The Fall of the Tobacco Control Empire

A few days ago Junican wrote about How Tobacco Control Will End,  comparing the Tobacco Control Empire to the Roman Empire.

I think that the “Tobacco Control Empire” is actually a much more accurate description of it than the “Tobacco Control Industry,” because Tobacco Control doesn’t actually manufacture anything – except perhaps lies -, while the Tobacco Industry actually is an industry that manufactures and distributes a product: tobacco.

Tobacco Control is an empire – a global empire – much more akin to the Roman Empire than the Tobacco Industry. And, like the Roman Empire, it is held in place by force. Not the force of armed legions, but the force of law. It needs the continual exertion of force, in the form of smoking bans, ‘plain’ packaging, display bans, etc, and also ultra-heavy taxation and continuous antismoking propaganda campaigns. And it requires a standing army of professional antismoking campaigners to ensure that the bans and taxes are enforced and maintained and even extended. And the reward to Tobacco Control is a slice of the tax revenue, as well as revenue from pharma Nicotine Replacement Therapies, demand for which is created by marginalising and excluding smokers, so that many are blackmailed into trying to quit, whether they want to or not. The Tobacco Control Empire works by extortion, much like the Roman Empire before it.

The Roman Empire did have its benefits, however. To belong within the Pax Romana was to be largely free from invasion, piracy, and banditry. And the Romans brought with them Roman law, the Latin language, and an excellent infrastructure of roads, all of which served to promote trade and industry, and enrich the entire empire, and not just its Roman overlords.

Of course the Tobacco Control Empire claims that it also brings benefits, almost exclusively in the arena of improved public health. But most of its claims rely upon dubious or dishonest statistical analyses. The benefits are almost entirely illusory. In reality, the Tobacco Control Empire brings next to no real, visible benefits at all, but instead a great many real costs, in reduced spending and social disintegration and more.

The Roman Empire lasted 700 years, but it’s unlikely that the Tobacco Control Empire will last much longer than a few decades. And it’s already exhibiting many of the symptoms of decline. In the first place there are signs (in the UK at least), that government is beginning to shut off the spigot of public funding, as outfits like Smokefree South West are defunded. Furthermore, it’s likely that the tax revenues from tobacco are actually decreasing, now that a considerable black market in tobacco has grown up. And with the arrival of e-cigarettes, pharma company revenues from NRT products are collapsing as well. The entire business model of the Empire is under threat. And this is why the Empire is “diversifying” its extortion programme to include alcohol, sugar, and other products – another sign of decay.

When the Roman Empire began to contract, and its legions left Britain, the civilisation that it had created and maintained for two or three hundred years rapidly fell into decay. The numerous villas fell into ruin as their proprietors fled, and so did many of the towns and military camps. Even the Latin language fell out of use. Perhaps the only survivors were some of the excellent roads that the Romans had constructed, although many of these fell into decay as well.

When the Tobacco Control Empire implodes, much the same thing will happen. As antismoking organisations are defunded, professional antismoking zealots will vanish like Roman governors, and their voices will cease to be heard. Antismoking legislation may remain in place, but nobody will be ensuring that it remains in force. After all, the police have shown little interest in enforcing it. And then, first inside one pub or cafe or club, and then in another, excluded smokers will begin to re-appear. And when they are not prosecuted, other venues will be encouraged to follow their example. The wilderness will begin to reclaim the brave new “smoke-free” civilisation, just like grass and trees began to reclaim the towns and villas and roads of Roman Britain.

For it requires the continual exertion of force – power – to maintain any artificial construction, whether it’s a villa or a road or a smoking ban. Once the force is lifted, the process of decay begins immediately. Only the natural world, by definition devoid of restraining force, survives.

As in Britain after the Roman occupation, there will probably be a legacy. If there is any demand for “smoke-free” pubs and cafes, there will probably be a few places where the old No Smoking signs will be kept prominently in place. And there may be a few linguistic relics, perhaps words like “smoke-free” and “denormalise.” And also a few persistent old wives’ tales, like “Smoking Causes Lung Cancer.” And maybe e-cigarettes, the principal product of the smoke-free era, will enjoy a persistent popularity much like whisky after prohibition. All the rest will be swept away.

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About Frank Davis

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20 Responses to The Fall of the Tobacco Control Empire

  1. Harleyrider1978 says:

    Right on🎶

  2. Harleyrider1978 says:

    One thing is for sure it will take political change for the bans to be gone and Brexit could be just the change needed to end it all the world over a collapse of the world order they rely on for the whole scheme.

  3. junican says:

    Thanks for the mention, Frank.
    You had a great insight in comparing Tobacco Control with Empire rather than Industry. I suppose that it would be reasonable to suggest that parts of tobacco control are ‘an industry’ within the empire, just as the Roman Empire had a its vast, bureaucracy of workers collecting taxes, etc. None of those workers did anything productive. When push came to shove, that ‘industry’ collapsed along with the Empire. But, no doubt, the new rulers quickly restored it. Even now, after a short time, we are seeing ‘the bosses’ within the tobacco control industry in the UK diversifying. The Tobacco Control Empire is dissolving at the edges, just as the Roman Empire and the British Empire did. By diversifying, they are increasing their costs and will need even greater taxpayer support. Will they get it?
    But where is Rome? Where is the centre which is waiting to be sacked by the Goths? It must be the UN, and specifically the WHO. Surely, it did not escape the attention of Cameron et al that the WHO was utterly useless regarding Ebola? What is the point of pouring money into an industry which produces nothing of real worth, costs a fortune, and is corrupt to its core? Only a corrupt or stupid government could do so.
    So why are Cameron et al using every dirty trick in the book to preserve the failing EU Empire? Reform of the EU should have taken place a couple of decades ago, before it was taken over by Health Zealots and Banana Straighteners. Cameron’s much vaunted reforms were nothing, and he did not get them anyway. But how could he? EU directives are written in stone, just as the Ten Commandments were. There is no system in existence for them to ever be changed, other than to make them even more demanding.
    Brexit may fail – on this occasion, but it will not, or should not be allowed to, go away. Whatever the result, the Cameron Government is discredited. Our democracy is beginning to wake up.

    • Frank Davis says:

      The Roman Empire could at least maintain its internal security, and the Pax Romana. The EU Empire can’t even do that, with an army of jihadis operating inside it.

  4. jaxthefirst says:

    I think you’re absolutely right, Frank. It was simply never going to be viable for anti-smoking campaigners to keep up the level of pressure needed to ensure that anti-smoking hysteria and self-righteousness was maintained at a high enough level for anti-smoking itself to survive. It’s really cheering to witness the rather sorry attempts of so many of these anti-smoking groups to “diversify” in order to try and desperately cling on to their funding and thus their existence, for several reasons:

    1. Because if anti-smokers are now having to devote some of their spiteful little campaigns against other groups, then inevitably, they’ll have less time and energy available to devote towards smoker-hating campaigns. There will still be some, of course, but, being more “spread out” it must take some of the pressure off smokers and put some of it onto previously-unaffected groups, like non-smoking drinkers.

    2. By targeting other groups, they’ll p*ss off a whole lot more people than they currently do. That can only be a good thing.

    3. As new targets, drinkers, the overweight and exercise-avoiders – like smokers before them – will likely discover a new “curiosity” towards the “facts” put out by these campaign groups and will become wise to the mendacious tactics used by these people in order to persecute those whom they perceive to be “sinners.” Thus, their hitherto largely-unchallenged credibility will be suitably damaged. Who knows, some of the more enlightened “new sinners” might finally rumble the fact that all the stories put out about smokers – now newly directed against themselves – were nothing but a pack of inflammatory lies from the outset. As smokers know, there’s nothing quite like being on the receiving end of prejudice to make one truly recognise and appreciate prejudices directed towards other groups in the past.

    4. Bearing in mind that when the smoking ban was imposed, the anti-smokers’ reaction to the promises of pub closures and job losses was that pubs would “just have to diversify” in order to survive (whether they wanted to or not), there’s a delicious irony to the fact that these very same anti-smoking groups are themselves now having to “diversify” into directions which, in all honesty, they would probably rather not go into (for all the reasons mentioned above) – being anti-smoking, after all, is a much safer bet than being anti-booze, or anti-sugar, or anti-salt (or all of them). And all with the hindsight knowledge that “diversification” did very little to help many members of the pub trade keep their heads above water, and is therefore unlikely to have any better effect for many anti-smoking groups. Talk about Karma! “You reap what you sow” and all that …

    It really is good to see one’s despised enemies running scared after so long in full (and smug) control of the helm, isn’t it?

    • Frank Davis says:

      I think one further point about “diversification” is that the antismoking experts become instant, overnight experts in whatever field into which they diversify. Which suggests that their only real skill is to sound plausible, whether they’re talking about tobacco or alcohol or sugar or whatever. But experts can really only have expertise in some particular narrow field. They can’t be expert at everything. They’re all fraudsters.

  5. Rose says:

    And also a few persistent old wives’ tales, like “Smoking Causes Lung Cancer

    It’s the drinkers who are getting in the neck today, Frank.

    Now it may be an April Fool, but if it is, a lot of newspapers are going with it.

    Nine out of 10 people don’t link alcohol and cancer
    31 March 2016

    Almost 90 per cent of people in England don’t associate drinking alcohol with an increased risk of cancer, according to a new report published today

    “The study, commissioned by Cancer Research UK and led by researchers from the University of Sheffield, found that just 13 per cent of adults mentioned cancer when asked “which, if any, health conditions can result from drinking too much alcohol?”

    Drinking alcohol is linked to an increased risk of seven different cancers – liver, breast, bowel, mouth, throat, oesophageal (food pipe), laryngeal (voice box) but the survey highlighted a lack of understanding of the link between drinking alcohol and certain types of the disease.

    When prompted by asking about seven different cancer types, 80 per cent said they thought alcohol caused liver cancer but only 18 per cent were aware of the link with breast cancer. In contrast alcohol causes 3,200 breast cancer cases each year compared to 400 cases of liver cancer.

    The report, produced by researchers at the University’s School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), comes ahead of the consultation closing on how well new drinking guidelines** proposed by the UK’s Chief Medical Officers in January 2016, are communicated.

    “These drew attention to the link between alcohol and cancer, and highlighted the need for greater public awareness of this risk.

    The findings are based on a nationally representative online survey of 2,100** people conducted in July 2015.
    The study also showed that only one in five people could correctly identify the previous recommended maximum number of units that should not be exceeded in a day, as recommended at that time in 2015.”
    http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/alcohol-links-to-cancer-1.563579

    Awareness over link between alcohol and cancer ‘worryingly low’
    http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14397696.Awareness_over_link_between_alcohol_and_cancer__worryingly_low_/

    A ‘worrying’ 87% of Brits DON’T link drinking alcohol with increased risk of cancer
    http: //www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/worrying-87-brits-dont-link-7666793

    Public awareness of link between alcohol and cancer ‘worryingly low’
    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/apr/01/public-awareness-of-link-between-alcohol-and-cancer-worryingly-low

    Have YOU forgotten how dangerous booze is? 90% of people don’t associate drinking alcohol with an increased risk of cancer
    http: //www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3517411/Have-forgotten-dangerous-booze-90-people-don-t-associate-drinking-alcohol-increased-risk-cancer.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490

    Must be a relatively new experience for them, welcome to our world.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Speaking of April Fool pranks, I rather suspect that this article in the Express must be one:

      The royal family is seriously considering making a dramatic intervention in the referendum debate with an announcement that it supports Britain remaining inside the European Union.

      That the royals are prepared to risk provoking a potential constitutional crisis shows just how deep their anger is at parts of the British press and senior politicians.

      According to a senior source close to official figures, there was particular resentment at the Sun’s newspaper’s depiction of the Queen as a Brexit supporter.

      But the anger runs through the generations at Buckingham Palace: there was fury at the claims about “workshy” Prince William, a campaign mounted by two papers with an anti-EU stance, the Daily Mail and the Sun. And there was a feeling last week that rock bottom had been hit with a story in the Mail that Kate was now posher than the other royals…

      • Rose says:

        I think you may be right. : )

        “Another insider said early proposals to do a live broadcast have been rejected in favour of a pre-recorded session because of Philip’s propensity for swearing. “The words have to be perfect,” she said, “but we’ve got time to iron things out between today – 1 April – and June.”

    • Harleyrider1978 says:

      Cancer the great scare all hoax!

  6. Clicky says:

  7. smokingscot says:

    I know it’s not exactly as you guys have described it, however I was really chuffed to see Austria breaking ranks with other member states and to circumvent some of the sanctions placed on Russia.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-01/austria-seeks-normal-ties-with-russia-through-oil-and-music

    But it is an example of a chain being only as strong as its weakest link.

    Good on Austria!

  8. mark says:

    I’m amazed that anyone thinks that Tobacco Control or public health control is in anyway in decline. The “diversification” cannot be interpreted as a sign of weakness and no anti smoker legislation has been defeated.
    Off the too if my head, in the last year we gave seen, smoking banned I cars, hospital grounds and beaches. The TPD kicks in in six weeks, plain packs, to name but a few.
    In addition sugar tax cane in by the back door, minimum unit price on booze will happen and now the nannies are attacking rugby.
    The Sydney hospitality trade has been decimated by temperance legislation in Australia.
    If you think we are going to sit back and watch Rome burn, you are deluded.

  9. Pingback: Is Brexit Such a Good Idea for Smokers and Vapers? | Bolton Smokers Club

  10. dear frank, i personally do not care if bans exist or not they are worthwhile if enforced and if not enforced they are worth nothing,zip nada big goose egg.and yes diversification is a sign of weakening. it also shows us that the aunties know the jig is about up for them.it was indeed about power, never health yours mine or anyone elses. these neopuritans need look no further than the tips of their snouts to see it is unraveling.i do not think we are at all deluded. just damned patient, and waiting on public health to realize people are onto their scam.i believe in five years or less we will see the bans are either repealed or ignored as they plainly bring only monetary loss, loss of liberty, and social dviseness. no upside at all. and if people diagree with me that is their right. it is however not the their right to bully others for making a choice they do not like.oh and btw i smoke. my choice my deal. to any anti-smokers out there be seeing ya i know what i like do you???? – sincrely raymond barfoot

  11. Ray Yeates says:

    Thank you Frank Davis for this A+ history lesson. Makes me recall when Jake Bleiburg of VICE magazine asked me last year if I thought I will still be around this year to witness the progress vapers are working so hard for. Well here I am still and my vision is to have all the 1-800-QUIT NOW phone lines be manned by smokers/vapers armed with ” The Vaping Truth ” in order that smokers become aware and in control of Tobacco Control. ie” 1-800-THR-VAPE Fuck 1-800-QUIT-NOW reckless lying and bullshit. Have a great day all. :)

  12. MichaelVapor says:

    Reblogged this on Michael Vapor and commented:
    Was soll man dazu sagen…

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