Lost Wars

There seem to be times in life when you get picked up and spun around and left completely different from what you were before. These times will be different for everybody, but for many people there will be events that are shared with a great many other people. I didn’t live through either, but I imagine that WW1 and WW2 were a couple of those shared events.

I count myself lucky that I never got caught up in any war, and the principal event in my life was almost entirely benign. It was called the Sixties or 60s. And it was really a cultural event that saw the coming of age of my boomer generation, in a flowering of new ideas, new music, new clothes. It was a time in which people got picked up and spun around and left completely different to how they’d been before. For much of my life I’ve felt that I was living a post-60s life. I shared a lot of the attitudes and outlooks of people back then. But I came to regard the 60s as a time of madness, and so much of my life has been lived in reaction to it: Idle Theory (a child of the 70s) grew out of my own personal and rational reaction to the dopey, dreamy 60s.

But these days it all seems like past history. I’m really rather astonished that the Rolling Stones are still touring, and still pulling in crowds, over 50 years later. The same goes for Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd. All these people are well over 70!

For me it all became past history on 1 July 2007. That day, for me, was when the post-60s era came to an end. And it was of course the day when the UK smoking ban came into force. In the UK that day marked the dawn of a new age of intolerance and bullying. And once again I got picked up and spun around and left completely different to what I was before. And these days I think that the appearance of smoking bans almost everywhere in the world, over a comparatively short period of time (a decade or so), was a cultural event as significant as the 1960s. All over the world, smokers were being exiled to the outdoors. It’s a quite extraordinary thing to have happened.

I suppose that the 60s were something that actually only affected a minority of people. It was a cultural revolution that didn’t affect anyone aged over about 25 at the time.

And the smoking bans are a cultural revolution that have actually only affected a minority of people: the smokers who make up less than 25% of the adult population in the western world. Most people simply haven’t noticed them. For most people in Britain, 1 July 2007 was just a day like any other.

But for me it inaugurated a revolution. Over the next few years, as a direct consequence of it, I lost all the friends that I’d known before it,  some of them for 40 years or more. And I switched from being a slightly left wing liberal Lib Dem voter to becoming a UKIP and Conservative voter. And I switched from being pro-European to anti-European. I became far more politically aware and active than before. And I began to identify as being something that I never particularly identified with before: a smoker. I’m a bit surprised that I still dress the way I used to, and haven’t gone back to going to church.

If I’d been a bit more savvy and insightful, I should have seen it all coming. For the antismoking zealots were already in power by the 1960s, and the demonisation of tobacco was already well under way, and one after the other my friends were stopping smoking, and proudly telling everyone about it. Smokers like me were gradually becoming socially marginalised. 1 July 2007 was just the day when our eviction was formalised. But it still came as a tremendous shock.

And if there’s one strong similarity between now and the 1960s, it’s that both of them featured wars on plant leaves that people liked smoking. Back in the 1960s the innocuous disapproved plant was cannabis, and now it’s tobacco. Back in the 60s we hippies were fighting a war of resistance to cannabis prohibition. Now I’m fighting a war of resistance to tobacco prohibition. And it’s essentially the exact same war, being fought in the exact same way. Tobacco is now as thoroughly demonised as cannabis ever was. It’s one of the symmetries of the time that, just when tobacco is being made illegal, cannabis is being legalised in many places.

The war on cannabis was pretty much lost from the outset: by the mid-1960s, it was the drug of choice for millions of people all over the world, and there really wasn’t much any government could do about it. That experience ought to make a few people realise that the war on tobacco is an equally lost war. In fact it’s arguably a far more futile war than the war on cannabis. For back in the 1960s cannabis was a new drug to most people. But 50 years on, the war on tobacco is a war on a long-established drug. In the 60s they were trying to prevent a new drug taking hold, but now they’re trying to release the grip of a very old drug. If they couldn’t do an easier thing back in the 1960s, what hope have they of achieving something much harder today? They haven’t a hope in hell.

In fact, I think that the drug warriors are going to face an enormous backlash. It will be far more powerful than they can imagine. For it’s not just that Tobacco Control is going to be destroyed, but quite possibly much of the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry as well. If you’re an antismoking doctor, you can look forward to being struck off the medical register, and prevented from practising medicine. You might also find that illustrious medical associations of which you are a member – BMA, RCP, WHO – have been closed down. And you might even find yourself needing to flee to Argentina (or the Kerguelen Islands), else face Nuremberg-style courts.

The war on drugs was always a lost war, from the very outset. The war on alcohol during Prohibition was also a lost war. And the current global war on tobacco is an equally lost war.

About Frank Davis

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19 Responses to Lost Wars

  1. RdM says:

    A wonderful (personally & subjectively!) essay, Frank!
    And I hope you won’t mind (for I hope it’ll be a 50+ comment thread!)
    An inclusion of a Keith Richards quote (& smoking photos easily found!)

    Keith Richards: “We age not by holding on to youth, but by letting ourselves grow and embracing whatever youthful parts remain.”

    Actually, what does that even mean?
    But never mind … (and what does that even mean?)

    But as for
    I’m really rather astonished that the Rolling Stones are still touring, and still pulling in crowds, over 50 years later.

    I know you know I’ve mentioned this earlier, the million plus Havana free concert some years ago, but also the recent tours, as at

    Anyway, depending upon your sound system, this might be enjoyable?
    Even again?

    Out Of Control – Havana Moon – The Rolling Stones

    Peace Upon Earth to Men of Good Will.

    • Rose says:

      Keith Richards: “We age not by holding on to youth, but by letting ourselves grow and embracing whatever youthful parts remain.”

      Actually, what does that even mean?

      I have grey hair, therefore grey hair is now cool. Ask Frank. : )

  2. Rose says:

    DEA says marijuana has no medical use; pot remains listed as dangerous

    “The long-awaited decision by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration keeps intact a 1970 law that lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, one defined as having no medical value.”

    UK is world’s largest producer of legal cannabis
    6 March 2018

    “A drug policy reform lobby group has criticised the UK government, saying they have “consistently refused to allow medical cannabis in the UK on the basis that it has ‘no therapeutic value'”.
    https: //news.sky.com/story/uk-is-worlds-largest-producer-of-legal-cannabis-11278131

    “Cannabis was made illegal in the United Kingdom on 28 September 1928 as an addition to the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1920.

    However doctors were able to prescribe cannabis for medical use in the UK until 1971 when the Misuse of Drugs Act came into force, creating the Class A, B and C classification system and making even more drugs controlled substances.”
    http: //www.theweek.co.uk/65464/when-was-cannabis-made-illegal-in-the-uk

    Medical Uses of Tobacco Past and Present
    https: //www.industrydocumentslibrary.ucsf.edu/docs/#id=ztdw0044

    As Nisakiman pointed out last November.

    “I have to agree with you. I’m not into conspiracy theories, but it looks to me as if we’re already well down the path laid out by the Frankfurt School of thought.”

    “To further the advance of their ‘quiet’ cultural revolution – but giving us no ideas about their plans for the future – the School recommended (among other things):

    1. The creation of racism offences.
    2. Continual change to create confusion
    3. The teaching of sex and homosexuality to children
    4. The undermining of schools’ and teachers’ authority
    5. Huge immigration to destroy identity.
    6. The promotion of excessive drinking
    7. Emptying of churches
    8. An unreliable legal system with bias against victims of crime
    9. Dependency on the state or state benefits
    10. Control and dumbing down of media
    11. Encouraging the breakdown of the family”

    What could be more likely to cause “Continual change to create confusion” than to exchange the old, respectable pastime of smoking tobacco with the long officially, reviled practice of smoking cannabis?
    It’s turned our world on it’s head for a start.

    Btw, it occurs to me that all those confused and silent smokers who don’t like discussing the smoking ban, may not feel comfortable doing so because they are the legendary turkeys who did vote for Christmas in 2005.

    Blair secures historic third term – 2005
    http: //news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/vote_2005/default.stm

    I would keep quiet too, if I felt even partly responsible for my own plight.

  3. Dunno if you’ve seen this Frank, but thought it might interest you.

  4. jaxthefirst says:

    “In the UK that day marked the dawn of a new age of intolerance and bullying.”

    I think that, too. Sometimes, I catch myself thinking it, and I tell myself that it just seems like it all started that day because it affects me so personally and so negatively, and I’m aware, too, that the anti-smoking movement had been spreading its bile for many years before the law was passed. But the law gave those attitudes legitimacy, and that’s where the damage lies. In fact, the more I think about it the more I think that smoking is a much more important issue than it is given credit for. Not smoking per se – that’s essentially just something that some people do and other people don’t, so on the surface it would appear to be no more and no less important than anything else that some people do and some people don’t, like riding bicycles or watching soaps on TV or listening to classical music – but because of the hysteria whipped up by countless anti-smoking lobbyists over the years, smoking has become much more important than the “sum of its parts” because it has become the most reliable, gold-standard way of measuring the attitudes of any one country/society/organisation etc towards those over whom they have some measure of power.

    It’s hard to say, in a chicken-and-egg sort of way, whether intolerant, bullying societies/organisations are drawn to becoming anti-smoking, or whether being anti-smoking leads people to becoming generally more belligerent and intolerant, but whichever way around it is, the two are most certainly linked. You’ve only got to look at the most extreme forms of anti-smokism and wherever they are, you’ll find an arrogant, overbearing and compassionless set of people running the show. How appropriate was it, for example, to find that ISIS – surely one of the most inhumane and ruthlessly cruel organisations ever – thought it was just fine and dandy to behead people for the simple act of smoking a cigarette? How appropriate was it, equally, to discover that the cold, hard, inhumane Third Reich, alongside its clinical and gruesome attempts to exterminate an entire race of people, also ran the first-ever State-sponsored anti-smoking campaign. Those are the most extreme examples, of course, but the correlation between cruel leaders and those leaders’ anti-smoking credentials is startlingly similar. Our own country, the UK, has become increasingly anti-smoking over the last few decades and, at precisely the same time and at precisely the same rate, our own leaders have become increasingly dismissive of their people’s desires and concerns and increasingly bossy and arrogant and intrusive and controlling. On a personal level, I have to say that I have never, ever, met a truly dyed-in-the-wool, devoted anti-smoker that could in any way be described as a nice or kind person. Never. Not once.

    And, as the saying goes “as above, so below.” As our leaders have led the way, shamefully endorsing a law which essentially makes it acceptable to operate the lifestyle equivalent of racism in one particular area, the public have followed, many of them now feeling emboldened to express their own intolerances and prejudices, not just against smokers, but against anyone whom they deem to be “less worthy” than themselves. The Health Act of 2006 didn’t just permit people to be intolerant of smokers; what it essentially did was give a tacit nod to intolerance, full stop. The words of the law may not have said as much, but from the evidence all around us, the spirit of that law has been interpreted precisely this way by the wider public. How could it not? Seeing the indulgences offered to the anti-smoking brigade, what anti-alcohol enthusiast worth his salt wouldn’t try and achieve the same “success” towards his/her own hobby horse, using the same tactics? What hitherto closet racist wouldn’t see an opportunity to “speak out” his or her, previously unacceptable, views, in the same way as the anti-smoking movement had done? Given this one “bully’s dream” law, what would-be persecutor wouldn’t try and use it as an opportunity to try and obtain a similar law supporting their own personal prejudices?

    So, smoking, as I say, is in and of itself quite a simple act. But as a benchmark for a persons’, or group of persons’, attitudes towards others – whether those others are the people who work for them, the people they socialise with, the people they are married to, or the people that they govern and/or rule over – it’s the most accurate yardstick I know for seeing behind the smiling faces and soothing soundbites to the real attitudes that those smiles and platitudes are supposed to conceal.

  5. It strikes me that in that reversed mental world of spectacular domination (aka false representation) we’re forced to live in thanks to the MSM’s ‘movers and shakers’, essential facts are only mentioned (if at all) ‘in passing’, the vital implications of them being very calculatedly glossed over or ignored altogether by both the MSM itself and its innumerable converts (which at the moment comprises the ‘general public’). Witness the inconvenient rise in LC risk for women in the last 40 years, even in the very few countries (notably the UK), that registered a significant (UK: – 43%) drop in LC risk for men in that period.
    In consequence, the dire repercutions of embracing those false representations (aka outright lies), like pubs closing in their thousands, marked increases in obesity and neurodegenerative conditions all over the anti-smoking-prejudice-afflicted countries, are also glossed over or casually ignored by the same ‘respectable’ outfits, when they’re not laid at the door of tobacco smoking itself!
    Nothing short of a global insurrection can stop that level of madness from getting even higher.

  6. waltc says:

    As for the turnaround, I’m not so sure. We’ve got a younger generation consisting of mostly brainwashed never smokers–many of whom complain about the law-breaking smokers they find in remote corners on their college campus and who are, they maintain, harming them as they pass. Then we’ve got the legions of Ex-smokers who would never want to admit that they gave it up in vain. Or the ones who believe that it killed their parents and caused their own heart attack, or that smoke from their neighbor’s balcony is killing their unborn child. And the media, the Experts, and all their own doctors are drumming it into their heads, leaving us smokers as a dwindling minority without a meaningful megaphone or the kind of sufficient numbers to reach a critical mass. Sure, it can change. but I’m just not sure how. For marijuana, it’s taken the better part of a century to even begin to crack.

  7. Peter C says:

    Hello Frank,

    My wife and I are in the South of England for a week, with a car.
    I don’t know how much of a detour it would take to visit Herefordshire, but if you tell me where the smoky drinks bar is I might consider making the trip, just to say hello.

    • Frank Davis says:

      The Smoky Drinky Bar is a virtual bar. You don’t have to drive anywhere to get to it. You just have to have a webcam and a microphone, and click on the link, and you’ll find yourself there. Although mostly you’ll find that you’re the only person there. I usually visit it on Friday evenings for a few hours. Sometimes I’m on my own there too.

    • RdM says:

      If I might add:
      It could also be useful to read through the FAQs.

      You generally need a modern browser – Chrome seems to work well, perhaps best, but also Firefox, Opera, others

      Except on Windows XP Chrome won’t work, Firefox will.
      On a Mac, only the latest Safari, even then not quite all features so like XP with the last version of Chrome for that, older Mac Safari installs might not be up to it; Chrome might.
      (Didn’t work for me on a Snow Leopard install, but I’ll upgrade that.)
      With a recent, modern PC or Mac you should be fine.
      There’s an app for iOS devices.
      Etc. All in there in detail. (My E&OE)
      Frank’s put the smokydrinkybar on a Pro plan, improved performance also in the FAQ.
      Otherwise just look in, (give it permission to access mic & camera) and try it out ;=})

    • Emily says:

      This makes me a bit sad- I wish the Smoky Drinky was a real bar!

  8. Dirk says:

    The year was 1967. I was 16 years old. My parents sent me to a strict Jesuit school. The Jesuit priests said: gentlemen (that is how they addressed the pupils) you are 16 years old now and you may smoke outside the class room and even in the dormitory. Times have changed!!!!

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