Last night I started watching E-cigarettes: Miracle or Menace? on BBC iplayer, but somehow lost interest after about 15 minutes.

Thinking back on it this morning, I thought that some things had seemed rather implausible about the programme.

They had got together several groups of smokers who were all going to stop smoking in different ways. One bunch were going to do it cold turkey. Another bunch were going to use NRT patches. And a third group were going to use e-cigarettes. Maybe there was a fourth group too, doing it another way.

What struck me this morning as implausible about this could best be framed as a question: Where did they get so many smokers who wanted to quit smoking?

Because when I asked readers of this blog a couple of months back whether they wanted to stop smoking, 96% responded by saying they didn’t want to stop smoking.

But according to the antismoking ideologues, pretty much all smokers – or 70% of them – want to stop smoking. If you smoke cigarettes,  in their view, you probably want to stop smoking cigarettes. It’s unquestioned and unquestionable dogma for antismokers.

But there was a further question that needed asking. Since the study was conducted in the UK, it meant that the participants had already endured 8 or 9 years of all-out war on smoking. Why was it only now that they were declaring that they wanted to stop smoking? Might they have been offered some inducement?

But there were also questions that bubbled up about the presenter of the programme. This man, a life-long non-smoker, was going to himself start smoking. Why? And why, when he set about starting smoking, did he keep a bucket near him in which to vomit? And why did he cough so much?

I can remember starting smoking, and I hardly coughed at all. Nor did I ever experience any desire to vomit. So what on earth was he playing at?

I stopped watching because the whole thing had become unbelievable. Firstly because I didn’t think it would be at all easy to find a bunch of smokers who wanted to stop smoking, and also a bunch of smokers who had very conveniently decided to stop smoking at exactly the time they were inducted into the televised study. And secondly because I found the theatrical antics of the presenter laughable.

By the time I stopped watching, I’d begun to wonder if the “smokers” were in fact actors who had been paid to smoke a few cigarettes on camera, as also was the presenter, and that the conclusions that would be drawn from the “study” would have been pre-determined before it started, in accordance with whatever the governing antismoking ideology was in play. This does seem, after all, how many such “scientific studies” are conducted these days.

Perhaps somebody else managed to watch the entire hour long programme, and saw it all rather differently than I did?

I also increasingly find the whole notion of smokers wanting to stop smoking rather nonsensical. Do you find golfers who want to stop playing golf? Or people who would like to stop reading books? If people smoke cigarettes, or play golf, or read books, it’s because that’s what they like to do.

Maybe 70% of book readers would like to stop reading books? Perhaps there’s a Bookworms Anonymous where people who are addicted to books can find ways of stopping reading the damn things? Perhaps there are book-free sanatoriums where they can go in order to ‘dry out’?

Or if you were to stop a few golfers on a golf course, and ask them whether they’d ever tried to stop playing golf, they’d cheerily reply. “Oh yes! Particularly after I’ve just fired half a dozen golf balls into the pond on the ninth hole! Or pulled a muscle in my back. Or been caught in a thunderstorm.” Maybe golfers get offered counselling services, just like smokers? Perhaps there are Golfing Cessation courses, and anti-golfing public health campaigns that I simply haven’t noticed?

But that seems rather unbelievable too.

About Frank Davis

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50 Responses to Unbelievable

  1. prog says:

    ‘Perhaps there are Golfing Cessation courses, and anti-golfing public health campaigns that I simply haven’t noticed’

    I’ve checked – there aren’t.

    Quitting golfing was easy for me – I tee’d off from no. 5 and landed on no. 4 green. That was the first and last time I’d ever made it to any green in one.

    It can certainly bring out the worst in one.

  2. Harleyrider1978 says:

    That’s the point nobody could find that many to quit it’s impossible so they set it up to get the outcome they wanted from the start. It’s atypical TC junk science

  3. jaxthefirst says:

    Grandad watched it, and gives a pretty good summary of it over at his place. I didn’t even hear about the programme, and probably wouldn’t have watched it even if I had. I’ve become so sceptical of everything in the MSM – papers, mags, TV or radio – these days that the moment I hear any mention of the word “smoking” or (today) “vaping,” I know that one way or another all they’ll be doing is pumping out propaganda to reinforce the same old stereotypes (e.g. it’s almost impossible to give up smoking by oneself – one must always have “help” of some kind) or pumping out propaganda to develop a new one (e.g. “help” these days can be in the form of these new e-cigarettey gizmo thingies). And, according to Grandad, it turned out exactly the case. And, as for the presenter’s over-hyped theatricals (Gramps’s description is very good), well, perhaps they should have got an actor in for that part, to make it more convincing. How this chap managed to take his first puff, cough the whole puff straight up again (with all the necessary hammy acting, from the sound of it), and then pronounce that it was a “pleasant experience,” despite not managing to inhale, from the sound of it, a single iota of smoke, must remain something of a mystery, I fear … About the only use for any of these supposedly “scientific” programmes these days seems to be to give people a good idea of what particular slant the channel in question intends to take in the future regarding whatever subject (in this case smoking and vaping) they are addressing.

  4. hejno says:

    Can only speak for myself, not this broadcast. But I used to be a smoker that never, ever wanted to quit! I had no health problems, really enjoyed smoking- but it was becoming such a hazzle! Storming out of airports to get a fag when you could have gone on transit, standing outside airports untill the last possible minute to get those last puffs, asking for a smoking room in hotels having them looking down their nose at you while icily stating: “We are a smokefree hotel!” Looking for flats where smoking was permitted and seeing that what was on offer was something that you would be reluctant to put your dog in..
    No more pubs and restaurants, unless one’s idea of joy was standing on a street corner freezing half to death while looking like an old prostitute out for the blind drunks…
    Ok- so I caved in. I tried e-cigarettes with my goal being that it would make travel easier- not to stop smoking. Those first-generation e-cigs were better than patches and gum, but that’s probably the best you could say about them…Cutting a long story short- I ended up vaping not because I did not want to smoke, but strangely enough because I enjoyed vaping more than smoking and it’s making life bearable in airports, hotels, flats. Am finally able to feel like part of the human race again…!

    • Harleyrider1978 says:

      That’s why most of us stay home or drive to a smoking location only. Why be treated like shit when you can do other things and still smoke meanwhile wTching those places go bankrupt!

      • Joe L. says:

        I agree, Harley. Not to mention, here in the U.S., e-cigs are included in just about every smoking ban, so switching to vaping doesn’t even allow one to “feel like part of the human race again.” This is the major problem with complacent smokers – they yearn to become the new “normal” rather than fighting to reclaim actual normality.

        P.S.: This ‘hejno’ character sounds suspiciously similar to our recent acquaintance Andy “Vapers are Superior to Smokers” Oakley…

      • edith482 says:

        To Harleyrider-well said.

    • roobeedoo2 says:

      Really? ‘Cos you still sound part troll.

    • kin_free says:

      When the going gets tough, the tough get going – and the weak capitulate. Thank goodness that most people who smoke today have more pride in themselves.

    • prog says:

      The early e cigs were fine as a temporary stop gap. Actually, I found that the all singing, dancing later models area were a bit of a hazzle.

    • Pat Nurse says:

      I won’t be bullied into quitting and sadly for every smoker bullied like you into stopping what you enjoy, that gives motivation to the thugs to bully the rest of us even more. I will never allow vapers to shove me into 3rd class citizenship so where vapers vape I will smoke.

    • beobrigitte says:

      Ok- so I caved in. I tried e-cigarettes with my goal being that it would make travel easier- not to stop smoking.
      This didn’t work – e-cigs were immediately banned, too.

      I ended up vaping not because I did not want to smoke, but strangely enough because I enjoyed vaping more than smoking and it’s making life bearable in airports, hotels, flats.
      With respect to secretly vaping in places where the odour of cigarette smoke would be detected, yes, vaping must make life more bearable. On the other hand, a long haul flight is no big deal without cigarettes/e-cigs. I tend to miss a cigarette after a meal for about 2 minutes. Then I forget it again.

      Am finally able to feel like part of the human race again…!
      I have never been NOT part of the human race, be it as a smoker or as a part-time vaper. I vape in order to stretch my tobacco supply which I do not buy in this country.
      I’m off again in a couple of weeks to see friends – and go tobacco shopping….

  5. Smoking Lamp says:

    Sounds like more antismoker propaganda. Actually nearly all media and news stories (they aren’t actually reports) are based against smoking. Relentless propaganda designed to denormalize smokers is the norm. Much of the propaganda is comprised of outright lies. We are now told smoking rates are down; but just a few months ago cigarettes sales were on the rise. They manipulate the story line to support their current campaign needs. Plain packages failed in Australia but were touted as a success to force plain packs in the UK, Ireland, Canada, and France. Lies are the basis of indoor smoking bans for bars and pubs (and elsewhere) and now for outdoor bans. These tobacco control lies need to be countered. The tobacco control health claims are false and/or extremely exaggerated.

  6. jltrader says:

    I find the concept of nicotine patches totally absurd. People smoke because they enjoy it, we could draw a parallel with coffee drinking, especially that nicotine and caffeine are similar substances. No one, including those who call themselves ‘coffee addicts’ even think of caffeine patches if they want to cut down or give up coffee. Only the relentless TC propaganda prevents people from seeing the nicotine patches as the useless, ridiculous products they really are.When I hear or read about someone using them, I imagine a person applying BenGay on a wooden leg.

    • Roobeedoo2 says:

      Ah but the gum? That’s addictive ;)


      Tax payer money is used to get people addicted to the gum. Can’t say that for smoking. And then they have to pay for it. Drug dealers, eh? What are they like?

      • Rose says:

        “The effects of chewing ten to 15 pieces of gum a day are pretty onerous,’ he says. ‘That’s around one piece every hour, with recommended chewing of around 20 minutes, so people do say they have sore jaws. And nausea, dizziness, insomnia and headaches can also be side-effects of the gum, but they are for most medications.’

        Green tobacco sickness (GTS) is an illness resulting from dermal exposure to dissolved nicotine from wet tobacco leaves; it is characterized by nausea, vomiting, weakness, and dizziness and sometimes fluctuations in blood pressure or heart rate”

        Probably why the nonsmoking doctor, Frank mentions, thought he would need a bucket.
        I recognised the symptoms of anti-smoking misinformation in that doctor myself.

    • Supergran says:

      hehe I only ever tried em if I was going on a 2 hour flight to keep me going – or a busy day at work when I could hardly get out for one. Really, I tried em IN BETWEEN fags – to keep me goin till the next fag! haha. Total utter bollocks and they made me itch!

    • jltrader says:

      One more thing, according to Wikipedia, they were first introduced in the market in the mid to late 1980s. By that time, plenty of smokers had given up, in an era which was still very much smoker-friendly.

  7. epiphany says:

    I have used e cigarettes for 9 years now, solely because I hate smoking bans, and it seemed like a good way to escape them. During the past nine years, I have also smoked cigarettes, if nothing else; it prevented me from becoming an anti smoker. I really like my e cigs, but I still like my Marlboros. To me, e cigs present the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, the anti smokers are really pissed that the e cig present an alternative to smoking. I hate them all so much that I cannot speak it aloud.

  8. Some other Tom says:

    Well, I’m certainly in the group of smokers who don’t want to quit.

    Sounds like a horrid and contrived program. I was intrigued by smoking cigarettes long before I ever tried them. They smelled good to me – they still do – When I finally did try it I loved it. No coughing or vomiting. I think some people are drawn to it and some people aren’t. I think anyone in this day and age who smokes doesn’t really want to quit – I think a lot of them have been led to believe they should.

  9. cherie79 says:

    I watched the prog. a complete waste of an hour of my life, just the usual propaganda with a slight bow to vaping. I have never wanted to stop smoking even after having surgery for an early lung cancer nearly six years ago. I never thought smoking was the cause as I had been doing it for 50 years! if it took that long I decided as I wasn’t going to live for another 50 I was safe. In my opinion as I have said before it was more likely due to the collapse of my immune system from the stress of my husband’s sudden death. Smoking is so much part of who I am that even if I thought it was an increased risk I still wouldn’t want to stop but more and more I see smokers feeling guilty, sad. My aunt who smoked since she was 10 is still doing fine at 92, she has outlived her non smoking sisters so hope it’s genetic!

  10. Lepercolonist says:

    Nonsmoking Hollywood actors have to be coached when they have a smoking role. You can spot an actor trying to smoke who has no experience with handling the cigarette, inhaling, etc. They try to smoke it like it was marijuana with deep inhalation and start coughing. Never have I seen a new smoker vomit.

    • Rose says:

      Quite so, as a nonsmoker I thought that inhaling smoke would require considerable effort, so I took a mighty pull on my first attempt and collapsed in a paroxysm of coughing as if I’d just swallowed a fly. I really had no talent for smoking and it took me quite a while to do it properly.

  11. Andrew Edward Oakley says:

    If you offer joe public a chance to be on the telly they will do anything, I think 70% of smokers wanting to quit is on the high side but without doubt its over half in my opinion.

    I reckon over half of smokers want to quit but do nothing about it, just like fatties who can’t be arsed to stop being greedy but wish they could.

    Telly scientific studies…bollocks, its all about vanity that puts them up for the show and little to do with smoking, if the buggers were asked to do a “lose weight ” experiment and be on the telly again they would do it without doubt.

    I know of one retired couple whose hobby it is trying to get on any show anywhere about anything, after failures on Deal or No deal and several other shows they finally made themselves look complete prats when they appeared on a “give a home to an immigrant” type thing. teach them the language and way of life, which amounted to showing them the culture of fish and chips and ordering them.

  12. waltc says:

    I think a sample from this blog would be strongly biased (in favor of not wanting to quit) so I don’t know that we!re at all typical of smokers in general. Many if not most –like the guy above– are affected by the hassle and exclusion–that’s the real purpose of the hassle and exclusion, isn’t it?– or nagged by “loved ones” or threatened by doctors. And once they’ve quit, society applauds, gives them a gold star and welcomes them back into its scrawny bosom

    Tonite it was reported –I think by the CDC– that US national smoking rates have now declined to 15% down from 17% in 2014. One news account added the helpful word “self-reported” to the stats which made me laugh since to me it means that 2% more smokers are now lying on top of those who lied two years ago. The same account added that vaping was an unknown factor in this miraculous quit rate –even as governments increasingly ban vaping and the fda tries to destroy the whole enterprise.

    • garyk30 says:

      That CDC decline is about 440,000 new ex-smokers and is a rate of about 1/90 smokers quitting.

      Since there is about $26 billion MSA allocated to smoking cessation, it works out to about $60,000 per quitter.
      Hardy cost effective!

    • nisakiman says:

      What you have to remember, Walt, is that the majority of smokers don’t realise that they are being lied to, and when they see TV campaigns telling them that they stink and that society despises them, they are inclined to believe it. They aren’t well read cynics like the people who frequent blogs like this. They don’t question the ‘experts’. ‘Experts’ wear white coats and always tell the truth.

      So when asked the question “would you like to quit”, they say yes, but in reality, the question they are answering is “would you like to want to quit”, which is another thing altogether. Of course they would like to want to quit, given the persecution they are subjected to on a daily basis. But they don’t want to quit, because they enjoy smoking. What they really want ((and why they answer “yes”) is for the pain to stop, and to be left in peace to do what they want.

      It’s essentially like the Inquisitors who are asking their subject, a committed protestant who is on the rack “Would you like to be a Catholic? If you repent, we’ll ease the tension.”

  13. I am not a troll. But a vaper who thinks like a smoker. I also was NEVER going to give up smoking – but I did when I found I preferred vaping. The new devices are pretty good. I am VERY anti anti tobacco because, to me the world has become a mean, arrid place without smokers and smoking.

    I watched the whole program and followed vapers comments about it. On the whole it was vaguely all right for vapers – EXCEPT vaping is seen as a method to get smokers to stop smoking! This is not real – vapers vape as a substitute for smoking.

    The “cough” was total fake. Rediculous. He made a fool of himself. However, I remember MY first cigarette – a Lexington filter tipped. I had to lie down – felt very ill. But nevertheless I smoked Rothmans for 50 years, no problem.

    About the people “wanting” to give up smoking – they were probably the guilty-shamed collected up from smoking cessation centres and offered rewards. So many people nowadays want their 15 minutes of fame!

    Last point that annoyed me was that he said “we don’t know the effect of the glycols used in e liquid” – well, we DO. They were pumped into the air in children’s homes, schools and hospitals for about 50 years. And they are still used in entertainment. Like tobacco smoke, they are anti bacterial. I think there might be negative effects in vaping, but we’ll only find out much later. It might be from inhaling food flavouring, although technology has been very busy. You can now get “inhalable” flavours.

    I am sorry lots of smokers feel angry with vapers, and I do too – often. But I try to remember that younger vapers are walking around with all the crap about smoking they have been dished out over their formative years, in their heads. The way they think is exactly what Tobacco Control wanted to create in a re-engineered society. They are victims of mind-control. Us oldies, have managed to repel it because we remember how the world was.

    One last point to think on, is that the lies, deceit and corruption in Tobacco Control is being exposed by angry vapers. Vapers are exposing what an evil thing it is. Not a few people, are beginning to wonder if ANYTHING they say is true!

    Love your blog Frank!

    • Rose says:

      Last point that annoyed me was that he said “we don’t know the effect of the glycols used in e liquid” – well, we DO

      I was shouting at the television at that point, I could see that my husband didn’t appreciate such unseemly behaviour and started taking the scientists side just to annoy me. Talking at great length about tobacco is generally forbidden in this house after 10 years and any new and exciting discoveries are usually met with a very steely gaze.

      • Well, the Furlong family are SICK of me talking about smoking or vaping. I see a “look” come into their eyes! So it’s a release to comment on other people’s blogs, or write my own – a way to share. I also shout at the TV.

        • Rose says:

          I know just what you mean, there is no point flogging a dead horse, some people just don’t understand the implications of politicising science, or refuse to do so.

          Mind you , I did have a head start,quite literally, in 1973 the government brought in a law to say if I didn’t wear a crash helmet when riding my bike, they would fine me for not protecting my own head.
          You just don’t get over a government suddenly taking control over what you do with your head, it was quite a shock. Now of course they have gone so far as to tell you where you may stand while pursuing a legal activity.

          Motor Cycles (Wearing of Helmets) Regulations 1973

          “On April 5th 1973, the order for this regulation was debated in the House of Commons, with members from either side taking opposite views. Many considered this as a gross infringement of personal liberty”

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          In Tennessee the first seatbelt law was for infants only and they sated it was never to be used as a primary stop or even apply to adults. Yet within ten years it became a primary offense where search and seizure laws come into effect along with roadblocks for the infraction! To this day in ten repeal of the seatbelt law is a top political point.

        • harleyrider1978 says:

          We can truthfully say in America the seatbelt law was the first nannystate law to see just how far they could get away with………….the year was 1984

        • nisakiman says:

          Harley, when I washed up on the shores of Australia in early 1971, there was a mandatory seatbelt law in Victoria, the state I lived. The Aussies have a head start on you, which is probably why it has now become the most oppressive nanny state in the world.

  14. junican says:

    First preference, second preference.
    I would like to mow the lawn, but I am sitting here typing. Sitting here typing is my first preference. Wanting to mow the lawn is my second preference. Will I mow the lawn today. No. Why? Because it is quite chilly out, the lawn is not bad and I can always do it tomorrow.
    There was a time when I used to do YouGov surveys. I would never answer a ‘do you wish that you could give up smoking?’ question in the affirmative, but I can imagine thousands of smokers saying, ‘Yes’. But they don’t actually try to do so – they carry on smoking. Their real desire is to smoke, otherwise, they would actually try to stop.
    So those surveys are bunkum. Would I like to be a millionaire? Yes. Will I do anything to try to become a millionaire? No.

  15. Joe L. says:

    I just stumbled across this book published in 2011. Not sure if anyone here has read it yet. A bit out of my budget at the moment, but it looks like it might be a worthwhile read.

    Alcohol, Tobacco and Obesity: Morality, Mortality and the New Public Health


    Google Books

  16. harleyrider1978 says:

    most tasteless post ever

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