Here’s last night’s Smoking Section, which I spent disagreeing with Stephen Helfer:
I think the difference between Stephen Helfer and me is that he wants to take the fight to the enemy, while I want to build an army.
Because I don’t think that you can take the fight to the enemy if you don’t have an army.
He was talking last night about forming a small disciplined unit of people – perhaps a dozen people – who would act in concert together.
But I don’t think a dozen people can achieve very much more than one person can. I want an army of millions of people. I want an army of millions of angry smokers.
He was also suggesting that small disciplined units of people could make themselves appear to be much more numerous than they actually were. But I want the reality of such large numbers of people that, if anything, there is a tendency to under-estimate their numbers rather over-estimate them. I want a real army, not an imaginary army.
There is not really any disagreement here. We both want the same thing. What we’re disagreeing about is how to set about it. We both want to repair the broken-down car. We simply disagree about whether to open up the hood and examine the spark plugs, or jack up the rear and take off the wheels. It’s a procedural difference. What needs to be done first?
The problem was perhaps best illustrated by the very first comment, by Dirk, under yesterday’s post
Maybe a crazy idea, but what if suddenly 50 smokers turned up in a pub and started smoking? By the time the police arrives they’re gone. And then they do this again and again in other pubs,..
I don’t think that this is a crazy idea. Or at least the only crazy thing about it is that you first need 50 people. It’s like one of those rabbit casserole recipes that begins “First catch your rabbit.” And therein lies the principal hurdle to making rabbit casserole.
It’s all very well imagining what you might be able to do with 50 people in a flash mob, but while there aren’t actually 50 such people, it’s a phantom flash mob, an imaginary army of toy soldiers.
So what I’ve begun to consider is not so much what I might do with an army of 10 people or 1000 people or 1 million people, but instead consider how to raise an army of 10 or 1000 or 1 million people.
There are approximately 1.5 billion smokers in the world (maybe twice that number, for all I know), and they are all of them being bullied and demonised and robbed. When are they going to start fighting back? When are they going to say: Enough!!
I don’t think I’m asking any kind of profound new question here. This is something that has happened throughout history again and again and again. And will no doubt continue to happen. At what point does a placid farmer take his hoe and turn it into a spear, or take his plough and beat it into a battle-axe? When does the breaking point come when the gentle farmer says goodbye to his wife and children, and marches off to war?
THE smoking ban should be extended to include all outdoor public areas, according to health experts.
Exclusion zones should stop smokers lighting up in parks, pub and restaurant gardens, at public events and shopping areas.
All university campuses and schools, beaches and sports and leisure facilities should also fall under the crackdown.
Doing so could encourage one in three smokers to switch to e-cigarettes, experts at the Royal Society for Public Health predicted.
They are calling on the next Government to put the ban and other health measures at the forefront of their manifesto ahead of General Election.
So, having cracked down on UK smokers for the past 10 years, the bastards want to crack down on them twice as hard.
It even brought one ex-smoker somewhere near breaking point.
It’s time we stopped indulging these nannying fussbuckets. Time we told them to butt out of our lives. Time to point out that whether we smoke, drink, eat cake or go to a burger bar is absolutely none of their bloody business. Time to close down public health.
Absolutely. Public health must be closed down. And Tobacco Control must be destroyed.