The Morale of Smokers

Interesting discussion in the comments today, kicked off by Walt:

I think of blogs like this as the equivalent of samizdat but, yo, John Watson, we’ve tried writing Letters to Editors and op eds and articles and they don’t get published.

Of course they don’t get published. The mainstream media is more or less completely one-sided and corrupt. And it’s corrupt for the exact same reasons that institutionalised science is corrupt.  Everything has more or less the same kind of life cycle, of initial rapid growth from almost nothing, to full and expansive maturity, and then final decay and death.

I never write anything for the mainstream media. I don’t want to write anything for them. I wish they’d just all hurry up and die. Because they are slowly dying now. I think of newspapers (and even TV) as much like relics of a steam age.

We’re currently living in what is perhaps the era of the greatest communications revolution of all time, with ‘nation speaking unto nation’. The Gutenberg printing revolution allowed books to be published and circulated by people who had the money to do so. A newspaper is a sort of book that gets printed very quickly (overnight) and sold the next day, much like hot cakes from a bakery. But both books and newspapers were one-way megaphones. There were the writers who wrote, and the readers who read their writings. They were the teachers and the taught.  Books and newspapers, radio and TV, are all one-directional megaphone media, excellent for propagandising people.

But the internet is essentially two-way, maybe even multi-way. It’s conversational. The writer no longer has priority or precedence over the reader. He’s no longer a lecturer or teacher. And the readers are no longer students or disciples. It’s not a propaganda medium. The internet has brought (or is bringing) an end to the propaganda era.

It’s not perfect. A blog like mine retains many of the features of a book or newspaper. I’m the writer-in-residence. But I think of myself as being a bit like the sort of dinner party host who periodically says something just to keep the conversation alive, and prevent silence descending (and equally to prevent tempers rising too high). And following the same analogy, I serve up small morsels of food (for thought) at regular intervals (daily). I don’t mind if people talk among themselves. I don’t mind if they don’t listen to me, and talk about something that I’m not talking about. I don’t even mind if they entirely disagree with me. I don’t mind if they hold forth at considerable length about some belief of theirs.

And I primarily want to talk to smokers. I want to hear their opinions. I don’t want to talk to the antismokers. I don’t wish to immediately engage that enemy in hand-to-hand combat.

I suppose that what I believe is that, before you can successfully engage and defeat an enemy, you first need to build an army. And it must be an army of volunteers, rather than the hirelings of Tobacco Control. And an army that believes that it has a just cause. And an army that believes it can win. And it’s an army that must be equipped with a powerful set of weapons (data, arguments).

There are some 1,500 million smokers in the world (and probably a lot more). If they could coalesce into an army, they would win back their pubs and cafes very rapidly. In fact, they’d do so overnight. And those 1,500 million smokers share a lot. They all share the pastime of smoking. And they are almost all of them under powerful attack for that pastime. They really ought to be building an army.

And given our current amazing global communications revolution, it ought to be possible for smokers all over the world to unite in an army.

The main problem with smokers, it seems to me, is that most of them believe that they’ve lost the war that has been launched on them. What  a gift for Tobacco Control, to be met with so many people holding up their hands in surrender! Furthermore, most of them believe that smoking is bad for them.  Which is another gift for Tobacco Control! Or they feel powerless. Or they feel that they’re on the wrong side of history. Or that nobody will listen to them. And so on. Smokers are pretty thoroughly demoralised.

Morale, I think, is everything. An army without morale is bound to be defeated, even if it has the best weapons and the highest ground and the strongest walls.

So I’m oriented towards smokers, not towards their enemies, or the mainstream media, or the politicians. They can come later. I think the first task is to rebuild the morale of smokers. How may this be done?

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, of course. Or perhaps any of the answers. I don’t even pretend to have the right questions either. I am open to debate.

About Frank Davis

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24 Responses to The Morale of Smokers

  1. Lepercolonist says:

    Visiting your blog everyday is the best morale boost for me.

  2. Barry Homan says:

    I visit every day, too, and read each entry of Frank’s, from start to finish (except maybe on the “science” days, if the content goes over my head). Frank’s blog is my morning coffee.

    Bad news for me: yesterday, my hair-cutter whom I’ve been going to for the last 15 years said I couldn’t smoke in her salon anymore. She mumbled some excuse about asthma, then she cut my hair while I sat in frozen silence – it’ll be the last time I go to her. I’ll be looking for another hair-cutter, it’s a pity because she always did a good job.

    • margo says:

      I’m staggered that you’ve been able to smoke in a hairdresser’s salon up to now. I don’t think I have since 1990-something, possibly earlier. It’s reminded me of the first time I saw one of those No Smoking stickers (the circle with the crossed-out fag in it) – it was on someone’s private front door – in London,1981 – the house of a friend-who-is-one-no-more, who had invited me for the weekend. The second discovery I made was that coffee was banned as well. This has all been going on for a long time.

      • Barry Homan says:

        I live in Denmark, smokers still retain some territory here. Pubs under a certain size can still allow smoking.

        Who’s the native Dane who posts here a lot? Perhaps he could explain the precise laws for Denmark, I myself am not sure of all the places you can still smoke.

      • Frank Davis says:

        coffee was banned as well.

        Isn’t it beyond ridiculous? I can imagine a comedy in which people are forever running into weird bans of one sort or other. Bans on words. Bans on colours. Bans on every single kind of food or drink. Bans on numbers. Competing rival bans and counter-bans.

        • nisakiman says:

          The one I’m waiting for is the ban on bans.

        • margo says:

          Indeed it’s ridiculous. I’m not sure your idea is a comedy – it’s too horribly like real life. Something odd happened the other night on Channel 4 News: the presenter, with very solemn face, announced that Obama had said something. He warned us that we were about to hear an ‘offensive word’. Then we had a very short extract of some talk from Obama, who was making the point that it wasn’t a word like ‘nigger’ that did harm, it was the way some people treat some other people that was offensive.

        • Bandit 1 says:

          Reply to Margo: your comment instantly made me think of ‘The Knights Who Say Ni’, from Monty Python. And then I realised that ‘ni’ is the start of the word ‘nigger’ (I had never thought of it before, instead thinking of ‘ni’ as a self-contained nonsense word).

          That so many aspects of life currently resemble the absurdities satirised in Monty Python is depressing.

          But like nisakiman I am hopeful that the mania for bans will come to an end someday.

  3. John Watson says:

    “Morale, I think, is everything. An army without morale is bound to be defeated, even if it has the best weapons and the highest ground and the strongest walls.

    So I’m oriented towards smokers, not towards their enemies, or the mainstream media, or the politicians. They can come later. I think the first task is to rebuild the morale of smokers. How may this be done?”

    Morale is something like a skittish animal, a balance of fear and hope, the animal approaches hoping the creature before it will not harm yet withdraws when the creature moves toward it.
    To win morale there first has to be trust, to win trust you have to prove yourself, to prove yourself you need a victory, any victory no matter how small instils trust and increases moral, all the words, the brilliant oratories cannot build morale without a victory to base it on. Smokers as group need to win that first battle.

    CLASH in NYC have managed to win support within the judiciary and are currently fighting an appeal, they do so on a shoestring budget against the state with its battalion’s of lawyers and far greater finances. Win or lose Audrey at CLASH gives hope, builds morale, to know someone somewhere is actually doing something is a strong morale boost, win or loose she did something and win or lose I think Audrey would say “ok that didn’t work so well, lets tweak it and go again! ”

    Some will say “oh well that’s that! No point in trying again”, some may say “atta-girl go get ’em” but some will say “I’ll have some of that where do I sign?” The latter are the ones who have taken hope, gained morale from the attempt, the will to fight on when all others believe it is lost. They are the ones who put the fear of god into their enemies, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was one. He took defeat and turned it into victory (Rommel did so time after time until his removal from the Afrika Korps!) He was loved by his armies, held in awe by his enemies, he built morale by leading, by doing what was conventionally thought impossible. In truth he was a mere mortal, an ordinary family man who knew what he wanted to do then did it despite all opposition.

    So the answer Frank is trust, respect, loyalty, leadership, a determination to win, a victory and the hope of more to come. Rommel would never have achieved what he did without a strong team behind him, without knowing what he wanted to do, most importantly why he was doing it and the belief that he was right to do so, this is why the Afrika Korps fought for him, why their morale was unbroken even at the end.

    • Frank Davis says:

      To win morale there first has to be trust, to win trust you have to prove yourself, to prove yourself you need a victory

      So you’re saying that to boost morale you need a victory. But what I was saying was the exact opposite: to win victories, you need to boost morale.

      An army without morale is bound to be defeated

      So it’s a chicken-and-egg situation.

      But I would imagine that victories seldom fall into anyone’s lap. It’s probably easier to raise morale independently of any victory than it is to win victories in the absence of high morale.

      And I would imagine that Rommel knew all about morale. And as a successful junior officer in WW1, who remained in the German army between the wars, he was probably instrumental in re-building its morale prior to WW2, when it swept all before it (at the outset, at least). The German army in WW2 seems to have gone to war with high morale, without having fought any battles. One might say of the allies that they had to recover their morale during the course of the war.

      Perhaps the greatest exponent of building morale was Napoleon Bonaparte, another junior officer in the French army in 1790. His soldiers would follow him anywhere. The various coalition armies sent against him in the end refused to fight armies that he commanded, choosing instead to fight those commanded by lesser generals. There was a recent series of documentaries about him on BBC iplayer.

      • John Watson says:

        Need perhaps is too strong a word,, it sure does help to have one, if the man in charge has the confidence of the men under him as both Rommel and Napoleon had throughout their careers then anything is possible, if either of these men had of said to their men we’ve lost their men would have said fight on as General Lee’s army wanted to do at Appomattox Courthouse before his surrender to General Grant or Cardigan’s Light Brigade at Balaklava who actually wanted to go back into that valley despite the appalling losses to their brigade, in which case ‘need’ is in honesty the wrong word, the view that it is useful to have one is probably a more valid a statement, at the very least a commander must hold the confidence of the men under command.

  4. I see the whole problem as a MARKETING thing. Tobacco Control have huge amounts of money and friends – like Big Pharma – also with money. Billions are spent on funding anti smoking science and more billions are spent on the whole system of brainwashing the population , starting young, in schools. Every doctor in the UK gets paid for promoting anti tobacco ideology. Anti smoking MARKETS themselves. Smokers are single animals without money or organisation. (We can’t count Forest, as they are artificially constructed, with little passion, and less punch.)

    • John Watson says:

      I think that in part you are correct, Marketing is a big part of it all, by no means is it the whole problem. If smokers got together as a ‘Brand’ how would we market ourselves? What can we as a group bring to the table?

      These questions would be among the first to be asked by anyone wishing to back or invest time or money in smokers. If we are to gain support these questions and others that I’m sure others can think of are very relevant. something to think on I believe.

  5. junican says:

    A bit early for me to be commenting, but I can’t resist.
    Each of us has the means to counter the persecution, even if only a little and in our own individual way. For me, I simply do not buy tobacco in the UK for me and the wife. I have been to Prague to stock up, where 20 cigs cost about £2.50, but I didn’t much like Prague in Spring. It was cold and damp and a bit of a dump. I go almost always to Mallorca or Benidorm, where 20 cigs cost about £3.50. At least in Spain, I get a week of pleasant weather to enjoy the break! But I also grow my own plants and get leaf from the net. I did a little calculation recently. For a person who smokes only 10 cigs per day, one three day trip, off season, to, say, Benidorm, could be quite sufficient. 20 sleeves ( 20 x 200) would last a whole year. The cost of the trip might be, say, £300. The cost of the cigs, about £700. In the UK, those cigs would cost twice as much, say, £1400.A saving of £400, plus the pleasure of the three day break.
    But the main point is NOT BUYING IN THE UK. Irish people should be even more determined, since they are even more persecuted. I am constantly amazed that non-smokers do not bring home from holiday stacks of fags. They do not go off and can be sold on to friends and family at a small profit. But the profit is not the important thing. The important thing is undercutting the persecution.
    But even little acts of defiance help keep up your own moral. When I go to the pub, I make a point of taking a cig out of my packet, putting it in my mouth and walking to the door blatantly. Keep on keeping on.
    The whole public health edifice is full of contradictions. They said that ‘the hospitality industry’ has not suffered from the smoking ban, thus avoiding the damage to pubs as such. If that is true, then the slack must have been taken up by restaurants. That means that people are eating and eating, and thus getting fatter, So PH is now demanding calorie counts on menus etc! It is, in the end, self defeating.

  6. John Watson says:

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with what you are saying Junican, but what about those who are unable to travel abroad to undercut the legalised travesty that, is now beyond tobacco control but rapidly becoming public health control?

    it is true that some bring back extras to sell off, some may be even be non-smokers making a quick pound or two on the side (Bless them for their efforts) and while they may cost £millions in revenue and chasing them down is difficult, I think that the amount they confiscate is actually the tip of the iceberg (much like drug trafficking) so in some ways the white van men and holiday traffickers seem to be able to supply a limited demand. At what point do the scales tip and it becomes prohibitively expensive enough for the government or indeed the taxpayers to say this does not work?

    Little acts of defiance like yours are now virtually everyday occurrences, rolling cigarettes where you are unable to smoke them, leaving the bar with an unlit cigarette, smoking in bus shelters or railway platforms In small stops, not city stations, are almost normal sights and all of which help boost morale, especially, when very few anti-smokers attempt to intervene and it is rare anyone encounters the Smoking Gestapo outside of town or city centres. I am inclined to believe that the more it is seen the more normal it actually is, despite the anti’s claims to the contrary, since what people see every day is in fact normal to them.

  7. smokervoter says:

    By way of Carol’s new blog I recently read through an epic, marathon smoking argument (seven month old) involving the one man army of Harley vs some presumably regulation-loving Progressives at Media Matters. Harley is one brave and determined combatant there’s no denying that. He keeps his cool and humor in the face of some of the most vile and condescending libel and slander imaginable. I’d be challenging them to ten rounds in the boxing ring with my foul temper.

    There were several particularly obnoxious antismokers who relentlessly claimed he was a tobacco industry employee while citing CDC and Surgeon General SAMMECspeak agitprop ad nauseam. To my eventual horror one turned out to be a current smoker and another was an ex-smoker. Another identified himself as a conservative. So much for my perception of all antismokers as statist lefties.

    Exactly what a conservative was doing hanging around a Media Matters forum is beyond me, but it’s certainly a strange world out there in political cyberspace.

    Although it’s an inconceivable construct to my way of thinking, there is apparently a growing number of us afflicted with a bad case of Smoker’s Guilt. You know, the kind that don’t even smoke in their own houses

    I’ve always found Black Pride, White Pride and Gay Pride movements to be rather cornball and non-productive but maybe we could use a little dab of Smoker’s Pride ourselves.

    I’m partial to “I’m Glad I Smoke” tee-shirts myself. With Frank’s web address at the bottom.

    • waltc says:

      Just because they say they’re smokers or conservatives doesn’t mean it’s so. Otoh, some conservatives and even libertarians draw the line at smoking.

    • Nightlight says:

      The Carol’s blog requires twitter or FB or G+ account (where WordPress apps get your password, then scan/track your activity and spam your account on those services). If you’re signed on to post on Carol’s blog, could you please suggest to her to enable anonymous posting.

  8. John Watson says:

    Harley seems to be one for loading up for bear and comes home with at least a couple! I am all too familiar with the vile types in the anti-smoking fraternity, having spent almost a week on a Scottish newspaper forum arguing with a nurse who felt smokers kill their offspring via SIDS, as the father of a SIDS victim things got really heated and I was left wondering to what depths these creatures will descend to.

    • roobeedoo2 says:

      I’ve been thinking about the derogatory term ‘Flat-earther’. Everybody nose smoking kills, to believe otherwise makes you a flat-earther – I’ve been called that, to my face, yet my morale remains high…

      I’ve also been thinking about aikido for a while, about the ‘acceptance of the strike’

      Did you watch the videos? It reminds me of the saying ‘be careful what you wish for’, That’s good advice. I never wish, and that reminds me of how I killed state education’s attempt to turn my children against me and my husband, smokers who have no intentions toward quitting, and how I did that…

      Okay, giving your kid a dog in the fight that really shouldn’t be their concern in an ideal world is one thing, but how do you defeat an engrained dogma, like ‘Smoking Kills’?

      More vids to watch, if you’ve the time and inclination to entertain the thoughts of the questioning woman, who smokes throughout…

      I have no idea if the earth is round or flat; I am not a scientist, nor an astronaut; I have never been to space to see the orb we’ve been taught that we live on for myself. Perhaps another smoker, with a scientific bent, can explain to me exactly why these people are wrong to attack the biggest dogma of all, because defeating that would be like defeating the ultimate junk science…

  9. slugbop007 says:

    The World Bank is the number one leader in the antismoking crusade. Everybody else follows their lead:
    In 2003, 100 million people worked in tobacco production. The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia considers anyone a current smoker if he/she has smoked at least 100 cigarettes in a lifetime. That makes former NY Mayor Bloomberg a currrent smoker. Gary Giovino was just selected to become a member of the FDA Tobacco control board. He has a Fellow scholarship from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Sally Satel does too. Linkedin is the perfect place to discover the academic credentials of hundreds of movers and shakers in the antismoking lobby. Many of the Health Science university courses are funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. If the six million supposed annual tobacco related deaths worldwide is based solely on the CDCs calculating machine, it comes out to about 0.0008 percent of the global population. Hardly an epidemic. The Plague was an epidemic. Boycott Johnson & Johnson baby powder!

  10. Pingback: Know Anybody in Lynchburg, Virginia? | Frank Davis

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