Hard Core Addicts and Contrarians

The View from Cullingworth drew my attention to a Daily Mail piece about smoking rates. It included the graph below:

These sorts of graphs need to be taken with a pinch of salt, because lots of people who occasionally smoke don’t class themselves as smokers, and so the numbers are probably an under-estimate. But it’s interesting to see that UK smoking prevalence among 20-24-year-olds has climbed to nearly 30% over the last few years. And that over-6os (like me) aren’t quitting.

He also links to Heresy Corner‘s theory that the decline in smoking led to the smoking ban – a sort of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. The piece has another graph:


This shows an uptick in male smoking over the last couple of years. And it also shows that, since the 2007 UK smoking ban, smoking prevalence has barely fallen at all. Which rather suggests that the smoking ban, the display ban, and numerous intensive media campaigns have actually succeeded in halting the previous steady decline in smoking prevalence. i.e. it’s all been counterproductive.

Which makes sense to me. Prior to the 2007 smoking ban, I never actually ruled out giving up smoking, although I never seriously considered doing so. But now that antismoking bullies are trying to get me to, it’s become completely out of the question. I’ve dug my heels in. I won’t give in.

Which leads me to suspect that the (probably antismoking) Heresiarch is wrong when he writes:

The likelihood is that smoking rates will continue to tail off – although, as the end of the graph shows (the part that coincides with all the recent anti-smoking measures) the decline won’t be nearly as steep as it was in the 70s or 80s, or even the early years of this century. That’s because the practice is now largely confined to a hard core of addicts and contrarians.

The graph neatly illustrates my longstanding principle that in public health policy the sledgehammer is only brought out once the nut has already been largely cracked. It’s only when the number of smokers was reduced to a small, and increasingly unpopular, minority that it became politically advantageous to clobber them. Prior to that, the law was based on gentle persuasion (such as small-scale warnings on packets that merely informed purchasers that “smoking can seriously damage your health”) along with the general background noise of official disapproval, public education and well-publicised “quit smoking” campaigns.

Because I suspect that, if anything, smoking rates are actually likely to slowly rise. First of all because hard-core contrarians like me will now never give up smoking. But also because of the new cachet smoking has acquired since the law was invoked against it: you have to be a real rebel to take up smoking now. And indeed, some 30% of young people aged between 20 and 24 are sufficiently rebellious, it seems. Such people are hardly “hard-core addicts” or even “contrarians”: they’re just normal kids.

But it’s more than just that. There’s now a vocal resistance movement to the antismoking juggernaut, as there never was before. It simply didn’t exist. Tobacco Control is now meeting mounting grass-root resistance all over the world. On my blog, the Black Lung Lie is my most-read article, and How to Hand-Roll Ciggies is another favourite. In the past, Tobacco Control completely defined the message that people received about smoking – but now there are many more sources of information available to them.

Anyway, in the spirit of dogged resistance, I’d like to draw attention to Pat Nurse’s renewed Octabber Resistance to the bullying Stoptober.  I’ve put the logo back in my sidebar. She wants 28 people to explain why they’re not going to quit. Perhaps one or two readers would care to oblige her. I know that Brigitte intends to.

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45 Responses to Hard Core Addicts and Contrarians

  1. mandyv says:

    I, like yourself and many others are digging our heels in also. I once tried to give up many years ago when the patches first came out. Before trying to give up, I would go to the shop every day, buy my ciggys and sweeties or magazine, I always came out of the shop with something else that I never would have bought. After 2 weeks on patches, I went straight to smoking 30 ciggies a day, so they did me no favours at all. I did not want to give them up for me, I tried for my Hubby who is a never smoker. The bullshite that has come out of TBC is so unreal even the kids that come out of school do not believe it, I also believe they have done so much damage, because it is quite clear it IS a religion to them and a hatred. They know full well kids love to rebel and they have given them a great reason to rebel with smokes, with their little petty minded games of hide’n’seek and their big fat lies and kids are not as stupid as they like to think they are. I too will join Pat in OCTABBER along with others.

  2. harleyrider1978 says:

    That’s because the practice is now largely confined to a hard core of addicts and contrarians

    I have fought every anti-smoking move ever put off on me or others. Back to the 1980s when the piece meal efforts were going on I fought em, not because I knew who they were or even where it came from back then. I fought them simply because it was telling us what the hell to do! I was military then in a combat/construction battalion. We smoked everywhere and so did the officers. Its as normal as morning colors at 8am everyday on the base!

    Then as the juggernaut of tobacco prohibitionists started pushing in the 1990s I simply took those no smoking signs in the chain stores to mean they were assholes and I likely had nothing theyd want nor they have anything Id want…………. So I simply avoided them like the plague and occasionally destroying a few signs along the way……………

    Then the day came they got the state via democrats to pass the statewide ban and I decided to go to war completely against them no matter how long it takes. They destroyed as Frank points out the social fabric of life long friendships at the local hang out and it was even worse to others.

    Those who died when forced outdoors and into frozen or criminal zones where death and maiming have occurred,even rapes to women smokers.

    But its a much larger enemy we fight collectively and well they crossed all paths these Nazis have.

    Ive had to carry the banner for the obese and even that of the gays from time to time………..

    The drinkers, the midnite tokers everybody has been affected by the smoking bans and their sideline nanny wars on everyone of us. They have created a worldwide enemy of us all!

    Do they even care,of course not but we sure do!

    When its over as it always is,we will be back and in their faces blowing smoke and getting drunker than cooty brown on a Saturday nite making up for years of isolation!

    Heres to you Frank and all we do to win back freedom! CHEERS!

  3. Junican says:

    In my recent experience (over the last fifteen years or so), my local pubs (two) were quite popular with late-middle-aged people who lived hereabouts. Not by any means did most of them smoke – in fact, it is probable that only some 30% did. But everyone was joyful. Since the ban, ALL those joyful people have ceased to go to the local pubs except a very few. Further, the ‘youf’ element has been drastically reduced.
    So where are these people going? My bet is that they are, a) regarding the late-middle-aged, stopping in and drinking nice red wines and stuff, and, b) the ‘youf’ have found more amusing, and less expensive, ways to ‘get high’.
    The Smoking Ban is not only the most illiberal law of all time, it is also utterly useless.
    Not many laws start with a small expenditure which gets bigger and bigger and bigger, but that is the case regarding the Ban, and its continuation. The costs get bigger and bigger, but the results get smaller and smaller.
    When will the idiots in Westminster grow up?

    • Frank Davis says:

      the ‘youf’ have found more amusing, and less expensive, ways to ‘get high’.

      But 30% of 20-24-year-olds are smokers, the surveys say. They probably enjoy a few drinks too. Just not in pubs.

  4. Edgar says:

    If you stop smoking, you can spend all the money you save on something you enjoy less. It’s a no-brainer, as they say.

    • Pat Nurse says:

      I save hundreds of pounds every year and get a nice city break twice a year, plus an annul holiday every year with the money I save buying my tobacco in EU countries that treat tobacco consumers as human. It’s a no brainer that UK tax is now so high it’s gone off the lunatic scale. When the Govt starts listening to tobacco consumers then I’ll start paying tax in the UK again. Until then I refuse the fund the greedy anti-smoker industry with my tax.

      • legiron says:

        I now smoke pure leaf. I’d never have believed it possible before the ban, nor would I have believed it grows so well in the UK!

        I give away plants and seeds locally to other smokers who still don’t believe it grows here.

        That smoking ban has ended up saving me a fortune.

        • Pat Nurse says:

          Leaf and home grown are both lovely. Growing and identifying different leaf has made a very interesting and pleasant hobby out of a habit.

  5. Just one point. Heresiarch is no anti-smoker, he’s a proper liberal in the true sense of the word. :)

    • Pat Nurse says:

      If he refer to consumers casually as “addicts” then he can hardly complain if he comes across as a raging anti. Libertarian or not, insults are insults

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        That ”addict” naming sets off alarms pretty much………….

      • I’ve met him … at a Forest event. He’s on our side, so a bit counterproductive to rubbish him on the basis of vernacular, really.

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          Perhaps you might ask him in the future to use fair and balanced terminology like calling the Tobacco control freaks NAZIS…………….it keeps an equal footing calling us addicts then.

        • Pat Nurse says:

          Being referred to as an “addict” when you’re not – and when it was invented to push the denormalisation “spoiled identities” project is offensive. If you know him, perhaps you could ask him to mind his language if he really is on our side. After all, terminology is everything. It is what has been used to beat us with these last decades which is why we need to come up with our own vernacual and not fall into the anti word trap left for us.

        • Pat Nurse says:

          and yeah- I know my typing is shit these days

  6. churchmouse says:

    I’ve written Pat to say that I shall be joining in #Octabber.

    My post today follows up on the French health minister, Mme Marisol Touraine. Her son is serving a prison sentence:


    • harleyrider1978 says:

      We should have a healthest prison,strictly for these Nazis!

      • churchmouse says:

        Well, I don’t want to do to them what they would do to us, necessarily.

        I would rather that people like this in public office stand down and vanish from public life voluntarily. But that would show some sense of a guilty conscience.

        What I find interesting is that she probably had no idea her son had this huge debt to repay and that he didn’t confide in her.

        The other thing is that he knew the woman whose money he stole and that, to date, she hasn’t seen anything in compensation — neither the original sum nor the ‘moral debt’ which was a little over 3x the amount stolen. All the victim has had to date is a written apology from Mme Touraine.

    • Pat Nurse says:

      Did you email me Churchmouse? I haven’t seen anything. I’ll be posting up the Tabbers Tales from Oct 1. The astroturf antis pretending to be quitting smokers are out in force at the #stoptober hashtag on Twitter. They are so easy to spot. You could do a spot the fake game Frank.

      • churchmouse says:

        Hello, Pat — I left my comments on your initial #Octabber blog comments, and you replied to the first.

        To recap, I shall have posts from the evening of September 20 through October 4 (a little after 11 p.m. BST) and on October 6. Those are definitely smoking-related. The rest of the month will touch on smoking but also on public health policy and eugenics.

        If you need further information, please let me know.

        Thanks again for all the great work you do. We’ve been reading your essays since 2007.

        • churchmouse says:

          Sorry, that should be September 30 not 20. Apologies.

        • Pat Nurse says:

          Thanks Churchmouse. Some people have emailed me their stories – others can leave them in the comments. I’m hoping to post a Tabber’s Tale every day in October so if they don’t come to my inbox, I’ll pick them up from the blog or the FB page.

          The other thing I’d like to include on Octabber, as it evolves, is a page on the cost of anti smoking. David Atherton once gave me figures that showed Lab gave half a billion pounds of tax payers cash in five years to various groups here and in the EU which I’ll have to dig out if I still have them, plus an update on how much of the NHS budget is currently being siphoned off to feed anti-smoker prejudice against tobacco consumers.

          I’d also like to post up a boycott page naming and shaming all those companies that treat tobacco consumers like crap. For example, Starbucks which now demands that we buy their coffee and then go 500 yards away to drink it – and Morrison’s which sacked two workers for smoking in the car park during their break. E-Lites is another to boycott because they sell their product on the back of smoker denormalisation – and they put out press releases saying we don’t work as hard as non smoker employees, unless we buy their product of course, so don’t. There are loads of other really good e-cig manufacturers.

          And then there are the firms that have sacked people because they smoke at home – others that advertise to “non smokers only” and others that pay smokers less than their non smoker colleagues, like Pepsi. I would need help in collating all of these types of examples if anyone is willing to help with the research?

  7. harleyrider1978 says:

    MacLennan said. He said the province must find an alternative source of nicotine for inmates.


    Nicotine patches should be banned in Alberta’s jails because inmates are smoking them, prison guards say.
    When cigarettes were banned in Alberta jails nearly two years ago, prisoners were given the option of using the patch to quell their cravings. But the guards claim the inmates are smoking ingredients from the patches mixed with tea leaves or orange peels and rolled in paper.

    Dan MacLennan, president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, says the smoke is making prison guards sick, and the union has filed a complaint with Occupational Health and Safety about the situation.

    “I think there’ll be a lot of support once they realize just what a problem this is for the people who work in the jails,” MacLennan said.

    Twenty-one guards have filed claims with the Workers’ Compensation Board for persistent severe respiratory symptoms caused by the foul smoke, MacLennan said. He said the province must find an alternative source of nicotine for inmates.

    Annette Bidniak, an official with solicitor general’s office, said she welcomes a review of the complaint. She said while air-quality tests have come back clean, the department is considering its options

    • nisakiman says:

      What always staggers me about these situations where they ban smoking, and the ban leads to all sorts of unpleasant unintended consequences, rather than taking the obvious route of rescinding the ban as unworkable, they just try to pile on yet more regulations! It defies logic and common sense. If these guys in prison are smoking tea leaves and nicotine patches, for Christ’s sake give them back their cigarettes! It’s bloody obvious! Even to a brain-dead anti.

  8. Jonathan Bagley says:

    It’s possible people are now taking up smoking later, because of the propaganda they get in school and the tightening up on underage purchases. If not, we should see the 20-24 prevalence start to decrease next year in line with the 16-20 prevalence four years ago. That will be a good test of whether tighter enforcement of age restrictions and concentrated school anti tobacco propaganda has a lasting effect.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Johnathan you forget one formidable and lasting effect of the restrictions,BOOTLEGGING!

      They don’t ask for I.D. nor do they care who purchases the product……….Right now tobacco outsells as the hot commodity that of maryjane,hard drugs and alcohol in the blackmarkets! The effects are the same everytime its tried and these Nazis know it yet do it anyway like some how the brainwashing is going to change human nature! I laugh at them.

      • Harley, you wrote, “Johnathan you forget one formidable and lasting effect of the restrictions,BOOTLEGGING! They don’t ask for I.D. nor do they care who purchases the product………”

        Very **VERY** true. If they *truly* wanted to reduce youth smoking they’d get rid of the excess taxes. The products would return behind store counters where workers would be afraid to sell to kids because they might get fired.

        Will they push to get rid of those taxes? Of course not: they’re depending on them for their paychecks…. the children be damned.

        – MJM

    • smokingscot says:

      @ JB

      For what it’s worth, I’m thinking about what some (but not all) of us do when asked by the medics if we smoke.

      Perhaps the youngsters do the same. Especially if they know that’s what their folks do. Understate or fib or simply avoid the question.

      Certainly they’re quite naive in the 11-15 age group; possibly because they don’t quite understand the true nature of CRUK. Or the contrived questionnaires they get slung at them.


      • harleyrider1978 says:

        I had a dental tech at the VA hospital ask me that the other day and I simply said;

        Do you smoke?

        Answer; Why yes doesn’t everyone here!

        How much a day?

        6 packs if Im not sleeping,why you got coupons!

      • Pat Nurse says:

        SmokingScot – I tell medics that I refuse to give any details about my lifestyle habits in case I am discriminated against – so I’m not going to tell them if I drink, smoke, ride horses, climb mountains or go to the gym. If they persist, I tell them this is a huge political issue for me an I’m not going to budge. I accept they have to tell me, or advise me, about the effects of all these things on my health, and they can assume what they like, but I hope they respect my strong political stance in not discussing the matter further. They usually do and then back off.

        I have a fiend who way back in the 80s when they began asking people if they smoked, said no and is quite proud of the fact that he has remained an official “non smoker” in his medical records so he is never nagged, discriminated against or bothered whenever he needs to see his GP.

  9. chris says:

    I recall reading of an article some years back in the New England Journal of Medicine on teen smoking. It said that when authorities didn’t make a big deal out of it, teen smoking declined slowly but surely. But when there was some huge “crusade”, with sting operations and full-blown propaganda, the rate actually increased. Teen hate being preached to. Who knew?

  10. margo says:

    Hard core addict and contrarian – yes, that’s me!

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        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.


  11. garyk30 says:

    ” It’s only when the number of smokers was reduced to a small, and increasingly unpopular, minority”

    However, the number of smokers has not changed much over the last 50 years or so.

    In America in 1965, there were about 50 million smokers.
    In America today, there are over 46 million smokers.

    That is a very small reduction for all of the money spent.

    The percent of population that smokes has halved because, the population has doubled over that time period.

    In America in 1965, there were about 16 million ex-smokers.
    In America today, there are about 48 million ex-smokers.

    In America in 1965, 14% of the adults were ex-smokers.
    In America today, 21% of the adults are ex-smokers.

    All of the anti tobacco spending has caused the number of people trying smoking to sky-rocket.

    I doubt that these facts are any different in the UK.

  12. Emily says:

    In my meanderings online and in real life lately, I have heard a lot of people who have quit smoking talking about how they miss it, and beating themselves up about it. People seem to feel the need to classify smoking as an addiction, even a “mental” one as opposed to a physical one, as a way of explaining why they miss it and berating themselves for doing so. What I don’t understand is why they can’t just accept that smoking can be great pleasure and maybe that’s why they miss it? that to me would be the rational explanation. It seems to me that I’m noticing this a lot lately because so many people have effectively been forced to give up, by doctors, family, and social pressure in general, and they do miss it.

    Not sure what my point here is exactly, just musing. I feel that addiction is a difficult thing to classify, and when it comes to smoking it is different for everyone. I feel that we’ve become too obsessed with eradicating certain behaviors by classifying them as addictions, though, we’re seeing it now with stuff like junk food and sugar and even internet and video games.

    I guess that the smoking bans and all the pressure have made me more determined to keep smoking, but maybe for the very reason in that I’ve come to think of it differently, and not see it as an addiction but as something I enjoy.

    • Emily, very well said! I would agree with you completely. The classification of smoking as an “addiction” was a very conscious move on the part of the Antismokers back around thirty years ago. Henningfield and Benowitz simply rewrote the definition and did an article on it showing that *IF* you redefined the word in JUST the right way, that THEN you could classify smoking as very addictive!

      Heck, I could show all KINDS of things to be things that they are not… simply by redefining words so that they meant what I wanted. I think Humpty Dumpty already did that, though, didn’t he? Or was it the Chesire Cat?

      – MJM

      • Emily says:

        Thanks Michael! I think we are truly living in strange times. There seems to be a lot of redefining of words and make-believe type thinking going on.

        I loved your book “Dissecting…” and am looking forward to your new one very much.

        • Emily, in one section of TobakkoNacht I talk about the redefinition of the word “Employee” so that smoking bans can be extended to places served only by volunteers. If you do some Googling on the phrase “performs services for an Employer with or without compensation” and see all the hits generated, and then add the single restrictive condition


          so that you get

          “performs services for an Employer with or without compensation” -smoking

          (be sure there is a space after the endquote mark but no space between the minus sign and the word smoking)

          you’ll be surprised at what happens to all those hits.

          Talk about Orwellian redefinition of words, eh?

          – MJM

  13. harleyrider1978 says:

    STEP 1: Manufacture a calamity so dire, that it threatens the entire human race and earth itself.

    STEP 2: Use all forms of media to propagate endless, repeated propaganda about our imminent demise.

    STEP 3: Once everyone is duped, present solutions to the manufactured problem. This can be one solution or one hundred, but they all must lead to the desired result, the endgame.

    STEP 4: Devote massive international resources to the cause. Streamline certain things for simplicity, ONE currency, ONE government.

    STEP 5: Sit back, relax, and rule the world.

  14. Pingback: Straws in the Wind | Frank Davis

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