I had hoped, last weekend, to be able to make it to the flashsmoking event in London to mark the fourth anniversary of the smoking ban. In the event, I never found out where it was going to take place, and it seemed to have been cancelled a couple of days beforehand when its principal organiser had to back out.
It was a bit of a relief in some ways. It was going to be rather expensive to take a train all the way to London, just to smoke a couple of cigarettes. They would have been the most expensive cigarettes I’ve ever smoked.
But today I discovered that Stony Stratford, where Dick Puddlecote has at short notice arranged some sort of meeting to protest plans by a local councillor to introduce an outdoor smoking ban, is much nearer than I’d thought it was. It’ll be no trouble at all to drive there and back. It’ll make a perfect day trip.
Apart from Dick Puddlecote, Dave Atherton (whom I met last year) should also be there, as well as Forest’s Simon Clark, and at least 15 others (according to the Facebook page). It seems to be gathering a bit of momentum. I think the idea is to meet up at a pub (The Vaults, opposite the church, between 12pm and 1pm after 11am on Saturday 16th July), and listen to various speeches, have a few beers, smoke a few cigarettes, and maybe wave some placards.
I was rather touched to read that Tom Paine, the author of The Last Ditch blog, was going to drive up from London:
“I have never been a cigarette smoker, but I cannot abide the continuing demonisation of fellow-citizens pursuing a legal activity. If you feel the same, smoker or not, please consider making the effort.”
I felt similar sentiments after reading Patrick Hayes in the newly-launched UK version of the Huffington Post:
“Even if, like me, you don’t smoke, there are important reasons to oppose the smoking ban and attempts to further expand it. The smoking ban is just one example of an increasing trend by the state to interfere in our private choices and restrict the freedom of public spaces. We are perfectly able to make decisions for ourselves and negotiate relationships without the need for laws to do this for us. People should be free to smoke in public spaces, but the government’s nasty habit of creeping petty authoritarianism needs to be stubbed out completely.”
More and more non-smokers – including ones who actually detest smoking – seem to be speaking up for smokers. With smokers in a minority, they’ll need the support of such people if they are to reverse the rising tide of antismoking discrimination.
I’ve never made a placard. Any advice on this (as well as suggestions as to what to write on it) would be very welcome.
Anyway, it’ll all help to keep awakening the swarm. There are well over 1 billion smokers on this planet. That’s about the same as the number of Muslims in the world. Except us smokers are, as everyone knows, homicidal drug addicts whose very touch is lethal, and thus the very last people anyone in their right minds would want to mess with.