I Once Sat Down

H/T Harley for this letter from Scotland:

I NOTE with interest the letter (January 20) from Ash Scotland chief executive Sheila Duffy in response to my own (January 19). The anti-smoking lobby have long denied those who smoke the ability to socialise and implied that we must be some form of lower being. After all why would someone continue to smoke when shown the pictures on packets of cigarettes? We must be stupid … except that several of these pictures have nothing to do with smoking having happened by other means to people who happened to smoke.

Anti-smoking is a business, with large amounts of money to be made from encouraging the idea that stopping smoking is difficult. We smokers are to be looked at with a mixture of compassionate anger and hypocrisy over how weak-willed we are.

I once sat down on a public bench in Glasgow to rest and have a cigarette. This is something which happens to me quite often, given that I need 16 pills a day just to be able to walk around. Someone else wanted to sit on the bench – an anti-smoker who berated me and told me in no uncertain terms that I should move so they could sit there. These are the kind of people the anti-smoking lobby breed. Anti-smoking has given carte blanche for any person to tell another that they are a second-class human being and should go away.

And this has been backed up by our politicians who have turned it into law.

Last year the results of an extensive study into the so-called results of second-hand smoke was published in the United States. This found that there is no link whatsoever between second-hand smoke and the likelihood of cancer. The scientists who were engaged in this research were berated by the anti-smoking lobby and urged to recant on their research or they would make sure that their universities fired them.

Perhaps Ms Duffy would like to go along to the Scottish Parliament and view the work of my old friend and mentor John Bellany, who when I knew him in Winchester and London would often say that we needed to stand back and have a cigarette and view the canvas to figure out whether it could be improved, or not.

Alex Flett

This is the sort of story that makes my blood boil. Someone sits down on a public bench to smoke a cigarette, and gets berated by an antismoking busybody.

alex_flettThe names Alex Flett and John Bellany rang no bells, but it looked like they might both be artists, so I did a bit of hunting online to find out more about them. And pretty soon I’d turned up a few pictures (e.g. right) by Alex Flett, and even the artist’s website and biography.

In this manner, a name in a newspaper was brought to life in a way only the internet can do.

I found out even more about the other artist, John Bellany, who died aged 71 two or three years ago. Here’s (left) his portrait of his father,john_bellany_my_father and his Guardian obituary, and even his very sculptural gravestone.

So here are two Scottish artists, both of them smokers, and both with their own Wikipedia entries. And no longer just names in a newspaper, but flesh-and-blood people with histories and quotations and paintings.

I bet both of them did much more for the world than Sheila Duffy or that public bench bully ever did.

Of course in the comments there were the usual antismokers (who only ever seem to exist as commenters), one of whom wrote:

The smoking ban will in time be recognised as one of the major successful public health strategies, up there with supplies of clean drinking water and the inoculation of our kids against the communicable diseases that ravaged our ancestors.

If nothing else, there’s a recognition here that the Scottish smoking ban has yet to be recognised to be a public health “success”, despite these bans always being declared to be great successes within minutes of their imposition.

I think that smoking bans will one day indeed find recognition, but not as public health successes, but instead as among the most highly socially divisive pieces of legislation ever enacted, as Alex Flett’s letter testifies.

In other news, 112-year-old woman smokes 30 cigarettes a day.

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40 Responses to I Once Sat Down

  1. rattyariel says:

    Will they stop at nothing?
    (sorry – don’t know how to make a direct link)

  2. rattyariel says:

    Oh! The direct link was made! :)

  3. harleyrider1978 says:

    I busted the commentor Nazis chops if its still up.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Well Frank it appears the comment was removed and mine left up…………amazing ehh!
      The smoking ban will in time be recognised as one of the major successful public health strategies, up there with supplies of clean drinking water and the inoculation of our kids against the communicable diseases that ravaged our ancestors.
      We have had 600 years of smoking and the occassional smoking bans that came along and all were eventually REPEALED. Todays will be no different.

      Heres a time line starting in 1900,dont be surprised to see the same thing playing out today nearly 100 years later.

      1901: REGULATION: Strong anti-cigarette activity in 43 of the 45 states. “Only Wyoming and Louisiana had paid no attention to the cigarette controversy, while the other forty-three states either already had anti-cigarette laws on the books or were considering new or tougher anti-cigarette laws, or were the scenes of heavy anti- cigarette activity” (Dillow, 1981:10).

      1904: New York: A judge sends a woman is sent to jail for 30 days for smoking in front of her children.

      1904: New York City. A woman is arrested for smoking a cigarette in an automobile. “You can’t do that on Fifth Avenue,” the arresting officer says.

      1907: Business owners are refusing to hire smokers. On August 8, the New York Times writes: “Business … is doing what all the anti-cigarette specialists could not do.”

      1917: SMOKEFREE: Tobacco control laws have fallen, including smoking bans in numerous cities, and the states of Arkansas, Iowa, Idaho and Tennessee.

      1937: hitler institutes laws against smoking.This one you can google.

      • Smoking Lamp says:

        Harley, The past does indeed suggest that smoking bans will be repealed. The relentless march toward bans seems to be going at full speed. Every day in the news it seems another ban is enacted at a college campus, in public parks, and now apartments. The comments sections draw the smoking stats and vile antismoker comments that defy any definition of courtesy and civil discourse. In this environment it is amazing your comments remained while the antismokers were removed–that’s a change from typical practice (especially considering the mass censorship in New Orleans a while back).
        The question is when will the tide turn and what can we go to speed the process?

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          The fact my comments stood and the Nazis were gone suggests the tide has turned. Remember they have to win everyday,we only have to win once and its all over.

      • kin_free says:

        A friend of mine went over to USA on business recently (not sure exactly where). After a business meeting he told me that he went outside onto the street and lit a cigarette. He was almost immediately approached by a police officer, who said (I kid you not), “You can’t do that here sir”. My friend, somewhat dumbfounded, replied “Sorry, I didn’t know, but I’m not hurting anyone, just having a short break and a smoke” (or words to that effect). The police officer, louder this time, repeated “you aren’t allowed to do that here sir’ and for emphasis placed his hand on his sidearm, finger on trigger, in its holster. My friend put out his cigarette!

        As he related this to me, it jogged my memory of this post of yours Harley. History repeats itself!

  4. waltc says:

    Frank, if the guy has a blog, I hope you get in touch with him through it and invite him to join our cyber party. Can always use another talented articulate guest

    • smokingscot says:

      No blog, but he’s on twitter:


      Anyone who has an account with twitter can do a link to this post (though from his comments it may be that he’s fairly knowledgeable about the essence of this subject – vis “Anti-smoking is a business, with large amounts of money to be made from encouraging the idea that stopping smoking is difficult.”).

    • Frank Davis says:

      After I’d posted the above, I remembered that he had a response/contact form on his website, so I dropped a note in there telling him about my blog post. But given that those sort of forms hardly ever get used, he probably only looks at it once a month. So I’m not expecting a reply any time soon.

      • Cecily Collingridge says:

        I really appreciated being introduced to artists I wasn’t familiar with. Thank you.
        I miss the arts scene. Smoking used to be allowed in theatre bars, art centre bars, studios and at private views to launch new exhibitions in galleries. The loss of these venues and the cross fertilisation of ideas were where smoking bans most affected me.

        I’ve never been much of a pub goer ever since I and another girl toured Scotland in 1973 when we’d just left school. Not a single rural pub near every campsite we stopped at for the night would serve us, and it was made very clear they were male-only preserves. I’ve never returned to Scotland.

        Ironically, in my younger days, I didn’t like the smell of beer (or hops) which used to be very strong in those days before the rise in popularity of wine and other drinks. But I wouldn’t dream of insulting beer drinkers or shunning their company or calling for a ban on beer.

  5. Timothy Goodacre says:

    I’d love to encounter one of these anti smoking twats whilst having a cig !

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      I have and 2 times were fist fights and the last the cops called who threatened to arrest the Nazis over starting a scene. Then the VA cops gave me shit once and I lit up anyway and blew smoke in his face and I said what are you going to do about it. He backed off and I left running into Vanderbilt docs and nurses at the supposed new smoking area at the VA. Trust me I don’t go down there unless absolutely a life or death time. The VA since Obama and Clinton got done with it might as well be a morgue for all the use you get out of them.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Then these damn pain pills I got down to 24 hours off literally 48 hours as Id only had less then 5 mg in all that time. But damn my back gets such deep pain from sciatica I cant even exist. Lastnite I thought I had it licked when by 11pm it hit me with such ferocity I had to take a half just to sleep. Then I was up at 330 now and back in pain again.

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          I tried all that to clicky

        • prog says:

          You may know this – try hanging from a door jamb or beam (obviously by your arms not your neck). Basically, takes the weight/pressure off your legs and stretches the body at the same time, thus easing off compression on the nerve.

          I slipped a disc at 21 chasing sheep (yes, I was farming then…). Bloody painful. The doc said I had a choice – put up with it or wear corsets. I put up with it.

        • Rose says:

          In times of need, which are mercifully rare, I visit the local osteopath. My husband didn’t and hung about for months complaining about the pain before he finally booked an appointment, over the months he’d compounded the original damage and had to have three treatments before he was fixed rather than my one.

        • slugbop007 says:

          There was a book out in the 70s written by a Dr. Jampol. The title was something like ‘exercise for the weekend athlete’. He prescribed different exercises for the back, legs and arms. Try and find this book. Maybe at the library.

  6. Peter says:

    Good morning, Mr Davis. This is off-topic but I’m curious and, knowing that many smokers read your blog, may I pose a question here and see what feedback we get?

    My mother smoked from her mid-twenties until her death a few years back at 79 (in her case smoking truly killed her – she fell asleep with one alight – but otherwise seemed good for another five years or so).

    She was always reluctant to switch from Silk Cut extra low – white packets, back then – because other brands made her cough. I took the opposite view, that what you cough up from your lungs is excrement so better out than in.

    I have traveled widely since my late twenties so am frequently changing brands as I moved between countries and duty-free special offers. Yes, a change of brand makes me cough more than usually for a day or two but I think the cough is worth it for the brown muck I hawk up. Today I’m carrying both Marlboro Lights (70p a pack here in the Philippines) and duty-free Amber Leaf, a compromise between the convenience of ready-to-smoke and my preference for organic cancer.

    Any thoughts or comments? Maybe it’s not having a good cough once in while which brings on asthma – there were few children with asthma in my school days, when coal fires were still in most homes, now it seems like a significant percentage of children have breathing disorders.

    Kind regards, Peter

    PS This is being written in an air-con bar in the Philippines. I have an ashtray at my table, there are cheap cigarettes on sale (Marlboro and Winston, both full and low tar versions) in case customers run out, and Rod Stewart is playing on the sound system (his early stuff, not the wet ballady stuff).

    • Frank Davis says:

      Your question? Might it be whether smoky households bred sturdier children? I don’t remember coughing that much in the days of smokers and coal fires. In fact, I don’t remember coughing at all. Where I personally suspect the difference lies is in the fact that coal-heated homes had high ventilation rates (10-15 airchanges/hr) with all that smoke going up the chimney, and sucking in lots of fresh air through the non-double-glazed windows. Modern houses have much lower airchange rates (maybe 1 – 2 airchanges/hr), so they’re comparatively ill-ventilated, and I suspect that this results in a high build-up of airborne dust (much of which is human skin particles) which is the cause of allergic responses (I believe allergic responses are triggered by proteins). The low ventilation rates are also why people have become more sensitive to tobacco smoke, which remains in the air for much longer.

      Conclusion: The old coal fired, cigarette-smoking households were much healthier than modern centrally-heated, double-glazed, smoke-free houses.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Its called to much sterilization in the home. The kids are raised where they cant develop proper immune responses to natural stimuli. Hense smoking in the home always kept kids healthier and immune responses up.

        The inconvenient truth is that the only studies of children of smokers suggest it is PROTECTIVE in contracting atopy in the first place. The New Zealand study says by a staggering factor of 82%.

        “Participants with atopic parents were also less likely to have positive SPTs between ages 13 and 32 years if they smoked themselves (OR=0.18), and this reduction in risk remained significant after adjusting for confounders.

        The authors write: “We found that children who were exposed to parental smoking and those who took up cigarette smoking themselves had a lower incidence of atopy to a range of common inhaled allergens.
        “These associations were found only in those with a parental history of asthma or hay fever.”

        They conclude: Our findings suggest that preventing allergic sensitization is not one of them.”
        The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
        Volume 121, Issue 1 , Pages 38-42.e3, January 2008

        This is a Swedish study.

        “Children of mothers who smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day tended to have lower odds for suffering from allergic rhino-conjunctivitis, allergic asthma, atopic eczema and food allergy, compared to children of mothers who had never smoked (ORs 0.6-0.7)

        CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates an association between current exposure to tobacco smoke and a low risk for atopic disorders in smokers themselves and a similar tendency in their children.”
        Clin Exp Allergy 2001 Jun;31(6):908-14


        In 2008 this paper was produced in America and concludes that nictotine and hence active smoking and passive smoking leads to less asthma. It also gives the aetiology (causation) why nicotine and the biologial process that reduces asthma in recipients.

        The results unequivocally show that, even after multiple allergen sensitizations, nicotine dramatically suppresses inflammatory/allergic parameters in the lung including the following: eosinophilic/lymphocytic emigration; mRNA and/or protein expression of the Th2 cytokines/chemokines IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, IL-25, and eotaxin; leukotriene C4; and total as well as allergen-specific IgE. unequivocally show that, even after multiple allergen sensitizations, nicotine dramatically suppresses inflammatory/allergic parameters in the lung including the following: eosinophilic/lymphocytic emigration; mRNA and/or protein expression of the Th2 cytokines/chemokines IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, IL-25, and eotaxin; leukotriene C4; and total as well as allergen-specific IgE. ”

      • The Blocked Dwarf says:

        The old coal fired, cigarette-smoking households were much healthier than modern centrally-heated, double-glazed, smoke-free houses.

        Aged Mother Dwarf spends most of every winter on anti-bios and ‘roids with a cough that sounds terminal. Some kinda infection in her broncs. Her doctor told her , of course, that it is from living in a passive smoke fugg as a child, she’s a life long anti-smoker but her dad was a 60 a day man.

        She is convinced her dad poisoned her with his smoking. Then I point out that she sits in a damp but hermetically sealed with double glazing Norfolk hovel infront of a slow coal fire all winter…

    • Cecily Collingridge says:

      Peter, your mother may just have been very brand loyal, not inclined to experiment and came up with a plausible excuse that others easily accepted. There may or may not have been much truth behind the claim other brands made her cough. However, as people age, our bodily secretions diminish and that can include the production of saliva, for example – the mouth and throat can get dry. Perhaps more prone to irritation. Dehydration and the side effects of some medicines can obviously add to this. But make a distinction: coughing may just be indicative of a need to produce more lubricant perhaps, rather than a need to clear congestion further down in the lungs.

      As for yourself, do not automatically assume it is a change of brand that accounts for your own coughing for the first day or two in a new place. Just imagine what your body has gone through to get there. Hours on a aeroplane with polluted, recycled air; possible dehydration yourself; change of pressurisation on descent; on landing you are assailed by aviation fuel, dust/sand, a change in temperature, humidity and Ph. Airports are usually in/near cities and the pollution from traffic and building sites just getting to your hotel can be very high. A change in altitude may also have an effect plus exposure to new germs and bugs.

      Coughing up brown muck sounds like your body efficiently expelling plain old dirt absorbed on your travels. If you see yellow or green sputum though and you feel unwell, it may be a sign of infection and should be checked out, particularly in a tropical country.

      Enjoy chilling out in the Philippines.

      • Rose says:

        Hours on a aeroplane with polluted, recycled air

        Good point, Cecily.

        But it took years after the smoking bans in planes for the real culprit to be recognised.

        Boeing suit settlement stirs jetliner air safety debate

        “SEATTLE — A former flight attendant is believed to be the first person in the U.S. to settle a lawsuit against the Boeing Co. over what she claims is faulty aircraft design that allowed toxic fumes to reach the cabin, triggering tremors, memory loss and severe headaches.”

        “As the case developed, Boeing turned over 250,000 pages of documents dating to 1954 and 1955 that showed the company was aware of cabin air contamination and had sought detection and filtration systems to combat the problem.

        Others documented concern among executives that there could be health hazards related to exposure to toxic fumes when oil leaks into bleed-air systems.

        “It’s bizarre that we’re talking about the 1950s, but that’s where our air data comes from with respect to the MD-80,” Brodkowitz said.

        “To this day, the only thing filtering this toxic soup out of the cabin are the lungs of the passengers and crew.”

        But long before that anti tobacco had blamed these illnesses on us. which got them $350 and a $46 million fee and $3 million for costs for the attorneys

        Two years later they were complaining that it hadn’t been enough.

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          How odd is this …. Air Filtration copes easily with Aircraft pollution at Airports but in the opinion of Tobacco Control and the political legislators cannot cope with burning tobacco leaves ??

          Click to access Airports_segment_brochure_EN-GB%5B1%5D.pdf

          The Government is aware of the truth “Hallam explained: “The main strength of this technology is its ability to destroy a wide range of contaminants very quickly. It achieves a single-pass kill rate of 99.999 per cent of biohazards and removes particles down to below 0.1 micron, equivalent to a single particle of cigarette smoke.” http://pwp.cakesolutions.net/…/fashion/item/105060.html

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          It would appear TC is kaput when it comes to technology………..

  7. harleyrider1978 says:

    Incidence of Psychiatric Disorders Has Increased in a Shrinking Population of Smokers

    Screening for psychiatric and substance problems may be warranted for younger smokers

    January 26, 2016

    Posted in: Mental Health, Public Health / Public Health

    New York NY, January 26, 2016 – Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) have found that while cigarette smoking rates have declined among younger people in the United States, those who do smoke are more likely to have a psychiatric or substance use disorder compared with those who began smoking in earlier decades.

    The findings were published today in Molecular Psychiatry.

    The study revealed that as overall rates of smoking have decreased, the proportion of smokers who are nicotine-dependent increased. The study also found that the likelihood of having a substance use disorder increased among all smokers with each decade, regardless of their dependence on nicotine. Nicotine-dependent smokers who began lighting up in the 1980s were also more likely than older smokers to have a psychiatric condition such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, or antisocial personality disorder.

    “Our study confirms that recent smokers, though a relatively smaller group than those who started smoking decades ago, are more vulnerable to psychiatric and substance use disorders,” said lead author Ardesheer Talati, PhD, assistant professor of clinical neurobiology (in Psychiatry) at CUMC and NYSPI and a co-author of the study. “These findings suggest that today’s adolescent and young adult smokers may benefit from mental health screening so that any related psychiatric or substance use problems can be identified and addressed early.”

    Smoking rates steadily increased during the first half of the 20th century. Beginning in the 1960s, growing recognition of the health risks associated with smoking led to a gradual decline in smoking rates, from nearly half of the US population in the 1950s to fewer than 20 percent today.

    Researchers CUMC and NYSPI speculated that as smoking became increasingly stigmatized, the relative few who began smoking in later decades may be more susceptible to psychiatric and substance use disorders.

    “The association between smoking and psychiatric and substance use problems has been well documented,” says Deborah Hasin, PhD, professor of epidemiology (in Psychiatry) at CUMC, director of the Substance Abuse Research Group at NYSPI, and a co-author of the study. “The current question is whether people who began smoking when it was less socially acceptable to do so were also somehow more likely to have mental health and substance use problems.”

    The researchers investigated this hypothesis among 25,000 people who participated in the National Epidemiological Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), a large epidemiological survey funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The participants were divided into five birth groups: those who were born in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s.

    “These findings also have implications for ongoing nationwide efforts to support smoking cessation efforts,” notes Katherine Keyes, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, and a co-author of the study. “Given that mental health problems are also predictive of unsuccessful efforts to reduce or quit smoking, the study suggests that smoking cessation methods that treat both nicotine withdrawal and underlying mental health conditions are crucial.”

    The authors noted that additional studies are needed to determine if there is a causal relationship between biological or genetic factors and mental health or substance use problems in smokers.

    The article is titled, “Changing relationships between smoking and psychiatric comorbidity across 20th century birth cohorts: Clinical and Research Implications.” It is online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/mp.2015.224.

    The investigators are supported by grants from the NIDA (K01DA029598),the NIAAA (K01AA021511, K05AA014223), and Young Investigator NARSAD grants from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.

    The authors report no financial or other conflicts of interest.

    New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University Department of Psychiatry (NYSPI/Columbia Psychiatry)

    New York State Psychiatric Institute (founded in 1896) and the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry have been closely affiliated since 1925. Their co-location in a New York State facility on the NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center campus provides the setting for a rich and productive collaborative relationship among scientists and physicians in a variety of disciplines. Columbia Psychiatry/NYSPI are ranked among the best departments and psychiatric research facilities in the nation and have contributed greatly to the understanding of and current treatment for psychiatric disorders. The Department and Institute are home to distinguished clinicians and researchers noted for their clinical and research advances in the diagnosis and treatment of depression, suicide, schizophrenia, bipolar and anxiety disorders and childhood psychiatric disorders. Their combined expertise provides state of the art clinical care for patients, and training for the next generation of psychiatrists and psychiatric researchers

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      The above proves self medicating works with tobacco to ward off mental disorders.

      • slugbop007 says:

        Katherine Keyes, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.
        I wonder how many years it took Katherine to get that degree?
        The guy that came to Montreal 2 years ago-Ryan Kennedy-and claimed that smoking on an outdoor terrace was the equivalent of a days smog in Los Angeles and as dangerous as a raging forest fire also had an Assistant Professorship, although the newspaper stated that he was a full fledged Professor, as well as an Air Quality Researcher.

    • nisakiman says:

      Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) have found that while cigarette smoking rates have declined among younger people in the United States, those who do smoke are more likely to have a psychiatric or substance use disorder compared with those who began smoking in earlier decades.

      That’s hardly surprising really, given that smokers these days are the new untermenschen; despised, discriminated against and stigmatised. That’s a good way to drive anyone a bit crazy. If TC stopped with all the bullshit, those mental problems would evaporate.

      • Some French Bloke says:

        That’s a good way to drive anyone a bit crazy.

        As you point out, Nisakiman, there may be an element of causation at play here, but most of the change in proportions over the decades is probably up to the fact that schizophrenics are even more impervious to the propaganda than the ‘constitutional’ smokers (you know, those that are the hardest to “get to quit”), simply because they need smoking more badly than anyone else just to alleviate their symptoms. But of course the ANTZ are as likely to exploit a false causation (such as blaming smoking for psychiatric disorders that may in fact be due to the stigmatisation of smokers and the latter’s consequent loss of self-esteem) as the simple association between self-medication (leading to comparatively high smoking rates) and mental illness.

  8. Bill Gibson says:

    Hi Frank, I spoke to Alex Flett earlier today and plan to meet up with him at his studio which is only 35 miles from my house. He is an interesting guy and quite knowledgeable on the global prohibition movement.

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