One thing I didn’t mention last night was that the Global War on Smokers has given me a powerful shove to the political right in recent years: I’ve become a lot more of a conservative and traditionalist than I ever was before, and deeply suspicious of anything that seems even faintly ‘progressive’.
And I think that this is a natural reaction. When people are pushed in some direction, they push back. They resist. And the harder they’re pushed, the harder they push back. It’s a resistance that is almost as physical as Newton’s Third Law of Motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. And in the case of the smoking ban, it is the force of law that is being used against smokers. And the force of law is a very powerful force. And so the opposite reaction is equally powerful.
I was thinking today that if it was some sort of conservative, traditionalist agenda that was being advanced using the force of law, I’d be reacting against that just as strongly. And I even toyed with the the thought that if you really want to make people do something, all you need to do is to force them to do the exact opposite.
After all, I’m more determined than ever to carry on smoking. It’s become a matter of honour.
And given that in the UK the prevalence of smoking seems to have hardly fallen at all, it seems that most other British smokers have done the same. In fact, wherever smoking bans are introduced, it seems that smoking prevalence remains static.
And that’s why Tobacco Control starts demanding display bans, plain packaging, street bans and even home bans. After all, if the public smoking bans failed to have the desired effect, then clearly more bans are needed. Greater force must be exerted.
But the harder that smokers get pushed, the harder they’ll push back.
It won’t be any different from the 1960s, when a wave of arrests of marijuana/hashish smokers and dealers in the UK simply resulted in more people determinedly smoking even more of the stuff (and trying other things too).
And that’s what’s happening with tobacco too. So the effect of this persecution will be (already is) to create a population of determined, resolute smokers. In exactly the same way that the persecution of Catholics or Protestants (or anyone else) makes the Catholics even more determinedly Catholic, and the Protestants more steadfastly Protestant. Christianity, after all, has always been nourished by the blood of its martyrs. The greatest and most iconic of which was Christ himself. And if Christianity is in decline these days, it’s probably simply because Christians aren’t being persecuted enough.
(Much the same probably happens with military units. Hardened veteran soldiers are ones who have endured multiple intensive attacks, which have served to build up their resistance.)
So I foresee a future in which there are lots of proud, resolute, in-your-face smokers (who really will blow smoke in non-smokers’ faces). And since smokers are being persecuted almost everywhere in the world, there will be lots of them all over the world. In fact, there probably already are.
And most likely, as cigarettes become seen as torches or beacons of freedom, or symbols of defiant resistance, rather than ‘cancer sticks’, more and more people will want to take up smoking in order to gain the cachet of being ‘resistance fighters’. And perhaps one day there’ll even be medals awarded to the most heroic smokers.
What does seem clear is that Tobacco Control hasn’t got its psychology right. They think that all that’s needed to achieve their goals is the application of increasing amounts of force. And that’s probably because the only sort of psychology they seem to understand is terror. They think that they can terrorise people into quitting smoking. They don’t seem to realise that the greater the force they apply, the more people will resist them, and the less benign they will appear, despite all their protests that they are concerned only with ‘health’, and with ‘helping’ smokers.
And when the terror tactics don’t work, and they demand even stronger measures, governments are going to become increasingly reticent about implementing such measures. Somewhere down the track along which Tobacco Control first demands that people be evicted from their homes for smoking, and then sent to prison for smoking, and then have their noses cut off for smoking, even a Labour or Conservative British government is likely to call a halt. Or at least I like to think so.
And I have something of the sense that the British government is already dragging its feet about introducing ‘plain packaging’ of tobacco. Because that won’t work either, of course, and will only be followed by a call for even tougher and more intrusive measures. All the same, I expect our spineless government to introduce plain packaging anyway.
Beyond all this, there is the sheer mind-boggling scale of Tobacco Control’s war on smoking and smokers. They have set out to rid the entire world of tobacco and smoking and smokers. It’s an utopian goal. It’s completely unrealistic. In fact, it’s barking mad. And one day people will notice this.
And so Tobacco Control will come to be seen as a band of insane witch-hunters, persecuting hundreds of millions of people. They will one day rival the Nazis (to whom they are closely related, and perhaps even identical) in infamy. And most likely their principal officers will, like the Nazis, be tried and sentenced. Or hunted down in remote Argentinian villages to which they have fled.
In fact, I don’t know why they aren’t seen this way already. It is, after all, the way I see them. And the way that many of my readers see them.
But then, there was a time – not very long ago – when even I thought that Tobacco Control was a benign UN medical organisation. It’s only as I’ve become aware of the enormous damage they’re doing, and their sheer mendacity, that I’ve stopped seeing them as good, and started seeing them as evil.
And if I can manage that transition, other people can too. And they will, when they get to find out more about Tobacco Control. Because if they know anything at all about Tobacco Control, they’ll think that it’s a benign UN medical organisation, only trying to help smokers quit smoking in the gentlest possible way, just like I once did.