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.