Lots of thought-provoking comments today. Nika set me thinking:
I recently 100% reverse-ostracized all of my friends and family (including my only daughter and grandson) when the last one went Smoke Nazi….
This was the most intelligent and sane thing I have ever done. The rush and relief that I feel from finally coming loudly out of the closet have been incredible.
I completely understand this. I myself haven’t done anything quite so radical. For the most part the social disintegration I’ve experienced has been as result of the pub smoking ban removing the one place where I could happily meet with my former (mostly non-smoking) friends, many of whom had banned smoking in their homes. For the most part, I simply no longer saw them again.
In some cases it was different. Shortly after the UK ban came into effect, one friend turned out to have been working in Tobacco Control for most of the time I’d known her, and I realised we’d never be able to get on together again, It was a bit like finding out that one of your friends was an SS obersturmbannführer or something. I sent her a long email that ended, “Let me know when you’ve stopped persecuting smokers.” More recently, I rebuffed another old friend by writing, “As a smoker, I’m not welcome in your house. And as an antismoker, you’re not welcome in mine.” But it had taken me about 10 years to reach that point.
I have very few friends these days, because I can’t be friends with anyone who fusses when I light a cigarette.
I’m not sure that I have any friends at all now. My former circle of friends seem to have all become casualties of the smoking ban. And that includes quite a few of those apathetic smokers who like to pretend that nothing has happened.
Certainly I wouldn’t want to meet any antismokers: It’s that awful stench of sanctimoniousness.
But add it all up, what’s happening to Nika and Margo and me, and plenty of other commenters here, and you see a picture of global social disintegration. All over the world, people who used to get along perfectly well with each other are parting company. Hundreds of millions of people are losing hundreds of millions of friends. Society is being torn apart.
I also find, like Nika, my attitude steadily hardening. There are things that happened 10 years ago, which if they happened now, would get a very strong response from me (I’m thinking of a dinner party I’d been invited to, where the hostess announced that she was banning smoking… once we’d all arrived and sat down.) Walt wrote yesterday that if anyone asks you to step outside to smoke, you should step outside and hail a cab. Quite so.
Where does it all end? That brings me on to John Watson’s comment:
A withdrawal from society that leads to a smoking counter-society?
I think that’s where it’s going. I think smokers will tend to congregate together, much like black people or jews. What else ever happens when discrimination takes place? Smokers are being thrown together, by their shared experiences. And I’m sure that, like mine, their attitudes are gradually hardening.
I’d add that along with the social disintegration, in my experience there comes a wider alienation from almost everything. From the wider antismoking culture, from politicians, from doctors (and dentists), “experts” of all types, the mass media, and much more. I lived through the social upheaval of the 1960s, but this is much deeper. If nothing else, the 60s wasn’t something that was planned. What’s happening to smokers all over the world is something that has been planned.