I’m interested in what people in Tobacco Control think. But it’s an alien mindset. And, I think, a completely mad mindset.
Simon Clark reports on ASH Scotland:
We hear that Forest is paying for a survey with the aim “to find out what smokers really think”.
This is a laudable aim – and chimes with an interest of ours. We don’t know enough about who smokers are, what they are thinking or how they perceive the actions of public health interests (or indeed commercial ones).
In particular there is a need to explore how views and desires vary amongst the 900,000 people in Scotland who smoke tobacco – why do some groups smoke more than others? What services or functions are people seeking from smoking? Why does a consistent majority say that they want to stop?
Sadly this FOREST survey will not help us with this.
I don’t think that Tobacco Control has any interest in what smokers really think. Why should they? Tobacco Control wants to eradicate smoking and smokers. So why should they be interested in what smokers think? If you have an infestation of mice or rats, do you want to know what the mice or rats think? Can mice or rats think at all? And who cares what they might think anyway? It is of no consequence at all.
For these people, smoking is a disease. They think that the world is in the grip of a “smoking epidemic”. It’s a disease because people can’t help doing it: they’re addicts. And Tobacco Control is “helping” them.
For them to want to know what smokers think is like wanting to know what typhoid or cholera or malaria sufferers think. Of what value is it to know what these people think? About what?
What Tobacco Control is doing is to take a well-established medical model of communicable disease – typhoid, cholera, malaria, etc -, and extend it far beyond the borders of medicine. They see smoking as a disease like typhoid. It’s a disease that kills people just like typhoid does. And it’s a disease that’s communicated much like typhoid, through advertising, glitzy packaging, peer pressure. From the Foreword of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (my added emphases):
The WHO FCTC was developed in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic. The spread of the tobacco epidemic is facilitated through a variety of complex factors with cross-border effects, including trade liberalization and direct foreign investment. Other factors such as global marketing, transnational tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and the international movement of contraband and counterfeit cigarettes have also contributed to the explosive increase in tobacco use.
It’s a bit like someone who’s a car mechanic seeing not just cars as needing servicing, but everything else as well, including trees, animals, people, bridges, houses. And so in absolutely everything they’re always looking for the nut that needs tightening, or the valve guide that needs replacing, or the oil that needs changing – in trees, animals, and plants. Such people take what knowledge they have of some subject – cars – and universalise it to everything else. They approach everything as if it was a car. And Tobacco Control is a mutant form of medicine in which everything is seen as a disease of some sort. “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail “(Mark Twain).
Because it’s not just tobacco that they see as an epidemic, but also alcohol, fat, sugar, salt, fast food. When they look at the world around them, they see rampant disease everywhere. If a new chinese restaurant opens up somewhere, they see it as part of a growing epidemic of chinese restaurants. They probably see Starbucks as a disease, an epidemic of coffee bars that’s spread all over the world from its origin in Seattle in 1971, with Patient Zero the first guy who walked into the shop and ordered a latte.
They’ve universalised the disease model. It doesn’t just apply to typhoid and cholera. It applies to everything. And now they’re trying to wipe out not just typhoid and cholera, but also smoking and drinking and chinese restaurants and Starbucks coffee bars.
Perhaps it even extends to the political world. Big Tobacco is a disease. And Big Oil too. And Capitalism is a disease, a sort of epidemic that broke out a few centuries ago, and has been raging ever since. So actually they’re trying to eradicate not only smoking and drinking and chinese restaurants and Starbucks coffee bars, but also Big Tobacco and Big Oil and Capitalism. They are all diseases. Global Warming too. And the presidency of Donald Trump as well.
Perhaps it’s why they’re all so health-conscious. Once you start to see disease everywhere around you, you start to take precautions. And when smoking became a disease, and smokers diseased people, then sitting in a roomful of smokers was just like sitting in a roomful of plague or typhoid patients. And not just smokers, but also drinkers and hotdog eaters and chinese restaurant goers.
It’s precisely because smoking is seen as disease that smokers are believed to want to stop smoking, and thereby recover from the disease. The idea that smokers might not want to stop smoking is as implausible as a cholera patient not wanting to recover from cholera. And to the extent that smokers can be persuaded that they are suffering from a disease, to that extent they are bound to want to be cured of it. Same with drinkers. And chinese restaurant goers. And golfers.
What’s deeply poisonous about the mentality underpinning Tobacco Control is that it turns everything into a disease. Smoking. Alcohol. Chinese restaurants. Big oil. Capitalism. It defames everything. Nothing is healthy. All is sickness and disease.
In fact, Tobacco Control is itself a disease. It’s a mental disorder that has reached epidemic proportions. It’s the disorder that comes of seeing everything as some sort of disease or disorder. It’s the disorder disorder.
It’s a mental disorder that reaches the highest levels of the WHO, as evidenced by the way they were holding a week-long conference on the global smoking non-epidemic while the very real Ebola epidemic was killing thousands in Africa. They’ve taken their eye off the ball, because they see everything as a ball of some sort.