I was thinking about volcanoes this morning. I don’t really know how they work. And I can’t remember ever reading anywhere an explanation of how they work. But for most of my life I’ve supposed that what happens is that when rocks deep under the surface of the earth are heated to melting point, they also expand – since most materials expand when heated -, and it was this expansion that resulted in volcanic eruptions as the expanded liquid rock (molten lava) flowed up out of volcanoes.
But this morning I came up with another explanation. Imagine a cyclindrical barrel half full of water. Then imagine a circular plug of some heavy material (concrete?) which lies on top of the water. Finally, imagine a narrow tube in the centre of the plug through which water can flow freely. When the heavy plug is released to press down on the water, the pressurised water under it will flow rapidly up the the tube, and form a water spout above it. The tube and the water spout form a ‘water volcano’. In a real volcano, the water is replaced by molten lava or magma, and the plug is replaced by the crust of the Earth, and the tube is replaced by a fault or crack in the crust of the Earth. And real volcanoes work in the same way as my ‘water volcano’.
Some simple deductions may be made from this model. The first is that the force or power of the eruption is almost entirely dependent on the weight of the overlying crust: the heavier its mass, the higher the pressure in the magma chamber below, and the higher the resulting column of ejected material above the volcano. If the overlying crustal mass is light, lava will flow gently out of the volcano and down its sides. If the overlying crustal mass is very heavy, lava will be projected very high into the atmosphere. In the Hawaiian islands, where volcanoes produce streams of molten lava flowing down their sides, the crust of the Earth is thin and relatively light. Elsewhere, beneath continents, and mountainous regions of them, volcanoes are likely to produce far more explosive eruptions.
Now it is somehow entirely characteristic of me that I very often translate these sorts of physical models from the natural world to the human world. And so this morning I was thinking that smokers are just like the magma under volcanoes. They are “under pressure” from smoking bans and taxation regimes that are “pressing down” heavily on them all over the world, just like molten rock in the Earth is under pressure all over the world. And at some point the pressurised smokers are going to cause an eruption in the exact same way as real volcanoes. And the power of the explosive eruption is going to be in proportion to the “weight” of the rules and regulations and taxation pressing down on the smokers: The harder they are pressed down on, the larger the resultant explosion.
It might be added that the antismokers in Tobacco Control have a rather different model. In their model, the effect of all their bans and their taxation will simply be to crush smokers out of existence. They believe that all they have to do to eradicate smoking is to increase the overburden of bans and restrictions and taxes to the point where smokers are completely crushed. Or, in a slight variation on my model, they believe that the application of continual pressure on the smokers will gradually squeeze them out of the top of a steadily erupting volcano in which they first become ex-smokers, and then oppressive antismokers. That is to say that as the smokers are expelled from below, they become ex-smokers as they ascend the tube of the volcano, and become antismokers pressing down on smokers when they fall to earth.
Whose model is right? Mine or theirs?
In some ways, things have actually been working out exactly as their model suggests. The application of gradually intensifying pressure to smokers has indeed converted a great many smokers into ex-smokers and antismokers who now press down ever more heavily on the smokers below. And smokers have been under gradually mounting pressure for about the past 100 years. The pressure mounted very, very slowly at first. But in recent years it has mounted very sharply. In some parts or the world (Syria? Philippines?) smokers are now being executed for smoking. And there can be no doubt whatsoever that Tobacco Control is perfectly prepared to execute smokers, if this is what needs to be done to eradicate smoking. That’s how much they hate smoking (and smokers). And all eugenic programmes always entail mass murder.
However the appearance of vapers with e-cigarettes signalled a break-down of their model. They hadn’t expected this development. E-cigarettes provided a way for smokers to carry on smoking in an entirely new way, and to escape the overburdening bans and restrictions and taxation. It should be no surprise that many smokers have become vapers: it was a way of escaping. But the response of Tobacco Control has been to determine that vaping is the same as smoking, and that e-cigarettes are just as dangerous as real cigarettes. In this manner all those vapers who thought they had escaped the crushing smoking bans and taxation have been stuffed back underground with the smokers. There’s no vaping way round the smoking bans and the hyper-taxation of tobacco.
Vaping offered an easy way out for smokers. But that rather elegant way out has now been blocked. So both smokers and vapers must cease putting tubes in their mouths and sucking on them, even if their is no tobacco or nicotine in them. And the result is that the pressure on both has risen sharply, and the likelihood of the sort of explosion (that my model predicts) has also increased sharply.
Tobacco Control always wants to increase the pressure on smokers to stop smoking. But how much higher are they prepared to go? Undoubtedly many (most?) antismoking zealots would like to see smokers being murdered. But is the British government prepared to embark on a programme of mass murder? Are Theresa May and Boris Johnson planning a Final Solution to the Smoking Problem? Somehow I rather doubt they have any intention of doing any such thing (although Jeremy Corbyn is probably different: perhaps somebody should ask him?). My impression is that the likes of May and Johnson are quite happy to encourage smokers to quit smoking, and maybe even to gently nudge them to quit, but they’re not prepared to stuff them into gas chambers if they don’t. Or not yet. And that may be another reason why the government could be becoming disenchanted with the endless calls from Tobacco Control to ratchet up the pressure on smokers. For ultimately the government can be held responsible by an electorate which still includes a great many smokers and vapers, and Tobacco Control is accountable to nobody, except the savage gods they worship.
Somewhere down the line, a breaking point will be reached. And we are now getting very near that breaking point.