The Least Of Freedoms

These days I think of myself as a soldier fighting a war. I wake up every day to that war. And I’m fighting for freedom. I’m fighting not so much for freedom in general, but instead for a single, very simple freedom: the freedom to sit in a pub and drink a pint of beer and smoke a cigarette. For I think that if that simple freedom is lost, all freedom is lost. And if people won’t fight for the very simplest freedoms, they’ll end up losing all their other rather more complex freedoms.

So I wake up every day in my trench, and rustle up a mug of tea, light a cigarette, and peer over the parapet at the distant enemy lines. For it has become trench warfare. The enemy were initially very successful, and I’ve had to retreat a long way to the particular trench I now occupy. Our side has been going backwards for a long time. And we’re quite likely to carry on being driven backwards, because the enemy retains the initiative, and is always planning new offensives.

The enemy is made up of people like Deborah Arnott and Stanton Glantz, ASH, most of the MPs in the Labour and Lib Dem parties, the EU, the UN, the WHO, and of course Tobacco Control. They’re very rich and powerful and organised. And of course they’re fighting against freedom. Someone like Deborah Arnott wakes up every day, rustles up a mug of cold water, and continues to plan to take away the freedom of millions of smokers, and exile them even further to the outdoors.

I doubt if she would see it quite like that. I doubt if she sees herself as the enemy of freedom. Because what I see as freedom, she sees as slavery. For antismoking zealots like her, smoking isn’t something people freely choose to do, but something to which they are addicted, something they can’t stop themselves doing because they are devoid of willpower. No, Deborah Arnott sees herself as a liberator, freeing enslaved smokers from their terrible, self-destructive vice. Because, in her view, not only are smokers addicted to cigarettes, but they are also addicted to something that is actually slowly killing them.

And this is probably how it always is in war. Both sides see themselves as fighting for something good and noble. They always do. That’s why there are wars. People become irreconcilably opposed to each other, unable to persuade each other through reason or debate, and so instead resort to force.

And the likes of Deborah Arnott use the force of law. They’ve made it illegal for people to sit in a pub and drink a pint of beer and smoke a cigarette. And the law is backed up by the threat of fines or imprisonment. And now, in HUD residences in the USA, they want to take away the freedom of people to even smoke in their own homes.

In time, this soft, bloodless war on smokers may become a truly bloody war. For what I fire off every day isn’t a bullet from a rifle or a howitzer, but an essay. Essays don’t kill anyone. And so every day, currently around noon, I load a new essay into the barrel of my WordPress blog, and fire it off into the distance. And the blog has a very long range. I can even reach Russia and America.

But I’m usually not actually firing at Deborah Arnott or Stanton Glantz. I’m not really very interested in them. I doubt if I can change their minds about anything. With my essays I’m trying to express what it’s like to be a smoker, and what I’m fighting for, and what I worry about, and what I hope for. I write my blog for other smokers. I’m far more concerned about the spirit and will and determination of smokers all over the world than I am about our enemies in the trenches opposite. I try to put into words things that they don’t know how to put into words – and which I can barely put into words myself. I’m always trying to put things into words. And every new essay of mine is a new attempt to say the unsayable.

For I think that, given that there are about 1.5 billion smokers around the world, and there are far fewer Arnotts and Glantzes, it will only take a slight stiffening of the resistance of smokers to the war that has been launched against them for them to start to push them back, and retake the ground they have lost.

So I think of myself as encouraging dogged resistance in the smallest of ways, even if it’s just lighting up a cigarette in the street outside a HUD residence. I encourage little acts of defiance. Because lots and lots of little acts of defiance add up to large acts of defiance in the same way that little drops of water add up to create rivers and lakes and seas.

Many people think that smoking is the least of freedoms, and really isn’t worth fighting for. They’re much more interested and engaged in fighting against, say, the EU. Fighting for the freedom and autonomy and self-determination of the British people seems to them to be much more worthwhile than standing up for smokers. So they’ll campaign against the EU, and for Brexit, and so on. They want Britain to be a free country again, where people make their own laws, govern themselves. I want that too. But the freedom of self-determination as a people is a very big and complicated sort of freedom. And the freedom to make your own laws is arguably also a rather paradoxical sort of freedom, given that laws (e.g. smoking bans) place restrictions on people.

But what’s the point of campaigning for such large, elaborate freedoms like self-government, national self-determination, and so on, if at the same time you allow the very least of simple freedoms to be taken from you? Like the freedom to sit in a pub and drink a pint of beer and smoke a cigarette.

And that’s today’s essay more or less ready to be fired off. Now I just have to carry it back through the mud and barbed wire, huffing and puffing, and load it into the WordPress blog firing chamber, aim into the far distance, and pull the lanyard.

With luck, the report might even be heard in Moscow. Or Washington. Or Beijing.

About Frank Davis

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33 Responses to The Least Of Freedoms

  1. Lecroix says:

    Reblogged this on Contra la ley "antitabaco" and commented:
    One of your very best volleys, Frank. Reloading and refiring.

  2. Pingback: La menor de las libertades | Contra la ley "antitabaco"

  3. “it will only take a slight stiffening of the resistance of smokers to the war that has been launched against them for them to start to push them back, and retake the ground they have lost.

    So I think of myself as encouraging dogged resistance in the smallest of ways, even if it’s just lighting up a cigarette in the street outside a HUD residence. I encourage little acts of defiance. Because lots and lots of little acts of defiance add up to large acts of defiance in the same way that little drops of water add up to create rivers and lakes and seas.”

    Exactly Frank! It’s what I call being “the grains of sand.” Eventually you wear away the enemy by erosion or by clogging up the treads of its tanks. It’s hard to do alone, but if you can find even just one or two others to join in with you, you can begin tossing in full sized pebbles in carefully arranged acts of civil disobedience… i.e. where one will disobey, and then while authority is confronting them over in that corner they’re suddenly able to say, “Well, how come you’re not bothering HER? (or Him or Them)” … pointing to someone thirty feet away who’s also lit up. Then, after a couple more back and forths, you can grudgingly put out your smoke while the restaurant gendarme heads off to the OTHER smoker. Of course at that point, a third one off in another area, lights up, and as the gendarme heads over there, you, having seen two others smoking by this point, light up again. :>

    With a bit of luck, particularly if you’re able to remain calm and polite while the Oppressor gets flustered and loud, you’ll attract some sympathy from others… and maybe someone you won’t even know will join in.

    – MJM, trubblestirrerupper

  4. garyk30 says:

    As a smoker, I am going to claim that I am “ racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it” and watch the oh so sensitive antis dissolve in fluttering, sputtering insanity.

    I shall state that these beliefs travel thru the air and ether and will infect the sensitives that hear or read my words.

    Watching the reaction of the whinny crybabies is pure joy.

    Saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to them causes such a delightful look of confusion on their faces!

    I am not an ‘alt.right; but, I admire the simpering,whimpering rage that their words cause.

  5. Bucko says:

    That was brilliant

  6. alanxxx says:

    Please keep going Frank. I recently had an altercation with a doctor in the grounds of a medical centre that was disturbingly unprintable – me being the originator of the disturbing quality.

    Enough little prods where these f**kers expect you to feel guilty and you are anything but, and the whole eugenicist dam of bull will fall.

    It is important, like opposing the burning of any books is important.

    • Harleyrider1978 says:

      I’d suggest burning anti smoking literature is a good thing! There’s a mountain of junk science that could truly warm the planet lmao

  7. Harleyrider1978 says:

    It’s been heard in America right now!

    Trench warfare I’ve used the same analogy for nearly ten years as we are the ones who declared war on tobacco control in 2007 after their back room sneak attacks like the japs did on dec 7th 1941 while pretending peace talks to cover up the attack!

  8. Timothy Goodacre says:

    Yes Frank we are all guerillas now and in 2017 must carry on our fight to be able to enjoy tobacco wherever we want.

  9. prog says:

    Business guru Arnott, who also claimed that smoke free pubs would thrive (and the idiots believed her).

    ‘Our latest research, a joint project with the National Centre for Addiction at King’s College London, found that corner shops make on average a profit of only £242 a week on tobacco products, but £2,611 on everything else they sell – so, tobacco makes up 10% of their total weekly profits. Average profit margins are only 6.6% for the tobacco products they sell compared to 24.1% for all other products.’

    Whilst ignoring that many customers pop in for smokes then impulse buy other so-called killer products (see below). Not that £242/wk profit is exactly peanuts and would go a long way to paying for one staff member.

    ‘A better alternative for retailers is to reduce stock, shift the gantry and free-up space for products that actually turn a decent profit’.

    I’m guessing that’d mean a little more space for booze, sugary drinks, sweets, cakes, chocolate, crisps, Ginster pies and Rustler burgers.

    • Harleyrider1978 says:

      Exactly smokes beer and gas in the convince store business is the lifeblood and the knock on sales something cvs pharmacy lost their asses on and depended on Obamacare payoffs for in house nannying clinics to bring the bottom line up which it never did and their stock values have dropped by 50%

      • prog says:

        I don’t think retail shop tobacco sales were ever particularly profitable. OK, there used to be more independent tobacconists but most have now disappeared. Truth is Harley, that she cares nothing about the fortunes of convenience stores, just as she didn’t about pubs, clubs and bingo halls. It’s simply a drip drip erosion of people’s choice of where and/or what to buy. Particularly worse for the less well off, which is fine and dandy for her and her cronies on huge salaries all of whom live in some God-forsaken bubble. The bursting of that bubble can’t come a moment too soon.

        • waltc says:

          Sort of like the suggestion that opium farmers switch to growing lettuce

        • Harleyrider1978 says:

          Prog it’s not the sales of a particular day that make tobacco sales profitable it’s the vast amount that sales that adds to the bottom line across the board.

          You lose the attractor that gets customers in the door and they grab everything else!

          You drop the item they come for say 90% of the time and no more side sales because the guy still selling smokes gets the knock on sales too!

          In retail everything on the shelf is the profit margin because it moves in fast pace volumes!

        • Tony says:

          @walt, probably not what you had in mind. Presumably those advocating lettuce as an alternative to opium had a puritanical salad vegetable in mind but:

  10. slugbop007 says:

    Ms Arnott certainly is a numbers cruncher. She forgot to include black market sales. I hope that on the day that the bubble bursts Deb and co will all be trapped inside, hovering in the air at a dizzying height.


  11. audreysilk says:

    Bravo Frank

  12. Pingback: In the News December 15th | Convicted Vapour

  13. slugbop007 says:

    I just saw these web links a minute ago:

    Jan 8, 2011 – 5.5 trillion cigarettes are smoked worldwide each year. … 5,000 people are employed by tobacco companies in Britain, while 80,000 jobs depend on tobacco, eg. … 100 million deaths were caused by tobacco in the 20th century. … In pics: Some fledgling firms have reached valuations in the tens of billions. Tobacco Statistics & Facts | ASH > Action on Smoking & Health 100 million people died from tobacco-related diseases in the 20th century. Without … of tobacco products is increasing globally, though it is decreasing in some … The unstoppable march of the tobacco giants | The Independent › Lifestyle › Health & Families › Health News May 28, 2011 – How the industry ruthlessly exploits the developing world – its young, poor and … In the 20th century, some 100 million people were killed by tobacco use. …. I work in a chip shop and half of my wages go on that [smoking].

    That’s a pretty big claim. I wonder how they made their calculations? SAMMEC? How many people died in WWI & WWII? They must have all been smokers.


  14. slugbop007 says:

    It just dawned on me that 100 million is ten times less than what they predict for the twenty-first century. Extraordinary, given that less people smoke now than last century by almost two thirds. According to official statistics. They toss out more suspect numbers than ticker tape at a Christmas parade.


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