Some two-year-old Norwegian news:
Smokers in Norway ‘like Jews under the Nazis’
A politician from a fringe conservative party in the far north of Norway has compared the plight of smokers in the country to that of Jews during the Nazi occupation.
“We are fighting against a systematic discrimination against smokers,” Geir Finne, leader of the Coastal Party in the country of Troms, said an article published by TV2. “We have not seen anything like this since the time of the occupation.”
The party, which describes itself as “culturally conservative” has made the battle against smoking bans in cafés, restaurants and bars key to its campaign ahead of this month’s municipal elections.
“This is legally enforced discrimination. Jews were also already being persecuted from 1933,” he continued. “We are more monitored today than under the Stasi.”
Kristian Andresen (21), a senior party member in Tromsø, said that the comparison was Jews was intended to be striking.
“You have to use some pretty powerful language if you want people to listen,” he said. “That’s why we are comparing the smoking ban with the persecution of Jews, especially what happened in 1933-1939. We did not compare it with the torture and murder that happened during the war, but with the actual persecution.”
It’s not just Norway where smokers are being treated like Jews under the Nazis prior to 1939. They’re treated that way almost everywhere in Europe, and in fact everywhere in the world.
And this is why smokers are actually being treated worse than Jews under the Nazis. The Jews could at least flee Nazi Germany, and find refuge in other countries. The plight of modern smokers is far worse: there’s increasingly nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
Another reason why the current global persecution of smokers is worse than the Nazi persecution of the Jews is that there are a great many more smokers than Jews. In Europe in the 1930s there were some 10 – 20 million Jews: there are about 1.5 billion smokers in the world today – 100 times as many.
In addition, the Nazis were persecuting smokers in Germany long before enlightened modern Europe began persecuting smokers – with the slight difference that the modern persecution of smokers is far more intensive than the Nazi one.
And the modern persecution of smokers is based upon the exact same “science” as the Nazi science used to justify the Nazi war on smoking. And this science mirrors the “science” used to justify the Nazi persecution of the Jews. For the Nazi persecution of the Jews was a Public Health measure just like the Nazi war on smoking. The Jews (and smokers again today) were regarded as “poisonous” people polluting the otherwise healthy body politic. And of course they “stank”. They were regarded as human vermin. And eventually they were exterminated like vermin.
For the World Health Organisation (WHO), smoking itself has become a disease. The smoker with his cigarette is no different from the plague victim with his buboes. From the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Foreword:
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.
For the Nazis, the Jews themselves were the disease. So now the smokers themselves are the disease. Both require to be isolated, segregated. Both must be demonised and vilified in media campaigns. Both must be pushed to the margins of society. Deborah Arnott, a year prior to the UK smoking ban, predicted that:
“Smokers will be exiled to the outdoors.”
And that is exactly what happened to them on 1 July 2007. This was not some unintended consequence. It was the fully conscious intention that smokers be driven out onto the streets. Of course, being driven out onto the streets, in cold and wet and darkness, wasn’t going to do the health of smokers any good. But it was not the health of smokers that the antismoking campaigners were interested in: it was the health of everyone else. Tobacco Control is trying to rid the world of smokers, just like doctors set out to rid the world of bubonic plague, and the Nazis set out to rid the world of Jews.
And if smokers, once excluded from indoor public spaces, are now to be found in the streets, the zealous Public Health campaigners next campaign for them to be excluded from public outdoor spaces – like parks and playgrounds and beaches. And if they then retreat to their own homes, then they must be pursued there as well. This is exactly akin to pursuing malarial mosquitoes from one swamp to another.
And at the same time, smokers are increasingly being fired from their jobs because they are smokers, refused medical treatment because they are smokers, and evicted from their homes because they are smokers.
In the Nazi era, those areas from which Jews had been expelled were declared to be “Jew-free” (judenrein). So now, in a direct echo of this, areas from which smokers have been expelled are called “smoke-free”. In both cases an inverted, negative idea of freedom is invoked.
Equally, while in the Nazi era a public campaign of vilification and demonisation of Jews was conducted while at the same time hiding the consequences that the Jews were experiencing, so now the public campaign of vilification and demonisation of smokers hides the consequences experienced by smokers, which sometimes includes their death.
In the Norwegian article, one of Norway’s Jews upbraids the Coastal Party:
Monica Csango, a writer, director and author who is one of Norway’s 1,500 Jews, said the Coastal Party should try and make its members less ignorant.
“I would recommend that the Coastal Party take not just a crash course, but spend a minimum of one year carefully reading history,” she told TV2. “Most of all I would recommend that they get in contact with a skilled communications agency.”
And the Coastal Party will indeed need a skilled communication agency if it is make Norwegians aware of the predicament of of Norwegian smokers.
But the Coastal Party has at least made enough noise to be noticed here in England. So maybe they’re already skilled at communication. And the world needs to learn that smokers everywhere are being treated just “like Jews under the Nazis”, and for almost exactly the same reasons as they were.