Uncanny Silence

I never used to be this way. But these days I judge people by how antismoking they are. Nothing else matters. That’s all I want to know about anyone.

If I find out that someone is an antismoker, their fall from grace can be very precipitate. I had a pretty high opinion of the philosopher Karl Popper – author of The Open Society and its Enemies – until I found out last week that he was a virulent antismoker, at which point all that stuff about ‘open’ societies started to look horribly empty.

I’ve been listening to Rush Limbaugh. Guess what boosted my opinion of him? That’s right: he smokes cigars.

When I got interested in Donald Trump back in July, the first thing I wanted to find out about him was whether he was an antismoker. I found out that he doesn’t smoke or drink (not even coffee). But I also found out that he fought against smoking bans imposed on one of his casinos. So the jury is still out. But right now he looks like a tolerant non-smoker rather than an antismoker. But I’m still not sure.

I judge political parties by whether they’re antismoking. In Britain that means I’ll never vote Labour, because it was Labour that brought in the 2007 UK smoking ban. 90% of their Westminster MPs voted for it, including current leader Jeremy Corbyn. And 95% of Lib Dem MPs voted for it too, so Lib Dems are even worse than Labour. To think I used to vote for them! By contrast only about 35% of Conservative MPs voted for the smoking ban. Which was cause for hope that when they got into power in 2010, they’d act to relax the ban. They didn’t. They’ve even added plain packaging.

The only party that’s left is Nigel Farage’s UKIP. And Nigel Farage is a strong campaigner against smoking bans. He came to speak at Stony Stratford a few years back. And that wasn’t the first or last time he went there.

I get the impression that it’s much the same in the USA. The American left seems to be pretty thoroughly antismoking. But while the American right doesn’t seem to be quite so antismoking, it never does anything about it – just like UK Conservatives.

It’s not just political parties, but also political institutions. So when the EU parliament voted for an EU smoking ban a few years back, my belief in the EU collapsed. I’d been quite pro-Europe up until then. No longer.

It puzzles me that smoking bans aren’t as hot political issues as immigration, the EU, or the Islamic State. But nobody ever talks about them. Even Nigel Farage only mentions them occasionally, although I know he hates them. A quarter or a fifth of the population is “exiled to the outdoors”, and nobody mentions it! Isn’t that just crazy?

Have they all drunk the kool-aid? Maybe they have. I was listening to Rush Limbaugh talking recently about some hotel he’d stayed in where there was only one bedroom in which he could smoke cigars. Did he use it as an opportunity to attack illiberal freedom-destroying smoking bans? No, he didn’t. There wasn’t even a hint of protest.

But on the other hand, the self-congratulation that you used to hear after the UK smoking ban was introduced seems to be muted. I recently read an article by Tony Blair outlining the achievements of New Labour. And the smoking ban didn’t get mentioned.

It’s an uncanny silence.

But then perhaps that’s because smokers themselves seldom make a big issue of smoking bans. They mostly just endure them resignedly and stoically. They don’t like them. But they never protest about them. And when I get talking to smokers in pub gardens, they never mention the smoking ban, even though that’s the reason they’re sitting outside talking to me. Back when the smoking ban came in, when I was living in Devon, my smoking acquaintances would get quite angry when I suggested that they might protest against it. Maybe just write to their MP. It was ‘pointless’, they would angrily tell me. Nothing could be done.

But at least I know that they all detest smoking bans. They might not protest about it, but they still hate what’s been done to them all the same. Who wouldn’t? And perhaps that’s part of the growing disillusionment with the EU and the European and American political class. A quarter or more of the population has been “exiled to the outdoors”, and although they voice no protest, they’ve become disillusioned. And with every new exclusion (parks, beaches) and every new insult written on a cigarette pack, that disillusionment only gets deeper. And what isn’t being expressed in words will find its expression in some other way.

It’s why I think that one day there’ll be an explosion. It’ll start somewhere in the world. I don’t know where. And it’ll propagate rapidly all around the world, in all the places where vindictive and spiteful smoking bans have been introduced – which is pretty much everywhere. It’ll be a global explosion of pent-up anger.


About Frank Davis

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25 Responses to Uncanny Silence

  1. emilycat88 says:

    I know exactly what you mean. If I hear someone make an anti-smoking remark, whether celebrity or just person on the street, I really dislike them. But conversely, if I hear someone standing up for smoking, I will love them forever. I am also mystified by the uncanny silence. It must have something to do with the idea of health, that smoking kills not only yourself but other people (even though not necessarily true in either case). Health is the new religion, and is not to be questioned.

    • Barry Homan says:

      You’re getting close to the essence of what this is all about. And I would say very few of us know exactly how to put it into words. People simply have to cultivate some kind of fear, and lacking a real fear, they will…simply have to cultivate a baseless fear. You pass a bar full of patrons drinking, smoking, talking on your way to a shop – where’s the threat? What’s to be afraid of? Did you ever worry about it 25 years ago? I’d worry more about crossing the street.

      Throughout history there have been real threats, real calamities. Smallpox. Invasion. War. Economic collapse. Nuclear proliferation. Aids. Crime waves. The Red Menace.

      Today, someone sees a smoker in the distance and it ruins their day. WHAT?

      So what is it with people today? They don’t have their fears properly prioritized. A bunch of people get massacred in Paris, and students on the same day in the US worry about seeing a sombrero. They don’t have better things to worry about. But there’s something more to it, something underlying it all that is hard to spot, identify, and say there! We’ve nailed it. We all know that “something” is there, but what is it. Gimmie words. Politicians never meet real challenges, they sell out and pander to less worrisome matters, their electorate is as spineless as they are. Even the top people in government just roll over and find the path of least resistance. Some people now see something different in a guy like Trump, something that reminds them a little of how things “used to be”. I’m on the fence with him, watched a vid of him yesterday – it felt like I was watching a George Carlin routine.

      Is it all gonna get better? Your guess is as good as mine. Time to watch another vid.

  2. petesquiz says:

    The big problem is that almost everyone ‘believes’ that smoking causes lung cancer. Until I started reading this blog, I was one of those people, but even now that i don’t necessarily believe it any more it is very hard to argue against something that has become an ‘accepted fact’ by a vast majority of people.

    Passive smoking on the other hand, is easily refuted even though it has gained far too much traction amongst a large part of society. The death of Roy Castle played a large part in this perception, but since he died 21 years ago I’m still waiting for the pile of corpses of those who’ve died from second hand smoke to build up – should be at least 60,000 people high in the UK by now, if the people had been telling the truth when the smoking ban came in.

    I’m a non-smoker, but I was against the ban when it came in and I’m still against it now. It should have been a matter of choice whether any establishment allows smoking on its premises.

    Unfortunately, i don’t see it changing any time soon. I think you’re right that there is an underlying resentment that one day might explode…but what will be the catalyst? We can only hope that the antis get cocky and get caught out in a lie too far that will bring the whole house of cards down. It may not be on smoking, it may come from the Climate Change mob or the Food Fascists, but they will make a big blunder one day. But even then, with corrupted Science and an incompetent mainstream Media, it will still be difficult. In the meantime, keep on chipping away, the breakthrough WILL come!

  3. Harleyrider1978 says:

    Healthism isn’t just a religion its a tool of socialist progressive propaganda and its dying faster than anyone can imagine.

  4. jaxthefirst says:

    Like you, Frank, I too judge people almost entirely by their attitude towards smoking these days. It isn’t just that (if they are in a position of authority) they have the ability to affect me very directly and very personally either positively or negatively (although, of course that plays its part), but also because I’ve discovered over the years that a person’s attitude towards smoking is a very accurate indicator of pretty much their whole attitude towards life and their behaviour towards other people. Regardless of how they might try to present themselves as tolerant or caring or reasonable or fair-minded in any other respect, you can bet your bottom dollar that anyone who will voluntarily make a specific exception to their tolerant, caring, reasonability or fair-mindedness in the case of smokers would, at the drop of a hat, make a similar exception towards any other group who they either developed a personal dislike towards, or who became “unfashionable” amongst the chattering classes. And vice-versa – those who recognise how unfair the current situation is regarding smokers and smoking are unlikely to compromise their stated principles of tolerance, fairness etc etc in other respects, either.

    The first thing I do whenever I’m researching anyone or anything else in any respect at all, is check their attitude (if I can do so) towards smoking and smokers and, once ascertained, that knowledge then informs my whole attitude towards them. To my mind any individual, or organisation, who has allowed themselves to swallow, wholesale, the whole increasingly-ludicrous anti-smoking hype is either (a) stupid, (b) mentally too lazy to stop and think before they form their opinions, (c) dishonest, and/or (d) plain nasty. None of which qualities make me particularly inclined to have anything to do with such people, on either a personal or a distant level, not even to the extent of paying a blind bit of notice of a single thing they say. A person’s attitude towards smoking has become a real acid test these days and it’s surprisingly accurate, too. Anti-smokers are, quite simply, best avoided if at all possible – by smokers and non-smokers alike.

    • Lepercolonist says:

      Very well stated, Jax. We need a smoking Lech Walesa to appear.

    • Roobeedoo2 says:

      That’s it… We ‘might’ (And I say ‘might’) smell of smoke (Tobacco can be pungent – beautifully so IMHO), butt I’d rather that than reek of bullshit every time I open my gob… *wrinkles nose* EU-pew *waves* Good for nuffin Gobshites, leaching off State handouts.

    • Barry Homan says:

      As I’ve stated before: anti-smokers tend to be the kind of people who don’t get invited to the party.

    • The Blocked Dwarf says:

      My Youngest sells tobacco leaf shredders to the gentry on ebay. I deal with a lot of the day2day of it for him. It is in the nature of the business that most, if not all, his customers are smokers. While there are always one or two customers who shouldn’t be allowed online without adult supervision, if at all, by and large selling to smokers is a lot less stressful than when I used to sell Apple stuff. You simply meet a better class of person. Nicotine stained fingers type nicer.

      For example, smokers tend to understand that because they choose to live in a war zone, 2 major oceans away from me that maybe, just perhaps, their parcel won’t get to them within 24 hours of purchase. Nor will they be surprised that when it does finally appear it will glow in the dark having been xrayed by every armed militia and government on it’s travels.

      Try explaining to an Apple user, NON smoker, that you don’t have a micrometer to hand and have neither the skill nor inclination to let him know exactly how many millimeters deep the scratch on the base of that Mac Powerbook is ( I kid you not btw, that really happened…more than once).

  5. Joe L. says:

    O/T: Here’s an interesting article speculating that antibiotic use may lead to obesity. Out the window with lifestyle and diet — Big Pharma themselves may be to blame for the current “epidemic:”

    Does Exposure to Antibiotics Cause Weight Gain? It Seems To.

    • Frank Davis says:

      That’s very thought-provoking: the human gut is an ecosystem, and if an antibiotic knocks out one sub-population, it has knock-on effects on other gut sub-populations, just like digging up the roses in a garden creates a space into which fast-growing nettles and brambles can multiply.

      A fecal transplant would be a bit like digging up the whole garden, and bringing in an entire set of garden plants from another garden. But the human body is also part of the ecosystem. So when you get a fecal transplant from an obese person, you become obese. Why should that happen? Perhaps because gut bacteria assist in food digestion, and your gut bacteria are either more or less effective at breaking down food into digestible components. Perhaps obese people have bacterial populations which are highly efficient at extracting the maximum energy from any foodstuff? And the ginger biscuit that provides me with 10 calories provides them with 20?

      • nisakiman says:

        Yes, I found that very interesting too – and not a little worrying, looking at the bar chart of the quantities of antibiotics fed to animals in the various different countries. Unfortunately Greece wasn’t listed, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they were up there with the worst offenders.

    • Tony says:

      Quite a thought provoking article. One thing that struck me was the variation in antibiotic use by country. I thought it had to be ‘chartmanship’ at first but it isn’t, in that the scale really does start at zero on the left end. The astonishing range is from about 5mg/kg in Norway, through 60 in Britain, 175 in the USA, all the way to 425 in Cyprus.

      Trouble is that I don’t think Cypriots are fatter than Brits, Yanks or Norwegians though.

  6. waltc says:

    Scapegoat: Put all your pent up fears ( of death, illness, loss, sin), all your pent up hatred, envy, frustration, insecurity, pick a random goat from a random flock, project all that and more on its head and banish it to the wilderness, hoping that then you’ll also have banished your entire glossary of fears and the things that inspire your own dark emotions.

    (Witches, communists, capitalists, Republicans, Catholics. foreigners, blacks, gays, Jews….and when you run out of those.. people who smoke cigarettes or deny global warming or are under (or over) five foot eight.)

    As for the lack of reaction to the increasingly irrational bans (on anything, including free speech), most people just tend to Go Along with The Way Things Are. They surrender and resign themselves to any status quo.

  7. smokervoter says:

    Yesterday’s post about life expectancy and the nanny state rang an old bell for me. My frozen website (maybe it needs a little of that good ole global warming) featured an introduction that outlined what the reader might expect from poring over smokervoter.com.

    Eventually it occurred to me to put a skip-the-intro and “cut to the chase” button which directed the subscriber to the fresh new articles contained therein, thus giving them the ability to bypass it.

    Anyhoo, here’s the closing two paragraphs to my old super-duper introduction section:

    “Our overall goal of welding together a powerful voting bloc of smokers to defeat the nannies is becoming more viable by the day as we envision adding the so-called ‘overweight’ into an even grander alliance. As a matter of fact, this tantalizing prospect may be gelling as we speak. Things are looking up, we’ve been a potential sleeping giant all along with 20% of the vote at stake, and with the inclusion of a reported 60% of the people, the end of Nanny State politics may be in sight. When they start treating soda pop and fast food like they’ve been treating tobacco, all hell is going to break loose.”

    So if you’re content with our ever upward-trending life expectancy numbers and would rather not get caught up with the health hysterics of modern America, here’s a hearty welcome from smokervoter.com. Show us your high-fives as you peruse our invigorating articles by sharing us with any of these buzz sites. Email our page to your friends. Let’s get the ball rolling here. We’ve got a Nanny State to dismantle.”

    Pretty heady stuff, eh?! I think I composed that around 2001. The bad news is that the health hysterics are not only still in full force but seem to be gaining steam as we speak.

    Healthism is truly a nasty, formidable beast.

  8. mikef317 says:

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/christophermassie/watch-donald-trumps-2006-anti-smoking-psa (Had trouble linking to this; hope it works.)

    Did Trump fight for smokers in Atlantic City casinos?

    http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2008/04/trump_atlantic_city_casinos_sh.html (The Associated Press link no longer works, and I can’t vouch for the NJ website.)

    From his Manhattan office, Trump (owner of three AC casinos) gave an interview to the Associated Press where he stated that a smoking ban would be bad for business. Quote: “I’m not a smoker, and I don’t personally like what smoking does to people, but this puts us at a huge disadvantage.”

    Unlike Michael Bloomberg who spent millions of his own money battling tobacco, Trump talked to a reporter. He wanted other people finance the fight against the ban.

    Trump is famous for suing people and governments, but he didn’t personally take action against the ban. The billionaire didn’t even contribute small change to help people who were engaged in the fight.

  9. smokingscot says:

    Came across a glaring example of what the smoking ban has done to businesses. The Avalon’s gone (it’s owner had a brilliant Vincent – and smoked).


  10. Roobeedoo2 says:

  11. Frank Davis says:

    Another list of Labour achievements…

    It is not enough to repeat the real achievements of Labour in office. Tax credits. National Minimum Wage. Peace in Northern Ireland. Freedom of Information. House of Lords reform. Scottish Parliament. Welsh Assembly. Northern Ireland Assembly. Mayor of London. Write-off of debt for Highly Indebted Countries. 0.7 per cent of GDP dedicated to overseas aid. Repealing Section 28. Civil Partnerships. Ending pensioner poverty. Halving child poverty. NHS spend up to EU average. Though that partial list is not bad at all.

    …that doesn’t mention the smoking ban.

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