Division

Well, judging from the responses to yesterday’s post, we smokers do seem to be a very angry lot!

And, for those of us in the UK, this is anger that we’re still feeling well over four years since the UK smoking ban came into force. That’s a long time for people to remain angry.

Anyone would think that after four years, people would have got used to it, and made their peace with it. But I certainly haven’t. And I don’t think I’m ever going to. I look set to be permanently angry. Why don’t I get over it?

It’s not as if I’ve not been through a few psychological traumas in my time. Breaking up with girlfriends used to be a regular trauma. I’d be down in the dumps for months, sometimes even years. But then, somehow or other, I’d bob back up, and regain my equilibrium, and the world would start looking sunny again.

But in the case of the smoking ban, I’ve not been down in the dumps, feeling sorry for myself. I’ve been angry. More angry than I’ve ever been in my entire life. And anger is a different thing from sorrow or despair. In some ways it’s actually quite a positive, creative thing.

And these days I’m beginning to think that all smokers are angry. You may not see their anger, but it’s there all the same, bubbling away. Nobody likes to be expelled from society. Nobody likes to become a second class citizen. They’d be an idiot if they did.

I don’t approve of social engineering, and treating people like laboratory rats, but it seems to me to be a very bad piece of social engineering that ends up with a quarter of the population simmering with rage. If I was a fully-paid-up social engineer with a degree in Social Engineering (BSE?), I’m sure I’d think that a good piece of social engineering is one which works with hardly anybody noticing or getting riled about it. By that measure, the smoking ban has been a catastrophic failure.

I often wonder if the people behind the smoking ban – the Arnotts and Wests and Donaldsons and Gilmores – have any idea what they’re doing. Is this what they planned to happen? Is everything going exactly according to plan with the smoking ban?

I don’t really think they have a clue what they’re doing. Doctors – even senior doctors – are really only going to know anything about medicine. They’re not politicians or sociologists or psychologists. I don’t know what Deborah Arnott’s background is, but I have an idea she worked in television once. And if you work in television or in the movies, you’re essentially dealing in daydreams. And the (ex-)friend of mine who now works in ‘smoking cessation’ has a degree in French, Politics, and Philosophy. Really, who are these bums? They’re all nobodies. And they’re all way out of their depth.

Nor is it that I’ve ever seen any study which explores what smokers feel about smoking bans. The only thing any of these people seem to be interested in is whether smokers have given up smoking. That’s all that matters to them. There’s a complete absence of empathy with smokers. Smokers are non-persons. They are unhealthy people. They are drug addicts for whom the antismoking community feels absolute contempt. They don’t want to know what smokers think or feel. And so consequently they don’t know. They haven’t a clue. And that also is an indication that they don’t know what they’re doing. They’re ignoring evidence. In fact they’re not even looking for evidence.

It’s just like an engineer designing a bridge and ignoring the wind forces acting on it, because he thinks the wind doesn’t matter, and he can forget about it.

No, they haven’t a clue what they’re doing. But they believe the nonsense they spout all the same, and they’re puffed up with self-importance – and the government believes them too.

Disaster must be the only result. Just like when the wind blows, and bridges collapse.

The way I see it, what’s been happening in Britain over the past few years is that a formerly cohesive society is gradually dividing in two. On the one hand there are the excluded smokers, and on the other there are the obsessive hand-waving antismokers with the full weight of the government behind them. In between there are a large number of people who are neither on one side nor the other, but who will one day be forced to make a choice. But nobody sees this growing division, because nobody is looking.

In my own life, that social division means that I no longer know, or want to know, anyone who is in the least bit antismoking. And since I’ve been unlucky enough to have known rather too many antismokers (although most of the antismokers I knew weren’t in the least bit virulent) , that’s about 95% of the people I used to know. And, if that’s happening over the whole of Britain, that’s a pretty enormous social divide opening up.

But it goes further. I no longer watch TV or listen to the radio, because I’m not part of their society. And I don’t want to belong to their society anyway. I don’t want to know abusive and controlling people like them. And I don’t want to know what they think either. And I’m not going to vote for any of them – Labour, Conservative, or Lib Dem. They can all go to hell. I’ll never vote for any of them again.

And the division just gets slowly deeper and deeper.

I once asked mi amiga in Spain how Spain became divided in the run-up to the Spanish Civil War, and she said that the division ran through every town and every family. It wasn’t North versus South or anything. It was the complete fracture of society into millions of bits, and ultimately into two sides.

And this is what the smoking ban is doing in the UK. And I’m sure it’s what it’s doing throughout Europe. And it’s what smoking bans are doing in the USA. And it’s a division that runs through every town and every family, gradually tearing them apart.

In the comments yesterday, Mr A remarked that the ferment in the Arab world seems to have been consequent upon the introduction of smoking bans. I wrote about exactly this back in March. Life was probably pretty hard in Tunisia before they banned smoking, but when they did it got a whole lot worse. It was quite likely the last straw that broke the camel’s back.

If the same hasn’t happened in the UK and throughout Europe, it’s probably because there’s a) fewer smokers, and b) Europe is a lot more prosperous and comfortable than places like Tunisia. But when the Euro ‘rescue plan’ fails, and Europe descends into economic depression, and life gets harder for all Europeans (and everyone smokes more as a result) European smokers may not feel disposed to continue to cheerfully endure their constant humiliation.

We will see. And quite likely we will see very soon.

About Frank Davis

smoker
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25 Responses to Division

  1. Walt says:

    Sorry I missed yesterday’s catharsis. Was going to post a link to a brilliant article about how a once happy town in Minnesota was riven by a ban but the link is now dead. I’ll do more research and see if I can find it because it’s a perfect microcosm that illustrates your point. Meanwhile, you might like this song video which shows the other (upbeat, screw nanny) side of the American spirit:

  2. The Chinese seem to be on the right track. While we’ve got people running around on smoke breaks while politicians use their time endlessly debating the most effective ways of enforcing their bans, the Chinese will simply move on with the job of taking over the world:

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-11/06/c_131232143.htm

    – MJM

  3. Twisted Root says:

    Another angry smoker here who didn’t comment yesterday because until I had read and thought your piece I didn’t quite realise how much the ban still colours my outlook on life.

    How can one not still be angry? To be forced to behave like a child and go and stand outside on the naughty step on a constant and repeated basis is humiliating. There are choices but all of them are forced choices. One could stop smoking, but it would be a choice taken only in order to be readmitted into anti-smoker designed society. Who wants that?

    One could stop going to enclosed public places as many smokers indeed have, another forced choice to become a recluse.

    The division has been made. Deliberately and with malice aforethought. These dividers are not my
    countrymen, they are not co-members of a society in which we share broadly accepted values, they are fellow humans only in appearance. That is how I now see the world and I am reminded of it every day.

    • Frank Davis says:

      until I had read and thought your piece I didn’t quite realise how much the ban still colours my outlook on life.

      That’s interesting. Maybe people need to be prodded a bit to realise how bad it is.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Nobody likes to be expelled from society. Nobody likes to become a second class citizen. They’d be an idiot if they did.

        Frank, one of the weirdest is when you read TC claiming smokers are in favor of a ban!

        Who in their right mind would support making themselves a CRIMINAL!

  4. banshee says:

    I didn’t read Kiss until today and yes I’m angry too and sick at heart. The ban permeates so much of life. I no longer want to travel anywhere. I don’t want to be unwelcome and inconvenienced by stupid and variable smoking regulations. Any social gathering now depresses me because I cannot light up and receive a sympathetic reaction. I don’t have to light up at all, but the knowledge that those around me would shun me if I did (even though most of them being my age were brought up/worked in/partied in/ wonderfully smoky places) just depresses me. A pariah indeed.

    I know I should be more robust and just argue re SHS, but on any given day I just want to enjoy myself and relax with a fag and a drink amongst congenial people of a similar cast of mind. And I really cannot understand what governments have against this, nor why they put so much effort and money into seeing that many of us shan’t enjoy ourselves. Goodness knows there are more serious things to be worried about.. As for the sheep like conformity and ignorance of the rest of population – words fail me.

    So your blog is a fine refuge Frank, a place where you can feel there are others out there all over the world who agree and want to fight smoking bans. So please keep it up – reading it is a necessary part of my day and I suspect of many others judging by your comments section.

    • alanx ma with bar says:

      It’s certain that some anti smokers see my destroyed social life as a small price for them to pay for the coming deliriously Utopian smokefrei future, where the children will be saved and everyone is kind to animals.

      My impression is that us angry alienated ones are supposed to have come round to the wonderful smoke ban by now. It looks like we are meant to be seen as a tiny minority of kultural retards who should be ridiculed for not accepting the organic beauty of their social blueprint. What we are really, as Frank points out so well, is a gathering army of wasps.

  5. Mike_Iver_Bucks says:

    And I am more than ready to sting…

  6. Gary K. says:

    I too am angry; but, I am more displeased by the fact that the smokers’ side of the story never gets told to the general public.

    It is almost never that there is a press release,headline,leading tv story,or tv/print ads telling our side of the antis claims.

    We are about as organized as a bunch of kittens with the shits.

    Can you remember ever having seen a story on tv or in the print saying something like this:
    “Anti-smokers, in America, claim there are 393,000 smokers’ deaths ’caused’ by smoking every year; but, there is at least a 70% probability that each of those deaths was ’caused’ by factors other than smoking.”

    NOTE: CDC says that, every year, there are 1.3 million deaths from the 19 smoking ‘related’ diseases and that 393,000 are attributable to smoking.

    393,000 is 30% of 1.3 million; soooo, 70% of the deaths are ’caused’ by other factors.
    When a smoker dies from one of those diseases, there is a 70% probability that death was ’caused’ by something other than smoking.

    • Gary K. says:

      Have you ever seen a storyline about the fact that the antis claim that “smoking ’causes’ lung cancer!!!!!”

      Of course,we all have.

      Have you ever seen a storyline stating that: “current smokers have 99.95% of a never-smoker’s chances of NOT dying from lung cancer”????

      I haven’t either; but, we should have!!!!!!

      NOTE: In America the CDC data shows that the never-smoker lung cancer death rate is 2/10,000 per year and the current smoker lung cancer death rate is 7/10,000 per year.

      Not dying from lung cancer is 9,993/9,998 = 99.95%

  7. Gary K. says:

    Have you ever seen a storyline like this: “Innocent never-smokers should not be made to die from lung cancer due to being exposed to SHS/ETS. We must have smoking bans to prevent such terrible tragedies!!!”

    Me too.

    Have you ever seen a storyline stating: “In any given year, a never-smoker expposed to SHS/ETS has a 99.995% chance of NOT dying from lung cancer due to that exposure.”

    We should have!!!

    NOTE: SHS/ETS exposure causes a 25% increased risk.
    25% of 2/10,000 is 0.5/10,000 or 1/20,000.
    In any given year, 19,999/20,000 SHS/ETS exposed never-smokers will NOT die from lung cancer and that is 99.995%

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Gary might as well chalk it up to never ever will a non-smoker get LC from a smoker!

      Lung Cancer a Different Disease in Smokers and Nonsmokers

      PHILADELPHIA — Lung cancer that develops in smokers is not the same disease as lung cancer that develops in people who’ve never touched a cigarette, a new study finds.

      There are nearly twice as many DNA changes in the tumors of people who have never smoked than in the tumors of people who smoke, which suggests the cancer of “never-smokers” is different from smokers’ cancer, said Kelsie Thu, a Ph.D. candidate at the BC Cancer Research Center in Canada.

      “We think this finding provides evidence that never-smoker and smoker lung cancers are different, and suggests they arise through different molecular pathways,” Thu told MyHealthNewsDaily. “Never-smokers might be exposed to a carcinogen, not from cigarettes, that causes their tumors to have more DNA alterations and promotes lung cancer development.”

      Its falling apart for TC everyday!

      http://www.livescience.com/11090-lung-cancer-disease-smokers-nonsmokers.html

  8. harleyrider1978 says:

    Fatally Flawed Euro’s End Is Near

    http://www.prlog.org/11685491-fatally-flawed-euros-end-is-near-great-news-for-gold-prices-and-silver-prices-buy-silver-now.html

    Certainly, Frenchman Jean Monnet, one of the designers of the EU reportedly stated “Europe’s nations should be guided towards the super state without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose, but which will inevitably and irreversibly lead to political union.”

    At first, the reduction of sovereignty was acceptable to the southern democracies struggling with unsure economies, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain (later on to turn out to be referred to as the PIGS), which benefited from huge EU funding. In the primary contributing nations, notably Germany and Great Britain, voters showed higher hesitancy. In France, Denmark and Ireland, which at first voted in opposition to political union in referenda, means had been discovered to disregard voters’ needs. To conquer northern objections, the union was touted like a totally free trade region that might benefit effective economies.

    Over a long time, intervals of financial tension usually supplied proponents of higher centralization having a means to advance their agenda. Greater unification was the remedy all for financial ills. The establishment of the typical forex in the late 1990’s was seen as the lynchpin in making the Union long term.

    However the euro by itself was fatally flawed in the start. In spite of the insufficient fiscal unity required to underpin just one forex, European leaders took the plunge and trusted that all would work out in the finish. Their gamble is now proving pricey.

    These days, with pro-union hierarchies in company control of the political course in France and Germany, and with professional politicians vulnerable to party coercion, nationwide parliaments are turning into less and less representative of popular will. In any event these nationwide bodies have currently ceded some sovereignty to the EU, with some 70 % of legislation believed to originate from non-elected officials in Brussels. However the European Parliament by itself is practically powerless in setting policy. The net outcome is unaccountable federal government. The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany mentioned this “democratic deficiency” two years in the past.

    The hardships of the present economic downturn and financial debt crisis have fanned voter apprehension. There could be little doubt that road level pain using the super state is expanding in Berlin, London, Paris, and Rotterdam. Aware of those problems, northern tier Euro zone politicians are actually loathe to antagonize voters currently annoyed using the political status quo.

    Nevertheless, Germany’s political elite might be viewing the crisis like a singular chance to gain higher control of the nations that are around the receiving end of its bailout money. Presently, Germany’s formal executive power all through the EU is far lower than its bailout contributions would suggest. Berlin is actively seeking to alter this. If they’re successful we might look back again around the establishment of the euro as the means by which Germany lastly acquired the empire sought by Bismarck. German voters, not sharing these goals, might be less prepared to pay the price with their hard earned savings. Consequently, German leadership is presently rudderless. Bereft of direction from its most significant member, the EU by itself drifts.

  9. Jax says:

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that so many of the Arab riots followed fairly swiftly on the heels of various smoking bans. So here’s a thought for you. I think that, by and large, smokers within society (as opposed to within the corridors of power) tend to be leaders. Not big-time, political bigwigs (political correctness has seen to that, which may explain the lily-livered “leaders” which we have had to endure for the last few decades), but certainly they seem to have an inordinate influence over the behaviour of non-smokers around them without really intending to do so. It’s tempting to describe these people as rebels, but I think that’s misleading, and gives the wrong impression. I think it’s more that smokers just seem to be people to whom others (apart from genuine anti-smokers, who are small in number) are drawn, whom they tend generally to like, and of whom they take notice, even if it’s just in general conversation. Maybe it works the other way around – those who are prepared to stand up for what they believe in and who aren’t afraid to speak their minds honestly and with passion, no matter how politically incorrect or officially disapproved-of their ideas might be, tend also to be people who aren’t going to do as they are told by someone else, and thus are more likely, in this day and age, to be smokers.

    But whichever way round it is, there is evidence that smokers have a far greater influence than, numerically speaking, they really should. Why else have pubs become so sterile and subdued since the ban? Even if customer numbers may be diminished without the smokers, there must surely have been sufficient non-smoking pub-going regulars to keep the atmosphere alive without the smokers there. So why have non-smokers deserted pubs in their droves, citing that they are “no fun” any more as one of the reasons? Why did productivity across the board fall on average by 30% in Denmark in the year immediately following their workplace ban? Surely such a ban should not have affected the output of Danish non-smokers one jot? Why is everyone, it seems, so chronically apathetic and miserable these days, as evidenced by the 30% increase in the amount of anti-depressants being prescribed over the last four years – with the sheer numbers dictating that many of these must be for non-smokers? Surely there should be as wide a spread of happy and non-happy people as there always was, amongst the non-smoking population, at least.

    And why – to come back to the point you make, Frank – did all those Arab countries, burdened often for centuries with nutty dictators and despotic dynastic regimes suddenly get out onto the streets shouting the odds and demanding a fairer system? I don’t think it’s any coincidence that smoking bans preceded such action, because if you take the most socially influential people – already angry at the unfairness of a system – and make them even more angry by specifically targeting them with a particularly unjust rule, then all that anger is going to suddenly find a voice in those resentful smokers. And it won’t just be the anger at the smoking ban, although that may be the catalyst – indeed, the smoking ban may not be mentioned at all – but all the built up resentments and fury will come tumbling out, like water finally bursting out through a cracked dam.

    And without realising it, the non-smokers will follow them, just like they’ve followed them out of pubs and clubs and bars here in the UK, and – hey-presto! – you’ve got a nationwide riot.

  10. Jay says:

    I haven’t commented on your previous thread, Frank, having, I felt, ‘come late to the party’ but, I too, am An Angry Smoker (in fact, I’m now An Angry Person, the smoking ban acting as the catalyst to open my eyes to what goes on). Your blog is thoughtful and deserves time – as do the excellent comments – so, having very little time, I read when I can and comment seldom.

    Someone commented (you?) that the ban is rivening society – at the level of the family. There is ample evidence of this and its engineers are despicable (although, if they’re even aware of it, they’ll dismiss it as collateral damage). Another commenter made the point (hope I’m not misquoting) that the ban had made him/her realise how manipulated we are by politicians and that hit the nail on the head for me – I loathe the ban because those in power had the power – on spurious grounds – to manipulate my behaviour and the behaviour of those around me. They’ve manipulated my behaviour because, since the ban, I’ve had no social life to speak of: I’ve lost friends because they’ve turned out to be not only non-smokers, but anti-smokers, and the grounds for the ban gave them carte blanche to tell me that they’d rather not be exposed to my habit ; I’m also not prepared to trumpet my acceptance of pariah status by standing outside.

    I do, however, dedect a slight change: it might just be getting through to the chronically stupid that smokers are the victims of a propaganda campaigne, the template of which is now being turned on them.

  11. junican says:

    From Jax;
    “And it won’t just be the anger at the smoking ban, although that may be the catalyst…”

    That is precisely how I feel. The smoking ban ‘wound me up’. They can all SOD OFF! Before the ban, I was mildly surprised at the nonsense coming out of the mouths of politicians, but, by and large, it did not really matter because, whatever they said, they could not really influence the way I decide to live. That has all now changed. A fundamental change has occurred. EVERYTHING they say is relevant to me and I protest by email, letter and attitude to officialdom. I argue and argue, protest and protest. Jet 2 recently let my disabled wife down badly. There was a time that I would have just shrugged it off, but not now. I complained and complained, and eventually they offered us a free flight for two, which I accepted. I am suspicious of any official – even nurses and doctors. I believe that they are lying to me for their own convenience. Another example is the case of the unemployed youth who was hit with a 26 week sanction (fine) – I intervened and, after a lot of precise questioning of the ‘officials’, got that reduced to 8 weeks. Another event occurred at the library. I borrowed a book which was ‘in reserve stock’ (ie. not on display, but in the cellar). After a period of time, even though I was renewing the borrowing as required, they insisted on taking it off me. “What is the point”, I asked, “of taking it off me in order to put it in a cellar downstairs?” I was not satisfied with the answer that ‘it is the rules’. I finished up having an argument with the Manager of Bolton Library – they even brought in the Security Guard!! But I got the book (Richard Feynman’s ‘Lectures on Physics’) for a further 3 weeks, during which time I scanned the whole book into my computer. Sod them! SOD THEM ALL!!

    So now I am growing my own tobacco. Even now, at this moment, I am smoking one of my ‘Junicans’. A ‘Junican’ is a fag composed partly of manufactured tobocco taken from a ‘Coronas’ fag (Spannish) and partly from my own garden produced stuff. The reason that I blend the two is because my own stuff is a little strong. So, I get 2 JunicanstobaccoSpanish from 1 Coronas! And a very nice smoke it is!

    I hope Frank does not mind a blatant plug. Anyone interested in growing their own tobacco and curing the tobacco and making fags blended with their own stuff should consult:

    http://boltonsmokersclub.wordpress.com/

    One of the beautiful things about this blending process is that you use only a little of your own stuff when you blend. This means that you can get real value from growing only a few tobacco plants – provided that you recognise that free tobacco requires some effort! A few plants in tubs will reap dividents since the tobacco created, when blended with half a manufactured fag, will produce a very real saving in cost. I am smoking one of my ‘Junicansdividends’ now and it is lovely!

    Sod them! SOD THEM ALL!!

  12. Jay says:

    Love your spirit, Junican – and you describe exactly how I feel.

    Talking of libraries, my jaw dropped when, in response to the remark I made that there was still plenty of room in the newly refurbished local library for considerably more stock, the assistant solemnly informed me that there would be no more books on display because users would be in danger of bumping each others’ bums if two bent down at the same time to read the spines and that the law said that there had to be adequate ‘bum room’ (of course, it transpired that it wasn’t law but LA policy, the difference between which was apparently lost on someone who professed to be a university graduate). Just when you think that the height of stupidity has been reached you find that the bar’s been raised :)

  13. Barry Homan says:

    I’m about to leave a comment which probably no-one will pay much attention to, neverhtheless it’s an observation I’ve made, and I’ve never seen this subject come up before, in any blogs or boards.

    Has anyone ever thought about this: the increase in smoking bans, the increased demonization of smokers, plus the increased lack of places, periods, and situations where one can smoke a cigarette has, by contrast, almost precisely paralleled the increasing popularity and encouragement of another activity; and just like a cigarette, it’s also one people do for brief periods, using their hands and mouths:

    It’s the increased use of mobile phones.

    Okay, stop. Now I know what you’re thinking: d’ohhh, what could possibly be the point or significance of that? Err, well, probably little to none!

    Still, I don’t know. I just threw it out, anyone feels like catching it and continuing with it, please feel free.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Interesting observation. Are you suggesting that smoking is incompatible with using mobile phones? That the one excludes the other? In what way are mobile phones different from regular old-fashioned land line phones? People were smoking when they were using those.

  14. Barry Homan says:

    I’m saying, that if one were to relax his mind and scrutinize things a little more closely, that spending a little time enjoying – even for a few minutes – your iphone, has come to replace, for many, the little time once spent enjoying a smoke.

    You generally need both hands to send a text, check your calendar, play a game or do any app on a mobile – and people have to hunch over their phones to do this, and a cigarette left dangling in the mouth would send smoke up into your face.

    But it goes beyond the physical, dextrous characteristics of both activities; just imagine, if you will – now stretch your brains a bit – what if, in today’s world, mobile phones hadn’t been invented yet… would anti-smoking lobbies have ever sprung up?

    Let’s wind back the clock a few decades: here’s the 60s secretary Susie, she’s enjoying her coffee break. She has no electronic toy in her hands that can occupy – even command – her attention for hours. The pay-phone is way down the hall by the time-clock, and she has no urgent calls to make, and no quarters – the breakroom has a coffee machine, newspapers lying around, and ash-trays: time to light up, have a little open chat with a colleague, and a coffee. Susie gets all she needs: a relaxing nicotine rush, a little caffeine perk, and a little cheerful verbal stimulus – then back to work.

    Things have changed today, people have often classified mobile use as very “onerous” – and this is where it gets harder and harder for me to articulate what I’d like to say; I want to avoid making the wrong conclusions, maybe I could use others’ help on this topic.

    • Frank Davis says:

      what if, in today’s world, mobile phones hadn’t been invented yet… would anti-smoking lobbies have ever sprung up?

      Yes, they would. Antismoking lobbies have always existed, since tobacco came into general use. There have always been people who hate smoking. The US prohibition movement of the early 20th century wanted to prohibit tobacco after they’d prohibited alcohol.

      But I take your point that sending text messages is a two-handed job. And some people spend a lot of time fooling around on their mobile phones.

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