No Fun

A comment by Walt set me thinking late last night:

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.

I never had a full time job. Or hardly ever. I worked as a freelance software engineer for over 20 years on short term contracts. And also I often worked at home. And by the time the UK smoking ban came in, I’d pretty much completely ceased working altogether.

So I never experienced a workplace smoking ban. Although I know I would have utterly hated it, because I always smoked while working. It was essential for concentration. It was also essential to stop working every few hours, forget the job completely for half an hour or so, and come back to it with a fresh mind. That way I could work all day, and sometimes all night. I seldom worked office hours anyway.

Reading Walt’s comment I suddenly realised that smoking bans must have wreaked havoc not just in pubs and restaurants, but in workplaces as well, And just like a lot of smokers simply stopped going to bars and restaurants, a lot of them probably threw in their jobs as well. Or at least started wanting to.

Because all of sudden, overnight, everything would have changed. And all the fun people would be in retreat. And all the no-fun people would be in ascendance. The bloodhound Ant teachers would have taken over. For they were the people who stayed on. And as the smokers left, they’d be the ones who got promoted, because there was nobody else to promote.

I started wondering whether this was why universities now seem to be full up with no-fun environmentalists and feminists and cultural Marxists: all the fun people had been driven out.

And it wouldn’t just have been universities, it would have been the same in any organisation whatsoever. Including companies large and small. Government offices. Maybe it even applied to rock’n’ roll bands.

And I think that the eclipse of the fun people, everywhere, overnight, would not have improved the performance of any of these organisations. For people would start being promoted within them not because they were talented workers, but simply because they didn’t smoke, and they were the only people left. If you were the CEO in some company, you’d find that a lot of your talent had vanished. Or – same thing – that a lot of your talent had got less talented, because in the new “smoke-free” environment they no longer worked as well as they once had.

I’m supposing here that most of the imaginative, talented people in any walk of life are going to be smokers. I always think of artists and musicians and writers as smokers. Scientists like Einstein too. It isn’t entirely true, but it seems to be true. Maybe it even applies to army generals. Here’s (right) Eric von Manstein, often cited as the best general in WW2 Germany. He’s the imaginative guy who dreamt up the Ardennes offensive that resulted in the rapid defeat of France in 1940.

Manstein was probably a fun guy, working for a no-fun Hitler until Hitler fired him. After all, the Nazis weren’t exactly fun people. And Erwin Rommel, another imaginative German general, was also a cigar smoker:

Major General Michael Gambier-Parry, of the 2nd Armoured Division, was captured with 2,000 of his men by Rommel in Mechili, Libya, in 1941.

The German field marshal invited the British officer to dine with him in a gesture of military camaraderie. The pair shared good wine and smoked ‘excellent cigars’, according to Gambier-Parry’s granddaughter, Liza Donoghue, 67.

I’m beginning to think that smoking bans, when they’re introduced, constitute an invisible or secret revolution. And 1 July 2007 was the day that revolution took place in the UK. The same revolution took place on different days in countries all over the world. And it was the day that the no-fun people took over, and took over absolutely everything. And everything changed everywhere, in even the tiniest crevices of life.

And now nothing works quite so well any more. And nothing’s any fun any more.  And all the politicians are clones. And all the music is dull. And so is TV. And so are movies.

The last time I ever saw no-fun antismoking Dr W, he was speaking to TV cameras outside the BMA. He’d somehow risen to the top. That was back sometime around 1995, and by then the no-fun antismokers were totally in charge of the medical profession, and also the WHO. And most likely all the smoking doctors (and something like 80% of UK doctors smoked back in the 1950s) had been driven out of the top levels of the medical profession by 1995. No-fun, talentless (and, believe me, Dr W had no talent for anything) antismokers had taken over medicine, and begun promoting each other to the top. e.g. Liam Donaldson, Sally Davies. And when they manage to get smoking banned everywhere, no-fun talentless people take over absolutely everything. (Which reminds me that I read of a possible new pandemic last night: black plague. Anyone for another bout of Ebola?)

Perhaps I should run a poll asking readers to say what effect smoking bans had in their working lives. Did the wrong people start getting promoted? Did good people start leaving, retiring early, emigrating. Did business efficiency fall? What’s a good question to ask here?


About Frank Davis

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29 Responses to No Fun

  1. RdM says:

    Well of course bans have affected business, and productivity.
    There’s as mentioned on your blog before of course
    and I remember another one from his blog specifically referencing a Danish study on productivity decline since the smoking bans there, which I think would be useful information and desirable to provoke research into for every country by year, even if GDP is not the most accurate measure of workplace happiness, efficiency, productivity… I’d thought it was in my bookmarks! Anybody?

  2. lleweton says:

    I’ve thought for very many years that the attack on smoking was at a very deep level, maybe even unconscious on the part of the anti-smokers, an attack on creativity.

    • Rose says:

      Yes, well it’s very obvious that they haven’t an original thought in their heads and follow each other like sheep.

    • Barry Homan says:

      We’re getting warmer. As I’ve often said, there’s something about all this that we’ve never quite been able to articulate…some vindictive aspect that’s very much alive in modern culture, but it’s hard to define properly what it is. I just know it’s there.

      I too, here in Denmark, have seen how dreary anti-smokers manage to get themselves into positions of authority. They’re usually drab, unimpressive types that wouldn’t command the attention of a flea.

      • jaxthefirst says:

        I may have picked this up from this very blog some years back, but this article – – makes quite interesting reading. (I’m not very good at links, so you may have to copy and paste).

        A sample reads: “Could the nicotine have had a beneficial effect on innovation and growth in the economy last century? Because if that’s true, it can help explain why productivity in the labor market in the Western world has fallen a little year by year since the 1970s, as government health campaigns have reduced the number of smokers.

        “One can also raise the question of whether the many smoking bans in the workplaces may have contributed to the major productivity decline in recent years. Thus, in Denmark, an unexpected and unexplained robbery of productivity is seen in both 2007 and 08 – exactly after the state forbade smoking at all Danish jobs.”

        It’s written by Danish researchers Niels Ipsen and Klaus Kjellerup (who also have some interesting views on other “settled science” issues such as climate change, if you’re interested, Frank) and links the downturn in the Danish economy (and, indeed, in all Western economies generally) since the 1970s, soundly at the door of exponential growth of the anti-smoking movement since that time.

        This is quite an old article (2011). His main site is at:

        Definitely worth a read.

    • Joe L. says:

      Personally, I believe it is a conscious decision.

      Creativity, originality, introspection, critical thought, rebellion–these are just some of the traits that are strongly associated with smoking, and they are also highly undesirable traits in a population which must be kept docile and under control.

      • I believe it is, and has always been, a conscious decision, too. Social engineering is all about that, after all; creating a desired outcome by coercion, propaganda, restrictions and legislation, any other means needed to accomplish the goal of shaping people into something other than who they are at heart.

        The biggest loss is the real and genuine texture of reality and differences in people. Lost is the ability to do anything joyful or pleasurable in public without a lace of guilt built around it, or scrutiny after. Added to that is the expectation of self-moderation to the point that it’s no longer pleasurable – it’s just reduced down to a measured respite of allowable quantity in order to be somewhat accepted behavior.

        Relationships – social, personal, whatever, presuppose a certain additive and mutual benefit to one another – there should be difference in perspective, approach, abilities and means and methods of thinking and doing – a benefit to all parties involved and a place for them to be themselves. Smoking bans come hand in hand with the idea that everyone should be doing something ‘healthy’ or ‘productive’ at all times, things that benefit their fellow man, their profession, or themselves. The guide is provided from above with not so subtle hints about what acceptable activities and pastimes are, what acceptable foods are, etc…

        Years ago I read a book called ‘Defying Hitler’ – I’d recommend it for many reasons, but for the sake of this topic, he remarked about how life in Germany changed when the Nazis came to power in that, every daily interaction or conversation suddenly held a political and moral implication – the idea of a care free life disappeared – both in public, but also, what happened in private. The same has become true today in the western world – from where you shop, to the groceries you buy, to the bags you put them in – it’s all open for judgement and scrutiny and comment.

        I read this book around the same time I went to a neighborhood party where no one smoked and all the adults worked in white collar tech and professional occupations. They all raved about where they shopped for organic and vegan foods, and remarked about how all of their children played soccer. What struck me as I stood alone in the backyard enjoying a smoke just before I left, was how every single one of them was completely and bent on out-being a better platonic version of this odd ideal than each other. They were all the same, except for their names and hair color…

  3. RdM says:

    Musicians including Miles happily smoking between solos in a 1959 performance of “So What”.

    (Atrocious audio & video quality from the time, I’m sure I have a better version filmed of that track somewhere on a drive here, but the music still shines through.)

    And I remember seeing Jethro Tull in the Auckland Town Hall in the early ’70s; Ian Anderson announced that they’d start with a “short number” and then proceeded to play the whole album of ‘Thick As A Brick’.
    After dancing around the stage between flute breaks he’d always arrive back at the microphone in front just in time to pick it up again…
    Then after an hour or so of that a mini interval where he came back on stage deliberately smoking a cigarette… as though to say, see, I can do all this and still smoke.

    Plus I’ve seen visiting European classical musicians sneak outside for a smoke during their interval in much later years… it definitely aids concentration, calmness, creativity.

  4. Rose says:

    the worst are the workplace bans–8 hrs a day

    OK I confess, I had to spend 8 hours a day for two weeks as a non-smoker this summer, there was no other choice.
    I’ve done so much work on the various plant chemicals in tobacco I had overthought it and dismissed nicotine entirely and thought that the magic of tobacco must be in something else.
    But as I have found over the past ten years there is a grain of truth in everything anti-tobacco says, you may have to hold it up to a mirror and read it backwards, but it’s there.

    I couldn’t quite believe that that tiny bit of niacin in the smoke could possibly be what my brain was asking for when I felt the inclination to smoke, but seemingly it was and I sailed through those two weeks without the slightest problem and as an enthusiastic smoker, I must admit that conducting my secret experiment was quite a lot of fun,.
    No standing in the rain for me.

    “The niacin content of unfortified tobacco was found to be 0.13mg. niacin over three fourths of the cigarette.”

    Nicotinic Acid
    Niacin, Pellagra-Preventive (P.P.) factor

    “In 1926 pellagra was induced in volunteers by a deficient diet and both these volunteers and patients were cured with yeast The isolation of nicotinic acid was accomplished in 1912 from yeast and its identity with the P.P. factor established in 1937.”

    I used yeast extract dissolved on the tongue.
    No nicotine, no tobacco and no lungs involved.

    Of course it might just be me …

  5. waltc says:

    You started me thinking in several ways at once–mostly about “fun.” Seems to me that though I know maybe half a dozen people who never smoked but are nonetheless fun ( interesting ideas, quick wits, spontaneity, no barriers) that most of the once-smokers who quit are either no–or else a lot less– fun than they were back when. Maybe it’s the self-restraint involved in not smoking that translates into other kinds of restraint, maybe it’s an unabated tension, or maybe it has to do with what prompted them to quit in the first place–those constant intimations of mortality. (How much fun can you be, or have, when death is lurking in the next cheeseburger or the thought of a cigarette, or the whiff of somebody else’s?)

    Then, too, I imagine, as Frank implied, that smoke-free offices are no longer much fun. The smokers are tense, the ex-smokers are tighter than they used to be, and the never-smokers have never known how relaxing and/or stimulating a cigarette can be. I remember conference room tables with ashtrays all around and people being sharp and funny on the one hand and then, on the other, suffering the endless fools and bastards with an easy equanimity. Hard to imagine it’s the same these days w/o the buffer of cigarettes.

    And not hanging out in bars any more, I merely imagine they’re not nearly as much fun as they used to be either.

    • Emily says:

      Bars are definitely not as much fun. Half the time people are staring into their smartphones!

      • waltc says:

        Here on the east side of Manhattan at least, the old time pubs are gone. What’s left seem mostly to be two kinds of bars–the ones with $22 a pop Scotch and guys in dark business suits doing dark business and joints with blaring music and screaming 20-somethings (clearly with nothing to say since you can’t hear yourself think) looking for hookups. The friendly Irish bar in my neighborhood wisely, I guess, closed after the bar ban was enacted but before it took effect, the owner saying she read the tea leaves and wanted to quit while she was ahead.

      • Joe L. says:

        I completely agree. Most public places and activities are no longer fun due to indoor and outdoor smoking bans. Nowadays, I view public outings as more of a hassle and an inconvenience than an enjoyable experience.

        Tobacco Control must be destroyed.

        • Smoking Lamp says:

          I agree. The trend toward outdoor bans is running rampant these days. The second hand smoke lies need to be exposed. And yes, tobacco control must be destroyed.

  6. Joe L. says:

    OT: A couple weeks ago I was wondering why we hadn’t heard a single word from alleged Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock’s other two brothers.

    Well, out of the blue today, Bruce Paddock shows up in the news because he was just arrested on possession of child pornography! If this isn’t strange enough, apparently law enforcement was already looking for him before the Oct. 1 shooting, which, I would think, would lead them to his brothers in order to determine if he was living with them or if they knew his location, right? If so, that would mean that Stephen Paddock was “on the radar” of law enforcement shortly before the shooting.

    Even though the LVMPD refuses to hold any more press conferences, this story continues to get more bizarre and confusing.

    Brother of Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock charged with child porn possession in L.A.

    • Joe L. says:

      When it rains, it pours! This new story is even more bizarre (emphasis mine):

      A laptop computer recovered from the Las Vegas hotel room where Stephen Paddock launched the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history was missing its hard drive, depriving investigators of a potential key source of information on why he killed and maimed so many people, ABC News has learned.

      Paddock is believed to have removed the hard drive before fatally shooting himself, and the missing device has not yet been recovered, sources told ABC News.

      I assume that means it is believed that he removed the hard drive after firing on the crowd but before he killed himself, because I would think it’s fairly obvious that he couldn’t have removed the hard drive after killing himself.

      So … if Paddock was the “lone wolf” that the official narrative portrays him as–the only person locked in the suite from which he supposedly fired ~1000 rounds of ammunition into the concert below, then what could have possibly happened to his hard drive in the short amount of time between when he removed it from his laptop and the time he supposedly killed himself?

      Las Vegas shooter’s laptop missing its hard drive

      • jaxthefirst says:

        Unless, of course, he removed it before he started shooting (maybe even before he went to the hotel at all), knowing full well that there wouldn’t be time to do it afterwards, once the police burst in and arrested/shot him and/or he shot himself before that happened – which I imagine he knew he might have to do to avoid being caught and or killed by them – he certainly doesn’t seem to have had much in terms of an “escape plan” lined up.

        • nisakiman says:

          Why then, would he take the laptop at all? Because without the HDD, it’s just a useless extra piece of junk to lug around for no reason.

        • Joe L. says:

          @nisakiman: My thoughts exactly–if he removed the HDD elsewhere, why bother bringing the laptop to the hotel room? Also, for this report to come out, they must have some form of evidence that the laptop was actually disassembled in the hotel room.

          @jaxthefirst: It may not seem like he had much of an “escape plan” lined up, but all the way back on October 4, the LVMPD stated in a press conference that they had evidence to believe he did, in fact, plan to escape.

  7. Mark Jarratt, Melbourne Airport, Australia says:

    Anti smoking zealots and puritans are the most obvious, and indicative of a continuing authoritarian paternalism streak in western society, imposed by those with open hostility and contempt for the decisions of others.

    The Greens party in Australia now seek to impose limits on gaming machine bets, as of course they know best how other people should spend their OWN money. Astounding dictatorial arrogance. In a free society, which the Police State Australia has become is clearly not, adults must have the freedom to make their own decisions, even if moralistic elites disagree. 😐

  8. Lepercolonist says:

    The worst part of the smoking ban in my government job is when employees snitch on the smokers to management. First you were given a verbal warning for taking an unauthorized smoke ‘break’. Followed by a written warning, then a 7 day suspension.a 14 day suspension, finally with termination. All for doing something that was permitted for over 200 years in the U.S.

    It feels like the Stasi is here. Sickening.

  9. Rose says:

    The problem with anti-tobacco science is that they can never admit that there is anything good in tobacco and never will, hence the panic in 1942 and the name change from Nicotinic Acid to Niacin.

    The problem for the Tobacco Companies is that nobody in their right mind would buy heavily taxed tobacco if a cheap alternative with more of the magic ingredient X was commonly known, after all keeping it quiet is how they make their money.

    Governments are happy to go with the “Nicotine Addiction Theory” they get lots of lovely tax.

    Look at what is stamped on every page of that report from the Laboratory of Industrial Hygiene in 1944
    “This is a confidential report which may be used when requested by physicians and health officials, but is not to be used in any form of advertising.”

    It may not have mattered much then but when people are getting evicted and taxed into poverty truthful science matters very much.

    Vitamin B3, very popular with the Nootropics community just as Nightlight said especially for it’s supposed enhancement of cognitive function.

    But we don’t take it in pill form, we take it in tiny amounts when we feel the need which is why we don’t get the niacin flushes.
    I took small amounts of the yeast extract just as often as I would smoke a cigarette and didn’t notice any difference in the effect.

  10. Scot says:

    ASH Scotland deny calling for home smoking ban for social housing tenants. –

    Well they would?
    Wouldn’t they?

    The day ASH Scotland and Sheila Duffy start paying my rent for me, is the day I will succumb to their (obvious) projections for the future, otherwise fuck off and die…

    (PS Sheila – I don’t believe a word of your press release, and under no circumstances will any child be allowed in my house to start fake coughing about the second-hand cancer I’m supposedley inflicting on them, actually they can piss off and take “6 steps” from the front door into the garden to save their precious wee pink lungs, and then come back inside from the pissing rain and enjoy my 3rd and 4th-hand smoke).

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