The smoker Petunia Winegum, writing sympathetically about smoking on Anna Raccoon..
Virginia tobacco plantations provided a fast track to a fortune for enterprising British colonists as, regardless of the odd voice raised against the practice, the smoking of the addictive plant quickly permeated every strata of society back in the Mother Country. Its widespread popularity inevitably saw the price drop, dealing plantation owners such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson a severe economic blow they perceived as a conspiracy on the part of London. As much as taxation on tea gets the credit for lighting the fuse of the American Revolution, it’s feasible to speculate tobacco had as significant a part to play on the road to independence; I wonder if American health fascists have ever considered that possibility?
…reminded me of my first ever Skype conversation, with Winston Smith of New York state, who told me that America had been “built on tobacco”.
I often see smoking bans as primarily part of a cultural war, masquerading as a health campaign, on absolutely everything that ordinary people regard as normal and right and good. I see the UK smoking ban as primarily a cultural war on a British beer-and-cigarettes way of life, currently personified by Nigel Farage of UKIP. In fact I rather suspect that he’s as much hated as he is for his cultural identity as his politics. His is the world these malcontents grew up in, and which they most want to tear down and consign to history. They want to be rid of not just beer and cigarettes, but also double-decker London buses, bright red post boxes, fox-hunting, and both the Crown and the Church. All must be blown away, perhaps with the help of an army of windmills.
But if there’s a cultural war going on in Britain, how much more so in America? Aren’t American antismokers engaged in a profound cultural war on America and American values? Isn’t antismoking something that is profoundly anti-American? The same can’t be said of Britain or Europe, because neither of them were “built on tobacco”. But if America was built on tobacco, as Winston Smith told me, then it seems to this Briton that American antismoking zealots are making war on the history and the idea and the very essence of America. And that for Americans to defend smoking is to defend America itself from its enemies.
I write this on a day when thousands of people lined the streets of Leicester to welcome the return of King Richard III, where he was met by representatives of the Crown and the Church, and accompanied by knights on horseback, in what was a both a reminder and a re-affirmation of a deep English culture and history – the very sort of thing its enemies wish to denormalise and eradicate.