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.