Three Comments on Facebook

Three comments recently appeared under a Facebook post by Audrey Silk, each one describing the social isolation of smokers in much the same way:


There were several other commenters in agreement, including myself – because my experience of social division has been much the same.

All these people live in different places, even different countries, and yet their experience is almost identical.

And this very strongly suggests that, wherever they are introduced, smoking bans divide societies into separate smoking and non-smoking communities. Smokers stick with smokers, and antismokers stick with antismokers. There are probably a number of non-smokers who interact with both groups.

This isn’t a one-off event. It’s a process. And it’s a social division which is likely to only deepen with time. For it won’t just be that the two groups will have opposite views about smoking, but they’re also likely to develop opposite views about a variety of other matters all well – e.g. belief or disbelief in global warming (AGW). They will gradually become different cultures with different values, perhaps in geographically separate locations. In this manner, what had been a broadly unified society with a shared set of values is broken in two.

For example, in my own case, one political consequence of the UK smoking ban was to catapult me from being a pro-European left wing Lib Dem voter into becoming an anti-European right wing UKIP voter. I stopped voting Lib Dem when I discovered that 95% of Lib Dem MPs in Parliament had voted for the UK smoking ban. And I stopped being pro-European when I discovered that the EU Parliament had voted for a European smoking ban, complete with show trials for prominent offenders. The shift from left to right grew out of the newly-acquired distrust of government that accompanied these other shifts.

Yet there appears to be a complete absence of any official recognition within governments everywhere of this new and deepening social divide. Superficially, society appears the same after the introduction smoking bans as it was before. And this superficial view is largely a construction by powerful antismoking lobbies which always insist that smoking bans are “great successes” which “everyone likes”, as soon as they are introduced.

Yet I suspect that it will eventually become impossible to deny the existence of this new social division. But if there is to be any recognition of it, it certainly won’t come from either Tobacco Control or the World Health Organisation and its affiliates. Nor is it likely to come from any mainstream media organisations, most of which follow party lines on all social or political issues. Nor indeed, is it likely to come from politicians whose views are largely shaped by these mainstream media. If it’s going to come from anywhere, it’s probably going to come through new social media like Facebook (Audrey Silk) or WordPress (Frank Davis) and others, slowly diffusing information outwards and upwards by word of mouth.


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38 Responses to Three Comments on Facebook

  1. I have the kind of ‘lifestyle’ where I do not socialise much at all, being a lone distance runner, going to work as a ‘at the coalface’ social worker and caring for an elderly mum. I took up smoking in the Army, as it was very convenient to fit in, back in 1980 the training was still very tough and demanding and it was a natural thing to strike up a smoke in the breaks. Being a distance swimmer and distance runner the smoking was only a relaxer and a social helper. Forty years later, rather than climb to a higher paid position through study I’m more happy to stay where I am, in a ‘strata’ of life where smoking is not only acceptable but expected. I could not count the number of times where a few smokes and coffees, to help loosen the horrors of the bounds of desperation, have perhaps averted suicides or other terrible events in peoples’ lives. If at those times sharing a ciggy was illegal for eg., who knows what could have happened. It is my opinion that in many circumstances I could not do my job without cigarettes. This may sound crazy to some, but I know that tobacco can be a life-saver. In the past few years I’ve even found a kind of ‘ostracism’ even on social media, which entails no physical contact at all, which I’m glad, because of distance, one can laugh at.

    • Rose says:

      It doesn’t mean that the ostracism is always real, Pete.

      “We strongly suspected that this hostile attitude demonstrated toward individuals or associations with differing opinions were not the doings of ordinary citizens, however one must always give the benefit of doubt: perhaps public opinion had changed overnight when public smoking bans were adopted?

      Well, you can relax folks. All this time, it was not your next door neighbor, co-worker, friend or relative who was turning into an aggressive “Mr. Hyde” when protected by the cover of anonymity. We now have tangible proof that most of the people who are posting obnoxious and hateful material are simply following orders from the anti-tobacco industry:”

  2. Roobeedoo2 says:

    Grassroots as opposed to astroturf.

  3. prog says:

    Only an estimate, but I’d reckon I have no or minimal contact with about 90% of the non/ex smoking friends I had before the ban. Partly because barely anyone now uses what’s left of pubs, but mainly because the (often) long term friendships more or less evaporated in the wake of the ban. Not because I smoked (I was a non smoker between 2006 and 2010) but because I was, and remain, vehemently opposed to the ban, something that most simply couldn’t comprehend. In fact, I despised those who saw the ban as a means to penalise smokers more than those who’d actually swallowed the SHS shit.

    A couple of years ago, a former close friend (ex smoker…) really pissed me off by stating that she welcomed the ban because she didn’t want her snowflake of a son to take up the habit. Couldn’t give shit about how my and my wife’s social life had been totally shafted. Then wondered why we no longer visited each others homes and, worse, suggested with should all go out for beer some time.

    And now, almost 10 years on, I can’t think of more than a couple of non/ex smokers I feel comfortable with in any social environment for more than a few minutes. I’m now resigned to the fact that future friends will be few and far between. TBH, I don’t think a repeal of the ban would alter that.

    • Frank Davis says:

      TBH, I don’t think a repeal of the ban would alter that.

      I think the damage is done, and it’s probably irreparable. I won’t be recovering any of my lost friends. But I think a belated repeal (and repeal will come) of the ban will put a lot of angry smokers back in contact with each other.

      • beobrigitte says:

        I won’t be recovering any of my lost friends
        I have NO intention of doing so since I have replaced them with REAL friends. I simply stopped bothering with non-smokers who don’t mind me outdoors for a cigarette. Then I met some other smokers who also provide ashtrays in their homes and their non-smoking friends do the same. I’ll stick with that crowd. They love life rather than being scared.

  4. jaxthefirst says:

    “If it’s going to come from anywhere, it’s probably going to come through new social media like Facebook (Audrey Silk) or WordPress (Frank Davis) and others, slowly diffusing information outwards and upwards by word of mouth.”

    I remember seeing a documentary some years ago in which they were discussing the “Women’s Liberation Movement” in the 1960’s and 70’s, and one of the things that they said gave great momentum to the Movement back then was the introduction of daytime TV, which seemed odd to me. Then they explained that prior to daytime TV most women simply stayed at home and kept house and looked after the kids and, if they wanted some background noise, they’d listen to the Light Programme or Music While You Work, or whatever fluffy stuff was on the radio. It was pretty much expected that they would leave whatever job or career or whatever outside interests they had prior to being married and would settle happily into a life of domestic bliss, tending to the needs of their hardworking husbands and their little treasures, and that that would be enough for any of them. It had been like that for centuries, after all, so it was the “natural way of things,” wasn’t it? No-one ever considered the possibility that for some women – any women, in fact – cooking and cleaning and looking after children was anything other than totally satisfying.

    Then along came daytime TV, mostly geared towards women, because they were the people at home who could watch it, and, particularly in the 70’s, some of the programmes being shown started featuring women who – for the first time ever – were actually saying (Shock! Horror!) that they didn’t find the world of domesticity and childrearing anywhere near as enjoyable, satisfying or fulfilling as it had previously been assumed. They were saying heretical things like they’d prefer not to have got married, or not to have had children, or that, given their time again, they wouldn’t bother with any of that and would pursue a very different path through life. The thing that resonated with many of the women watching these programmes at home was that, often, the people saying these things weren’t the just the rich, famous or notoriously-vocal “Wimmin’s Libbers,” but were ordinary women, just like them. The awareness that they “were not alone” in feeling stifled or unhappy with their present set-up emboldened them to start increasingly speaking out for themselves until we have reached the stage where, now, a woman’s job or career is regarded, often, as equally as important (if not, sometimes, more so) as her husband’s and where having children no longer meant an end to that career and, sometimes, not even a career break at all.

    I mention this because I think that today’s Internet works in much the same way as daytime TV did back then. It’s the place where the real truth of real life is reflected, not the sugar-coated press releases from vested-interest groups or the slick words of politicians or the established-view parroting of the MSM. And, bit by bit, people – even people who remain, for now, totally wedded to the idea of the smoking ban – will start to realise the negative effects it has had and will start to accept that we have lost much more, as a society, than we have gained from it. And, once that fact is established, more and more people will start to openly criticise it – and not just smokers, either, who are easily brushed aside. And once that happens, we will start to see ever-increasing cracks appearing in what is, for now, a seemingly impenetrable wall of support for the ban.

    • nisakiman says:

      The big difference there, Jax, is that when women’s daytime TV programs were on, that was all there was, so the message got directed at the majority of stay-at-home mums.

      The internet is another animal altogether, insofar as you have to search out sites like this one, and if you are someone (like those housekeeping mums) who merely accepts the situation as it is, with that situation being constantly reinforced by the MSM, then it just won’t occur to most people that there are any alternative viewpoints out there, and it won’t occur to them to Google ‘smoker’s rights’, or ‘pro choice blogs’, or to check the veracity of all the stuff the ‘experts’ are telling them, or whatever, just as it wouldn’t have occurred to those housewives to search out any feminist info had it not been beamed directly into their living rooms.

      And that, really, is the problem we face.

      On a good day, Frank gets maybe a thousand unique hits, which is great. But when you compare that with the number of smokers with access to the internet worldwide, it’s an infinitesimally small number. And the reason they don’t come here is because they don’t know that Frank’s blog exists. And there’s no way of them knowing unless they spend some time on the internet searching, which as I’ve already said just doesn’t occur to them to do. The only message they are exposed to is that they are a minority group with no friends, no support structure and that they are a burden to society. And they stink. And it must be true; it’s all they read in the newspaper. They never, ever read any articles with a different opinion. Even ‘Climate Change’ gets a bit of a pasting in the media from non-believers now and then. But smoking – you never read anything positive about smoking…

      • Rose says:

        In the early days of the ban, I learnt a lot of things I didn’t know by reading the comments below those online newspapers, there was a lot of good information being passed between the abusive comments of the astroturfers and it was the only way to find out what real people were thinking as it was their only avenue of protest.

        Harley certainly does his best, he seems to be everywhere.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I think that today’s Internet works in much the same way as daytime TV did back then.

      Good point.

      I wasn’t aware that Women’s Lib was born on daytime TV. My recollection of it was that quite a few women I knew started getting a bit ‘Libby’ in the early 1970s. It was also around the time when very long skirts became briefly fashionable. Daytime TV was a new broadcast medium, and the blogosphere is also a new medium.

      But the blogosphere is very much word-of-mouth. It’s much more like real society. It propagates slowly First it’s one or two people, then it’s 20 or 30 people, and then 200 or 300 people, and so on. It’s exponential. On each iteration, the numbers double or triple.

      Music used to be propagated in the same way. You’d go round and see someone, and they’d be playing something on their record player, and you’d ask what it was, and go and get yourself your own copy. And then someone else would hear you playing it on your deck, and so on.

      I take Nisakiman’s point that relatively few people read my blog (I have no idea whether it’s 1000 unique hits I get, or one person visiting 1000 times a day). The real point is that some of them will mention my blog on theirs, if they have one. Or they’ll tell people they know. I’ve even had people print off some of my blog pieces and distribute them by hand. So little by little, in the absence of any mainstream media support, awareness of a Resistance to Smoking Bans is gradually propagated in this exponential manner. Initially, the numbers are small, but they get bigger quicker and quicker.

      And it’s working. 10 years ago, when the UK smoking ban was voted through parliament, I wasn’t aware of any resistance at all. And then I heard about Forest and FreedomToChoose. And then it all gradually kept growing. Now there are dozens of blogs (mine being just one) which are either pro-smoking or anti-antismoking or vaping. And we’ve connected up with US smokers (Walt, MJM, GaryK, and lots more), European smokers (Klaus K, Lecroix, Reinhold, and more) And there’s Dmitry in Russia. And of course Canadian and Australian and New Zealand readers. And collectively, with our 100 hits or 1000 hits/day blogs, tweets, emails, and conversations we’ve now reached the point where I think we’re a sort of low rumble on the internet all over the world, and aren’t too far off the point where politicians and pundits will start to take notice. And it will probably be like Women’s Lib, which “suddenly” arrived out of nowhere.

  5. Harleyrider1978 says:

    You have to fight hard to keep it smoking I’ve been lucky these past 6 years fighting the Nazis at the state level in Kentucky now we have a governor who said not on my watch!

    In Tennessee I and all the others lost total life long friends at the waffle house after the ban. We weren’t even armed with any knowledge to fight back then in 2007 but it didn’t take me long to jump into the fray. I was a total outlaw fighting everywhere and in any state or country!

    It didn’t matter I had the time and energy for it then slowly we all found each other and the fight back party really began.

    It’s not over but politically anti smoking is on its death bed!

    • Rose says:


      Tobacco executive bashed and stabbed outside his home ‘angered criminals by working with police to stop illegal cigarette smuggling’
      12 August 2016

      “A British American Tobacco manager was stabbed at his Sydney home
      The violent attack was reportedly ordered by a notorious crime syndicate
      Police believe the syndicate was sending a message to the multinational tobacco company for its recent co-operation with federal police
      Illicit tobacco trade is a thriving, lucrative business venture in Australia”

      “A British American Tobacco (BAT) executive was bashed and stabbed in an attempted kidnapping outside his family home in Sydney.
      The assault and failed kidnapping are believed to be have been ordered by a criminal syndicate angry he was helping Federal Police clamp down on the booming illegal tobacco trade in Australia.

      The BAT manager, formerly an esteemed NSW policeman, was violently attacked by three men after refusing to get in their car, Sydney Morning Herald reported.
      Police reports allege that the men approached the manager while he was in the front yard of his home in Sydney’s upper north shore just after 10pm on June 4.
      He was stabbed and ‘further assaulted’ before the men fled the scene.
      A source said the former police officer had to ‘fight for his life’ to defend himself.”

      “Legislated increased in tobacco excise in Australia mean that by 2020 a packet of cigarettes will cost $40, whereas an illegal packet of cigarettes can go for $10.
      The increasing price of cigarettes has driven a black market trade of illegal cigarettes, which is a lucrative business venture for organised crime syndicates.”

      Does that sound like the end days of Prohibition to you?

      This time the Temperance Movement went for a salami slice approach , but the end goal is still the same and Australia seems the closest to achieving it.

      JD Rockefeller’s letter on Prohibition

      “John D. Rockefeller Jr the wealthy industrialist, was a tee totaller who agreed with American Prohibition of alcohol. It lasted from 1919 to 1933 and was a complete disaster. Drinking increased and organised crime blossomed, in 1932 he wrote a letter confirming the abject failure. It looks like the Conservative government will be condemned to not learn from history.

      “When Prohibition was introduced, I hoped that it would be widely supported by public opinion and the day would soon come when the evil effects of alcohol would be recognized. I have slowly and reluctantly come to believe that this has not been the result. Instead, drinking has generally increased; the speakeasy has replaced the saloon; a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared; many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition; respect for the law has been greatly lessened; and crime has increased to a level never seen before.”

      Prohibition lasted 13 years before it collapsed in a welter of death and criminality, we’ve already done 9.

      • Harleyrider1978 says:

        We didn’t have the Internet and overnite news then.

        The tax foundation stated in 2014 just what Rockefeller stated in that letter you posted.

        We have the same crime as what prohibition wrought in the 1920s thru high taxation.

        Australia like so many places is defunding tobacco control. Politically speaking stories like the kidnapping are perfect for building the case towards repeal!

        But the internet compared to 14 years of prohibition was controlled by the newspapers today 9 years in the Internet world is almost equal but the same politics is in play. They can’t just overturn the stupid laws they have to build a case overtime then in the midnite hour without prior knowledge the bans start getting repealed.

        • Rose says:

          Just as before, the death toll is mainly due to government policies, America poisoned the industrial alcohol, we are extolled to take drugs linked to suicide, in fact there are so many suicides since government passed social denormalisation strategies into law that the antismokers have had the cheek to link smoking to suicide as a cause.

          I read this everyday and have done for years now.

          The amounts of contraband destined for the UK appears to be astronomical, you’ll find in the local papers all manner of prosecutions and seizures that rarely get a mention in the MSM, and that’s only the ones they’ve caught.
          Having the second highest cigarette taxes in Europe makes us a huge target for criminals of all kinds.

          I had thought that the previous goverment would be grateful for my taxes to get Britain back on it’s feet after the recession, but no, the preaching continued and intensified.
          We’ll have to wait and see what happens with this one.

  6. waltc says:

    I agree that one division leads to another or at least that they’re synergistic. With the advent of Anti-smoking, my politics shifted right, not because the Republicans in office through the years were necessarily more tolerant or even less eager to tax and ban, but because , on principle, I began to see the danger of big monolithic collectivist government. And, trust me, being even slightly on the right in NYC is even less socially acceptable than being a smoker. (likely like being UKIP in London.) Republicans here , much like smokers , look carefully for telltale signs of likemindedness , test the waters very , very gently with a toe, and then speak to each other in muted tones.

    Similarly, my skepticism-turned-certainty that the Expert-driven “science” of shs was a crock opened my mind to skepticism about all Expert-driven scientific “consensus.” Like man-made global warming. (After all, if they’d lie so adamantly once, why not twice? Why not always?) And that, too, is a divide. You shut up and can the eye-rolls when people around you talk sincerely about killer carbon. Or killer cholesterol while comparing their statins. Long ago, they used to talk about a Silent Majority in American politics but I think that was before the military-industrial media became so adept at demonization which may have turned the silenced into a minority.

    And, just as a ps, (though , as you know, I’m far from a fan of his) Trump has so frequently shot himself in the foot while his foot was in his mouth, that it seems as tho Hillary and her big monolithic collectivist cronyist government will be here with us to stay. And perhaps, not long from now, instead of communicating openly online we’ll be scrawling samizdat on the inside of old Stork Club matchbooks.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Trump is said to have shot himself in the foot every day for the past 15 months, but somehow he keeps going from strength to strength. I still expect Trump to win in November. Because he’s using new media, while Hillary is using old media.

  7. Lepercolonist says:

    I remember when it was polite to ask guests if they would like an ashtray. What happened to civility ?

    • yvonnebones says:

      My mother, a non-smoking nurse 70 odd years ago, lit patient’s cigarettes if they were unable to do so themselves. That was in the days when nurses and doctors were compassionate and not judgemental.

    • Harleyrider1978 says:

      Gone after criminalization became law!

  8. sackersonwp says:

    Targeted change is what we need.

    In schools, there is an expectation that schools will make “reasonable adjustment” for special needs children, to promote inclusion. Special needs children aren’t expected to stand outside the school building in the cold and wet.

    Yet as you say, in other contexts the approach is draconian.

    I would suggest that the way forward is to campaign for “reasonable adjustment”. If airport smoking lounges are dingy goldfish bowls, get the airport to improve the furnishings. If pubs can offer a separate and nicely-appointed smoker’s room, why not?

    Besides, if the government succeeds in its obvious plan to legalise cannabis and find another way to raise tax that soaks the lower orders and makes vast, low-taxed profits for beardy businessmen, there will have to be somewhere for stoners to go, too.

    “Reasonable adjustment”: the war is won by language.

    • Frank Davis says:

      If pubs can offer a separate and nicely-appointed smoker’s room, why not?

      Because it’s illegal for them to do so. If they could, a great many would. The law has to change.

    • Rose says:

      This threat hasn’t been recinded.

      ASH and Thompsons’ Tell Employers:
      Don’t Say You Weren’t Warned Over Secondhand Smoke

      “The hospitality trade faces a rising threat of legal action from employees whose health is damaged by secondhand smoke, after a new tie-up between health campaigning charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and the UK’s largest personal injury and trade union law firm Thompsons was announced today.”

      In fact the government just passed, was using it to ban smoking in prisons.

      • sackersonwp says:

        Tyranny by lawyer. What about using employees who are smokers?

        • Rose says:

          Too easy and that wasn’t the required result.

          After years of warnings the non-smokers were still thinking for themselves and refused to be parted from their friends, even when they were given their own non smoking rooms in pubs, they all piled into the smoking room.
          It was the only way to separate the herd.

          Anyway, everybody knows from school that it’s only the naughty children who get sent outside, and outside is where TC were determined we would be sent, which is why they insisted that simple solutions like better ventilation would never work.

        • Rose says:

          Of course it never occurred to the dimwits that so many of us would give up the habit of a lifetime and stop going to the pub.

      • Harleyrider1978 says:

        You have to prove harm with SHS no harm can be demonstrated or proved annoyance does not mean harm!

  9. Roberto says:

    I think that a anti-smoking has a lot of a cultural prejudice of cultures that dislike heavy smells. Judging from my experience, this prejudice is particularly intense among the “educated” middle class the USA and other English speaking countries and in some nut case countries like Singapore. In spite of the successful efforts by the WHO in imposing smoking bans in all countries, attitudes to smoking are less extreme in cultures that are not “odor-averse”. In particular, attitudes to smoking are more relaxed in Mexico, and likely in all of Latin America. I have been a cigarette and then a cigar smoker for many years and have not lost a single acquaintance or friend (non-smoker or ex-smoker) because of my smoking (and cigars make a lot more smoke than cigarettes). Yes, I cannot smoke as freely as 10 years ago, our Federal Tobacco Law (drafted in 2008) forbids smoking indoors in most places, but the law is only enforced strictly in public places (government buildings, libraries, colleges, hospitals), it is enforced less strictly in restaurants and bars. There is some stigma for smoking, but it is seen as some sort of “chip on the shoulder”, not as some issue deserving a wholesale moral crusade. Most publicans make an effort to accommodate smokers, either outdoors in large comfortable terraces and some restaurants and bars (the expensive ones) are able to find legal loopholes to keep indoor smoking areas. Most non-smokers ask you not to smoke in their houses, but do not treat you like a shitty “addict”. Except for campuses in some snotty private universities, there are no outdoor smoking bans, even our most extreme anti-smokers don’t care if you smoke where they cannot smell you (even if they see you smoking). The whether allows for year round outdoor activity, so smoking outdoors does not feel like being excluded.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I think there’s an important truth here. Increasingly, the developed world is an odourless world, in which any odour is automatically a Stink. People worry about Body Odour. “Odourless” is a plus point in ways that “colourless” has yet to become virtuous.

      The old world was a place rich in aroma. When I lived in Rio de Janeiro, there were open sewers which had their own distinct sweet aroma. When I lived in the Gambia the mangrove swamps stank. The real world is full of odour, and the modern suppression of odour is perverse.

  10. Lecroix says:

    Reblogged this on Contra la ley "antitabaco" and commented:
    Otro artículo fundamental de Frank Davis sobre el aislamiento social que experimentan muchas personas debido a la prohibición de fumar. Y sobre el cambio de mentalidad que se produce en muchos al imponerse la prohibición.

    Para muchos, entre los que me incluyo, hay un antes y un después de la ley “antitabaco”. Profundamente marcado. La vida no se parece en nada a como fue. Ni mi manera de ver las cosas.

    Porque, además de la pérdida de amistades, además de la exclusión social, la ley “antitabaco” provoca un cambio de mentalidad.

    Como se ha comentado con frecuencia en este blog, hoy en día una persona que aún fuma a pesar de la presión y discriminación antitabaco, es muy probablemente una persona escéptica con los “expertos”, los “estudios”, los políticos. Ha visto de cerca la fea cara de la mentira, la calumnia, el abuso y la corrupción.

    Y reconoce fácilmente esa cara cuando la ve en otro lugar.

  11. flaxensaxon says:

    Shit, I think the bastards must be winning, cos I actually don’t know any smokers these days. Mayhap some friends are hiding their habit, but as an ex-smoker I know all the tricks, so no, they ain’t. I do believe that folk should be allowed to peruse legal activities without restriction, otherwise we are living under a dictatorship, which should be resisted with the Will of all right folk with vigour.

  12. Fredrik Eich says:

    Hi Frank,
    If you remember a while back we both blogged about the former soviet union seeing their lung cancer rates falling despite having high smoker prevalence?

    well P N Lee comptuting have very recently released historical smoking data
    for the USSR/FSU and I have added this new time series to my blog post about it.

    It’s pretty clear that the falling smoker prevelence has zero effect on lung cancer rates.

    My blog post here:

    Your one here


  13. Fredrik Eich says:

    Frank, I think I have one in the bin!

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