Strange Meeting

Tomorrow’s going to be a big day. It’ll be a bit like Stony Stratford, when smokers ( and maybe one or two non-smokers) travelled across England to protest against a proposed street smoking ban.

For tomorrow a bunch of smokers are going to travel to another little town in England, this time to meet up with another one of their number, to offer a bit of moral support, a little solidarity. And having done that, we’ll all turn round and go home again.

None of us have actually met each other in person, face to face, before.  Yet we know each other quite well, having often met up in the Smoky Drinky Bar.

Later on this year, another couple of smokers will show up at my flat in Herefordshire. I will never have met either of them face to face, person to person, before either.

We’re all very different people. But we all share one thing: we all smoke tobacco. And we’re all angry about smoking bans, and the horrible treatment of smokers. Beyond that, we’d probably disagree about absolutely everything

For the war on smoking (and on smokers) is having the effect of bringing smokers together. Doesn’t persecution always have that effect? Would there be a Jewish state of Israel today if there hadn’t been the most terrible persecution of Jews a century ago? Would there even be an England if the English hadn’t been fighting with other peoples since time immemorial?

I never used to think of myself as “a smoker”. Smoking was just something else I did, no different from drinking tea or eating toast and marmalade. But now it’s nearly the very centre of my identity. And that happened only because we came under intensive attack 10 or so years ago..

At school, many years ago, I had friends among my fellow pupils. For we shared the same affliction, of having been sent – usually against our will – to the same school: an experience which wasn’t, as far as I could see, much different from being sent to prison.

The meeting of smokers tomorrow will be, I hope, repeated many times in years to come, as smokers all over the world meet up with other smokers, and meet up with them because they’re smokers, and not for any other reason.

For the way I see it, smokers all over the world – all 1.5 billion or more of them – are all facing the same persecution, whether they’re English or American or German or Russian or Indian or Chinese. Or whether they’re Christian or Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist. Or whether they’re black or white, or men or women. They’re all in the same boat. And because they’re all in the same boat, they’ll be united by that experience.

The net effect of the war on smoking isn’t going to the suppression of tobacco: it’s going to be the creation of a global body of united smokers. It will be an invincible army. And it will be invincible precisely because it has been forged by hammer blows rained down on it. The antismokers will never have anything to match it, because they have never been through the same experience.

The nearest thing to the smoker experience that I’ve ever been through was the 1960s. But, at least in the UK, music-loving, pot-smoking hippies never came under the same intense persecution as smokers face today (it may have been different in the USA).

It’s rather odd that, in both cases, it was the propensity of people to roll a herb in paper, and smoke it, that brought down on their heads the most intense opprobrium. Why? Aren’t there a great many worse things people can do than smoke tobacco/marijuana/opium? Is it really as bad as murder or rape or robbery?

Perhaps it’s a terror of altered states of consciousness (although tobacco hardly effects that at all)? Perhaps it’s a fear of madness? Perhaps it’s the dread that people might start thinking differently? Perhaps it’s fear of addiction? Or of early death? Or of chaos and disorder? Perhaps it’s all these fears rolled into one almighty shrieking fit of the heebie-jeebies.

It doesn’t really matter what motivates the antismokers. All that matters is the effect that their persecutions are going to have, and are already having.

For tomorrow four smokers are going to meet up, and meet up because they’re smokers. It would have been unthinkable 10 years ago. And to many people it probably remains unthinkable: they would never dream of meeting up with anyone just because they liked smoking, or liked drinking, or liked cheeseburgers, or even liked cheese. There’d have to be stronger motivations than that, such as a love of chess, or nuclear physics, or some book or work of art. But smoking? How can people come together over that? It would be like people meeting up because they loved (or loathed) celery.

But these things happen. People can unite together about almost anything. It could well be that all the great religions of the world rest ultimately upon some shared innocuous pastime or favourite colour.

And tomorrow I probably won’t have time to write a new blog post.

About Frank Davis

smoker
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37 Responses to Strange Meeting

  1. smofunking says:

    “I never used to think of myself as “a smoker”. Smoking was just something else I did”

    I was talking about this just the other day. All that the smoking Apartheid did was extend my interest to other forms of tobacco that were available, such as snuff and chewing tobacco, which I doubt was the intention of Tobacco Control.

    More unintended consequences.

  2. Mark Jarratt, Canberra, Australia says:

    You will be doing much more good than the destructive tobacco controlling prohibitionists have ever done Frank. Your daily blog inspiration is most impressive too, and deserves at least one day away from your far flung legions of virtual fans…📲

  3. Carol42 says:

    Sending my very best wishes to Nisakiman, I wish I could join you I would love to meet all my efriends.

  4. Pingback: A Global Body of United Smokers – Orphans of Liberty

  5. buckothemoose says:

    “Beyond that, we’d probably disagree about absolutely everything”

    I don’t agree with that…

  6. nisakiman says:

    I’m looking forward to meeting up with like minded people, particularly so since I’ve had such sincere support from those same people, who as Frank points out, have really the most tenuous of connections. It is a most extraordinary situation. However, I’d like to think that this is perhaps the beginning of a slow backlash, one which will creep up on and overwhelm those who seek to crush all in their path.

    Fanciful? Maybe. But from little acorns great oak trees grow.

    • garyk30 says:

      Best wishes my friend!

    • beobrigitte says:

      However, I’d like to think that this is perhaps the beginning of a slow backlash, one which will creep up on and overwhelm those who seek to crush all in their path.

      Fanciful? Maybe. But from little acorns great oak trees grow.
      +1

      I bet I’m missing a great day tomorrow! Taking some pictures of you all slurping green smoothies with Frank chewing on a celery stick is out of the question, it’s got to pictures of you guys devouring a roast with greasy chips and the pints next to the ashtray!
      Have a great day!

    • RdM says:

      I hope you all have a great day, afternoon, evening, and well founded meeting!
      And as well as conversations, some great drinks, food, smokes ~

      Maybe, as hinted – earlier today for me – someone will have the technology to enable a presence in the SDB during the best parts of that!

      Early, mid UK afternoon?
      If you all feel like sharing!?
      I’m intending to stay up into the early hours here, on the chance it may be so.

      (and from tiny seeds tobacco grows.)
      _

      Radio Amateur Operators, enthusiasts, ham radio people come to mind as a much smaller group population-wise who will descend in their hundreds for an equipment swap-meet, in many countries, as mostly strangers, bound together by a global hobby… and who talk with each other over the world.
      Meet, converse, make new connections beyond that.

      Of course they also have local clubs, newsletter, websites, the word gets around.
      Hence the importance of blogs like this one and others.

      Aren’t there more tobacco lovers, ‘smokers’, than oh, say, Muslims, in the world?

      And then, there’s the

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Mustard_Seed

      See you all later, hopefully! ;=})) :-)

  7. Rose says:

    I hope you all have a very good time.

    It’s not impossible that we could meet for a coffee at Gloucester services one day, Frank, if it’s not too far for you.
    Tea, I mean : )

    • Frank Davis says:

      I thought you were in Yorkshire. Do you ever venture down the M5?

      • Rose says:

        I do, about 3 or 4 times a year and having looked at a map, Gloucester services is the closest I get to Herefordshire. I know it says Farm Shop and has a grass roof but it really is the services and a good place for coffee and cake, we stop there every time we are passing through. If you like, I can give you a call when I’m next heading South.

  8. Emily says:

    Yay, have a great time! It is so cool that you guys are meeting up.

  9. Reblogged this on The Smoker Blog and commented:
    Maybe it will be 8 next time, then 20, 30, 300, and so on. Something similar, my friends and I recently started doing ‘smoking parties,’ where smoking is basically the main purpose. But it’s a little different because we’ve all known each other personally. Absolutely true that persecution brings people together

    • beobrigitte says:

      Something similar, my friends and I recently started doing ‘smoking parties,’ where smoking is basically the main purpose.
      Real life smoking parties are a good idea! I occasionally do that, too. But we’re always the same people.
      Then, last year, Frank started the Smoky Drinky bar on appear.in. Now every weekend when I decide that it’s smokeanddrink-o’clock I meet up there with the national and international regulars (some of whom right now are meeting up in person) and/or sometimes new people.

      Absolutely true that persecution brings people together
      It sure does!

      • That’s all a great idea really. It’s funny how all of us all over the world have this one trait all in common. I’ve really started thinking of us all less as random people who smoke, and more of a persecuted minority group!

  10. jameshigham says:

    All power to your smoking hand.

  11. Tony says:

    Hope you have a great get together. I’m only sorry I can’t be there.

  12. beobrigitte says:

    The net effect of the war on smoking isn’t going to the suppression of tobacco: it’s going to be the creation of a global body of united smokers. It will be an invincible army. And it will be invincible precisely because it has been forged by hammer blows rained down on it.
    Indeed. It seems to be an ever-growing “army” – and loose canons!

    The antismokers will never have anything to match it, because they have never been through the same experience.
    How could they when the sight of a cigarette causes them – and only them – instant death?

    The meeting of smokers tomorrow will be, I hope, repeated many times in years to come, as smokers all over the world meet up with other smokers, and meet up with them because they’re smokers, and not for any other reason.
    Two further meetings are planned so far this year; next month and July. A possible third is in October.

    Quoting Nisakiman:
    But from little acorns great oak trees grow.

  13. Smoking Lamp says:

    Frank, Please extend my hearty good wishes to Nisakiman. Your meeting is a great example of how people come together to support each other in the face of oppression. Enjoy a smoke, a cup of tea, and hopefully a whisky!

  14. How wonderful you are all meeting up. Best wishes also to Nisakiman, I hope the sun shines for you all have a great day:)

  15. smokingscot says:

    What an astonishing day! Spent much of it watching the Korea thing. Boy is he a fat chappy and probably did more walking today than he has for months.

    However, if he survives through to next week, then there may be some hope that young Koreans will be able to go to Europe by train. Why doesn’t matter, not today anyway.

    It’s all here – in English. I suspect they’ll keep it up for the rest of the night.

    http://www.arirang.com/

    Anyway that was one I hoped to see. It ranks along with the Berlin Wall, Boris and the White House and Burma.

    Nothing’s forever Frank / y’all. They can legislate to make us do things, but at the end of the day it’s the sheer cost (on so many levels) that brings down oppressive regimes – and that’s escalating at a fearsome rate.

    Weather’s not exactly great for you guys tomorrow, however if it’s an indoor thing then 9 degrees and a bit of rain ain’t a problem.

    https://www.bbc.com/weather/2636389

    Yassas Nisakiman. Kala?

    Playing host to that lot, I take my hat off to you.

    And just in case you give a fart Frank, this here post’s been headlined.

    4liberty.org.uk/2018/04/27/a-global-body-of-united-smokers/

    And it’s even picked up a rabid anti!

    • Dirk says:

      It is like Chamberlain and Hitler. When Hitler already put Jews in the camps and forbade Jews to be lawyers, doctors, architects, Chamberlain made a peace treaty in 1939 not caring about the plight of the Jews.

      Kim’s concentration camps are even worse. A woman still is in that camp with her entire family. Her crime? Singing a South-Korean song at a wedding.

  16. Joe L. says:

    Please give my best to Nisakiman! If only I wasn’t on the opposite side of the planet, I wouldn’t hesitate to join you. However, I am in smoker-friendly Las Vegas this week, so I will be with you in spirit (and smoking American Spirit). I hope you all have a wonderful time together! Safe travels!

  17. Dirk says:

    Nisakiman, Να σας ζήσει! Να είστε πάντα ευτυχισμένοι!Σας εύχομαι να σας φέρει, ευτυχία και τύχη (May you live! May you be always happy! I wish you happiness and luck

  18. Philip Neal says:

    Have a good time all of you and best wishes to Nisakiman.

  19. RdM says:

    And tomorrow I probably won’t have time to write a new blog post.

    You know, if you even went on a 10 day retreat, no internet or phone, people would still understand and await your return… and be interested in your reports.

    I see that the main Vipassana centre in the UK is in Herefordshire.
    https://www.dipa.dhamma.org/about/
    https://www.dipa.dhamma.org/courses/
    all at the home page

    Possibly a very good course, lesson, teaching, in self, non-self, and all that.

    Free.

    Donate afterward only if you choose to.

    “May All Beings Be Happy”

  20. Vlad says:

    Something interesting I stumbled upon today:
    Estimated new lung cancer cases in 2018 in US: 234,030 (American Cancer Society)
    Estimated new lung cancer cases back in 2000: 164,100 (https://wol-prod-cdn.literatumonline.com/cms/attachment/57c36683-771e-4395-ab3e-b9bf8aefd256/caac5017-tbl-0001-m.png)
    So during the last 18 years, which have seen unprecedented in the modern era (not even in Nazi Germany) financial, social and mental abuse of smokers, there has been a 42.6% INCREASE in total number of lung cancers.

    • Tony says:

      Quite a dramatic increase.
      I think I found a link for the 2018 figure you mentioned. Table 1 on p4 (and table 2 on p5) of this pdf:
      https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/annual-cancer-facts-and-figures/2018/cancer-facts-and-figures-2018.pdf

      On the other hand, Figures 1 and 2 (on pages 2 & 3) show death, rather than incidence, rates in decline. Figure 1 show peak age-adjusted deaths from lung cancer peaked amongst men in ~1990 and amongst women in ~2003.

      I think UK incidence of lung cancer increased from around 15,000 a year in ~1950 to around 35,000 by 1985 and has declined slightly since amongst men but not women,

      Also Philip Neal mentioned the other day that lung cancer incidence increased (doubled?) from 1950 to 1970 amongst the subjects of Doll’s doctors study despite a very high quit rate.

      • Vlad says:

        They like to show those age adjusted graphs because it fits the party line….in other words they torture the data till it confesses what they wish. It’s also misleading to look at death rate, because access to treatment and improved treatment greatly skew the graph. But if we look at the raw incidence data, we see 42.6% increase during an 18 year period in which the US population increased 15.6%.

        The UK situation is as follows: in 2001 there were 40,900 lung cancer cases (https://www.brit-thoracic.org.uk/document-library/delivery-of-respiratory-care/burden-of-lung-disease/burden-of-lung-disease-2001/) and in 2015 46,388 (CRUK) – a 13.4% increase, while the population increased 10%

        • It’s also misleading to look at death rate

          Hence this statement, complete with TC-approved (i.e. deliberately erroneous) interpretation, from a document Cancer statistics, 2017 found on the same site as Vlad’s .png table:
          Lung cancer death rates declined 43% from 1990 to 2014 among males and 17% from 2002 to 2014 among females due to reduced tobacco use because of increased awareness of the health hazards of smoking and the implementation of comprehensive tobacco control.
          https://wol-prod-cdn.literatumonline.com/doi/10.3322/caac.21387

        • To illustrate your point about the (often unspecified) use of age-standardized rates (ASR) instead of crude rates, the real-world decreases in LC death rates in the US are: minus 26% for men (1990-2013), 2.9% for women (2000-2013).

      • Philip Neal says:

        @ Tony. On one measure lung cancer in male doctors rose by 30% and on another it was static. It certainly did not fall, as Doll implied on the strength of a bogus comparison.

  21. junican says:

    I’ll be with you in spirit! Best wishes to Nisak.

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