Tobacco Control must be crazy.
That’s what I thought today.
I’ve been slowly reading a History of Rome for the past few weeks. I’ve got past the point where the expanding Roman empire united Italy, and acquired Sicily and Sardinia and most of Spain, and I’ve arrived at Rome’s intervention in Greece against first Philip V of Macedon, and then the Seleucid Antiochus III. The Romans were invited into Greece by Greek cities, and when they’d driven out Philip and Antiochus they handed Greece back to the Greeks. Rome proceeded by making alliances and keeping to them. And even though it ended up with an empire that surrounded the Mediterranean, it didn’t simply declare war on everyone and fight everyone. If it had done so, it would have been crushed by an alliance of all the other countries.
But Tobacco Control, after slowly and painstakingly building its reputation and influence over 50 years – a bit like early Rome – has declared war on everybody. They’ve declared war on the 1 – 2 billion smokers in the world, and on all their non-smoking friends too. They’ve declared war on pretty much half the world.
Up until that point, they were just fighting the tobacco companies, and doing very well out of it. They’d built up a highly profitable industry. But over the past 10 or 15 years, they seem to have decided that they’re invincible, and that they can take on anyone and everyone.
But I think they’ve gone crazy. Because by launching a war on smokers, to expel them from society, and make them unemployable outcasts, they’ve multiplied the numbers of their enemies a thousand-fold, if not more.
It’s true that they are politically very powerful. They seem to have all the politicians everywhere on side, and all the mass media, and all the pundits. They have a seemingly inexhaustible supply of funds from taxation. They’ve even managed to get smokers to fund the war that’s being waged on them.
It’s also true that smokers are pretty thoroughly disorganised, and also pretty thoroughly demoralised as well.
Maybe Tobacco Control’s strategists decided that they now held all the cards they needed to hold, and it was just a matter of grinding smokers to dust, and make history of smoking forever.
But there’s nothing like a ferocious attack on people to bring them together and concentrate their minds. And that’s what’s happening with smokers all over the world.
It shouldn’t be a surprise, because it’s what always happens when people anywhere come under attack. There’s an initial period of panic, but then the resistance starts to mount. It doesn’t matter who’s being attacked, they will resist. If you declare war on India, the Indians will fight you. If you declare war on China, the Chinese will fight you. If you declare war on Islam, then Muslims will fight you. And if you declare war on smokers, then smokers will fight you.
There are about 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. That’s probably somewhere around the number of smokers in the world. Tobacco Control may as well have declared war on Islam. Or China. Or India. And you could be pretty sure that if they did that, they’d lose the war, because they would have bitten off a bit more than they could chew.
And that’s why they’re going to lose their war on smokers.
Because smokers haven’t really got started yet.
And when they do, they’re going to annihilate Tobacco Control. It will cease to exist. And all the foundations and industries which nowadays gladly fund it will cease to exist too.
Tobacco Control has awakened a sleeping giant. They’ve sown the wind. And they will reap the whirlwind.
And there’s no way back. They’ve burnt their bridges. Once they had embarked on a course of vilifying and demonising and excluding some 1 – 2 billion people in the world, it was never going to be possible to return to the status quo ante, and call a halt to the war, and claim that it was all an accident and they didn’t really mean it.
Tobacco Control has launched a war of extermination on smokers, and it’s a war in which there can be no compromise, no peace, until one side or the other has triumphed, and there are either no more smokers in the world, or there is no more Tobacco Control. It’s one or the other. Peaceful co-existence is impossible now. Tobacco Control always knew that.
That is the path that they have chosen, and that is what they must be held to.
All that matters now is: whose side are you on? If you’re a politician like David Cameron or Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, or Michael Bloomberg, you’ve already signed up with Tobacco Control. Same if you’re a multi-billionaire like Bill Gates. And if you’re someone like these people, you probably think that smokers and smoking are finished, and that they’re being consigned to history, and the triumphant forces of Tobacco Control really are invincible, and you want to be on the winning side. Maybe you also believe everything that TC tells you about how smokers are no different from heroin addicts, slaves to their addiction, unable to think straight.
If you are, I’d ask you to think again. Smokers are as well-educated and well-off as anyone else. They have all the skills of their enemies. They can do anything. And they just happen to be the latest target of the latest war of extermination. Do you really think that they’re just going to sit and do nothing? When, in the entire course of human history, has any people simply surrendered to apparently overwhelming odds?
Because Tobacco Control may not win its war on the world’s 1 – 2 billion smokers, and if it loses and it is itself annihilated, you’re quite likely to be annihilated too.
But don’t allow me to influence you. I’m just one of those poor, addled, drug-addict smokers. Think it through for yourself. Ask yourself just how powerful Tobacco Control really is, and how easily its power and influence might slip away. They might look pretty invincible today, but will they still look that way tomorrow? Are you quite sure? Ask yourself how many armoured divisions Tobacco Control can field. Ask yourself how many volunteers it can expect to call on to fight its war on smokers. Ask yourself how intelligent and far-sighted and flexible Tobacco Control is. Ask yourself whether it might not have bitten off more than it can chew. Ask yourself when was the last time any drug was successfully eradicated. Ask yourself whose side you want to be on when Tobacco Control’s headquarters has been razed to the ground, and there are wanted posters on the streets for the top people in it.
Nervous? Then hedge your bets a little. Sit on the fence a bit. Keep your options open. When Tobacco Control next comes round on a fundraiser, tell them that you’ve given all that you possess to save the threatened horseshoe crabs of the Northern Atlantic, or the extinct budgerigars of South America, or the bankrupt spaghetti farms in Italy. Tell them to come back next year. Or the year after. And buy a few people a few packs of cigarettes. Engage in diplomacy, just like the Romans did. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
And when you’re sitting in a bar in Bulgaria or Budapest or Bolivia, and someone asks you what you think of Tobacco Control and its war on smokers, you can just stir your coffee thoughtfully and say:
“Tobacco Control must be crazy.”