Tobacco has been thoroughly demonised over the past century or so. And the tobacco companies that sell it have been thoroughly demonised as well. And so have countless millions of smokers who buy tobacco.

Does a point ever come when it becomes impossible to demonise something any more than it already has been? Once you’ve stuck a knife into something or someone, how many more knives can be stuck in it? Ten? Twenty? One hundred? At what point does it become overkill? Julius Caesar:

According to Eutropius, sixty or more men participated in the assassination. Caesar was stabbed 23 times.

The death of Caesar was overkill. There was even a wax figure erected in the Roman forum, which showed all 23 of his wounds.

It used to be asserted that smoking cigarettes (and cigarettes alone) caused lung cancer (and lung cancer alone). But now smoking anything (including e-cigarettes) is said to cause more or less all disease. I have in my growing collection of tobacco health warnings ones which now assert that smoking causes blindness, impotence, infertility, as well as stroke, heart disease, cancer, and more or less any other disease you may care to mention. This also is overkill.

And I’m beginning to wonder that when this happens it has the reverse effect to that intended. For once something becomes the cause of everything, it becomes the cause of nothing. And the extreme of demonisation of something ends up sanctifying it. And most likely, if Julius Caesar was not regarded as a saintly man the day before the ides of March, in 44 BC, those 23 stab wounds would elevate him to sanctity (and perhaps even divinity) the day after.

So the extreme demonisation of something or someone is very likely to end up strengthening them. And at that same moment that it becomes sanctified, its persecutors become demonised. They swap places. There is no better example of this than the Holocaust: once the evidence of it became available, the Nazis came to be regarded as demons, and the Jews as a saintly people who at very least deserved their own homeland. But for Hitler’s extreme persecution of the Jews, there probably would not now be a state of Israel.

And the same applies to Christianity. But for the extremely brutal execution of Jesus, and the persecution and murder of many of his followers by Nero and other Roman emperors, Christianity may well not have become the state religion of Rome.

Carbon dioxide is another pretty thoroughly demonised substance these days. It’s supposed to be killing us all. And the oil and coal companies who sell it have become almost as thoroughly demonised as tobacco companies. At this rate, come the reversal, carbon dioxide is likely to be found to be entirely blameless and benign. And its enemies and persecutors are likely to be seen as utterly satanic.

And one person who is being thoroughly demonised these days is Donald Trump. He is identified with Hitler and Nazism. He’s said to be racist, antisemitic, islamophobic, misogynistic. He’s become the embodiment of pure evil. And his “deplorable” political base are seen as no better than him.

Up until June 16 2015, Donald Trump was a highly regarded property developer and TV star. But once he announced his candidature for the presidency that day, a hail of abuse descended on him, and has never let up for a single day for the past 3½ years. And it meant that far more attention was directed towards him than to any of the other 16 candidates in the Republican race for nomination. Nobody was much interested in them. Everyone wanted to see him, and listen to him, if only to loudly condemn him afterwards.

There’s a good case to be made that, if the US mainstream media had ignored him, he would never have been elected. And it was only because he was so thoroughly demonised by them that all eyes were fixed upon him, magnifying him into a titan beside whom all the other candidates looked like pygmies. And because they were as thoroughly demonised as he was, he attracted an adoring band of “deplorable” followers.

In sum, extreme persecution is very likely to have the exact opposite effect to that intended. And overkill may often end up killing the overkillers. And the war on tobacco would seem to have gone far past overkill. And so, after decades of abuse, tobacco may be on the brink of being seen once again as something entirely harmless, and in fact highly benign. Much like carbon dioxide.

About Frank Davis

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29 Responses to Overkill

  1. garyk30 says:

    Bullies are fond of and enjoy ‘overkill’, be they anti-smokers or anti anything.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I do not have your optimism, Frank. I think “Smoking Kills” is so ingrained, it will never go away. Now it is morphing into”Vaping Kills” “Pollution Kills”, “Car Exhausts Kill”, “Crematoriums Kill”, “Cows Farting Kill”, and “Smells Kill” (candles, incense, perfume etc) “Vapo Rub Kills” “Cleaning Fluid Fumes Kill” “Hairspray Kills”. There has developed such a fear of breathing in anything, the mind boggles. I really wonder how us old farts survived!

    Oh – and NO ONE talks about fallout from the thousands of Nuclear Tests performed by world governments that we are breathing in with every breath we take.

  3. Rose says:


    This morning, watching President Trump speaking at a rally, I realised that I hadn’t read or seen anything further on the fall out from the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and all those stone faced Democrats. So I went looking.

    From the only British newspaper that seems to have mentioned it.

    ‘I was angry and I sent it’: Left wing activist to be investigated by the FBI after she admitted she MADE UP rape claims against Kavanaugh because she ‘wanted attention’
    3 Nov 2018

    “Kavanaugh accuser Judy Munro-Leighton has recanted the claims she made to the Senate Judiciary Committee alleging the Judge raped her
    On Friday Senator Chuck Grassley referred her to the Department of Justice for investigation for making false statements”

    4th Nov 2018
    “Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee late Saturday released a 414-page report in which the panel members say they found no supporting evidence for any of the allegations of sexual misconduct made against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh ahead of his confirmation”

    “The witnesses that Dr. Ford identified as individuals who could corroborate her allegations failed to do so, and in fact, contradicted her,” the report notes.

    It also states that committee investigators “found no verifiable evidence” to support Deborah Ramirez’s claim that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party when they were both at Yale.

    The report additionally dismisses allegations from Julie Swetnick, forwarded by lawyer Michael Avenatti.

    “Indeed, the evidence appears to support the position that Julie Swetnick and Mr. Avenatti criminally conspired to make materially false statements to the Committee and obstruct the Committee’s investigation,” the report writes.

    Avenatti and Swetnick have both been referred to the Department of Justice for potential criminal investigations into their behavior during Kavanaugh’s confirmation process. Avenatti has been referred a second time.

    In addition, the report details that investigators were also unable to locate supporting evidence for the several anonymous accusations against Kavanaugh, noting that one of the accusers has been referred for a criminal investigation.”

    Still, innocent until proved guilty, eh?

  4. jariel says:

    The other day I was watching a TV show about children’s health problems that are preventable – such as obesity. The show focused on two small children, one severely obese, and one who kept getting earaches and ear infections. From scenes with the family, it was clearly obvious that the obese child was being unhealthily overfed.
    But – with the boy who kept having earaches and ear infections – the doctor asked the parents if either of them smoke. The father said, yes, I do, but only outside. Ah-HAH, said the doctor, and instantly concluded that the boy’s ear problems were due to second-hand smoke, and that the father HAD to stop smoking, because that was the one and only cause of the ear problems.
    I was, like – what? HUH?

    • Rose says:

      Ah-HAH, said the doctor, and instantly concluded that the boy’s ear problems were due to second-hand smoke

      Puzzling isn’t it?
      I was puzzled when I first heard that, so I looked for a more logical reason for earaches and ear infections in children. But I’ll have to give the links to what I found in two posts.

      Glue ear caused by gastric juices

      “The team measured pepsin levels in middle ear ‘glue’ from 54 children in Newcastle and Nottingham. They found that 45 (83 per cent) of the samples contained 1000 times more pepsin than those found in ordinary blood samples.”

      Andrea Tasker told Bupa, “Gastric reflux is a very common among both children and adults in the UK. When it happens we usually feel what is commonly known as heartburn.
      Children who experience gastric reflux are at particular risk of fluids entering their Eustachian tube because, until it matures, it tilts at an angle and is more receptive.”
      http: //www.bupa.co.uk/health_informatio … ueear.html
      No longer available

      BBC Stomach acid link to glue ear

      “Andrea Tasker, who carried out the research, said: “Gastric juice that refluxes into the middle ear will cause transient damage to the Eustachian tube and the middle-ear mucosa before it can be neutralised, resulting in inflammation.”

      “They looked at middle ear effusions from 54 children with glue ear and found 83% contained the stomach protein pepsin at concentrations of up to 1000-fold greater than those in the blood.”

      Pepsin assay: a marker for reflux in pediatric glue ear

      OBJECTIVE: To evaluate if analysis of pepsin/pepsinogen in middle ear effusions can be considered a diagnostic marker for laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) in children with otitis media with effusion (OME).
      There was a significant positive correlation between the level of pepsin/pepsinogen assayed in the effusions of the 17 children and the number of pharyngeal reflux episodes measured by pH monitoring.

      CONCLUSIONS: Control of LPR may be an essential component in the successful management of OME in pediatric patients. Pepsin/pepsinogen analysis in effusions of children, using ELISA, can be considered a reliable marker for assessment of reflux in children with OME”

      Heartburn pill that can cure the pain of glue ear

      “Previous studies have indicated this fluid build-up may be caused by the reflux of stomach acid washing back up into the ear. Proton pump inhibitors work by blocking the production of acid in the first place.

      Glue ear is a common but poorly understood childhood condition of the middle ear.

      This is the area, directly behind the eardrum, made up of three tiny bones that carry sound vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear.

      Glue ear occurs when the eustachian tube, which runs from the middle ear to the back of the nose, becomes blocked. This tube normally drains away mucus caused by inflammation. However, in glue ear this doesn’t happen, leading to a build-up of fluid.”
      https: //www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1262152/Heartburn-pill-cure-pain-glue-ear.html

    • Rose says:

      The Anti-Tobacco theory of Glue ear begins in 1988 with this study.

      Passive smoking, salivary cotinine concentrations, and middle ear effusion in 7 year old children
      10 June 1989
      D. P. Strachan, M. J. Jarvis, C. Feyerabend

      OBJECTIVE–To assess the contribution of passive exposure to tobacco smoke to the development of middle ear underpressure and effusion.

      DESIGN–Cross sectional observational study. SETTING–One third of the primary schools in Edinburgh.

      SUBJECTS–892 Children aged 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 were examined, and satisfactory tympanograms were obtained in 872. Results of assay of salivary cotinine concentrations were available for 770 children, and satisfactory tympanograms were available for 736 of these.

      END POINT–Correlation of the prevalence of middle ear underpressure and effusion with concentrations of the marker of nicotine, cotinine, in the saliva of the children.

      CONCLUSIONS–The results of this study are consistent with those of case-control studies of children attending for an operation to relieve middle ear effusion. They indicate that the disease should be added to the list of recognised hazards associated with passive smoking

      About one third of the cases of middle ear effusion in this study were statistically attributable to exposure to tobacco smoke.”

      The sins of the father and mother

      “Tuesday’s Panorama used highly dubious science to accuse working-class parents of making their kids sick.”

      “Tuesday’s Panorama sunk even lower in its discussion of two boys with a condition called ‘glue ear’, which can cause serious hearing problems.

      In both cases, the medical professional – ear, nose and throat consultant Alison Flynn – asked if there was ‘any smoking in the household’ before lecturing each of the fathers about the dangers of smoking.

      One father assured her that he only smoked outside. Incredibly, Flynn told him that this was irrelevant, since the smoke would linger on his breath and his clothes for hours afterwards.

      The right thing to do would be to give up smoking altogether or, at the very least, go nowhere near his child for two hours after smoking a cigarette.”

      The unpublished study was mentioned in the Frogatt report in 1988 and thence went round the world.

      Glue ear

      “Repeated ear infections, lead to a condition known as glue ear – the commonest reason for young children to be admitted to to hospital for an operation.
      If glue ear is left untreated, total or partial deafness may result, causing severe damage to a child’s educational development.

      A recent study of 7-year old children in Edinburgh found a direct link between middle-ear effusion ( glue ear ) and passive smoking as measured by salivary cotinine concentrations. This association could not be explained by factors such as poor housing or social class.”
      But the link to that is proving elusive as my link to legacy documents no longer works.

      • jariel says:

        Wow, Rose – thanks for all that research! Yes, “glue ear” was mentioned on the TV program, and the doctor went straight on to blame the father for smoking, even though he never smoked indoors.

  5. Dmitry Kosyrev says:

    Several of my columns were about “medical reports” standing behind each and every ugly picture on the packs. I was reading the originals of these reports and was ticking it off one by one: this picture has been corroborated by an obvious fake, and that one too… All of them are fake! Now only “blindness” remains (it was a recent one), so if anyone knows exactly which report says so and where to get it, I’d love it.

    • Frank Davis says:

      There’s the warning from a tobacco packet of mine. You smoke a cigarette, and the smoke gets in your eye, and you go blind. Simple.

    • Rose says:

      This one?

      Tobacco amblyopia: does it really exist?


      With reference to Kee and Hwang’s article entitled ‘Optical coherence tomography in a patient with tobacco-amblyopia’, I doubt whether the presented case of optic neuropathy could be appropriately named ‘tobacco amblyopia’.

      In the last two centuries it has been believed that tobacco consumption might result in toxic neuropathy called ‘tobacco amblyopia’.1 Tobacco neuropathy has been supposed to originate from excessive cigar and pipe smoking (or tobacco chewing or snuffing) rather than from cigarette smoking.1 Presently, this disorder is less frequent. Some even argue that ‘tobacco amblyopia’ does not exist. Nevertheless, some data collected during the twentieth century should be considered with regard to this problem.

      Firstly, paradoxically, in spite of the explosion of cigarette smoking during the twentieth century, the number of tobacco amblyopia cases significantly decreased.
      The discussion related to this phenomenon can be found elsewhere.2

      Secondly, it was shown that optic neuropathy in excessive alcohol consumers—called ‘alcohol amblyopia’ previously or often ‘tobacco-alcohol amblyopia’ _ is in fact just ‘nutritional optic neuropathy’ related to deficiencies of vitamin B and foliate acid.3 In different studies, it was shown that a supplementation diet improves the prognosis even without tobacco abstinence.4

      Thirdly, it was proposed and documented that some cases of ‘tobacco amblyopia’ were in fact Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathies (LHON) and, possibly, which is less understood, epidemic optic neuropathies in Tanzania, Cuba, or Nigeria.5

      The patient presented in the article had probably some major nutritional deficiencies, although there was no description of tests for vitamin B12 or foliate acid in serum, etc, which could confirm this diagnosis. The LHON and other epidemic causes of optic neuropathy are probably very unlikely in this case. Thus, in my opinion, the patient should be diagnosed as having nutritional optic neuropathy.

      I believe that the term ‘tobacco optic neuropathy’ should be reserved only for such cases, where the other—that is nutritional, genetic, as well as toxic or infectious—causes can be excluded. There is also one more argument against using the name ‘tobacco amblyopia’, neither is it caused by tobacco itself (it might be an additional or accompanying factor), nor is it real amblyopia.”

      Tobacco optic neuropathy (TON) – the historical and present concept of the disease

      “The first non‐medical article to report tobacco‐related problems for vision was the treatise by King James I of England (1604) entitled ‘Counter Blast against tobacco’.

      Though having just had a quick look through Counterblaste the only mention I can find is “loathsome to the eye”

    • RdM says:

      Indeed, as the ugly pics keep changing, I have considered their ‘truth’ value and had thoughts on challenging through appropriate ASA Advertising Standards Authority.

      Negative advertising seems legal or overlooked, ignored in many most? jurisdictions, but the “plain” (far from it!) packs effectively are, against the tobacco companies each, but “they” – the instigators of the ‘plain pack’ (which really isn’t!) idea, which ‘they’ with even the weakest and most simple of lobbying efforts, convinced the Government to take up and execute in law – have still made claims, in what has been effectively in their take-over of their oppositions very packaging, for their own product :-

      Which are, after all the various claims made on their pirated advertising.

      And their product is, supported by those both ‘positive’ claims, like
      “You Can Quit” “Call Quitline” and all the publicised claims of ‘improvement’ if quit,
      (With govt taxpayer subsidised pharmaceutical products and counseling services!)

      And negative advertising counter claims, all those slogans, short form headlines, which you quite rightly discern (as do I, and I am sure others!) as provably false.

      I like Frank have been collecting local examples (and in some cases the prior originals) but last night thought they should be online;- and so here are some, small selection:


      And there are many more;- search out your own country’s own “Health Department” list of ‘pictorial’ warnings, and provide a link;- it would be most interesting!

      NZ’s zealots are unimaginative, their inspiration or direction local or global?


      But we see Australian ones here as well;- even though the Quitline number obviously won’t work, pundits obviously think just ugliness from a near neighbour is enough to co-opt, and so it goes… actually maybe their ones are more ‘imaginative’, go look.

      In summary: I think a case ought to be able to be built that these are false claims.

      And it ought to be able to taken to court.

      Court. The King, or Queen, in the old days. Emperor. President. Government.
      Or … You know what I mean, I hope.

      It’s evidently false advertising, both and whether supposedly positive, the promulgated supposed health benefits of “quitting” (violently forced in an institution, or abstaining because of some propaganda ideas taken up alone or in fervent new company) – or the supposedly, pushed as propaganda, negative effects and outcomes of smoking …

      So both should be challenged, the supposed health benefits, and the negative effects.

      The “negative effects” are mostly being advertised on the ‘plain packs’, so they should be challenged and held to account, whoever they are, and the flimsy supporting studies challenged, advertised, ridiculed, spread even further on social media, but so also should the so-called positive effects of (suddenly or gently, but under influence) ‘quitting’ – when it should be a purely personal life choice, style or not – also be challenged!


      Drinking now an American Pale Ale style beer, locally brewed, 6% …
      Perhaps anticipating their elections? No, coincidence!
      I’ve also had Russian beer and some of other countries…




  6. Inspector Alleyne says:

    Can any of these propagandists explain that if impotence is yet another condition blamed on smoking how the hell did the post-war baby boom happen?

    • Rose says:

      Impotence was claimed by the opposing force and appears only to have been imported here after the post war baby boom had happened, so like the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age it became a bit of a nuisance and best not mentioned by those who want you to believe something else.

      “Tobacco was opposed by racial hygienists fearing the corruption of the German germ plasm, by industrial hygienists fearing a reduction of work capacity, by nurses and midwives fearing harms for the “maternal organism.”

      Tobacco was said to be “a corrupting force in a rotting civilization that has become lazy,” a cause of impotence among men and frigidity among women.

      The Nazi-era antitobacco rhetoric drew from an earlier generation’s eugenic rhetoric, combining this with an ethic of bodily purity and performance at work. Tobacco use was attacked as “epidemic,” as a “plague,” as “dry drunkenness” and “lung masturbation”; tobacco and alcohol abuse were “diseases of civilization” and “relics of a liberal lifestyle.”

      • Rose says:

        Commentary: Pioneering research into smoking and health in Nazi Germany
        The ‘Wissenschaftliches Institut zur
        Erforschung der Tabakgefahren’ in Jena

        “It was Astel’s wish that the findings from the research should be disseminated in collaboration with Emil von Skramlik in a ‘Kulturfilm’ (documentary to be shown in cinemas).

        Von Skramlik built on documentaries of the poisonous effects of nicotine on marine animals he had shot previously.
        Unfortunately the material could not be traced after
        the war.”

        I can’t see ASH and TC approving the shooting of mariine animals for an antismoking advert these days.

  7. Joe L. says:

    Another One Hasn’t Bitten the Dust: John Deacon, the reclusive former bassist of Queen (a.k.a. the only surviving member who isn’t whoring the Queen brand out at every possible opportunity) is still smoking.

    I’m sure vocal antismoker Brian May doesn’t miss having Deacy and his “death sticks” around. The fact that May and ex-smoker Roger Taylor continue calling themselves Queen without their two best songwriters (let alone the irreplaceable voice and persona of Freddie Mercury) is disgraceful.

  8. Smoking Lamp says:

    The social controllers like to call ever thing they try to control “health issues”. This allows them to leverage fear and intimidate politicians. After all “everyone wants to be healthy”. That is until they realize they are victims of a ponzi scheme!

  9. Rose says:


    More ammo to add to my defence of coffee when the time comes.

    Drinking coffee ‘reduces likelihood of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s’
    6th November 2018

    “The researchers investigated three different types of coffee – light roast, dark roast, and decaffeinated dark roast.
    Dr. Donald Weaver, the study’s lead author, said: ‘Coffee consumption does seem to have some correlation to a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. But we wanted to investigate why that is – which compounds are involved and how they may impact age-related cognitive decline.’

    ‘The caffeinated and de-caffeinated dark roast both had identical potencies in our initial experimental tests. So we observed early on that its protective effect could not be due to caffeine.’
    The researchers then identified a group of compounds known as phenylindanes, which emerge as a result of the roasting process for coffee beans. Phenylindanes are unique in that they are the only compound investigated in the study that inhibit beta amyloid and tau, two protein fragments common in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, from clumping.

    As roasting leads to higher quantities of phenylindanes, dark roasted coffee appears to be more protective than light roasted coffee.”


    Nicotine Metabolite May Improve Memory, Protect Against Disease

    “Cotinine, the primary breakdown product (metabolite) of nicotine, shows promise for improving memory and for protecting brain cells from diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s — but perhaps with less addiction and other side effects of nicotine, report scientists from the Medical College of Georgia. The researchers have also found that, in animal studies, the properties of cotinine may be helpful in treating the debilitating psychotic behavior of people with schizophrenia.

    Up to now, cotinine’s biggest use has been as a urine marker for tobacco use, although its potential use in curbing smoking also has been explored.

    “Many people have thought that cotinine was an essentially inactive metabolite, but we have shown that at appropriate doses, it enhances memory and protects brain cells from dying, as well as having anti-psychotic properties,” says Jerry Buccafusco, PhD.”

    “The researchers also studied cotinine’s effect on neuron-like cells in culture. They used a model in which growth factor is taken away from the cells so that they start to die, just as they do in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
    “We were surprised to find that cotinine was as effective as nicotine at preventing cell death,” says Buccafusco.”

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