Informal Passive Resistance

I was quite cheered by my trip to London. I’d expected London, with its many landlocked pubs, to be one vast joyless No Smoking zone, where I’d see only one or two smokers lurking down alleyways here and there.

In the event, people were smoking openly almost everywhere, except where it was illegal. They were walking along the streets, or sitting outside cafes, or driving cars, and they were all unselfconsciously smoking, young and old. People weren’t in the least bit ashamed to be seen smoking.

And today I realised that this meant that smoking hadn’t been ‘denormalised’ at all. When something has been ‘denormalised’, people won’t do it because it’s ‘not normal’. But I think that for something to have been thus ‘denormalised’, more or less everyone has to stop doing it, so that maybe only one in a hundred people will light up, and it becomes possible for the ‘hard core’ of smokers to be confronted by antismokers.

But in London, there were simply far too many smokers for any antismoker to have summoned up the nerve to demand that they stop smoking. When I got out of the train at Paddington, and headed outside after three ‘smoke-free’ hours on the train, I came face to face with about 50 people already out there. It was simply too crowded. Nobody would have dared to take on such numbers.

And, of course, the more people that can be seen smoking, the more normal it continues to be to smoke. Those fifty people outside Paddington station  probably hadn’t arranged on Facebook to meet up there. and they probably said nothing at all to each other, but they were helping and supporting each other anyway. They weren’t ‘organised’. But they didn’t need to be.

And antismokers never seem to go face to face, anyway. They always use proxies to do their dirty work for them: they invoke the law and its law enforcement agencies.

And anyway, I also gained the sense that London’s cafes were deliberately helping out smokers, with numerous chairs and tables outside. It looked to me like there was an unspoken, informal passive resistance movement in operation. By lighting up on the streets, London’s smokers were helping keep smoking normal and acceptable for other smokers, and the cafes were helping them out too. And maybe people were also helping out in other ways which I didn’t notice. Perhaps it was an echo of the old London ‘blitz spirit’: they’d endured bombs, and they could endure smoking bans too.

I came away with the sense that Tobacco Control wasn’t getting anywhere ‘denormalising’ smoking in London. People were obeying the letter of the law, but not the mean and heartless spirit of it.

And really the only weapon the antismokers have is the law. They’re trying to create a new non-smoking normality by using the blunt instrument of the law. They don’t have a grass root antismoking movement – not in London, anyway -, and so the law is their only recourse.

And I don’t believe that the state or Tobacco Control can determine what is and isn’t ‘normal’. Ordinary people, not bureaucrats, decide for themselves about things like that. The state could set out, for example, to ‘denormalise’ rock music, by making public places ‘rock-music-free’ except for approved (presumably classical) music. But if they liked rock music, people would listen to it anyway, even if it was banned in pubs and cafes, and never played on radio or TV. And people actually do like smoking in exactly the same way that they like rock music, and beer, and jeans, and T-shirts, and burgers. You can’t make people dislike what they happen to actually like.

I don’t know why anyone ever tries.

I’m sure that Tobacco Control wants to extend the UK smoking ban to the streets and parks – but there’s little sense that the government wants to go down that line. So instead they’re pushing for display bans, and plain packaging, which hardly create any real new restrictions at all. They’re using the law, as always, but in rather minor and ineffective ways.

And I began to wonder yesterday how long it can go on like this. It seems to me that there must come a point when people in authority will start saying that ‘denormalisation’ obviously isn’t working, and smokers are carrying on smoking, and it’s just as normal as it ever was, so what’s the point of wasting money on it.

Perhaps the end will come when politicians like Nigel Farage and UKIP begin to start making real headway on an openly pro-smoking platform, and the main parties start to feel that they need to court the smoking voter. 

If they do, they’ll never get my vote. Not in a hundred years those bastards won’t.

About Frank Davis

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30 Responses to Informal Passive Resistance

  1. woodsy42 says:

    “The state could set out, for example, to ‘denormalise’ rock music, by making public places ‘rock-music-free’ except for approved”

    They tried hard enough back in the pirate radio era when I was in my teens!

  2. cherie79 says:

    It is the same here, Kent, lots of people sit outside and smoke, especially younng people. That’s fine in good weather but I know I never go in for coffee if it is cold or wet, just do what I have to and go home so less custom.

  3. junican says:

    I have been saying for ages that Tobacco Control just want LEGISLATION. They do not give a toss whether or not the legislation is enforced. They want it because it fits the blueprint. When they get legislation on vending machines, they move on to the next piece of legislation.
    Their big problems now is that it is becoming more difficult to get AUTOMATIC compliance since they are running out of people to bully, such as publicans. To inflict their torture-lite on smokers in cars, they will have to have the police running about chasing smokers in cars, and the police will not do it. That will not stop TC pushing for A LAW, since A LAW is their objective, whether or not it makes any real sense. The imposition of laws is also the sole objective of The Framework Convention.
    And that is what is frightening about politicians. They also have only the objective of making LAWS. They have no other purpose. And that is why TC and politicians go hand in hand.

    That is the connection which needs to be broken.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I must say that I think it’s a grievous abuse of the law to use it in this way. It should be the sole purpose of the law to provide recompense for harm done.. But the way the law is being used here is simply to force people to behave in approved ways rather than disapproved ways, regardless of any harm that is or is not being done..

    • Jay says:

      Odd, isn’t it, if they just want laws irrespective if those laws are effective when an ineffective law will not help in their goal of saving lives?

      I think they want them for two reasons: firstly, there will be those who blindly obey a law whether or not it is a good law or an enforced law and secondly, it arms the busybodywith official sanction to harangue. This is what they want – people living in anxiety of prosecution or society’s opprobrium so that smoking just doesn’t seem worth the hassle any more and so many will ‘choose’ to quit

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      And that Tobacco Control Blueprint is the blueprint for all their other Movements………obesity,alcohol, global warming etc

  4. I’ve recently been to Albufiera in the Algarve and was pleasantly surprised that there were smokers everywhere, in fact it seemed that non-smokers were in the minority – and most of the tourists were British. Most bars were smoke prohibited inside but there were a few, mainly locals bars that allowed smoking inside and ash trays are everywhere outside every bar.

    One good, modern bar with smoking allowed INSIDE and out I will give a plug for that reason alone, but It had live rock music most (every?) night and the beer price was reasonable. It was at the top of ‘the square’ with an 8′ tall guitar standing on its frontage, I think it was called ‘the rock bar’ or something similar. Cigarettes are typically 38/40 euros per sleeve if anyone wants to stock up. Faro airport has a small smokers lounge air side too.

    It is almost similar now in Spain, but they have a similar smoke ban to the UK. I was there just after their ban was imposed and it was dire, just like here in UK, but late last year I noticed that ash trays had appearing in a few bars, with lots of smokers about, of course it is still illegal to smoke in their bars, unlike Portugal that legally caters for smokers to a degree.

    Greece has a strict smoke ban that is totally ignored and you can smoke just about everywhere – excellent holiday destination (we went to Corfu) Cigarettes are cheapest there too.

    The signs are good but how much longer before we follow their lead??

    ps Don’t bother with Malta – strict smoking ban and no resistance just like here.

    • Marie Engling says:

      Thank you, Kin Free for the informations :) Good to know, where to go.

    • nisakiman says:

      ‘Kin_Free, if you come to Corfu again, drop me a email and we can have a beer or three together while you’re here. :)

  5. legiron says:

    I have noticed an increase in people smoking outside lately. Instead of the recent years of seeing smokers huddled outside pubs or staying off the main streets, people are more and more openly puffing away and I’m sure I see defiance in their eyes.

    There’s definitely a gradual change happening. It looks like the guilt-fest is coming to an end. I hope it means that more smokers are switching to the attitude I had from the outset – ‘You want to make me a monster? Fine. I’ll be a monster’.

    Maybe it’s just optimism. I hope it’s real.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Oh its real DP! Read what I put below!

    • prog says:

      I think it is optimistic. I’ve a hunch that most of these people have probably stopped smoking inside their own homes because they believe the SHS bullshit and/or they’ve been forced to by family, including children. I tend to stay at home most of the time but on the odd outing I usually see at least one stupid fucker standing outside his (usually)/her front door dragging on a fag for all it’s worth. These are the real passive smokers. We’ve even had visitors who know that ours is a smoking house but actually have to be persuaded not to step outside for a fag.

  6. Barman says:

    It strikes me that forcing people outside to smoke makes it more ‘normal’…

    You are more likely to see people smoking in the UK now when you walk up the high street than you were before the ban… I remember returning to the UK just after the ban and being surprised at the groups of smokers outside bars – I didn’t figure out why they were there at first…

    I wonder if we will see an increase in Cheeeldren smoking because of it…?

  7. harleyrider1978 says:

    I don’t know why anyone ever tries.

    Your not alone:

    The Futile Crackdown
    Philip E. Ross, 10.18.99

    GOVERNMENTS, DECREEING zero tolerance of drugs, have 400,000 drug offenders in this country in jail. Mothers Against Drunk Driving persuades legislators to raise the drinking age and now wants to restrict advertising of alcohol. The Justice Department concocts a convoluted theory about how tobacco vendors deplete federal coffers and sends them a bill for $20 billion a year.

    What you are witnessing is the New Prohibition. It is the Volstead Act all over again, in different guises. It aims to enforce clean living by edict. And it is almost certain to fail, as greatly as the last Prohibition failed in the 1920s.

    These conclusions come from a small band of experts specializing in the history of temperance crusades. The urge to legislate health and sobriety comes in cycles spaced 60 or 80 years apart, they tell us, and the cycle is peaking right now. And yet, perversely, the result may be more tobacco and alcohol consumption a decade or two on.

    “Every 80 years or so we come out with all these laws against people’s personal, pleasurable pursuits: tobacco, alcohol, meat, sex,” says Ruth C. Engs, a professor of applied health science at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind. and author of Clean Living Movements: American Cycles of Health Reform, due out this winter. “Consumption of drugs, tobacco and alcohol peaked around 1980; the reform laws seem to be peaking now, and that means clear backsliding should occur by 2010.”

    The up-and-down cycle of addictions seems to have its own natural rhythm related to people’s memories of what those addictions did to an earlier generation. But crackdown legislation, far from tempering these swings, probably aggravates them. Look at the paradoxical increase in teenage smoking of the past several years. There may be a certain forbidden-fruit glamour to the cigarette habit. The antitobacco crusade, that is, may be backfiring.

    Engs explains the temperance rhythm: In the first third of the cycle, reformers agitate against the reviled behavior, which peaks and begins to decline. Only then–when the horse has fled the barn–does the electorate close the barn door with restrictive laws. In the middle third of the cycle, people either lose interest in the laws or actively rebel against them; this is when it becomes “cool” to flout the law. Engs says that the 4.6% rise in smoking by teenage girls over the past five years suggests that this lax phase is beginning with tobacco, whereas with alcohol the rebound in consumption is still a few years away.

    In the last third of the cycle, the police barely enforce the laws still on the books, the banned behavior comes out into the open, and consumption continues to rise, but at a slower pace. Then it peaks, as another generation comes to witness the devastation wrought by drug use. And the cycle begins anew.

    The crack-cocaine epidemic followed a course like this, although it took place in quintuple-time. This drug’s addictive powers are so great–and its ability to destroy lives so complete–that the up-and-down cycle covered a span of only about a dozen years or so, trailing off in the late 1990s. Urban police departments responded to the epidemic with a wave of arrests that put millions of drug offenders in jail. But the enforcement action did not make crack go away, crack made crack go away.

    The cycle is vicious, because most of the time we are overreacting to a previous generation’s experiences. The lurching from one extreme to another is particularly exaggerated in America, where it dates back to the Puritan fathers themselves, although versions of it–with respect to alcohol, at least–can be seen in northern European countries, including Britain, Scandinavia and Russia. These colder cultures experience feasts and famines of ethanol, and they make quite a contrast with the southern European countries, which have neither the binges nor the temperance crusades. France, Italy and Greece have integrated wine into normal mealtime consumption since Roman times.

    It is striking how pointless the laws against substance abuse generally are by the time they are introduced, how harsh the punishments quickly become, and how total is the switch to tolerance at the end. In each campaign, most of the decline in consumption came before the laws took effect.

    There Oughtn’t To Be a Law

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      I think the Historian has her facts down straight………..

      In each campaign, most of the decline in consumption came before the laws took effect.

      World Atlas: More People Smoking Cigarettes than Ever

      There are more people smoking now than ever before, despite health warnings and the rising price of cigarettes. In 1980, 4,453 billion cigarettes went up in smoke, which increased to 6,319 billion in 2010. By 2020, you can expect to find nearly seven billion cigarette ends littering the world.

      Top of the charts in terms of nicotine addiction are Asia and Australia, which is where 57 percent of cigarettes are smoked today.

      These alarming statistics are among many of the intriguing facts laid bare in the ninth edition of Dan Smith’s The State of the World Atlas.

      Elsewhere, the book reports that 19 percent of Americans say they could not feed their families in 2011, despite living in one of the world’s richest countries. Meanwhile, 20 percent of India’s population remains undernourished, despite its Gross National Income rising by 450 percent since 1990.

      An even more shocking revelation is that 2.5 billion people live on less than £1.25 a day, which represents one in three of the global population.

      • jaxthefirst says:

        “Top of the charts in terms of nicotine addiction are Asia and Australia …”

        AUSTRALIA?? That Mecca to all things anti-smoking; that holy grail where the God of Smoke-Free rules over all and sundry? Now that’s a real surprise!

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          The most Oppressed are often the most annoyed and resentful……………Kinda makes it look like they made smoking the thing to do,not stop!

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      In Ireland smoking rates went thru the roof after the ban! Then this junk study says this;

      Brunel University in London, DIT in Dublin
      and the Tobacco Free Research institute say that the lower death rate
      from smoking related illnesses is primarily due to a reduction in
      passive smoking rather than a reduction in active smoking.

      Talk about ABSURD CLAIMS!

      They cant even prove smoking causes anything in anyone! Hense the normal B.S. claim smoking related!

      7 October, the COT meeting on 26 October and the COC meeting on 18
      November 2004.

      “5. The Committees commented that tobacco smoke was a highly complex chemical mixture and that the causative agents for smoke induced diseases (such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, effects on reproduction and on offspring) was unknown. The mechanisms by which tobacco induced adverse effects were not established. The best information related to tobacco smoke – induced lung cancer, but even in this instance a detailed mechanism was not available. The Committees therefore agreed that on the basis of current knowledge it would be very difficult to identify a toxicological testing strategy or a biomonitoring approach for use in volunteer studies with smokers where the end-points determined or biomarkers measured were predictive of the overall burden of tobacco-induced adverse disease.”

      In other words … our first hand smoke theory is so lame we can’t even design a bogus lab experiment to prove it. In fact … we don’t even know how tobacco does all of the magical things we claim it does.

      The greatest threat to the second hand theory is the weakness of the first hand theory

  8. harleyrider1978 says:

    John Davidson • a few seconds ago

    Tobacco control junk science more mimics a cheap american Tromaville horror flick.

    The Return Of the second hand smoke Dead!

    • margo says:

      The Return of the Second Hand Smoke Dead – There’s a movie that would be over in seconds!

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Lol……………Well it would last at least 30 minutes if we believe stantonitis Glans!

        30 Minutes of Exposure Kills – Action on Smoking and Health
        How As Little As 30 Minutes of Exposure to Secondhand Tobacco Smoke Can Kill You … deaths. This document, based upon numerous reports and studies – many of …. to dismiss these claims as only theoretical, or otherwise not substantiated. … While 30 minutes of SHS exposure does not precipitate a heart attack in …

  9. JJ says:

    If UKIP are to play a prominent role in the next election then it needs to talk up the prospect of an ammendment to the smoking ban or even lobbying hard to have it repealed. There are millions of smoker votes out there that need assurance that UKIP is prepared to roll back the nanny state, not just with the smoking ban, but also the money draining quango’s like smokefree this that and the other – and of course every town in the country has a ‘smokefreshfreesmokerfreefreshair’.

    You will be aware that the promised bonfire of the quango’s under Cameron has not come about, so this is an ideal opportunity for Nigel Farage. The threat that now comes from UKIP is hugely apparent in the name calling by Ken Clarke, I hope UKIP will continue to provide Clarke with ample ammunition in future.

    If you want UKIP to give confidence to voters about being more pro-active about the smoking then I suggest you contact this gentleman. I have spoken to him twice but he seems strangely vague about making public comments on the issue.

    Benjamin Wrench
    The Office of Nigel Farage MEP, Brussels

  10. Mike_Iver_Village says:

    As far as I understand it, the best place to go in Europe is Gibraltar. There is *NO* smoking ban whatsoever. They did attempt one, but if everyone ignored it

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      I fI were in europe then Gibraltor would be where I lived……..I take my smoking freedom very seriously and destroying those who would deny me that freedom.

  11. beobrigitte says:

    In the event, people were smoking openly almost everywhere, except where it was illegal. They were walking along the streets, or sitting outside cafes, or driving cars, and they were all unselfconsciously smoking, young and old. People weren’t in the least bit ashamed to be seen smoking.

    I’m glad to see the Londoners are finally SEEN smoking; up north it has been normal not to be ashamed when be seen to be SMOKING.

    I’m sure that Tobacco Control wants to extend the UK smoking ban to the streets and parks

    Tobacco Control wants to exterminate smoking and smokers.

    – but there’s little sense that the government wants to go down that line. So instead they’re pushing for display bans, and plain packaging, which hardly create any real new restrictions at all. They’re using the law, as always, but in rather minor and ineffective ways.

    By doing so they actually advertise SMOKING – Youngsters like ‘forbidden fruits’; the more hidden, the more the youngsters are drawn to it. The BBC ‘health-alarm’ overdrive production leads to one thing in the population: switching channel.

    If UKIP are to play a prominent role in the next election then it needs to talk up the prospect of an ammendment to the smoking ban or even lobbying hard to have it repealed.

    Smokers are voters; older smokers are older voters, but they can and do so. I’d like to see UKIP addressing the smoking ban.

  12. harleyrider1978 says:

    Yep Insanity is now the daily calling for the Democrats!

    Democrats: Climate change could force women into prostitution

    Background Info On Climate Change…

    Of dubious credibility, climate change was initially a warning to the world in the 1970s of an impending Ice Age.

    When glaciers failed to materialize on Miami, certain career grad students shifted gears in the ’90s and warned anyone who would listen of impending Global Warming.

    With the failure of the Greenland Ice Sheet to melt, l’apocalypse du jour has since become known under the all-encompassing tag of Climate Change.

    Despite not having as much as a two-year Associates in either Climatology or Meteorology, the most prominent advocate of Climate Change is the former Vice President, Al Gore.

    During the 2000 Presidential Election, Gore came within 500 votes of becoming the President of the United States.

  13. Liza Mooney says:

    The reasons given by some smokers for this activity have been categorised as addictive smoking, pleasure from smoking, tension reduction/relaxation, social smoking, stimulation, habit/automatism, and handling. There are gender differences in how much each of these reasons contribute, with females more likely than males to cite tension reduction/relaxation, stimulation and social smoking.

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