Costs and Benefits of Resistance

There were lots of interesting comments a couple of days back. So many that I ended up only responding to one by Nightlight, and not really fully addressing that one. I wondered why people tend to feel guilty about so many things – smoking, drinking, food, sex, luxuries, etc, etc -. I ended up suggesting that these minimalist, self-denying values were associated with poverty. And that while we’re not poor these days, we have lots of apocalyptic predictions of impending catastrophe: we might not be poor now, but we soon will be, after global warming/ice age/bubonic plague/nuclear war has reduced us to penury and subsistence living.

Anyway, while many of us have these life-denying values, we’re always going to feel guilty about drinking and smoking and so on, and it’s very easy for puritanical moralists to invoke these values and start banning things without meeting much resistance.

But quite apart from this, I think that for most people, regardless of their values, it’s simply not worth the candle to mount any resistance. And this is because, for the most part, too little has been lost for anyone to mount any serious resistance.

For example, long before smoking was banned in UK pubs and restaurants and cafes, it had been banned on buses and trains. First there were smoking and non-smoking compartments or carriages, and then the smoking compartments got fewer and fewer, and finally they completely disappeared.

I remember noticing the process, and being a bit annoyed with the final step, but I wasn’t annoyed enough to actually do anything about it. And nor, to the best of my knowledge, was anybody else. Why was that?

I think the answer, in my case, was that I simply didn’t use trains or buses enough, or travel sufficiently long distances on them, to warrant resistance. Furthermore, lighting up a cigarette wasn’t usually the first thing I wanted to do whenever I got on a bus or a train. Resistance – in the form of complaining – had a sufficiently high cost (time spent writing letters) and a sufficiently low benefit (time spent smoking cigarettes on buses) that it really wasn’t worth the candle.

It’s why the salami-slicing approach works. The smaller the freedom that is being lost, the harder it is to resist.

But, if you give these people an inch, they end up taking a mile. First they take an inch, and then a foot, and then a yard, and then a furlong, and then the whole mile. And with the pub smoking ban, they took the whole mile. In fact, they took 100 miles.

And that’s when I got angry. Because I spent a lot of time in pubs and cafes, and I regarded cigarettes as an essential component of the pub/cafe experience. You bought your beer or coffee, and then you sat down at a table, and lit a cigarette. Maybe you also unfolded a newspaper as well. Or opened a packet of peanuts.

And it wasn’t just that I was losing that pleasant experience, but – because I mostly met friends and acquaintances in pubs – also that I was losing an entire community of like-minded people. And not just that: I’d also become a second class citizen whose opinion was to be ignored.

So, unlike the UK train smoking ban, the UK pub smoking ban  brought about the loss of a very great deal – which might be measured in thousands of hours of happy smoking and talking. And so now the cost-benefit analysis flipped the other way. I had lost so much that more or less any effort was justified to recover it.

And that, dear reader, is why I write a blog banging on about the smoking ban, upon which I have spent thousands of hours of my time.

But the same cost-benefit approach may also explain why most smokers don’t resist smoking bans. They don’t like them, but they don’t think that fighting them is worth the effort. And it’s not worth the effort because they didn’t lose enough to make the fight worth their while.

And it’s not too hard to see how that might be. If, for example, you’re a smoker who never goes to pubs or cafes, or who entertains friends at home, a pub smoking ban costs you almost nothing, and you have no cause to protest. And a lot of smokers who used to meet up with friends at pubs and cafes simply switched to meeting up with them at home, on private smoky-drinky occasions. It was the easiest thing to do. Such people didn’t lose their friends or communities. And so they hadn’t lost enough for it to become worthwhile to actively resist.

But I’d like to say of such people that, although they may not be actively resisting, by writing to MPs and other representatives, etc, they are actually passively resisting simply by refusing to give up smoking. Which is perhaps why, in the UK, the antismoking drive has moved on to make it harder for them to find tobacco (display bans), and harder for them to enjoy smoking (“plain” packaging covered with ever-larger antismoking images/advice), and more expensive to smoke (ever-mounting taxation).

For imagine if they hadn’t passively resisted, but had instead almost all decided to quit smoking, so that UK smoking prevalence had fallen from 23% to 9%? Smokers would have been disappearing from the streets and from outside pubs, and smoking really would have been being ‘denormalised’. And Tobacco Control would now be directing its efforts against the few remaining smokers. There’d be calls to “Finish the job of stamping out smoking,” or “Sweep up the few remaining stragglers,” with home smoking bans or outright tobacco prohibition.

As it is, smoking prevalence has hardly fallen at all (it seems it never does wherever bans are introduced), forcing Tobacco Control to adopt ill-thought-out new measures to try to drive the numbers down. And in this, they also now face a completely unforeseen new problem with the appearance of e-cigs.

I’m just thinking out loud (as ever). I’ll continue tomorrow.

About Frank Davis

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40 Responses to Costs and Benefits of Resistance

  1. Reinhold says:

    And that, dear reader, is why I write a blog banging on about the smoking ban, upon which I have spent thousands of hours of my time.

    Thank you very much for that!

    And now, dear writer, please imagine how many hours (added up) your readers spend with enjoying, partly commenting, and spreading your inspiring thoughts.

    I’ll continue tomorrow.

    Thank you again. :-)

  2. harleyrider1978 says:

    UKIP lands £millions donation from eurosceptic Paul Sykes
    By Staff Writer on November 17, 2013 at 10:17 pm

  3. Wonderfully expressed Frank! I’d disagree with one point though:

    “First they take an inch, and then a foot, and then a yard, and then a furlong, and then the whole mile. And with the pub smoking ban, they took the whole mile.”

    Not quite. I’d say they were limping along with inches and feet for a long time, and the pub smoking ban was their first real jump into the “mile range” — but they’re still somewhere down around the half-mile point. They’ll use outdoor patios, cars, school campuses, parks and beaches and public plazas to move up to the three-quarters point. And THAT is when they’ll go for the mile … as they’re already doing in some places here in the States … and ban you from smoking in your home unless you’re an over-21 (or 25) in a free-standing domicile without the presence of minors.

    Oh, you’ll also need a distinctive symbol on your door to warn your neighbors and delivery/service folks of the sort of vermin you are.

    – MJM

  4. waltc says:

    I agree with everything you’ve said and just add another angle as to why I believe people don’t fight, and why they feel “they shouldn’t” smoke or, in fact, eat This or drink That.

    ¶ Fear of Death, Okay, nobody wants to meet the guy in the black hood but I think the fear has become exacerbated in recent years, first, because religion is dying, and with it, not only the various promises of posthumous reward– of heaven or nirvana or reincarnation or any of the vague hopes it traditionally offered, but with the death of religion also went any profound philosophical understanding and acceptance of the fact that death is Man’s Fate. In the new understanding, death has become scientific, medical, even mathematical, anything but inevitable and ineluctable and as such it must have a “cause”‘ (without which it wouldn’t happen) and if you’re told often enough by the new high priests that you caused it yourself by smoking that cigarette (or eating that steak) that you’re killing yourself ! then how can you fight for it, how can you defend it? How can you not feel shame at your own suicidal proclivities? And how can you not despise that smoker-in-the-restaurant who’s “causing” the deaths of countless innocents? Even if that smoker happens to be yourself? So of course you’ll be happy to “take it outside.”

    ¶ The particular fear of Modern Death (and any potentially deadly illness) which most of us have witnessed at second or third hand: the brutal hospital machines, the devastation of chemo, the disfiguring surgery, the indifferent and often negligent “care” meted out in cold, unprivate rooms in medical institutions. All of it making it less possible “to go gentle in that good night” even if you wanted to. And if you buy the explanation that those tubes and that din, that undignified struggle, that final humiliation can somehow be avoided by avoiding its absolutely proven ‘ “cause”… well then, who wouldn’t? And aren’t you ashamed that you’re bringing that punishment down on your own head, retribution for a nasty evanescent pleasure.

    The old “eat drink and be merry (for tomorrow we may die)” has been supplanted by “eat drink and be merry” and tomorrow you WILL (therefore) die and die a notably terrible death.

    I also believe that Economics not Morality is at the heart of the anti-smoker movement. Our class of social engineers aren’t moralists, they’re cold pragmatists, and themselves beyond morals as they constantly prove. Yeah, they’ve latched on to the neo-religious zeal of a few well-placed crackpots and the Puritan tradition that lingers vestigially in society’s heart but simply because those are handy and highly effective tools. But, getting right down to it, the government simply wants you to not-cost it money and so do your employers and insurance companies. Ideally, they would like you to die, healthy (perhaps struck by lightning) at the age of 66 which also represents a savings in pensions.

    • Frank Davis says:

      they would like you to die, healthy (perhaps struck by lightning) at the age of 66

      Oh dear! I’m 65 and 3/4!!

      • Er, Frank? I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but you know that big “Observatory” dome they’ve been building next to your house?

        Actually it’s a Van De Graaf Generator, and, unluckily, YOU are one of those lucky healthy folks who WILL get “struck by lightning” at the age of 66!

        Better get some good blogging in over the next three months guy!


  5. waltc says:

    Oh Christ. “Because religion is dying” not drying. Could you fix that?

    • margo says:

      I agree about the fear of death but I see flaws here, waltc. First, humans have always had a fear of death. One of the main purposes of religion, as I see it, is to eliminate that fear with the promise of an afterlife: if there’s an afterlife of which “you” are conscious, then you are not really dead at all, are you. Second, if the government truly believed that all these ‘bad health’ things would shorten our lives, and they wanted to save pension money, they’d be exhorting us all to smoke like chimneys, drink like fish and eat burgers and sugar all day long. That would be the logical response.
      I’ve been smoking since the 1950s, and right from the start there have been people telling me it will kill me and/or send me to Hell. That guilt trip has always been around. I felt it very much as a moralist/religious thing (smoking, drinking, sex with the wrong people at the wrong times, rock ‘n roll – all bad things I shouldn’t be doing, displeasing to God). Since I was a godless child, I found it quite easy to ignore all this and just mix with others who also ignored it.
      I agree that the religious aspect is less obvious nowadays, that it’s given way to the Health one, but I’d say the guilt comes from that long, long religious conditioning in society.

      • margo says:

        Sorry, I meant ‘less obvious’ in that last para, not ‘obvious less’.

        • “Oh Christ. “Because religion is dying” not drying. Could you fix that?”

          Our country is dying because people would rather take Christ’s name in vain than do what He said – Thomas Jefferson (not a Christian) wrote “Jefferson’s Bible” – in which he took out the supernatural things in which he didn’t believe and he found that “There will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.”

          That’s why ‘they’ hate it so much.

          Yuri Bezmenov, KGB defector, explains why our religion is being attacked – because it’s ultimately what holds a people together (whether they like it or not).

          I do agree that the new ‘Puritans’ are nothing of the sort. They are very dirty, like trying to get children interested in sex at ever younger ages (they’re now talking pre-school) – again, the salami-slice formula being used and people go along with it because of the effort involved to do otherwise and also because they end up believing that telling three year-oid Billy about the birds and bees and homosexuality and transsexuals, will make him more responsible and compassionate when he’s older.

          They almost are at the mile post with this one – but it’s not for “sublime and benevolent” purposes, but to destroy the family – a major enemy of socialism.

  6. Brian says:

    Frank, I used to smoke – a lot. Full strength Marlboro, biftas. I gave up because I saw how the bastards were pissing my taxes up the wall. It was my first step to starving the beast and since then I’ve found a few other ways of starving them of my hard earned. I make sure I spend my money on goods which don’t incur VAT (eg buying books as gifts) and if I need anything that does incur VAT my first port of call is to go for the second hand option, which of course DOESN’T [incur VAT].

    Good luck with your campaign, but if you’re growing your own tobacco you’re doing the right things; kicking the bastards where it hurts – right in the taxes!

    • Brian, this avoidance of ALL taxes is just another one of the disastrous “unintended consequences” of the antismoking movement. I believe that *most* people believe in paying some taxes. They may grouse about it, but deep down they like their government and appreciate some of the nice things it provides: security ‘n safety, roads, controls on a massive coalburning factory planting itself 20 feet from your family home, meat that’s free from Mad-Cameron Disease, etc.

      BUT… if a group of taxpayers begins to feel that it, as special case, has been singled out, not just for extra taxes, but for CRIMINALLY EXCESS taxes… then suddenly you have that group of taxpayers resenting paying taxes at all! So you get the smokers who tolerate smuggling happily, or grow their own, or who figure out other ways to “cheat the tax man and bring about some balance and fairness in their lives.

      Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, once you’ve encouraged a sizable chunnk of the population to cross the line into outright cheating to achieve fairness, people will often move the marker BEYOND the fair balance point — and as a result the entire tax system begins to break down.

      The Antismokers have a LOT to answer for in terms of the harm they’ve done and are continuing to do to our societies. As prog points out below: this sort of thing was NOT really “unpredictable.” The Antis knew what they were doing… and they just didn’t care: the be-all-and-end-all, the Holy Grail of a Smoke-Free World, was all that mattered — the bloody corpses littering the road behind them are just collateral damage.

      – MJM

      • Jonathan Bagley says:

        Good point Michael. Once I can’t buy a bottle of wine for £4, I’ll be making my own, which is entirely legal. I probably wouldn’t feel so strongly and go out and buy the equipment had there not been a smoking ban and huge tax rises on tobacco..

  7. On the ‘effort’ side. I must have lost a six-figure sum in sales over the past few years by blogging and general internet discussions on the various social outlets for a whole range of topics I believe in – things important to me which have all been under attack by this new illiberal socialism being thrust on us.

    On the effort-to-benefit analysis, mine hasn’t been worth it IMO, unless the fruit has yet to ripen. I hope to get more involved with the treason campaign, now I know what’s been done and why and by whom.

    A few people get past that effort-to-benefit barrier, even when it comes to helping people they don’t know, like those who write to prisoners on Death Row and campaign for them, even though they’ve never met.

    Yet millions of adults will stand outside to smoke like naughty children without as much as a murmur to anyone who thinks he’s in ‘authority’. Why? And why don’t people learn about rights and freedoms, notably property rights in this case? Because in a dozen or more years of state ‘education’ we’re not told about our ancient rights. Maybe the new fraudulent UN and EU ones, but not our own genuine ones. Not in my case.

    Then there’s the increasing workload we all have just to get through the week, interspersed with ‘bread and circuses’ modern-style. The Wikipedia entry explains a lot about what’s gone wrong,

    “”Bread and circuses” (or bread and games) (from Latin: panem et circenses) is a metaphor for a superficial means of appeasement. In the case of politics, the phrase is used to describe the creation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through diversion; distraction; or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace,[1] as an offered “palliative.” Juvenal decried it as a simplistic motivation of common people.[2][3][4] The phrase also implies the erosion or ignorance of civic duty amongst the concerns of the common man.

    “In modern usage, the phrase is taken to describe a populace that no longer values civic virtues and the public life.”

    And something else important – as Yuri Bezmenov explains – one of the stages in taking over a country is “demoralisation”. Our people are demoralised and demotivated and ripe for the next injustice without even thinking of fighting back.

    Someone left a comment on another thread a few days ago about handing out information cards re. smoking. The same could be done to get ALL our rights back – if only the people knew that their ancient rights are being stolen.

  8. Steve Kelly says:

    The Antis do not understand that tobacco use was never “normalized”. It was normal. People like tobacco. Amerinds have used it for time immemorial and as it was introduced worldwide it was accepted and widely used worldwide, despite numerous sporadic efforts to eradicate its use, here and there and now and then across the world and time. Common and accepted tobacco use has been the norm just about everywhere since the time of Sir Walter Raleigh. That’s a fact, and it happened, because tobacco use is pleasurable. So people like tobacco. The Antis do not understand that.

    The Antis live in a tilted and twisted ivory tower. They decided, a few decades ago, that people would be no more likely to smoke tobacco than they would be likely to fill their mouths with soap and blow bubbles every day, if it had not been for an evil industry that advertised tobacco use, beginning in the twentieth century. The evil industry at that time began lying viciously to the people, telling them tobacco was pleasurable, and thereby irresistibly hypnotizing them into doing something which had always theretofore been strictly abnormal.

    So the Antis decided they could negate the Satanically false “normalization” that evil companies recently perpetrated with their own saintly “denormalization” campaigns. These campaigns would blessedly replace what the Antis saw as falsely planted (but really normal) beliefs about tobacco with the Antis’ own (hysterically mad) beliefs about tobacco. Their hysteria is their norm. They want to bless us all with their hysteria.

    The Antis are driven to “denormalize” because their norm is abnormality. To Anti minds, there can be no sane resistance to their goals, all consequences of their campaigns are good consequences, and all who resist them are worthless idiots who deserve at best “tough love” and banishment: because we must live in a smoker-free world, because a cigarette smoked in London kills babies in Shanghai.

    There’s no stopping people like that. Michael McFadden is right in what he says above. These people will never stop, because they can’t stop, because they’re abnormal; and what’s more, in this sick era, they’re empowered. But Frank is right too. Lots and lots of people like tobacco, and that is normal, it’s been so for ages upon ages, and it’s not going to change. The resistance, of smoking itself, just won’t go away.

    Smoking is normal. The Antis are freaks. They’ve done enormous harm. They’re still empowered but there are signs (yes, a few, now) that their power is starting to weaken. They’ve given their opponent, normality, a big hit. It looks to them right now as if normality is down for the count. They’re primed to move in for the kill. But normality never dies. The Antis don’t understand that either.

  9. prog says:

    The antis are 100% negative about tobacco, whereas the average smoker is not. They bully, pass laws, incite hatred yet ignore one simple truth – smoking is pleasurable. Their justification as to why people smoke is that it’s addictive. Bit of a home goal really – gives people the perfect excuse not to quit. And even if they do try, the antis ‘cure’ is next to useless. So they resort to coercion, which is also largely useless. Result, more smokers become pissed off, the number swelled by those who didn’t really care about pubs. Resistance, will course,increase if they ban smoking in cars, outside public spaces and homes. All in all, they’re moving too fast, trying to maintain the schedule whilst smoking rates are relatively high. I think MJM predicted smokers’ response (or something similar along these lines) in ‘Brains’.

  10. Bill says:

    The anti smoker is a an odd cove to be sure. I’ve never encountered one in the flesh but they must be terminally stupid if they believe that banning anything ever creates the nirvana they tell themselves they are seeking.
    Bans simply create grey and black markets in whatever is being banned by whichever jurisdiction falls under the spell of the banner. Banning things give the banned things a gravitas they never had and people will go out of their way to get them. Look at the spectacular failure that is the ‘drugs war’. Same with the ban on guns. Bans demonstrably do not eradicate the banned item.
    Perhaps the purpose if the ban is to social engineer a group of people into the acceptance of a claim of authority thus giving those benefiting from that claim free rein to do as they please.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Bill Ive run into them and even baited their asses on the phone! Its fun to fuk with them for sure and especially in public where others can see and hear!

  11. Jariel says:

    Don’t know if I’m sharing this in the right place – but at least you people will understand the arghhhhhhh! of this!!!!! (Capitals mine)

    Twas The Night Before Christmas: Edited By Santa Claus for the Benefit of Children of the 21st Century
    Clement C. Moore
    4.3 Stars (325 Reviews)
    Genre: Children’s eBooks | Poetry

    Gold Medal Winner 2012 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award Best Holiday Book. 1st place winner for the Global International Best Christian Children’s Book. This colorful and bright edition was created for young readers in mind. Attracting global media attention, The BBC, The View, The Colbert Report, New York Post, Huffington Post and many others for what the Kirkus Review calls A LEGITIMATE EDITING OF THE REFERENCE TO THE PIPE AND WREATH OF SMOKE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE HISTORY OF THIS, THE MOST FAMOUS POEM IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. THIS IS THE EDITION THAT IS CREDITED WITH HAVING SANTA STOP SMOKING AFTER 189 YEARS AND FOR TAKING A SMALL BITE OUT OF HISTORY. THE PUBLIC HEALTH SECTOR, PARENTS, EDUCATORS AND GRANDPARENTS HAVE APPLAUDED AND WELCOMED THE ADDITION OF THIS CHILD-FRIENDLY EDITION.

  12. harleyrider1978 says:



    ASH Australia closure on December 31, 2013

    Statement from ASH Chair Dr Matthew Peters, 18/11/13:

    The Board of Directors of Action on Smoking and Health Australia (ASH) advise that ASH will be officially ceasing its operations from 31st December 2013. ASH was established in 1994 in an era when its joint funders (today, Cancer Council Australia and the National Heart Foundation of Australia) had relatively few staff deployed directly in tobacco control. For many years, this has no longer been the case with both organisations giving high priority to the many aspects of tobacco control.

    Today, smoking rates in Australian adults and children are at their lowest ever levels, in large part because of the combined efforts of ASH, Cancer Councils, the Heart Foundation and others.

    ASH’s invaluable work in advocating for policy reform in tobacco control will continue through Australia’s well connected network of agencies dedicated to driving smoking rates down even further.

    The Board thanks ASH’s Chief Executive Officer Anne Jones OAM for her (almost) 20 years of extraordinary service to national and international tobacco control. Anne will continue her international work as a consultant to the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union). The Board also thanks Stafford Sanders for his 12 years’ service to ASH. Stafford provided countless hours of invaluable advice to journalists and the public, and maintained ASH’s very popular website since its inception.

    Media release 18/11/13: AMA congratulates ASH for 20 years outstanding advocacy

    ASH Australia

    ASH Australia was a national health group dedicated to reducing diseases, disability and premature deaths caused by tobacco products. A non-government and not-for-profit organisation, ASH was established in 1994 by the Cancer Council (NSW) and the Heart Foundation. It was later funded by the Cancer Council Australia and Heart Foundation to protect and improve the health of the community through education, policy advice and

  13. harleyrider1978 says:

    Im guessing all their taxpayer money was CUTOFF!

  14. harleyrider1978 says:

    Im starting to think Australia may be the first country to repeal its indoor smoking ban if this continues. The country of the always first in outlawing and criminalizing smokers may just do it and sooner rather than later,repeal.

  15. harleyrider1978 says:

    ROFLMAO! They are defunding the Bastards across the board……..
    Brenda Wilson: Cuts to anti-tobacco ads will cost lives

    Brenda Wilson •
    The Advertiser •
    November 18, 2013 9:30PM
    Last month the State Government confirmed its commitment to an earlier proposal to remove all funding for anti-tobacco media campaigns.

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