Via Dick Puddlecote, Clive Bates putting himself in the shoes of a smoker-turned-vaper:
“You told us to quit smoking. You taxed the pants off us; you’ve bullied us with your public information campaigns; you’ve racked up the stigma that we felt. You’ve tried to stop us using these products wherever we can. You’ve hit us with massive societal disapproval. Tobacco companies haven’t done that, government and public health have done that.
So we’ve done the right thing. We’ve got off smoking; we’ve protected our health; we produce a vapour which doesn’t harm anyone; most people aren’t troubled by it.
Just leave us alone! Just get off our backs!”
I’ve got an e-cig. In fact I’ve got two of them. But I hardly ever use them. I only got them because they looked like something I could maybe use in places where smoking is banned (e.g. pubs). I never had any intention of using them to stop smoking. They were simply an alternative, and the probably the best alternative around.
So I’m not a smoker-turned-vaper. And so I can’t really put myself in their shoes. The only shoes I can ever put myself in are my own shoes. I know exactly what it’s like in my shoes.
So the first problem I have with Clive Bates’ little rant is this: he isn’t a smoker-turned-vaper either. So how does he know what smokers-turned-vapers might think?
Also, what he really is is a one-time ASH director – a professional antismoker – turned faux vapers’ friend. Who does he think he’s kidding? Why should anyone believe a word he says? I have the same problem with Michael Siegel and Carl Phillips and co. They’re all antismokers who’ve re-positioned themselves in the no-man’s-land between smokers and antismokers. And to me that just looks like they’re antis who’re trying to get a bit closer to smokers, so that they can pick them off easier.
But that aside, is this really what smokers-turned-vapers actually think? Do they really think they’ve “done the right thing”? Are they really so angry or surprised that e-cigs immediately got banned too? What else did they expect?
E-cigs look like smoking, and that’s really the only reason e-cigs are being banned. If somebody marketed a hollow white tube, with a tan-coloured ‘filter’ painted on one end, they’d be banned as well, because they’d also look like smoking too.
In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that the real reason that cigarettes are banned is because they look like smoking.
Because (for me at least) one of the main lesson that I’ve learned from this whole e-cig fiasco is that the antismokers aren’t really bothered by any health concerns associated with smoking. They just don’t like people doing anything that looks like smoking.
I suspect that antismokers don’t like smoking, or anything that looks like smoking, because they think it’s in some way deeply unnatural to inhale anything other than air. And quite a few of them seem to think it’s unnatural to drink anything other than water. Or eat anything other than fruit and nuts. They’re essentially back-to-nature enthusiasts. They have this idea of “nature” and “natural living” as some sort of ideal state. And anything “unnatural” is also “immoral”.
When antismokers say that “smoking causes lung cancer”, that’s just their roundabout (i.e. dishonest) way of saying: “I don’t like what you’re doing, and you shouldn’t be doing it, and we’re gonna stop you doing it, along with all the 12,000 other unnatural, immoral, and just plain nasty habits of yours, like drinking beer, eating meat, driving cars – to name just three of them.”
But that’s just my guess. Because just like I can’t put myself in the shoes of smokers-turned-vapers, I can’t put myself in the shoes of antismokers either. But I’ve come to gradually believe that it’s all one helluva lot deeper than “health” or “cleanliness”. I think the antismoking mindset is actually part and parcel of the whole environmentalist/green movement that’s grown up over the past century, and is part of a deep reaction against modern technological civilisation, and the Industrial Revolution, and Capitalism, and money, and profit, and everything else. It’s too complicated for them, and they yearn to return to a time when we we were nomadic foragers, walking from nut bush to fruit tree to stream, and life was so much simpler. For them, the Original Sin wasn’t to eat any forbidden fruit: it was to invent flint axes and fire. That’s when it all started going very badly wrong. And that happened about 200,000 years ago.
Cigarettes, far more than pipes or cigars, are an iconic industrial product. They’re entirely machine-rolled, machine-filled, and machine-packed. Have you ever noticed that antismokers seldom talk about “the Tobacco Industry”, but instead use the shorthand of “the industry” or even just “industry”? I don’t think this is just shorthand. I think that for them the tobacco industry is the perfect exemplar of modern industrial civilisation, and they don’t like any industry at all. And they don’t like anything modern. And they don’t like civilisation either. They reject everything.