It was actually a bit of a surprise to read something which had a title like “The Pleasure of Smoking”. After all, in this relentlessly negative era, how often does smoking ever get associated with pleasure? It’s not often you read about The Joys of Smoking, or The Delights of Smoking, is it? Which is why I amplified The Pleasure of Smoking into The Exquisite Pleasures Of Smoking as a title for this piece.
Tobacco Control works ceaselessly to defame and smear the gentle habit of smoking, in much the same way that sex used to be relentlessly associated with VD (venereal disease), as if the only thing anyone could possibly ever get from any sexual encounter was a dose of the clap. Or alcohol was associated so strongly with alcoholism that the only possible outcome of drinking a beer was lifelong slavery to the bottle. So it’s refreshing to see a different approach being adopted.
Nevertheless, this is a report written from a Tobacco Control perspective:
This research has provided considerable detailed information on the way in which smoking is viewed by a group of confirmed smokers. This is a group whose opinions are rarely articulated. The implications of these findings from a smoking cessation perspective are significant because there is a clear gulf between the way smoking is typically viewed as a negative, somewhat reprehensible behaviour, and how the smokers themselves saw their smoking as a source of pleasure, a choice rather than an addiction. Whilst it may be objected that “Smokers would say that, wouldn’t they?”, if stop smoking services are going to succeed in engaging with those smokers who continue to smoke in the face of the extensive efforts aimed at encouraging smoking cessation they are going to have to be prepared to engage with smokers on the terms upon which those individuals view their own behaviour. This includes being willing to recognise the pleasurable elements of smoking.
I often wonder at the complete failure of Tobacco Control to “engage with” confirmed and unrepentant smokers like myself. They only seem able to deal with those smokers who have already swallowed most of the antismoking propaganda. They are at a complete loss over what to do with those smokers who haven’t.
In fact, I don’t think it’s possible for any of these people to ever “engage with” someone like me: the defences are simply far too deep, the ramparts too high, the barbed wire too dense, the machine-guns too active.
And furthermore it would seem to defeat their purposes if they were to admit that smoking has any pleasures at all. For once the pleasurable nature of smoking has been conceded, how is one ever going to get any smoker to consider giving up smoking?
Along with the goal of reducing smoking prevalence these tobacco control measures have sought to denormalise smoking. Over time smoking has shifted from being seen as a socially accepted even desirable activity to being viewed as a stigmatised and socially frowned upon activity engaged in by a minority of people who require help to quit.
I think that, among smokers, smoking has never been denormalised at all. When, in summer, smokers gather together in pub gardens, they smoke as openly and normally as they ever have. And they no more talk about smoking than they ever used to do: i.e. not at all. Smoking has only been denormalised among those people who are susceptible to propaganda campaigns, much in the way that climate alarmism is only prevalent among those people who are easily persuaded by climate scientists and other self-styled experts. Some people – perhaps even most people – believe everything they’re told, and some people – perhaps only a few people – don’t.