Connecting Up Smokers

I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few weeks how to connect up all the disconnected smokers scattered all over the world. It’s something I’ve always wanted to see happening, and it’s something I’m sure will happen: smokers will start to swarm like angry wasps. In fact, they already are.

In a small way, the ISIS International Social Impact Study will help to hook people together. We’ll be interviewing smokers, and handing out website addresses. I’m sure some of them will be interested, and follow up. We’ll also be collecting email addresses. And it’s a survey which is being organised by a tiny little bunch of people from all over the world. People in Britain and America and Germany and Holland and Spain and Greece, who have never actually met each other, or know what each other look like. This study group is a little bit of international connecting-up-togetherness in itself.

But the principal purpose of the study is to find out how smokers are getting along with (or not getting along with) the tidal wave of smoking bans they’ve been hit with over the past 10 years or so. And so, quite separately, I’ve been wondering how to hook smokers up together, and build them into the political entity they’ve never been before, but which they must now become if they are to defeat the antismoking juggernaut that so grievously persecutes them.

My first idea was the Smokernet, which would be a mobile phone app that would store email addresses and phone numbers of identified smokers, creating a network through which messages could propagate, just like the internet. It’s attracted a great deal of interest from one person, who’s been actively working to set up something along these lines on an ipad or iphone. The interesting thing about him is that he’s a lifelong non-smoker. It’s something I tend to forget: most non-smokers don’t mind smoking at all. They’re not antismokers. And many of them can see what’s being done to smokers, and are as appalled as anyone. We smokers have many friends.

Anyway, him and me (and rather more him than me at the moment) have been investigating peer-to-peer network systems of the sort that are needed. If we can get something going, it has the potential to grow very rapidly. It’s the sort of thing that could go viral.

But I had another idea today. I noticed that two New Zealanders had encountered each other in the comments of my blog, and I asked if they’d like each other’s email addresses. After all, New Zealand isn’t a very big country, and they might live a couple of blocks from each other in Christchurch or someplace. It’s something I’ve done before. I had a small hand in hooking up some of the members of Junican’s Bolton Smokers’ Club. I’ve got the email addresses of quite a few smokers all around the world, and I can (and do) act as a hub.

So today’s idea was for a hub website (which would get advertised on my blog, and maybe on quite a few others) where smokers could leave their email addresses or phone numbers, just like they do with me. The smokers would arrive at the site and be presented with a world map, and be taken to their country or state’s section, where, once they’d registered, they’d be given the names or avatars of other registered smokers in their country/state, and asked if they’d like to meet them online or in person. If two people wanted to meet up, the hub would issue invitations, and help organise times and places.

It would be a sort of smokers’ dating agency. And in fact, male smokers would probably use it to find female smokers, and vice versa. The hub would essentially do what I occasionally do, but would do it all day every day for a growing number of smokers. And it would be totally automated. The hub would spend all day comparing the records of its registered smokers, and then suggesting that A meet up with E, because they both like Duane Eddy and cheeseburgers and Hunter S Thompson.

And here’s where it would be a bit like Smokernet. If smokers met up with other smokers, they’d be able to confirm to the website that the people they’d met actually were smokers. Smokers would accrue points in this manner. Any antismoker who got into the system, and pretended to be a smoker would lose votes, and eventually get thrown out of the system.

Unlike the Smokernet, this central hub system would grow pretty slowly, because it would probably only be advertised on the internet, and only on smokers’ blogs and maybe places like Forces and F2C. And it would actually complement the Smokernet, and outfits like Forces and F2C, and bloggers like me.

I haven’t managed to think of a name for this new idea. Smokerhub?

And together they’d all serve to gradually bring scattered smokers together. Into a swarm.

For I’ve come to believe more and more that smokers must come together, all over the world, male and female, black and white, Christian or Muslim. The only reason that Tobacco Control have been so successful in ramming through antismoking legislation all over the world is because smokers have never been a cohesive social unit, and don’t have a political voice. Now that they are under attack, it’s time for them to gain one. And until they do, politicians aren’t going to listen to them. Smokers are going to have to do what African-Americans in America did to recover their dignity with Martin Luther King and co. They’re going to have to do what Jews did in creating Israel. Because they’re essentially facing exactly the same existential threat.

But the difference is that while there’s only about 10 million Jews in Israel, and 40 million African-Americans in the USA , there are about 1,300 million smokers worldwide, many of them being royally screwed by thieving, predatory Tobacco Control. If just 1% of those smokers can be hooked up together, that’s 13 million people. If 10% can be hooked up, that’s 130 million people. Numbers of people of this sort aren’t going to want to create an Israel for smokers: they’re going to want their own countries back. And they will get them back.

The tobacco companies could help out here. They could put, as I’ve already suggested, a little card in their cigarette packets inviting their customers to “Join Team Benson & Hedges” or “Ride the Winston Cult”. Big stores like Tesco and Asda all have their loyalty cards. Why don’t the tobacco companies do it too? In the process, they’d be demonstrating something of the social conscience that their detractors say they don’t have. I hope Deep Smoke is listening.

And then, when we’ve got about 200 million smokers all hooked up into an angry swarm, we can go and screw Tobacco Control and the WHO and all the Nazi doctors in it right into the ground.

In other news, two famous singers died young prematurely this week. Donna Summer and Robin Gibb. And they both died of cancer. Donna Summer had lung cancer, and Robin Gibb had colon cancer.

I guess they must’ve been smokers. After all, everybody knows that only smokers get lung cancer. And everybody knows that only smokers get any sort of cancer at all.

But, the odd thing is, neither of them were smokers! Now ain’t that strange?

She may have been the Queen of Disco, but Donna Summer wasn’t one to light up a cigarette.
On Friday, one day after the Grammy-winning singer’s death at age 63, her family confirmed to Us Weekly that she succumbed to lung cancer, as was rumored. But, defying common misconceptions about the disease, her loved ones explain that the “Last Dance” singer’s cancer “was not related to smoking.”
“Ms. Summer was a non-smoker,” the new family statement says of the chart-topping “Last Dance” crooner.

The late Robin Gibb had famously avoided alcohol, drugs, smoking and unhealthy foods throughout life, so many are wondering how this all could have happened to him.

About Frank Davis

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37 Responses to Connecting Up Smokers

  1. forcesnl says:

    I like the smokerhub idea very much, Frank. But I think the members should be on invite of other members only who can pass a validation token to a new potential member. But that can have the worldwide chessboard effect too.

    I seem to remember that there has been a more general implementation of this idea on the internet in the past. It may even still exist, but I have forgotten the name of the site (something like meetingpoint.???).

    Wow, I would love to build a site like that! A new challenge!

    • Frank Davis says:

      But I think the members should be on invite of other members only who can pass a validation token to a new potential member.

      Well, maybe. But if you’re a Tanzanian smoker, why can’t you just put your name and address and postcode into Smokerhub and hope that somebody might notice you? Why do you have to be invited? Why can’t you just say: “I’m a smoker! Please notice me!”

      Smokerhub should take note of people who put themselves forward in this way, and not just be invited, don’t you think?

      • forcesnl says:

        There’s a privacy issue involved publishing names on the website. TC would love to see the identity of their opponents!

        And we really need to control trolls and TC infiltrants, so working with invitation only is more secure and controllable.

        If we start with 100 known names who we trust, and everybody brings in an average 2 new members, we will have 200 within a week. A week later that’ll be 400. In a month we’ll have 2000 members. In two months 35,000. And so on….

        But it’s open to discussion. Start a new WP page for it and we can discuss it in the same way that we discussed ISIS.

    • forcesnl says:

      And why only smokers? As you mentioned, there are quite a lot of nonsmokers on our side who would love to join as well.

  2. forcesnl says:

    Ehhhh….. I reserved already. It’s now ours to fill in!

  3. waltc says:

    I don’t yet see how this translates into effective political action, especially when the membership would be so diffuse. The bans, and even the taxes, are imposed locally. What can Tanzanians do about a proposed park and beach ban in Boston? What can Americans do about Wales? In fact, what can Californians do about Indiana? When the NYC bar ban was still “under consideration,” we submitted petitions with several thousand signatures of actual city residents and it didn’t make a dent. So beyond a coalition, there has to be a strategy.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I see your point, but I don’t think it’s valid. Californians can do something about Indiana when they help elect a US president who has promised to fix the Indiana Problem.

      But we will see….

    • truckerlyn says:

      Don’t forget, waltc, this whole thing really began with WHO – World Health Organisation! Therefore, it does cross international boundaries.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Lets get it str8,the problem comes from the WHO and the FCTC treaty………A worldwide connect point fights the other world wide anti connect point…….A world wide voice carries weight!

    • chris says:

      One thing we can do is let it be known that we won’t be visiting and spending money in places that do not welcome us.

    • jaxthefirst says:


      I’m not sure that “effective political action” is the primary aim of Smokersnet/Smokershub, though, is it? At least not in the first instance (do correct me if I’m wrong, Frank). In fact I’m not sure that anything which has ever been set up from the outset to bring about “effective political action” down through history has ever succeeded in achieving its aims. Effective political action seems to be something which sort of grows out of a popular movement, or a popular feeling, rather than being an aim in and of itself. It’s a bit like all this talk of “legacies” that politicians bat on about all the time. A “legacy” can’t be planned for or organised in advance – it either happens or it doesn’t. The moment anyone starts to “plan their legacy” it’s pretty much doomed, because legacies just don’t work like that. And “effective political action” is the same. Even Tobacco Control, which has achieved “effective political action,” in its infancy didn’t start out with that aim in mind.

      If I understand Frank right, I think that primarily Smokersnet/hub is about establishing the kind of communication between smokers which has been sadly lacking up until now (with the exception of a few blogs and sites like these) and which has essentially rendered smokers as a scattered group of isolated individuals with no meaningful way of opposing a much more unified (and better funded) Tobacco Control industry. In a way, I think that it’s good that – so far as Frank has described his vision of Smokersnet/hub – in the first instance it’s simply a means of smokers possibly making contact with each other face-to-face, rather than being a “campaign group” such as F2C, Forces or Forest. Groups like that certainly have their place in the battle, for sure, but a lot of smokers just want to be able to get on with their lives socialising with like-minded, pleasant people and many are a bit cautious about sticking their heads above the parapet, particularly all on their own. It’s also difficult to go about “recruiting” people for any kind of campaign “cold,” as it were, because the possibility of a rude rebuff is high and few people want to experience that. I know, because I did some minor campaigning on behalf of F2C in the early days of the ban, and it was one of the most nerve-wracking times of my life!

      Having said that, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of some form of political action developing from this increased inter-smoker communication, because I think that most smokers are angry at their constant persecution, increasing numbers of non-smokers are becoming concerned about it, and politicians are running out of both money for, and interest in, the whole business. But I think that the phrase “developing from” would be the major requirement to that political action’s being, as you say, “effective.”

      At the moment, as you say, it’s quite true that if one country is threatened with a new ban or something like that, there may be little that members from another country can do, but it’s nevertheless conceivable that by exchanging information between each other, one country’s smokers who have been successful in fighting against or repealing their own bans (e.g. Germany or the Netherlands), could offer some useful do’s and don’ts for smokers in countries where new bans are threatened. This is, essentially, how GlobalLink works and it’s why the Tobacco Control industry, when it invades a new territory these days, moves very swiftly from stage 1 (health scares) to stage 5 (draconian indoor smoking bans) very swiftly, whereas in the leading-light Tobacco Control countries of Oz, the US and the UK it took them nigh on 40 years to get where they’ve got; because by sharing their experiences, the older Tobacco Control groups can advise the newer ones on how to avoid the pitfalls of campaigns which for whatever reason don’t work and also point them towards the ones which do and give them guidance as to how to conduct them. It’s one of the reasons why many new countries with little or no history of much anti-smoking feeling in the past (such as, most recently, Russia and the Ukraine) have “turned” virulently anti-smoking so quickly from a previously largely-tolerant stance.

      And, quite apart from anything else, it’s nice to think that there might be a facility somewhere – even if it’s only in the virtual-reality world of cyberspace – which is primarily geared towards the needs and wants of smokers (with a few nice non-smokers allowed in, of course!), rather than – as is the norm these days pretty much everywhere – geared towards the preferences of non-smokers, with smokers being the ones who are only grudgingly allowed to take part, and then only under considerable sufferance.

      Frank will probably now proceed to shoot this whole theory down in flames and tell me that “effective political action” is precisely what he’s had in mind all along …!!

      • Frank Davis says:

        I think of this partly in terms of social contact, partly politically.

        I think it helps smokers to be with like-minded people.

        Having said that, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of some form of political action developing from this increased inter-smoker communication

        Well, that’s what I want. I want smokers to unite and encourage and generally cheer each other up a bit. And then I want them to become a political force in the world. There are so many of them that it ought to be easy. We’re not a tiny minority like Jews, or a small minority like blacks. We’re a huge minority. What we need is a bit of “consciousness-raising”.

        It’s all totally do-able, I think.

  4. lecroixkwdjer says:

    A coalition is a reasonable first step. It is going to happen and I would love to see it carried out by people I already know. BTW, is “iSmoke” to silly a name? :)

  5. Smoking Scot says:

    O/T. Been on air for a week with no reported issues by those who have printed the cigarette pack inserts (they’re already part of the street litter in Brazil).

    Made a couple of changes to include the ISIS logo. And that one’s deliberately formatted to cover the diseased photo on the back.

    As I explain in the blurb; it’s a simple, cheap and effective way for us to help with the “public awareness campaign” side of things.

    It’s forecast as perfect beer garden weather in Britain this weekend and pretty darned good elsewhere in Europe so (hopefully) a few readers will print them, then stick them in their packs and just so happen to forget to take their empties!

    Let’s go litter the planet with ISIS logos as well as Frank Davis and Dick Puddlecote avatars!

  6. Rose says:

    From the previous thread, pre-clampsia introduced by PeterM

    “This pre-eclampsia “stuff” is fascinating and another example of the mass media missing the boat completely. I’d never heard of this before. Some journalist should have been all over this.”

    Here’s what I’ve got, if you cross reference it with the new and not so new studies of the anti-inflammatory effects of carbon monoxide a picture begins to emerge.

    The gas in cigarette smoke ‘that could save a pregnancy’- 2006

    “Carbon monoxide could help control a life-threatening condition in pregnant women.”

    It affects one in ten pregnancies in the UK and claims the lives of up to six mothers and 600 babies a year. Symptoms include high blood pressure, blood clots and kidney damage, with the only cure being early delivery of the baby by emergency Caesarean.”

    “Pinsky explained that when a cutoff of blood triggers the clotting process, the body’s own clot-dissolving machinery is suppressed by a natural protein called PAI-1.

    “Carbon monoxide significantly reduces the body’s production of this suppressor protein, and therefore, promotes dissolution of the clot,” he said. “This relieves the obstruction in small blood vessels and permits blood flow to be re-established to the organ.”

    The body’s own production of carbon monoxide probably evolved to protect the blood flow to vital organs, and providing extra carbon monoxide by inhalation seems to give an added boost, Pinsky said”

    • Rose says:

      Rate of pre-eclampsia in pregnancy reduced by smoking.

      “Wikstrom and her colleagues found that of the over 600,000 Swedish women who gave birth between 1999 and 2006, those that smoked during pregnancy were one-third to one-half less likely to develop preeclampsia as non-smokers.

      However, there was no protective effect seen among pregnant women who used “snus,” which is a type of smokeless tobacco popular in Sweden.
      Wikstrom told Reuters Health in an email that because both cigarettes and smokeless tobacco contain nicotine, the findings suggest that nicotine is not the reason for the lower preeclampsia risk.

      She said that a byproduct of burning tobacco, possibly carbon monoxide, might be the cause”

      Tobacco Use During Pregnancy and Preeclampsia Risk. Effects of Cigarette Smoking and Snuff

      • Rose says:

        How Does Smoking Reduce the Risk of Preeclampsia?

        Carbon monoxide touted as a potential treatment for pre-eclampsia

        “A recent study conducted to exploit the possible medical benefits of carbon monoxide, has revealed that carbon monoxide gas that is found in cigarette smoke and automobile emissions, could potentially be used for treating pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy condition involving high blood pressure that arises as a result of complications with the placenta.”

        “The findings indicated that there was 60% reduction in the death rate of the cells exposed to carbon monoxide compared to the unexposed tissues, highlighting the potential medical benefits of the carbon monoxide gas.

        Based on the research conducted, Dr. Smith pointed out that smokers inhaling more of carbon monoxide, have a lower-than-average risk of pre-eclampsia.”

        “The ideal would likely be to maintain carbon monoxide levels comparable to a moderate (say one pack per day) smoker without all the bad stuff in cigarette smoke,” he added.”
        now unavailable

  7. harleyrider1978 says:

    And then, when we’ve got about 200 million smokers all hooked up into an angry swarm, we can go and screw Tobacco Control and the WHO and all the Nazi doctors in it right into the ground.

    We can steal Nancy Reagans ”JUST SAY NO ” PROGRAM


  8. may blimline says:

    For all this to work, smokers have got to stick together!!…START BANNING THE PLACES WE CAN’T SMOKE..that’s the only way to have any impact!

    • garyk30 says:

      Stop voting for the pols that vote in bans.
      Most locals are voted in by only a few votes and you and friends could make a real statement.

      20 yardsigns that state why you will not be voting for a local pol will catch their attention.

  9. John Sarnik says:

    Morning Frank…I think this is a great Idea. I have a Smokers Rights facebook page that I will post a link to your blog..If I can be of any help please contact me.

  10. Fredrik Eich says:

    How are you going to handle the source code?
    Will it be on sourceforge or similar so that contibutions can be made etc,etc.

  11. Pingback: Smokerhub | Smokerhub

  12. harleyrider1978 says:

    Frank look at this trash in Kentucky

    We hope you can join us for the 2012 KCSP Spring Conference, “Smoke-free: Mission Possible,” on April 11, 2012 at Doubletree Suites in Lexington. Conference registration is available online and the registration deadline has been extended to April 6, 2012.

    Conference topics include: Effective No/Low Cost Media, State and Local Policy, Latest Science and Emerging Products, Addressing Tobacco Treatment in Special Populations, Voluntary Smoke-free Policy, and Local Smoke-free Campaigns.

    Note the: Effective No/Low Cost Media statement,these folks ran out of media dollars in february from obamas stimulus…….I just love seeing it in print! They even cashed out there free media minutes in a push for a statewide ban back in november thru February! How do I know,the head nazi in charge at the state health dept told me so!!! Bankrupt is as bankrupt does.

    • junican says:

      Gosh, cousin, you nearly gave me a (smoking-induced) heart attack! I noticed in the link that one of the sponsors is ‘UK Health Care’. Oh My God! I thought. The Health Dept Holy Zealots have reached Kentucky! But no………..’ UK Health Care’ is only some local outfit touting for business.

  13. James101 says:

    The smokernet idea is a winner. It need not be called this until its ready to be launched and until then its probably best to keep the idea under wraps. It would take off and go viral for sure . I especially like the idea of two smokers giving their recommendation that their friend is a smoker before they are joined up. This way it would be difficult to infiltrate. It could lead to all number of possibilities for messaging and surveys etc.

  14. junican says:

    I agree with James101. But what will it be for?
    I remember some sort of ‘survey’ site regarding smoking bans which acquired some 700,000 signatories against such bans. Am I right in thinking that the ISP (or whoever) closed the site down?
    I think that the real problem is lethargy among the smoking population. Only the other day, a guy I know who goes to the same pub that I do, said that he did not think that the smoking ban was responsible for the dearth of customers at the pub – he said that while shivering outside on a recent cold night!

    I think that there are three main problems with a lot of` smokers – a) They feel rather ashamed to be smokers, and, b) they feel guilty about spending so much money on fags, and, c) they actually believe that smoking is seriously harmful to them and wish that they could quit. Since all three are variations on persecution by cost and by brain-washing, it is hard to see how such people can be mobilised. It can only be done cheaply as we are doing, a little at a time, or, expensively, by advertising and contacting bar-owners and such as Weil in The Netherlands has done.

    I admit that this is all very negative – but I fear that it is necessarily so. What we desperately need is a multi-millionaire to finance an organisation. In the same way that Tobacco Control have repeated the same message ‘ad nauseam’ about smoking harm, so do we need to repeat ‘ad nauseam’ the message that SHS is harmless. Also, we should repeat ‘ad nauseam’ the message that there simply are not enough lung cancer deaths among smokers for smoking to be the cause of lung cancer.

    Having said all that, the idea of ‘smokersnet’ is a great idea – it needs some thought about what the common interests might be.

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