400 Years

Something of a slight discussion broke out in the comments yesterday about whether oppressed and persecuted smokers should get organised. But they never seem to. And I often wonder whether they ever can be.

The smoking ban had an enormous effect on my life. I now think it had a larger effect than the last equivalent event that I experienced: the 1960s. But that’s just me. Most smokers don’t seem that bothered.

I meet them regularly when I sit outside English pubs in summer. They’re friendly, affable people. But when I get talking to them, it’s never about the smoking ban that had driven us both out into the garden, as if on a storm wind. Nobody wants to talk about that. None of them like it, but they don’t want to talk about it. They’d rather talk about something else. Like Brexit. Or Trump. Or the weather.

For them the smoking ban is like the weather: there’s nothing they can do about it. So why talk about it. It’s just something else to be endured. I imagine that it was the same during the war – WW2. That was another storm wind. Everyone was affected by it. But I bet they didn’t talk about it. There was nothing they could do about it. They probably talked about something else. Anything else. Perhaps it’s a general rule, applicable everywhere: the more important something is, the less people will talk about it. Not often that you hear people talking about death, is it?

I was living in Devon in 2007 when the smoking ban came into effect. Nobody liked it. But they didn’t think there was anything they could do about it. And the few acquaintances I knew would get angry when I suggested that there was something they could do about it – like write to their MP protesting against it (like I did, several times). It was pointless, they said. There was nothing that could be done about it. Just like there was nothing that could be done about the weather, or death, or taxes. This was our lot, and it was to be endured as best we could endure it. You just had to grit your teeth and get on with it. There was no point complaining.

But they all carried on smoking. And now that I’m living in Herefordshire, it’s no different. None of them like the smoking ban round here either, but they all carry on smoking anyway. And they don’t talk about it.

And they’re not ashamed of their smoking. They don’t scuttle away to hide somewhere while they have a quick smoke. They smoke just like they always smoked, openly and easily. In summer they’ll collect around garden tables, smoking and drinking and talking, just like they always used to sit around tables indoors. They don’t even mind when the smoking from one of their companions’ cigarettes blows over them. They’re neither bothered by firsthand nor secondhand smoke.

“I’ve had all the lectures on smoking many times,” one of them told me, in a rare breaking of the silence, “But I’ll always be a smoker.” And what was true of him was probably true of all the rest of them.

I suppose I’ve had rather fewer of the lectures than most. And I tend to answer back when I get lectured. There’s a look of surprise and disbelief that spreads over the lecturers’ faces when I tell them: “I don’t believe a word of what you’re saying.” Because I don’t.

If other people don’t answer back, it’s probably because they believe, or half-believe, what they’re being told. You can’t contest the science, can you? But that’s just what I do. I don’t believe the experts. I believe them less and less. It’s not just smoking I don’t believe them about. It’s also drinking and eating and obesity and sugar and salt and fat. I don’t believe a word of any of it. And I don’t believe in global warming either. Or the EU. Or that the Chelyabinsk fireball wasn’t a companion of asteroid 2012 DA14 like NASA says it wasn’t. You can’t argue with NASA, can you? That’s rocket science! But I can.

But I seem to be a natural heretic, a natural disbeliever. I don’t believe everything I’m told, or everything I read. I’ll question almost everything. I’m not a heretic because I think I know more, but rather for the precise opposite reason: I’m pretty sure that I know next to nothing about anything. And I think that, if they were honest, all the experts would be the first to admit that they knew next to nothing about tobacco or alcohol or food or exercise or chemistry or politics or economics or ethics or rocket science. Collectively, we humans hardly know anything about anything. And that’s why I find all these know-all experts and authorities so appallingly conceited: they’re like children who’ve learned to count to ten, and think they know all about numbers, or everything anyone ever needs to know about them.

But I doubt most smokers answer back when one of these self-styled experts starts lecturing them. And if they’re not answering back, they’re probably believing, or half-believing, what they’re being told. They can’t argue against it. They don’t know how to.

I overheard a snatch of conversation a week or two back. A smoker had popped outside for a smoke, and was talking on his mobile phone to someone. And I heard him authoritatively declare, of some mutual friend or acquaintance: “He’d live to 80 if he only stopped smoking and drinking.”  And here he was, standing outside smoking as he said the words. He may as well have had a pint of beer in the other hand, except for the need to hold the phone. Perhaps it was parked on the floor beside him. But he was only repeating what everybody knows.

I think it’s why some vapers start vaping. It’s because they believe, or half-believe, what they’re told about smoking: that it’s slowly killing them. I’ve got a couple of e-cigarettes myself. But not for that reason. I bought them because I thought I might be able to use them as a cigarette substitute in buses and trains and hotels and art galleries. But, even though they’re harmless, they’re being banned everywhere too. And an instant new anti-vaping “science” has been created to justify it. But I don’t believe a word of this new anti-vaping “science”. And I don’t believe a word of the antismoking “science” either. There’s not much real science around these days. It’s all voodoo science. It’s all megaphone magical thinking. Just like it was back in 1600, 400 years ago, when tobacco first appeared.

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13 Responses to 400 Years

  1. Roobeedoo2 says:

    The Righteous are adept at divide and conker…

    And a bit of TC Righteousness rubs off on those that quit smoking tobacco for vaping. They positively preen with it after being licked all over with the quit smoking propaganda. Very possibly tobacco smokers felt a bit like that over marijuana smokers in the past, when that was frowned upon by the Righteous. Now that marijuana smoking is more accepted, certainly in the US, they’re feeling all Righteous over the rest of us because their arguments have been finally acknowledged and they feel vindicated.

    Ideally, Smokers, Tokers and Vaperers should stop and think about how we’ve all be set upon each other in the past and present, and consider ourselves collectively, not the Wailers, but the Inhalers. We absolutely love what we do and fully respect each other’s right to choose their poison…

  2. prog says:

    ‘If other people don’t answer back, it’s probably because they believe, or half-believe, what they’re being told. You can’t contest the science, can you? But that’s just what I do. I don’t believe the experts.’

    Yet another lie the sheeples/MSM will accept as fact.


  3. Timothy Goodacre says:

    I always answer back Frank. I have noticed in Wiltshire that most people who started vaping have return to proper tobacco because they say it is much more pleasurable.

  4. Rose says:

    None of them like it, but they don’t want to talk about it. They’d rather talk about something else

    Stiff upper lip, we don’t like to show our emotions, however, it doesn’t mean that we don’t think some very dark thoughts about it and are steely in our resolve not to give into force of any kind.
    Perhaps that’s why they hate us, they can’t tell what we are thinking.

  5. Smoking Lamp says:

    Smoking bans seem too be popping up double time right now. Perhaps its time to become more vocal about their repeal were is a new survey from Cleveland, Ohio that might be of interest: Should smoking in public places be banned?


  6. jaxthefirst says:

    Although it can be irritating at times, I think that smokers’ stoic acceptance of the ban and all its associated injustices could work to our advantage in the future, as outlined on here recently re “surprise” political results. Well, we all know the phrase “keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer,” don’t we? And that’s precisely the opposite of what all the anti-smoking campaigners and their slavishly-obedient politicians have done. They’ve “exiled us to the outdoors,” banished us from polite company, expelled us from workplaces and brainwashed pretty much everyone and anyone in public office from communicating meaningfully with us. So of course they haven’t got the faintest idea what smokers, as a group, actually think or feel or want – not just about smoking, but about anything. That’s a lot of people’s views and opinions that they have, effectively, cut off their own access to. No wonder the referendum and the US election and, very possibly, forthcoming European elections have resulted in “surprise” results. Any result is likely to be a surprise when you only ask the opinions of people who are inclined to agree with all the “experts” and obediently do as they are told. It’s like predicting that Chelsea are almost certainly going to win the FA Cup after only consulting Chelsea supporters!

    Far from “keeping their enemies closer,” Tobacco Control has effectively put more distance between themselves and us than there has ever been before. Which, to be honest, is just the way I like it. All the time they and their hangers-on continue to try and pretend that we don’t exist, the better the chances are that policies to “call the dogs off” smokers, hidden away amongst all the other issues, will continue to slip under their radar and thus gain traction amongst those of us who are alert to them. Canny politicians will take advantage of this and garner extra votes, and all those “expert forecasters,” unable to acknowledge the effect of the “smokers’ votes” (because we don’t exist, remember) will continue to be baffled.

  7. Lepercolonist says:

    Quote from Donald Trump’s speech tonight in Cincinnati:

    “We won it [Ohio] big, but then the people back there, the extremely dishonest press … How about when a major anchor who hosted a debate started crying when she realized that we won? How about that?” said Trump, referring to ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, to cheers from the crowd. “And you know what she doesn’t understand? Things are going to be much better now.”

    The press has been totally dishonest with the plight of smokers. They just regurgitate the same old lies across the MSM. I have no trust in their reporting.

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  9. beobrigitte says:

    The smoking ban had an enormous effect on my life. I now think it had a larger effect than the last equivalent event that I experienced: the 1960s. But that’s just me. Most smokers don’t seem that bothered.
    Only a few days ago I described my life in the early 70s to some youngsters. They asked for an explanation of my definition of FREEDOM. We sure had it back then. And we were POSITIVE youngsters, all out to give our best, have the best and have fun. We weren’t scared. We understood that if we did stupid things and had to pay for it, it was OUR OWN fault. No need to blame somebody/something else. Not like the youngsters (and often their parents) today.
    My body isn’t my temple. It’s my vehicle with which I am experiencing life. Currently it’s not pleasant. I’m being treated worse than any animal on this planet. (Kick a dog out in the rain the RSPCA will be knocking on your door. But it’s ok to not only kick me out in wind and weather, it’s also ok to make me a villain.
    Back in the early 70s I never thought that I’d hate the life mapped out for my future based on scared people.

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