Full Scale Assault

A few days back, in the Smoky Drinky Bar, Emily mentioned in passing that one of her smoking friends didn’t think smoking bans really mattered.

And I was thinking this morning that probably that’s the way most smokers think about them. They don’t really matter. And that’s why they never speak up against them. Why should they speak up about something that doesn’t really matter?

Does it really matter if you can’t smoke in some places any more? The smoking bans have been slowly creeping in for many years. In public transport. In cinemas. And there were always smoking bans in churches. Those never bothered me too much. So why should I be bothered about the extension of smoking bans to pubs and cafes and restaurants? Why do I think that this matters when I didn’t think the other bans mattered?

In fact, I think those earlier bans did matter to me. I can remember when smoking was banned on the London Underground sometime back around 1970, and being dismayed about it, and lighting up. But it was only a brief restriction. I didn’t spend all my time riding trains. But I started spending less time on trains. And also buses. Because I no longer liked them. One good thing about having your own car is that you can smoke in it, although of course even that is under threat now.

I also remember when cinema smoking bans were introduced. The old cinemas in the 1950s and 1960s were smoky places. Part of their charm lay in the projection lights beaming through the smoke. Once smoking was banned they lost their atmosphere, and became chilly unwelcoming places. And I stopped going to them.

In fact, maybe I stopped going to church because smoking was banned in them, and I no longer really wanted to go. Churches had always been cold, unwelcoming places. In fact, I started smoking round about the time I stopped going to church, although I didn’t associate the two at the time.

My response to smoking bans has always been to avoid them. I don’t use public transport if I can help it. And I don’t visit cinemas or museums or art galleries. And now I don’t go to pubs and cafes and restaurants either, except as briefly as possible. And when friends ban smoking in their homes, I no longer visit them. Why should I want to go where I am not welcome? And these days I don’t feel welcome anywhere, except in my own home, and my own car, and in a few pub gardens (and then only in summer).

We tend to think of smoking being banned in places. But actually they are bans in time. The church smoking ban only came into effect on Sundays (right), The train smoking bans only applied during the weekday rush hour. The cinema smoking bans only applied in the evenings for an hour or two. So smoking bans take away notches of free time. It’s in that manner that freedom is slowly taken away. And once lost, it seems that it never returns.

Each small loss of freedom doesn’t matter very much in itself. But they gradually add up to be completely oppressive.

I came of age in a time when a great many freedoms were being gained. By women. By black people. By homosexuals. By writers. By children (co-educational schools, end of corporal punishment). It was a time when freedoms were being gained. And now freedom is slowly being lost – although not for women and blacks and homosexuals, whose new freedoms are carefully guarded. It’s all the other freedoms that are vanishing.

Perhaps societies are always slowly oscillating between freedom and constraint. And one era of liberality is shortly after followed by an era of restriction. And the current era is one of mounting restrictions upon everything.

In the USA, the Second Amendment right to bear arms is under intensive attack. Here in the UK we never had that right. Or if we did, we lost it round about the same time that smoking started being banned. It’s something that has never bothered me because I’ve never wanted to own or carry a gun (although now I increasingly feel that I’d quite like to own a submachine gun and a few hundred rounds of ammunition). I think the US Second Amendment right is an important right for US citizens.

Also in the USA, the First Amendment right to free speech is under mounting attack, with calls to ban “hate speech”, and disapproved speakers being “no -platformed”. Political Correctness entails bans on the use of some words. And that places little restrictions, here and there, on the spoken and written word, much like smoking bans. You can’t say this, and you can’t say that.

I wonder if Emily’s friend would mind having her freedom of speech abridged? Would she mind if a few little legal restrictions on speech were introduced? Such as not being able to say “cadaver” or “corpse” or “dead body”? I bet she wouldn’t mind at all, if she hardly ever uses those words. Maybe she wouldn’t even mind if she worked as a mortician, surrounded by dead bodies. Would it matter?

When I was at school, there were lots of periods of compulsory silence. We were  supposed to remain silent in classes (except when asking the teacher questions). We were often required to be silent as we went from one class to another. We were really only allowed to speak in our free time (which included meals), and we didn’t have very much of that. And of course we had to remain silent in church.

And, seeing as ‘health’ is the only thing that seems to matter these days, couldn’t there be a case made for compulsory silence in public places – in pubs and bars and restaurants? After all, if the smoke and carbon dioxide that comes out of my mouth is a health threat, aren’t the words just as much a threat? If I say something that makes someone angry, doesn’t that increase the likelihood of them having an apoplectic fit or a heart failure or asthma attack? Wasn’t it said during WW2 that “Loose Lips Cost Lives”. And isn’t laughter a bit like having a fit of hiccups or coughing?

RdM posted up a sign in an Auckland shopping mall a few days ago.

Wouldn’t it be simple enough to add . Talking at the bottom? And would it matter?

Is it any different from all those road signs which say No Right Turn or No Overtaking or No Stopping? They don’t matter very much either, do they? And they’ve been spreading like a cancer on UK roads for many, many years now. There hardly used to be any of them back in the 1950s.

I think they all matter. Because, in their totality, they add up to a full scale assault upon every form of freedom. In some ways, smoking bans are the least of it. And it’s been going on for 5o years or more. It never stops.


About Frank Davis

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29 Responses to Full Scale Assault

  1. Timothy Goodacre says:

    Bans are made to be broken. If we don’t stand up to them these puritan bastards will have won and we will lose all our freedom. You brilliantly describe Frank how we have had our social lives stolen !

  2. roobeedoo2 says:

    I remember smoking on the London Underground when I started work in 1983. I think there were smoking carriages at that time but after the Kings Cross Fire in 1987, smoking was completely banned on the Tube.

    • lleweton says:

      As I dimly recall, smoking had been banned on the Underground platforms before the Kings Cross fire and there was some comment that maybe a passenger’s hastily discarded cigarette on the escalator was what ignited accumulated rubbish beneath the moving apparatus.

      • roobeedoo2 says:

        That’s possible – I stopped smoking in 1985 and didn’t take it up again until 1992.

      • Tony says:

        I think the platform/train ban came in very shortly before the fire. The ban enabled them to reduce cleaning staff. Hence the accumulation of rubbish under the escalator. At least that was one of the causes I remember being suggested at the time.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I remember smoking banned on the Metropolitan line. The first time I experienced it was at Rickmansworth, which I hardly ever visited after about 1970. Which is why I set the date then. The last time I lived in London was 1974. But then I had a motorbike to get around.

  3. Mark Jarratt, Lake St Clair Pumphouse, Australia says:

    Loose lips sink ships they say, and isn’t it always that way (Ramones “Swallow my Pride”).

  4. Rose says:

    I’ve never minded the private owner of a property or vehicle banning smoking, it’s when the government steps in and bans that owner’s free choice that I mind. These things have always been decided by individuals and by negotiations between individuals.

    My favourite cafe banned smoking decades ago, I still go there, it was the owners choice and they had every right to do it on their own property. Yes, they might have lost some customers back then, but it was their risk to take and their customers right to go elsewhere.

    When the government steps in and uses the law to ban these private decisions a fundamental freedom has been lost by all parties concerned, now and in the future.

  5. Rose says:

    Incidentally, Frank,
    I tried the Marmite and that worked too, though I didn’t like the aftertaste, it reminded me of Barley Wine.

  6. Rose says:

    Damage limitation or a diversion? I can’t decide

    Blog: Why ASH Scotland does not support a ban on smoking in the home
    24 October 2017

    “John Watson, deputy chief executive of ASH Scotland, hits back at media reports claiming the charity is seeking to ban housing association tenants from smoking at home.”

    “Back in the office this morning after a few days off covering the school holidays. The first thing demanding attention is a slew of media articles along the lines of “Ban smoking at home, say Scots campaigners”.
    I’m not surprised journalists would leap onto such a story, it makes for great headlines. The only problem is that it just is not true. It is a particularly fine example of what we now call “fake news”.

    To be very clear – ASH Scotland does not support this idea and has never called for it. As Mark Twain had it “Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it”.

    “Any government ban or legal restriction must always be justified by balancing the benefits achieved against the costs imposed. The practical implications of imposing, and monitoring and enforcing, a ban on smoking in the home are substantial, while any additional benefits in shifting from the current supportive approach to a legal prohibition are entirely unknown.”

    What we have heard from services providing support to families (for example at the recent STA event) is a real concern that a legal ban could lead to professionals (from health visitors to social work) being perceived as policing the legislation, and being denied access to the home by those not managing to comply with it. Having families disengage with support services increases the risks to children and is not what we want to see.”

    “What links each of these varied approaches is that they are supportive of families rather than coercive. If that’s less exciting for the media then so be it.”

    Do you believe him?

    • nisakiman says:

      Didn’t both Clive Bates and Deborah Arnott ridicule the idea that smoking would be totally banned in pubs?

      • Vlad says:

        Exactly. Even reading what this hate group says, never mind actually analyzing if they mean it or not, is a form of masochism.

      • smokingscot says:

        Despite the half arsed attempt at avoidance, the fact is they are pushing, sorry “encouraging” housing associations to get new tenants to sign up to a lease agreement that demands the property remain smoke free.

        And they want the same deal with all new build council housing.

        The later may take some time because the council’s are so short of funds that there’s hardly any new builds under construction.

        (Those in charge of some housing associations are doing so already. People who refuse the terms face a longer wait and usually end up in the very much less desirable areas).

    • beobrigitte says:

      To be very clear – ASH Scotland does not support this idea and has never called for it.
      Do I believe the ASHite?
      It’s all a matter of interpretation and/or lying by omission. What is omitted is the fact that the ASHites did not dispute the ultra-hyper-even-more-than-second-hand-smoke-danger of THIRD hand smoke, causing damage to the house/flat which will cost the equivalent of a star fighter to clean up to make the house/flat “habitable” and “safe” for the next (of course non-smoking) occupier.
      Furthermore, whilst being ?quiet on the front line, there is no guarantee that the ASHites weren’t leaning on politicians “to-do-something”. I would like a little more transparency with respect to the ASHites activities behind of what is publicly known of their activities.

      “What links each of these varied approaches is that they are supportive of families rather than coercive. If that’s less exciting for the media then so be it.”
      Causing rifts in families (an ever increasing number of which are already strained by either marital disputes and/or the diverse pressures families these days face) by (ab)using children to coerce one or both parents into hiding their smoking quite frankly just is NOT being supportive of families. The media ALWAYS reports in ASH’s favour, anyway.

      Using the ASHite’s citation:
      As Mark Twain had it “Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it”.

      • smokingscot says:

        Sorry Rose, using the tablet tonight.

        My reply is tagged at the end of the previous thread.

      • “To be very clear – ASH Scotland does not support this idea and has never called for it.”

        Just spent some time trying to track down the parallel quote about pub bans. There was some discussion here about the quote four years ago, with Rose noting a significant missive from 1999: See the discussion at https://cfrankdavis.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/smoking-helps-protect-against-lung-cancer/

        AHH! Here we go! LOL… I tracked it down while writing TNacht:

        Sensitivities were particularly acute in the mornings, a time when one’s olfactory senses are sharp and highly functioning after a night’s respite from the social assaults of perfumes, body odors, and car exhaust; Hungarian, Australian, or Upper Mongolian cooking odors; or even a co-worker’s unfortunate fondness for too much Old Spice aftershave or pine-scented air-fresheners. Bars were simply written off as being smoky dens that would never change; the idea of banning smoking in those dens of iniquity was pretty much simply unimaginable in the world of the 1970s. Indeed, even as late as 1998, Clive Bates, the head of Action on Smoking and Health’s UK branch, declared that rumors of plans to ban smoking in pubs and restaurants was just “scaremongering” by the tobacco industry. Less than ten years before every pub in the UK would be forced to throw its smokers into the streets, ASH UK reassured the public that, “No one is seriously talking about a complete ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants.”

        TN p. 79, from: BBC News. “Smokers Get Militant Over Ban,” BBC Online Network News, September 9, 1998. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/167762.stm


        And this Google brings up some interesting old stories:

        – MJM

  7. Smoking Lamp says:

    Smoking bans certainly do matter. They started small (elevators, smoking sections in restaurants, cinemas, short flights, then all flights, then public areas in workplaces, then entire workplaces, then all restaurants, then all bars) and then smokers were “exiled to the outdoors.” Noe they seek bans outdoors at beaches and parks and downtown districts, as well and in private residences and entire cities in California.

    Smoking bans are incremental prohibition. Smoking bans are also an assault on liberty and like all assaults on liberty won’t stop with a dingle liberty–in this case smoking. Not only do smoking bans matter, they must be resisted. The lies they are founded on must be exposed, and they must be repealed (or modified to allow public smoking in designed areas indoors and out).

  8. beobrigitte says:

    A very interesting post, Frank!
    Does it really matter if you can’t smoke in some places any more?
    I have never heard of there ever having been passed a law passed by a government that forbids smoking in Churches. Most people naturally made the decision to be considerate of the wishes of their priest/pastor etc. etc. There was never an extortionate fine to pay if you did smoke in Church.
    I believe, those were the times grown up people were treated as what they were: ADULTS. With that it was EXPECTED of them to make decisions on their own.
    In the years after the war no non-smoker wanted to be seen to be an anti-smoker; after all, the cigarette had become THE symbol of freedom, and (often begrudgingly) supplied ashtrays for smoking guests. I dare say, smokers were not aware of how much smoking bothered some people as they either didn’t speak up, or spoke up far too aggressively.
    The rest we know. A ?hand full of anti-smokers started becoming active.

    A few days back, in the Smoky Drinky Bar, Emily mentioned in passing that one of her smoking friends didn’t think smoking bans really mattered.
    To me smoking bans matter a lot. A GREAT lot!!!
    For quite a number of reasons, the LAST one being the search for a COMFORTABLE place to light my cigarette.
    I feel a constitutional RIGHT taken away from me: being treated with DIGNITY. Anti-smokers encourage the public (here in Britain Mrs. Arnott has enough PR background to facilitate this) to treat smokers as 5th class citizen. Furthermore, the so-called “lower” social class bears the brunt; being poor AND smoking cannot be tolerated!!!
    Where is here Human Dignity is Inviolable [Die Wuerde des Menschen ist unantastbar]?

    I feel my adulthood being taken away from me: I no longer am trusted (by whom?) to make decisions, e.g. be considerate to non-smokers. The ban laws (using plural here because I believe there are more to come) take this away from me.

    I feel no longer a free person.

  9. waltc says:

    Here it was “Loose lips sink ships.” Rhymes and everything,

    In terms of time, the worst are the workplace bans–8 hrs a day. I quit adbiz before they came in but couldn’t have worked there (written, thought, gone thru boring meetings) in a place where I couldn’t smoke. The ban came in at a time when I was enjoyably teaching one night a week at a local college. I smoked in class (as both I and the profs had smoked in class when I myself went to college) and so had the students. After the ban and its strict enforcement, smoking students (more than half the class) would disappear for ten minutes at a clip during class time to smoke on the street and during the halftime breaks in the 3hr class, we’d all gather on the sidewalk. I remember once when it was blizzarding outside, going into the stairwell to smoke and some bloodhound Ant teacher sniffed me out through the fire door (where do these people get their noses?) and not only told me off but told me she’d “report” me. I told her Go ahead but I guess she never did. I stopped teaching after that semester because it had stopped being fun.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I stopped teaching after that semester because it had stopped being fun.

      I’m sure I would have done the same. I wonder how many other teachers/lecturers did the same too. And the result would have been that only antismokers would have remained on the staff. The entire culture would have changed inside universities. Maybe that’s why they all seem to be overrun with environmentalists and antismokers and cultural Marxists these days?

      And in fact the same would have been true in any other organisation.

    • RdM says:

      I remember learning to spell “tobacco” (permanently!) at age 12-13, a year or two before entering High School, via a teacher who smoked Rothmans (I can’t recall that he did in class, although he had his packet with him) and in the usual format of the time announced the word, and used it in a sentence (presumably he spelled it out too, or we had it written on the blackboard, I don’t remember) … Tobacco … (I seem to recall him taking out a cigarette and tapping it on the pack) … Tobacco is an evil weed.

      Nevertheless, at that age it didn’t provide or provoke any desire or inclination to know any more about it. There were things we just accepted as adult behaviors which didn’t concern or affect us in the least at that age – alcohol as well.

      So I completely disbelieve all the “setting a bad example for the chiiildren” schtick.

      In fact I hadn’t even experienced coffee at that time; that came at about age 15, not even at home, where it had been restricted, but in hospital!

      I’d spent all weekend finishing an oil painting for a competition (later won 3rd prize) and the fumes (real vegetable turpentine rather than mineral, possibly) may have affected me – when I decided it was as finished as I could make it at the time, although still not quite satisfied, I downed brushes and went for a bike ride, starting around the suburban block; I remember the first corner, and the second, and next waking up in an ambulance on the way to hospital… a pensioner had seen me come around the corner and just gently keel over into the kerb, I don’t remember any of it.

      Anyway, sometime into the first night in hospital, a kindly nurse asked if I’d like a coffee, perhaps a milky one, and secretly delighted at the chance to try something new that I’d so far been not introduced to at home, perhaps slightly forbidden, a drink for adults, although I’d been introduced to tea years earlier, of course I said yes!

      And I’ve loved it ever since, have my own espresso machine now, never looked back.

      My first cigarette, I remember, was on a bridge as I was coming home after a few hours part-time Friday night work in my last year at school; although I’d been aware of the odd classmate as early as the 5th Form smoking at lunchtime (this was 7th & last) I hadn’t tried or had a chance to until then, meeting by chance a best schoolmate friend who offered me a B&H. I was quite pleased that I didn’t cough, and quite enjoyed it.

      So I bought my first packet, and it lasted at least a month, only one or two meeting friends on a Friday or Sat night.

      And incredibly cheap back then compared to today; just a normal grocery item, as it should be again, and not only that, but accepted as normal along with beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea;- agricultural products developed and refined over hundreds of years, for human pleasure of consumption.

      Also, I recall in the 5th form, during rehearsals for a Shakespeare play that I had a bit part in, one of the teachers involved in it asking me if I would nip out to the nearby shops to buy him a pack of his brand, which of course I was pleased to, and still had no desire or curiosity to be any part of it myself – an adult behavior. I was happy to be of service.

  10. Emily says:

    O/T but just same across this, about Princess Margaret :)

    The playful Princess with no filter would begin her days at 9 a.m. with “breakfast in bed, followed by two hours in bed listening to the radio, reading the newspapers (‘which she invariably left scattered over the floor’) and chain-smoking.”


    • Emily, I noticed that 8 of the first 11 paragraphs of that story highlighted her smoking. The other three concentrated on her drinking and illnesses.

      Meanwhile…. not a hint about the 101 year old Queen Mother ever smoking.

      Which is odd since I believe she’s been noted as smoking throughout most (all?) of her life and died at 102.

      The various articles I just looked through all highlight Margaret’s smoking illnesses and death along with the same stuff for three of the Royal males, but the Queen Mother’s smoking is always heavily downplayed due to the bad example she gave the world by living to 102.

      Perhaps in the future “they” will set a maximum allowable age for smokers and arrange for us to be turned into Soylent Brown (since we obviously can’t be green, right?) as we’re “euthanized for the greater good” at age 40 or so.

      – MJM

  11. Rose says:

    It seems that it’s not just smokers who are being routinely bullied in the NHS.

    Badly-behaved surgeons are ​putting patients’ lives in danger ​due to ‘culture of bullying’, report finds
    21 October 2017

    “Trainee surgeons are being assaulted during operations for raising safety concerns as part of an ‘endemic culture of bullying’ that causes patient deaths, the professions leadership has warned.
    The Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh (RSCE), which represents members across the UK, said a “visceral” atmosphere of fear among younger surgeons is leading to failures in concentration that directly harms patients.

    In a new report, the college also warns the profession’s “macho” attitude makes it difficult to challenge bad practice, a culture which enabled disgraced breast surgeon Ian Paterson to mutilate victims unchecked for two decades.

    It follows research published in June which found that one in six trainee surgeons are suffering from battlefield-type Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”

    Mind you when you start to legislate against tolerance, good manners and consideration for others it can only get worse.


    “Patients caught smoking inside or outside hospitals face being discharged under new government legislation, which will abolish hospital smoking rooms and encourage a total ban in all grounds.

    Patients caught smoking inside or outside hospitals face being discharged under new government legislation, which will abolish hospital smoking rooms and encourage a total ban in all grounds.

    The controversial “zero tolerance” plans are part of a new Bill, which will make all hospitals smoke-free by the end of 2006. In London, the deadline will be a year earlier, health officials announced last week.

    Patients too frail to endure low temperatures outside will be offered “nicotine replacement therapy” in the form of gum and patches. Other measures will include putting up “older person” signs around hospitals for patients crossing busy roads to smoke.”

    • RdM says:

      It’s been in the news here too.
      A simple search on say bullying hospitals nz brings up results.
      Typically too, headed by an ad for addressing bullying in hospitals, a service.
      Money to be made…

  12. Pingback: No Fun | Frank Davis

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