I regard Tobacco Control as absolutely satanic. They’ve deliberately exiled smokers to the outdoors, and in the process they’ve shattered communities, set friends against each other, and bankrupted thousands of pubs. Add the occasional refusal of medical treatment to smokers, and eviction from their jobs and homes. Add also that they’re robbing smokers with the obscenely high taxes they impose on tobacco. Add also the deaths of all the smokers who die falling out of windows, or locked out in the cold. What more does Tobacco Control have to do to earn themselves the reputation as one of the most evil and corrupt and depraved organisations that has ever existed? Really, what more do they have to do?
Take just one thing they do, as they force patients in hospitals to limp outside to not just the doors of the hospitals, but the distant gates of the hospital grounds, carrying their catheters, and ask: How can this be allowed? Why don’t the doctors and nurses in the hospitals, who are supposed to be caring for these patients of theirs, demand that it stop, and stop immediately? Can’t they see that this is monstrously evil?
But no-one notices. No-one sees. It’s really just like Nazi Germany, where millions of people somehow failed to notice what was going on in the concentration camps dotted over the country. But this isn’t happening in Germany: it’s happening everywhere all over the world. How is it possible that no-one can see what is happening?
One answer is that all these terrible things are being done in the name of Health – Public Health. And it seems that you can do absolutely anything, commit any atrocity, if you’re doing it in the name of Public Health. Health is the Get Out Of Jail Free card that these swindlers and fraudsters use all the time.
Another answer is that Tobacco Control has branded tobacco companies as being the Bad Guys. By fighting the Bad Guys in Big Tobacco, Tobacco Control portray themselves as the Good Guys. And because they’re Good Guys, they can do no wrong.
But Good Guys can very easily become Bad Guys. For much of his life, Dr Harold Shipman was regarded as a Good Guy. He was a family doctor, and family doctors are pretty much the very best of the Good Guys. They don’t come any better. But he became a Bad Guy overnight when he was found to be murdering hundreds of his mostly elderly patients. The fall from grace was very sudden, once he was identified as a serial killer. And everyone was so terribly, terribly shocked.
But really, if you want to be a serial killer, being a family doctor is the very best disguise you can have. Because no-one will suspect you. You’re a Good Guy, and you can do no wrong. And when you can do no wrong, you can get away with murder.
In conversation with a friend of mine some years ago, during which I was complaining about Tobacco Control, she told me that she knew the people in Tobacco Control department of the local authority in whose offices she worked. “I know them,” she said. “They’re good people.” I wonder how many people said the same thing about Harold Shipman: “I know him. He’s a good man.”
I think that one day the scales will fall from people’s eyes, and they’ll suddenly see how terrible Tobacco Control really is. And I think that overnight the people in Tobacco Control will all be seen as Shipmans. And there will be mass arrests. Deborah Arnott will be bundled into a black maria. And so will Stanton Glantz. And all the rest of them too, including all the ones working in local government offices.
Perceptions can and do change. What looks good at one moment in time can easily look evil the next. Lots of people admired Adolf Hitler during the 1930s, but almost all that support evaporated in 1945. Lots of people admired Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union for many years, but Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago punctured many people’s illusions about that.
Perhaps it’s that Good and Evil swap places from time to time. And what’s seen as Good at one time is seen as Evil the next, and which is which is discovered in the roll of dice. One day slavery is regarded as perfectly normal: next day it’s an abomination.
But my view is that there is objective evil. It’s not purely a matter of perception. Harold Shipman was murdering people, and that was objectively evil. He only stopped being regarded as a Good Guy when people realised that he was a serial killer, and that for all the good he did as a family doctor – and he probably did do a lot of good as a family doctor – it was all completely outweighed by the evil he did.
And I think the same thing will happen to Tobacco Control. They may be thought of as Good Guys now, but that’s only because people can’t see how much harm they’re doing, even if the evidence is all around them in closed pubs, and smokers exiled on the streets, and hospital patients tottering to the gates of hospital precincts with their drips and colostomy bags. Nobody has pointed it out to them. So they can’t see it. But one day they will see.