Cultural Degradation

From Nisaki:man:

The number of smokers in Greece has decreased over the last five years, however, the non-implementation of a smoking ban in enclosed public places has irritated the public, which calls it “cultural degradation,” writes European affairs website The European Commission  generally advises Greece to implement the smoking ban which was voted in  but never fully implemented.

It’s the smoking bans that bring the real cultural degradation. What’s more degraded than having smokers exiled to the outdoors?

Smoking bans destroy communities, shatter friendships, and bankrupt pubs and cafes and clubs. They create a waste land.

Smoking bans destroy culture. They destroy a genial and convivial culture that has existed for centuries, in various slightly different manifestations, all over the world – from the English pub to the French bistro to the Spanish cantina.

When I visited Japan in 2005, and stepped out on the streets of Fukuoka, I was delighted to find a cosy little bar full of Japanese reading newspapers and eating rice and drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. I couldn’t understand a word that any of them said. But it didn’t matter, because it was as convivial as any English pub or French bistro.

It was a universal culture. And now it’s being deliberately and systematically smashed.

Nobody should be too surprised now if geniality and conviviality is disappearing not just from public bars, but also from public life. Nobody should be surprised if the whole character of public discourse is getting uglier and meaner. Once the arenas of easy and affable discourse have been closed to the smokers who once occupied them, nobody should be surprised if discourse ends, and distrust and misunderstanding multiply. What else is going to happen when people cease to meet?

At least the bastards in the EU recognise that it’s “cultural.” Because this has always been a cultural war. It’s a cultural war that has been launched on an old and stable culture by demonising the products that the culture used – beer, cigarettes – to sustain its convivial character. If it had been a cultural war launched upon churches, they would have banned candles instead, and for the same pseudo-epidemiological reasons.

It’s a cultural war as ferocious as that conducted by Mao in China, back in the 1960s, when much of China’s cultural heritage was smashed to pieces. And it’s probably being conducted by Maoists in the West. Wasn’t Manuel Barroso, one-time President of the European Commission, once a Maoist?

According to a new survey conducted by ΚΑΠΑ Research and published last week (12 January), the number of smokers in the country has significantly decreased.

Particularly, 27.1% of the population today says it smokes compared to 36.7% recorded by researchers in 2012. This decrease within five years is a record on an EU level, analysts highlighted, adding that this is the smallest prevalence of smoking ever in the Greek population.

In addition, most Greeks said they opposed smoking and 88.1% consider it a national goal to reduce it.

The survey also focused on the issue of passive smoking in enclosed public places, with 83.8% of respondents claiming that the non-compliance with the law is a cultural degradation.

Moreover, 76.1% of Greeks are angry about the fact that the country is one of the few EU countries that allow smoking in enclosed areas, exposing its citizens to passive smoking.

If 76% of Greeks are angry about the absence of any real smoking ban in Greece, wouldn’t that be something that would be influencing Greek bar owners, as they lose 76% of their customers?

This reminds me of all the hordes of non-smokers who were going to show up in UK pubs once smoking was banned in them, but never did – because the hordes didn’t exist. And if UK landlords had been left to run their pubs they way they wanted, UK pubs would still be as smoky as any Greek taverna. For nobody much wanted to change UK pubs, apart from a few zealots.

So I doubt if many Greeks want to change Greek culture. It’ll only be a few Maoist zealots who want to smash it all up.

The survey must be fraudulent. But then everything conducted by the antismokers in Tobacco Control is always fraudulent.

But don’t ask me. Ask Nisakiman. He has lived in Greece for many years.

About Frank Davis

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19 Responses to Cultural Degradation

  1. Once the arenas of easy and affable discourse have been closed to the smokers who once occupied them, nobody should be surprised if discourse ends, and distrust and misunderstanding multiply.

    Smoking bans merely added a practical obstacle in the way of affable and open discourse, which was already gravely impeded on a psycho-social level. As someone noted 30 years ago: “Conversation is almost dead, and soon so too will be those who knew how to speak.
    The primary cause of the decadence of contemporary thought evidently lies in the fact that spectacular discourse leaves no room for any reply; while logic was only socially constructed through dialogue.” (Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord, 1988)

    • Frank Davis says:

      I didn’t notice conversation being dead before the smoking ban.

      • Such a drastic measure as a nationwide smoking ban couldn’t have come out of the blue: the propaganda build-up had already lasted for decades, and smokers, even before the SHS scare was launched, should have been expected to discuss that in depth, and seriously question the pompous zealots’ barmy pronouncements… They clearly failed to do so, and that’s because the art of conversation had already been devitalised.

  2. I don’t think targeting smoking has ever been part of Mao’s “cultural war”:

  3. buckothemoose says:

    The public want this. The public have created the term ‘cultural degridation’.
    What a load of rubbish. One or two tobacco controllers are demanding this and no one else (or very little else). The tobacco controllers have to pretend they have the public on their side though, with thier fake surveys and such
    Smoking IS part of the culture in Greece and I seriously doubt there are many who want the ban enforced; I’ve certainly never met anyone. It’s even rare I meet someone in England (in person, not social media) who is in favour of the ban. The few that are, usually give it some more thought when I call them dirty bastards for wanting to wear their party clothes again the day after, because the smell on their clothes is usually the only good thing about the ban they can come up with

    • nisakiman says:

      The idea that ‘most Greeks would like the ban enforced’ is pure fantasy. Cultural denigration? WTF? That would raise a laugh down at the local kafeneon.

      Most café bar owners smoke, most of their staff smoke, and most of their customers smoke. If there has been any reduction in smoking rates, it will mostly be because e-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular here. But Greek vapers aren’t about to jump on the anti-smoking bandwagon – they can see what’s happening to vapers elsewhere.

      • smokingscot says:

        On the off chance. This is the chap who was trolling you on KTG.

        • nisakiman says:

          Interesting. I’ve tangled with him on several occasions on that site. He’s unremittingly left-wing, and spouts all sorts of lefty nonsense. Even the site owner gets a bit pissed off with him sometimes. He truly believes that he’s always right, and that anyone who disagrees with him is always wrong, confused or mentally deficient. He’s a complete prat.

        • Joe L. says:

          Nice sleuthing, SS. That certainly appears to be the troll.

          His (self-written?) bio states:

          Education: Welsh College of Music & Drama, University of Manchester, Royal Northern College of Music, University of Manchester (Economics and Government), University of Athens (research thesis), University of Amsterdam (postgraduate research).

          So he’s a music major who later spent a couple years studying economics. Zero scientific background, yet he has no problems making ridiculous claims such as:

          … smoking causes lung and other cancers. This is scientific fact, and it is plainly ridiculous to deny it.

          Imagine that — a music/economics major with no experimental scientific background calling something a scientific “fact.” Clearly he has absolutely no understanding of the scientific method.

          He also claims to have “some expertise” with statistical correlation. I doubt he’s referring to his music education, so he must have been forced to take a statistics course after he moved on to economics. Nevertheless, he should have learned in that class that one can not use statistics to imply causation, let alone to produce a mythical scientific “fact.”

          He’s your stereotypical Antismoker — he believes everything he reads (as long as it happens to support his own self-righteous views) and then freely regurgitates those baseless ideals all over the internet.

      • buckothemoose says:

        Eye. I’ve certainly never seen anyone give a crap about enforcing smoking bans.

    • waltc says:

      Buck: funny how nobody’s clothes or hair smelled after being in a bar until it became fashionable for them to think so–and to boast of their fastidiousness.

      • buckothemoose says:

        Yeah. It amuses me that they complain about the smell on clothes that should be in the washing basket the next day anyhoo. Surely they also smell of stale booze and cheap cologne. And aren’t the type of clothes you would wash the car or go shopping in the next day

  4. Yvonne says:

    Regarding communities and discourse, I happened to listen to a podcast on YouTube originally on Pacific Radio Archives broadcast in 1994 an interview with Christopher Simpson: The Science of Coercion and Psychological Warfare. Unfortunately, it is more or less prophetic. It had me thinking that particularly in the internet age where conversations can now be remotely eavesdropped, has the smoking ban fallen into the concept of psychological warfare as people no longer socialise, discuss and spread ideas in convivial community circles? 50 minutes but worth listening to the end.

    • smokingscot says:

      My first thought when I saw their bumph about calorie guidelines was exactly that. It’ll do much to harm the restaurant trade. By that I mean who’s going to make the effort o go out of an evening if you’re limited to 600 calories, which you’ll exceed with a chicken salad with dressing, a slice of buttered bread and a glass of wine?

      And heaven help the gastropubs, where Sunday Roast of meat, gravy, roast spuds, roast parsnips, Yorkshire pudding, a half of beer and a coffee will blow two main meals – and that’s before a toffee pudding with ice cream.

      Nor will they condone getting home, hitting the sack for an hour’s siesta to help digestion.

  5. Clicky says:

  6. Nisaki, thanks for sharing this!

    Two things caught my eye in particular, and, as usual, a bit of research showed some of the Lies Behind the Curtains (LBCs … That’d be a nice term to spread around!):

    1) “The survey also focused on the issue of passive smoking in enclosed public places, with 83.8% of respondents claiming that the non-compliance with the law is a cultural degradation.” — The story gets at least a little clearer at where it says, “84 percent of respondents said that smoke and ashtrays in public spaces constitutes “cultural degradation.” Dollars to donuts the survey described or showed pics of an overflowing ashtray or somesuch poorly placed by some treasured national monument. If so, they’d have probably gotten an even GREATER percentage agreeing if they’d showed some empty McDonald’s trash.


    2) “76.1% of Greeks are angry about the fact that the country is one of the few EU countries that allow smoking in enclosed areas, exposing its citizens to passive smoking.” while the above article seems to ascribe that stat to national monument thing by placing “76.1 percent expressed anger that Greece is the only country in the EU where this occurs.” immediately after the ashtrays note and with no mention there of the Nazis’ Passivrauchen.

    The survey was carried out by a different, and likely more prejudiced, source than the previous surveys. This one comes from Institute of Public Health of the American College of Greece and, as such, was very likely designed specifically to produce the sort of results highlighted in the statements above. Any chance of getting the actual wording of the survey and information on the survey mechanics and design of the survey pool? Any chance the IPHealth folks surveyed people (including the docs and staff perhaps?) at public health centers?

    The %age drop may indeed be strongly impacted by vaping. It depends on how strongly the Greeks have picked up the whole vaping thing. Here in the US there are kiosks and stores and tons and tons of online stuff for it: is it the same in Greece? Is it perhaps MORE in Greece because even their nutsos aren’t as nutso as ours when it comes to Antismokers mutating into Antivapers?

    MJM, who’s sorry he’s been a bit invisible around the blogs lately: I spend hours every day at this point on Quora and after I add in my emails I barely have time to eat chocolate!

    • nisakiman says:

      I’ll have to look into the way the survey was conducted, if it’s possible. I’ll have a bit of a poke around when I get back from the workshop this afternoon.

      Vaping has gone quite mainstream here. Lots of shops and online sources for vape kit, and it’s not unusual to see people vaping. Most tobacconists sell a limited range of e-cigs, too. There’s a national chain of vape shops called ‘Nobacco’, of which there are three outlets which I know of here in Patras, who do their own range of e-liquids. (More than 70 shops and 320 sales points according to their blurb). There are also lots of small independents dotted around.

  7. waltc says:

    “Cultural degredation” ain’t likely a term to come trippingly off the tongue of the average Joe. The term was either applied after the fact by the “analysts” or built, in some form, into the question

  8. sheldon594 says:

    Meanwhile, Teresa May has just appointed a minister to deal with the ‘social epidemic ‘ of loneliness.

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