Blind Heartless Bastards

New England Journal of Medicine:

Three quarters of homeless adults smoke cigarettes. The substantial health consequences of tobacco use among homeless people have been documented, but less is known about the financial effects of tobacco use in this population.

From April through July 2014, we used time–location sampling to survey homeless adult cigarette smokers at five high-volume clinics operated by the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program in an emergency shelter, a daytime drop-in center, and an academic medical center. Among 357 eligible persons, 306 (86%) participated. We asked participants how much money they had spent on tobacco in the previous week, examined overall expenditures for that week, and stratified the sample into thirds according to the level of nicotine dependence, as assessed with the use of the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence….

Three quarters of participants were men, and the mean age was 48 years; 36% were white, 41% were black, and 18% were Hispanic. Participants reported spending a mean of $44 (95% confidence interval [CI], $40 to $47) on tobacco in the previous week and having a mean income of $513 (95% CI, $462 to $564) in the previous month . A considerable proportion reported difficulty finding shelter (49%), food (41%), clothing (50%), somewhere to wash (35%), and somewhere to use the bathroom (43%) in the previous month…

I very much doubt that there are any health consequences due to smoking among the homeless. I would instead imagine that there are very considerable health consequences due to homelessness among the homeless. After all, half of them were having difficulty in finding food, clothing, and shelter.

But, since this was a survey carried out by antismokers, naturally it wasn’t cold or rain or snow or hunger that were identified as the most pressing problem: it was the fact that the homeless were mostly smokers.

The… findings suggest that helping homeless smokers to quit smoking may be of considerable personal financial benefit.

It might indeed be of financial benefit, but absolutely nothing else. I have no doubt that being homeless is highly stressful, and that the one thing that the homeless are very glad of is the warmth and comfort and companionship of the occasional blessed cigarette.

But no such thing would ever have occurred the blind, heartless, antismoking bastards ticking boxes as they conducted their vacuous survey. And quite clearly it didn’t.

But it most certainly used to occur to me when, in my student days, I’d get talking to a homeless man who used to regularly sit all day outside the university. And the first thing I always did was to offer him one of my roll-ups, which offer he would invariably accept.

And then we’d sit talking, sometimes for quite a long time. And he would tell me of life in Old Japan, and how in Old Japan everyone lived above their own personal coal mine, and wore clogs with corrugated soles to allow them to walk on the coal. And how the Japanese were related to the English Somersets. And many other wondrous things.

In addition, he once explained how he had become homeless, and how many administrative trap doors he’d fallen through on his way to the street. And it wasn’t the cold that was the worst of it: it was the wind.

And when we parted, I always made sure to give him a large pinch of tobacco, so that he could at least enjoy a smoke or two in whatever chilly doorway he found himself that night. It was the very least I could do.

About Frank Davis

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23 Responses to Blind Heartless Bastards

  1. Easy instant fix for a great improvement in the lives and standards of living for the homeless: Eliminate cigarette taxes!

    That $500/month income would suddenly, in essence increase by 25% to about 625 as the 180 in cigarette expenditures dropped to about $55.

    It’s easy to help the poor when you actually WANT to HELP them instead of FIX them.


  2. harleyrider1978 says:

    Just when you thought the Nazis couldn’t get any more insane they do.

    Perth pub owner pledges to fight health order to remove vintage tobacco signs

    The owner of a popular Irish pub in Perth is seeing red after the Western Australia Health Department told him to remove his tobacco memorabilia signs or face prosecution and hefty fines.

    Almost every inch of J.B O’Reilly’s in Leederville is littered with antique signs and memorabilia, including a number of collectable tobacco signs dating back more than 120 years, one of which cost him A$5000 (NZ$5397).

    The owner of the iconic Irish pub J.B O’Reillys in Cambridge he has been told by the WA Health Department to remove his tobacco memorabilia signs or face prosecution.

  3. Roobeedoo2 says:

    “I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day.”

  4. Cecily Collingridge says:

    The Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence is not fit for purpose at the best of times and is totally inappropriate for homeless people. There are many inbuilt assumptions in the questionnaire – the emphasis on mornings doesn’t address night-shift workers or others who keep irregular hours for whatever reason let alone those who are constantly disturbed – the rough sleepers who are moved on and harassed, or who have to snatch moments of sleep at different times of the day. Their lives can be chaotic.

    No distinction is made between ready-made cigarettes or roll-ups that can affect the number/amount of tobacco consumed.

    Particularly offensive is the assumption in the last question that homeless people have a bed. In cold, harsh conditions homeless people are likely to stay in their sleeping bags for warmth and survival. TC fanatics probably consider smoking in ‘bed’ the ultimate sin.

  5. Roobeedoo2 says:

    SMOKERS in need of health support will be asked not to light up inside their own homes as part of a new campaign.

    According to one health expert, Dr John Grenville, of the South Derbyshire Local Medical Committee, it is something that needed doing.

    He said: “We have to get the message across that smoking is bad for you under any circumstance.

    “Health trusts have found it harder to find a way to stop people from smoking.

    “It has been a question of having the services in place to help those who want to smoke.”

    • Cecily Collingridge says:

      Good grief!!! The lunacy just keeps on coming and it is extending ever more into the home!

      Quote: “It has also been revealed that those who receive care at home will also be affected, with staff requesting that patients provide a smoke-free room and refrain from smoking for up to one hour prior to an appointment.”

      So those who live in a bedsit/room in multiple occupancy houses or who have a fall/are immobilised in the room they usually smoke in could be denied access to home care. People will not be be sure what they should do or how far to interpret this. If someone’s baby or spouse turns blue or fits, any hesitation in calling for help could prove fatal. The emergency services will have reason to delay dispatch of an ambulance if someone had smoked before dialling 999.

      Another quote: “During the transition to becoming a tobacco-free organisation, the trust has provided training to its doctors and nurses…” I bet they have! This just means further brainwashing and weakening of the patient/doctor relationship.

      I’m seeing my doctor on Monday. I might print off this article and take it with me.

  6. harleyrider1978 says:
  7. Victoria says:

    Its so sad to see the homeless coughing and coughing and coughing with a tiny roll-up in their fingerless mits

    • smokingscot says:

      Patronising twerp.

    • nisakiman says:

      Ah, I see we have a new troll. ‘Victoria’ made a similarly mindless comment over at Simon’s blog yesterday. Or maybe Tricky Dickie is finding his feminine side.

      Anyway, that’s yer lot. ‘Victoria’. Unless you have anything vaguely sensible to say, you can piss off.

    • beobrigitte says:

      Its so sad to see the homeless coughing and coughing and coughing with a tiny roll-up in their fingerless mits

      The homeless are very likely to catch a cold when the latest heartless bastards (apt term, btw, Frank) walk up to them to tell them that “smoking can kill”.

      I always give them a couple of my rollies and a bit of cash to do with as they please. In these cases I do know that my well meant donation does not go towards a 6 figured salary of some “charity” CEO whose greed is endless.

      Victoria, perhaps you would like to enquire about the business before volunteering?

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