also goes for the EU. Not everyone will be aware, but a sufficiently great number will be, and this number will grow and grow as people realise how much of their tax monies are being splurged. The knowledge will be promulgated via the internet.
    Politicians keep saying that people who are claiming jobseekers allowance are lazy layabouts. The fact is that there are simply no jobs for them. The mere statistic that ‘there are x minimum wage jobs in London’ is meaningless to the jobless young people who live in the North.
    I may be dreaming, but I will be very surprised if what I say is not true. One does not need to be Einstein to see the truth. If one sees the truth, then one needs only to persevere.
    I could say this: I, as a constituent, could ask my MP to give me an explanation for his decision for voting in a particular way. I think that that is reasonable.

  8. Frank Davis says:

    If the Tories had any sense AT ALL, they would take advantage of this resentment. Will they? I have this feeling that they will, but only if they have to, and then only temporarily unless we smokers can persuade them otherwise.
    You’re more optimistic than I am. I’ve given up on the Tories. I’d vote for them like a shot if they said they were going to call a halt to the war on smokers. But I no longer believe they will. It’s senseless of them, but it was also senseless of Labour to bring in a ban that struck at their own core working class voter base. They’re all senseless. The only thing to do is vote for somebody else. Anybody else. And hope that the dice throw up something better.
    Frank

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