H/T Harley for the article by Chris Snowdon in the Adam Smith Institute:
This is not the first time tobacco prohibition has raised its head this year. The advocacy journal Tobacco Control kicked things off with a special edition featuring several articles about what it calls the ‘endgame’. In February, the historian Robert Proctor published the first overtly prohibitionist book of the new era, the title of which—‘Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition’—requires little explanation. More recently, an academic named Craig Dalton has set up a website to campaign for a “ban on retail tobacco.”
Of course they’ve always said that they don’t want to prohibit tobacco. But everyone knows that’s a lie. Everyone knows that’s exactly what they want to do. And now the truth is coming out.
Is it just me, that I have an increasing feeling that discussions of this sort are taking place in some sort of separate reality, a bubble world set apart from and insulated from ordinary reality? There’s an increasing unreality about it all, which makes me think I’m watching a movie in which all these antismoking nutjobs are talking to each other and making recommendations and plans for everyone, and I’m trying to find the remote to switch channels. I’m finding them harder and harder to take seriously.
I have my own internal debate about smoking, but it’s one that’s moved in the exact opposite direction to the internal debates of the antismoker set. Five or six years ago, I believed (without any great conviction) that smoking caused lung cancer. Now I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t. So while they seem to have moved north to discuss tobacco prohibition, I’ve left the building, and walked about 10 blocks south.
I wonder whether they’re carrying the politicians with them? I wonder if David Cameron and Nick Clegg feel the same sense of deepening unreality when they listen to the antismokers? Or are they busy right now discussing how to bring in tobacco prohibition as a matter of urgency?
It’s not just smoking. I increasingly have the same feeling about global warming. A couple of days back the climate alarmists were saying that the current arctic ice melt was more serious than the EU crisis. And I just wondered what planet they were living on.
But then actually I have much the same feeling about the EU crisis too. All these people – Draghi, Monti, Merkel, Schauble, Rajoy, Hollande – and their endless discussions are becoming more and more unreal to me, as if they were actors in some sort of TV soap opera called Eurocrisis, in which in each weekly episode Herman van Rompuy declares that the crisis is over and it will all be plain sailing from now on, and everyone believes him for about 3 seconds until the crisis is renewed with even greater intensity as some new country or bank calls for a bail-out. And you wonder whether to switch over to some other channel, and find something a bit more down to earth – like Dr Who -. Someone said a few months back that Brussels was referred to as the “spaceship” in Germany. That’s pretty much how I think of them too now. A spaceship, and getting further and further away.
Perhaps this is how debates of these sorts end: after being aired in the main parliament chamber, the dispute next becomes shifted to a side room next to the main chamber, and is then moved to a back room in a nearby annex, and thence to a garden shed in an allotment in a distant town, and finally to a tent in the middle of the Sahara desert. At the outset everybody pays a lot of attention, and the press report everything, but gradually interest falls away, and the reports come fewer and further between, until it’s just a couple of people arguing about whether to electrocute all the smokers with copper wires or to just crucify them with copper nails.
Perhaps that will be the fate of Tobacco Control, and global warming alarmism, and eurofanaticism: they’ll all just gradually get sidelined. They become irrelevant and unimportant, and they simply drop out of discussions which are always focused on the most urgent and pressing concerns of the day. And these aren’t the concerns of Tobacco Control. Or the concerns of the climate alarmists. Or even the concerns of the EU aristocracy.
Perhaps it’s sheer exhaustion. Ten years ago my central concerns were 9/11 and the Iraq war. But I haven’t thought about those for years now. At some point there’s nothing more that can be thought about them. And in fact, I begin to wonder what I thought about them anyway.
Smoking bans, global warming, and the EU crisis, all remain hot topics of the day. But perhaps the antismoking zealots and the global warming alarmists have had their day in the sun, and they’re now fading into irrelevance, and the increasing sense of unreality that surrounds them is a symptom of their growing irrelevance. Everyone’s made up their minds anyway. And the combatants slowly drift apart thereafter, like-minded talking with like-minded, and ignoring the opposition.
I wonder what everyone will be talking about in five years time? The high price of turnips? The approach of asteroid Nemesis? The plague of killer mutant zombies in Madagascar? It’ll make a welcome change, whatever it is.