If, in places like New Orleans (and the UK), politicians won’t represent smokers, then smokers are eventually likely to go live elsewhere.
For about 3½ years, between 2007 and 2011, I was thinking quite hard about buying a home in Spain. And if Spain hadn’t introduced its own smoking ban in 2011, I might well have been living in Spain right now. As it was, it didn’t really matter where I lived, smoking-wise. And on balance it was better to stay in England, where I could at least speak the language fairly well.
But if antismoking measures continue to multiply, and smoker persecution intensifies, smokers are increasingly likely to go and live in places where they’re either welcome, or less unwelcome than where they currently are.
If I wanted to live anywhere in the USA, it would be the little town of Westminster, Massachusetts. Because a few months back the townsfolk protested successfully against a council-proposed smoking ban.
And if the War on Smokers continues, I think there will be little Westminsters popping up everywhere, with smokers arriving in droves, and antismokers getting out. And, if they weren’t already, all the town councillors would soon be smokers.
It’s called segregation. It’s what always happens when minorities are persecuted. People want to live with people like themselves.
And where little smoking communities emerge, they might even advertise for smokers to visit and come live. (I’ve just plugged Westminster, Massachusetts). What’s to stop them?
In fact, whole countries might become smoker-friendly. There are lots of smokers, and they’ve got lots of money they’d be more than happy to spend in bars and restaurants where they’re welcome. So there must be a growing economic incentive in countries with lots of smokers to relax their laws, and make a bid for the smoker’s dollar.
In Europe, most of the smokers are found in the southern and eastern regions. Let’s suppose that Corsica is one of these places. What happens if Brits and Germans see ads on their TVs saying “Come to Sunny Corsica”, showing smokers relaxing at a bar in Ajaccio, or sitting in a restaurant with a forkful of spaghetti in one hand, and a cigar in the other? It’s not an advertisement for tobacco: it’s a tourism ad, just like other countries produce. I think they’d get a lot of smokers flocking there for their holidays, and maybe even looking to buy property. Where else are they welcome?
It’s a bit like Israel for Jews, and Corsica for Smokers. And once the smoking prevalence in any smoker-friendly country had risen above 50%, it would be impossible for pro-smoking rules and regulations to be tightened up.
If not Corsica, then Greece. There are lots of smokers in Greece, and I’m told they habitually flout the Greek smoking ban. There’s an election in Greece this weekend, I believe, and more talk of its exit from the EU. What if a new Greek government simply rescinded its smoking ban on quitting the EU, and advertised the fact widely?
I think something along these lines is bound to happen sooner or later, if smoking bans don’t get relaxed or rescinded. Smokers will gravitate to places where they’re welcome. And as they gravitate there, they’ll make up an increasing proportion of the population, and one that politicians won’t be able to ignore.
And they’ll develop their own smoky new culture. Their TV station newscasters would smoke while they read out the news, and the weathermen gesture with cigarettes at approaching warm fronts. And there’d be tobacco ads everywhere. People might even smoke in church. Prospective immigrants would be given a pack of cigarettes, and required to prove that they could smoke the whole lot, and shown the door if they couldn’t. They’d be a complete contrast to the smoke-free zones everywhere else: they’d be smoke-rich zones.
The antismokers are really only winning because smokers are spread too widely (as was only natural when they weren’t being persecuted). But once smokers start congregating in smoker-friendly towns or countries, all that will change. When you’re a 20% minority, you can be ignored. When you’re a 70% majority, you can’t.
And as smokers vacate smoker-unfriendly zones, tax revenues from tobacco in those zones would fall, while tax revenues in smoker-friendly zones would rise. And most likely all kinds of businesses would flourish in relaxed, deregulated smoke-rich zones, where people could do as they liked, and not as some bureaucrat demanded.
Which is going to be the first town or country to make a bid for the smoker’s dollar?