An Antismoker Comments

One of the surprising things about this blog, for me at least, is how few antismokers post any comments. In a world in which the public discourse is relentlessly antismoking, I would have expected a lot more than I actually get.

All of which makes me wonder how many antismokers there really are, when the megaphone of the mass media isn’t available to them.

Nevertheless, I still get a few, and the latest one turned up on my old Livejournal blog (which is still getting 200 – 300 hits a week) a week or so back. I found it quite thought-provoking. Here it is in totality:

most smokers clearly & hypocritically disrespect others’ rights to breathe free

2011-05-10 09:57 pm (UTC) (172.21.4.191)

Addicts are famously narcissistic and lacking in both impulse and self control, so it’s no surprise they’d also be the “squeaky wheels” that selfishly try to get the most “grease” applied to them having to control a personal “habit” which unilaterally & disrespectfully FORCES everyone around them to also breathe the noxious & toxic byproducts of their own personal “choice” whether they want to or not.

How laughable that the very same supernarcissists who think nothing of unilaterally FORCING the people around them to be exposed to their ‘choice’ of lighting up and polluting shared “public” airspace would be so hypocritical of statutes that compel them to behave as if they actually had this same level of respect for others.

If these individuals actually acted in a fashion consistent with their own misguided protests on “bans”, there would actually be no NEED for such bans.

I suppose the first thing I noticed was the very first word: “Addicts”. A great many antismokers regard smokers as being no different from heroin addicts, and in the grip of a terrible vice, and unable to make rational choices.

Oddly enough the question of whether smoking is an addiction or not has come up on Michael Siegel’s blog, where he reports that the tobacco industry is now calling smoking an addiction, and antismoking advocates are saying that it isn’t. Which is kinda the wrong way round.

Personally, I think that calling smokers “addicts” is a way of belittling them, and making them something less than fully human, with opinions as valuable as anybody else’s. Calling smokers “addicts” is a way of excluding them, and making them into non-persons whose opinions don’t count (unless they’re trying to give up smoking). Calling someone an “addict” is a slightly more polite way of calling them an “asshole”.

But once I’d got past “addicts” and “narcissistic” (i.e. self-centred) I next got reefed on “lacking in both impulse and self control”. This another thing that gets levelled at smokers: they lack self-control. They are weak-willed.

Again, I don’t personally find this true. I have no trouble at all not smoking almost everywhere where it isn’t permitted (and it is, after all, not permitted almost everywhere). When I go shopping, or walking, or driving, or more or less everything else, I’m not continually fighting back the urge to light up. If that’s self-control, I find it very easy. I can go for hours and hours without a cigarette. But what I totally hate is smoking being banned from smoking in pubs and cafes, because those are places where I go to relax and lighten up and stop being as disciplined as I am elsewhere. And alcohol and tobacco are both great ways to relax and lighten up and lose the inhibitions (i.e. self-control) that are in operation the rest of the time. I don’t go to pubs in order to continue to exert self-control. Quite the opposite, I’m trying to shuck it off. If these antismokers want me to be as self-controlled in pubs, then they probably also think that I shouldn’t drink anything there either, or speak to anyone. And in fact this is exactly what they want.

It’s one of the reasons why I don’t want to meet or get to know any of these antismokers. I don’t want to know people who are so uptight and restrained and self-controlled that they can’t even smile or laugh (like Dr W, the first antismoker I ever met, couldn’t), or tell a joke, or hold a conversation, or drink a beer, or smoke a cigarette, or do anything spontaneously at all. I’ve known lots of people like that, and usually I’ve felt a bit sorry for them. But they – and my anonymous commenter – seem to think that self-control is a virtue in itself, under all circumstances,  always. And I don’t. I think self-control has its time and its place, but that isn’t all the time and everywhere.

Then there’s the claim that smokers are “selfish”. It’s a claim that seems more and more hollow these days, when smokers have been driven from almost everywhere, that they are still the people who are being “selfish” in wanting just somewhere, anywhere, to enjoy a quiet cigarette. To me it’s the antismokers who seem boundlessly “selfish” these days, in making zero allowance for smokers.

And then there’s “unilaterally & disrespectfully FORCES everyone around them to also breathe the noxious & toxic byproducts…” Well, it’s true that smoke gets up people’s noses, because it’s something that naturally spreads and diffuses around smokers. But the same claim could be made of the alcohol vapours evaporating from alcoholic drinks, and the odours wafting from plates of food, or the scent of perfume, all of which are arguably equally “noxious” or “toxic”. And the same applies to sound. Go into any bar, and you’ll find people talking, and music playing, and you’re “forced” to listen to them, because sound waves travel even faster through air than smoke. And also, when you go into any bar, you’ll see people doing things like eating food and drinking beer and reading newspapers. And the light coming from them goes even faster through the air than sound. I point this out because antismokers now don’t want to even see anyone smoking.

I guess that when people start to complain about being “forced” to smell tobacco or perfume, or “forced” to listen to people talking or singing, I start to wonder why they want to go to any bar or cafe at all, ever. I think anyone who complains about this is really complaining that other people exist at all. I think such people don’t really like other people, and don’t want to meet them or encounter them. They want the whole world to be their private space. But why do they have to demand that places like pubs and cafes, where people go to meet other people, should be changed to suit them? It’s like sitting in a concert hall and complaining about the orchestra playing music. Just don’t go there if you don’t like it. The antismokers complain about smokers being “antisocial”, but really it’s the antismokers who are utterly antisocial.

Then there’s “statutes that compel them to behave as if they actually had this same level of respect for others.” Smokers are said to have no respect for anyone else. Lighting a cigarette is supposed to be a sort of insult to everyone around them. But that’s not how I see it, and in particular in a place like a pub where people want to meet people, and see them and hear them (and very often touch them). The friendly enveloping smoke is something that helps bind people together. It always has been, and it always will be.

I could go on. But suffice it so say that, after reading this little anonymous tract, I’m once again driven to the conclusion that I belong to a separate reality to these antismokers, and theirs is one which I never want to belong to. I simply don’t want to know uptight, self-controlled prigs whose beady eyes are always on the look-out for some infringement of their  social norms. I don’t want to meet them. I don’t even want to shake their hands. Because I simply don’t hate other people the way they hate them. And I don’t want to control other people, and force them to conform to some ever-more-restrictive set of rules.

I don’t mind if they have their own pubs and cafes, where smoking is banned, and alcohol is banned, and perfume is banned, and music is banned, and talking is banned. They’re welcome to them, if that’s what they want. I just want my own more relaxed and easygoing and convivial places where none of those things are banned.

But these people can never stop telling other people how to live their lives, it seems.

Circumcision Ban to Appear on San Francisco Ballot

SAN FRANCISCO—A group seeking to ban the circumcision of male children in San Francisco has succeeded in getting their controversial measure on the November ballot, meaning voters will be asked to weigh in on what until now has been a private family matter.

P.S. While I’m responding to a comment, it reminds me that for the past week or so I’ve started being deluged in spam. I get about 200 spam comments a day now. Fortunately WordPress deposits them all in my spam folder. But it’s not impossible that a few genuine comments get put in there too. There’s now a less than 50:50 chance that I’ll retrieve such genuine comments, because I’m not going to look through all that spam for something that probably isn’t there.

About Frank Davis

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18 Responses to An Antismoker Comments

  1. Pat Nurse says:

    Smoking is a habit not an addiction but it is pushed as such because it fits the “Denormalisation” programme.

    As for the anti, well I wouldn’t want to share a public space with that kind of person who is so selfish he or she would deny smokers – also members of the public – public spaces where they can meet other smokers and tolerant non smokers who don’t share the same paranoid phobia.

    Nasty sums that comment up and it concerns me a lot that Govt gives backing to that kind of scum with Bully Nudge.

  2. Leg-iron says:

    They’ve already started objecting to perfume and are pretending that even smelling it can kill them. Velvet Glove, Iron Fist has the story.

    The first psychosomatic antismoker death can’t be far away now. I’m doing my bit ;)

    • Frank Davis says:

      Fragrance bans.

      [In 2000] Halifax in North America has taken it several steps further than Detroit and has banned the wearing of any fragrance in most indoor public places, including; libraries, schools, courtrooms, hospitals and buses. Described as the Halifax Hysteria, even strongly scented mouthwash is banned from one workplace.

  3. Curmudgeon says:

    I think the reason antismokers steer clear of here is that it is very clearly a blog with an opposing point of view and so they feel they would be wasting their breath, as it were. By and large, people tend to read blogs they broadly agree with.

    They just leave comments on my blog instead :-(

    If you want to see some real spittle-fleckled antismoker bigotry, see the comments here.

  4. Tim says:

    Two comments.

    The circumcision vote coming up in November in San Francisco, I read somewhere today that the man behind this effort has spent the last 25 years of his life working toward getting it put on the ballot, to have circumcision made illegal – with a hefty fine and possible jail time too as the punishment. What kind of anal-obsessive person spends 25 years of their life devoted to having circumcision, a personal choice usually made based on parents’ health and religious reasons, made illegal. San Francisco will be no smoking and no circumcision. I hear they are filming a new FOX TV show in San Francisco this season called Alcatraz. It is about time-travelers from the past, former police detectives and criminals, coming into the future here in San Francisco. If they are from circa anytime prior to 16 years ago, how will they be able to film the TV series with all those ghastly no-outdoor-smoking and $500 fines for outdoor smoking signs everywhere.

    About the laggard anti-smoker postings on your old website, what is left remaining on a website after it’s not being currently read as much as the latest edition can pretty much be made into drawing a conclusion, depending on what type of commentator gets the last word on a subject. So it may be that anti-smoking is using their little dupes and tools to check up on all blogsites where not enough anti-smoking commentary has shown up and then long, long, long after the fact, hoping nobody will notice final comments being put, are using that advantage to re-write back out of history anything commented on previously in the blog or the article – in order to basically, have the last word and make it appear as if “they won” – and then all commenting ceased from that time forward – thus “they were right”. It’s called getting the last word in and that sounds like what they are busy doing, maybe not just yours but other blogs as well, one of their tactics, to close up any loose strings.

  5. Rick S says:

    “But once I’d got past “addicts” and “narcissistic” (i.e. self-centred) I next got reefed on “lacking in both impulse and self control”. This another thing that gets levelled at smokers: they lack self-control. They are weak-willed.”

    Yes, you see this one all the time. Anti-smoking comments on newspaper websites frequently belittle the weak-minded smoker in comparison with the strong-minded non-smoker. But it’s nonsense – with the exception of ex-smokers, non-smokers aren’t exercising any strength of mind at all by not smoking, as they don’t like it. I don’t like tomatoes, so I might as well lay claim to some sort of strength of character when I ask for them to be left out of the salad with my kebab, and insult the feeble-minded people who just can’t resist them. That would be silly – but no sillier than never-smokers referring to smokers as “weak-willed” for doing something they themselves wouldn’t enjoy. There is absolutely no difference in mental fortitude between smokers and non-smokers – it’s just that some people take to smoking and others don’t.

    • Jax says:

      It’s always amused me how anti-smokers can label as “weak willed” those who continue smoking despite all the persecution, prejudice, cost and inconvenience, thus tacitly implying that those who capitulate to social pressure, government instructions and hectoring health-service nagging are in some way “strong willed.” Since when has giving way to injustice and passively doing as one is told been a sign of strength? It’s tantamount to saying that the people of South Africa were in some way “weak willed” because they wouldn’t just passively accept Apartheid and live as they were told to like good, obedient little citizens. How feeble of them!

  6. Rose says:

    I have found “spineless and weak-willed” wonderfully motivational, I always grin when I see it.
    Underestimating the capabilities of your opponent is like believing your own propaganda, you have hamstrung yourself before you start.

    Of my many flaws, being weak-willed isn’t one of them.

  7. Rose says:

    Sneaking back to put a comment on a long dormant thread is a sign of supreme cowardice.
    Wanting to have the final word without risking any opposing argument, shows that they feel their own statements too fragile to stand up to debate.

    “Hammond et al state that “social denormalisation” strategies seek “to change the broad social norms around using tobacco—to push tobacco use out of the charmed circle of normal, desirable practice to being an abnormal practice”.”

    Smokers as malodourous
    Smokers as litterers
    Smokers as unattractive and undesirable housemates
    Smokers as undereducated and a social underclass
    Smokers as excessive users of public health services
    Smokers as employer liabilities
    http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/17/1/25

    See anything you agree with?

    Thought not.

    Their stock delusions and defensive fantasies have rendered the strength of the real opposition invisible.
    They are targeting shadows, which is why they miss.

    The tragedy is the elderly and those who are just taking the punches, stoically hoping each one will be the last.

  8. Mike F says:

    The concept of addiction is several hundred years old, and you could probably find several hundred definitions of the term. A search of Amazon U. S. lists 18,287 books on the subject. Then there are God only knows how many scientific papers….

    Anti tobacco screwballs like the Surgeon General create their own crackpot definitions of words – as in smoking “causes” lung cancer, or nicotine is “addictive.” Do these eccentric definitions agree with what the average person means when they use those words? I wouldn’t bet on it (but I can only speak for one average person). How logical (or scientifically reasonable) are these definitions? Not very, I submit.

    The 1964 Surgeon General’s report concluded that smoking was a habit, not an addiction. The 1988 report changed this, so – overnight – anyone who smoked became an addict – as in heroin addict, with the associations of poverty, crime, anti-social behavior, compulsion, jail time, withdrawal, needles, death by “overdose,” etc. (There was, I believe, a report between 1964 / 68 that used some intermediate derogatory word; this is typical of prohibitionist exaggeration over time.)

    Just about anybody you ask (including way, way, way too many smokers) believes that tobacco is addictive. This is quite debatable.

    Below is a nice paper that challenges the SG’s 1988 (currently accepted) definition of addiction.

    Click to access atrens.pdf

    If you smoke, the next time someone says you’re addicted, ask them to define the term and debate the criteria. I submit you will find few who can do the former and virtually no one who is willing (or able) to do the latter.

    P.S.: Just to be nasty, smokers are “addicted” (i.e., can’t help themselves) but they can be denied employment or medical care or be punitively taxed because of their “habit.”

  9. Klaus K says:

    Re: Addiction

    Maybe this article about nicotine and smoking “addiction” will interest you. It is translated from Danish, but you will probably understand – all links are in English:

    http://tinyurl.com/3mz27hy

  10. Gary K. says:

    Antis very seldom want to get into a debate(here or elsewhere); because, smart smokers will insist upon terms being defined.

    Such a term as ‘addiction’.

    Antis say that ‘addiction’ is the state of finding it difficult to quit something.

    It is the same with ‘enjoyment’, since ‘enjoyment’ makes it difficult to quit something.

    Antis take great pleasure in and get a great deal of enjoyment from indulging in anti behavior. Antis seem to get an emotional/mental high from their anti-actions.

    Therefore, antis are addicted to being an anti and their anti-actions are not a rational choice of free will.

    It seems that; just like smokers, antis are abnormal beings and need the help of the state to correct their actions.

    • Rose says:

      I remembered a study from 2008.

      Bullies’ Brains Light Up With Pleasure as People Squirm

      “The brains of bullies—kids who start fights, tell lies, and break stuff with glee—may be wired to feel pleasure when watching others suffer pain, according to a new brain scanning study.

      The finding was unexpected, noted Benjamin Lahey, a psychologist at the University of Chicago and co-author of the study, which appears in the new issue of the journal Biological Psychology. Jean Decety, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, is lead author of the study.”

      The researchers had expected that the bullies would show no response when they witnessed pain in somebody else—that they experience a sort of emotional coldness that allows them to steal milk money with no remorse, for example.

      Previous research had shown that when nonbullies see other people in pain, the same areas of the brain light up that do when the nonbullies themselves experience pain—a sign of empathy, Lahey said.

      The new research showed these areas in the bullies’ brains were even more active than in the nonbullies.

      But the bullies’ empathetic response seemed to be warped by activity in the amygdala and ventral striatum, regions of the brain sometimes associated with reward and pleasure.”

      “The bullying group was shown a series of brief videos that depict painful situations—some accidental, such as a hammer dropped on a toe; others intentional, such as a piano lid closed on a player’s fingers.

      In addition to revealing activity in pleasure- and pain-related areas of the brain, the scans also showed that a portion of the brain that helps regulate emotion is inactive in bullies.

      In other words, bullies lack a mechanism to keep themselves in check when, for example, a kid accidentally bumps them in the lunch line.”
      http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/11/081107-bully-brain.html

      I always did wonder how the school bullies coped in later life.

      What is mobbing?

      “In a mobbing situation, the ringleader incites supporters, cohorts, copycats and unenlightened, inexperienced, immature or emotionally needy individuals with poor values to engage in adversarial interaction with the selected target.”
      http://www.bullyonline.org/workbully/mobbing.htm

      Sounds about right, but to “denormalise” is so reassuringly non specific .

      As Kevin Barron said in his speech –

      “This topic has been debated in the House throughout the decades during which I have been a Member, and I have frequently argued for legislation to de-normalise smoking.”

  11. Budvar says:

    If smoking is so addictive etc, how come all the antis aren’t rushing to buy 20 bensons at the mearest whiff of tobacco smoke?

  12. Tim says:

    Once an article has been posted and is beyond a certain number of days old, can’t you turn off the commenting section so that no new comments can be added and it is left frozen in time, as it was?

  13. You’re indeed right with this writing

  14. Store says:

    That was revealing read!

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