10 Years After

I must say that I was rather surprised that, when asked yesterday what they thought the world’s most pressing problem was, over 60% of respondents cited smoking bans.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, because I write a blog in which I keep banging on about smoking bans year after year, and I should expect to have attracted a fairly like-minded readership over the nearly 10 years that I’ve been writing it.

But all the same, I expected smoking bans to be the choice of a small minority of respondents, given all the other problems the world has got. And particularly at a time when the most urgent and pressing problem here in the UK is Brexit. So I expected to see Brexit top the poll. And if not Brexit, something arguably just as serious – such as immigration, militant Islam, or Ebola.

I also thought that one or two people might have chosen Donald Trump as the world’s biggest problem, given that so many people seem to be completely obsessed with him, and filled with hatred for the poor man.

I also thought that someone might have voted for global warming/climate change, given that so many people seem convinced that it’s the greatest threat facing humanity right now. But no, nobody seems much bothered about that either.

I also thought that someone might drop in a comment asking: “Frank, do you really think that smoking bans are the world’s most pressing problem? Because nobody I know thinks they are.”

That someone would have been a non-smoker, Because for most non-smokers, naturally enough, smoking bans simply don’t figure at all in their lists of the world’s most pressing and urgent concerns. And if they heard anyone cite smoking bans as any sort of cause for concern, they’d be completely disbelieving. Which is why I thought one of them might leave a comment to that effect. Maybe, because none have, quite a few non-smokers realise that these smoking bans are cause for concern? Perhaps they’ve seen the smokers outside the pubs, in all weathers, year after year. Or outside the hospital gates.

And indeed here in Herefordshire, England, nobody seems to think that the UK smoking ban is a problem. Not even the smokers. And I’ve been talking to them on and off for years, in one pub garden or other, when I find myself drawn into conversation with complete strangers. I’ve heard them talking about Brexit quite often. I’ve even seen them engage in shouting matches about it. But smoking bans, never. They don’t talk about it. It’s an unmentionable subject, even if it’s the only reason why they’re all sat outside with their beers and the cigarettes, talking about something else. To raise the matter is like drawing attention to the decomposing corpse sat at an adjoining table, head slumped onto the table, one skeletal hand still grasping the handle of a beer glass, the other holding a half-opened pack of Marlboro. You’re not supposed to mention it. You’re supposed to behave as if it isn’t there.

For me the UK smoking ban is the single most pressing problem in the world, because for the past 10 years I’ve felt like I’ve  been lying on the ground with someone standing on my chest, or maybe just standing on my foot. Smoking bans exert constant pressure on smokers. And since smoking bans are always multiplying and intensifying, the pressure exerted by them gets more and more intense. And to this there must also be added the pressure exerted by the hyper-taxation of tobacco. And also the insulting messages and pictures which cover all tobacco products these days. And the peer pressure from friends and family and colleagues at work. And the constant media demonisation of tobacco.

It doesn’t really surprise me at all if smokers eventually succumb to this pressure, surrender, and quit smoking. It requires a stoical determination to carry on smoking in the face of this unrelenting storm of abuse. And sometimes it must simply become impossible to go on. Whenever I see anyone light up a cigarette or pipe or cigar, I feel an instant rush of admiration for them, that over 10 years after the smoking was banned in public places, they still persist in their folly.

It’s also why I was filled with delight when I learned yesterday, via Smoking Lamp that:

A new survey has revealed that 34% of Spaniards smoke cigarettes every day, compared to 32.8% when the anti-tobacco law was introduced.

How wonderful!

Health Minister María Luisa Carcedo and Azucena Martí, the government delegate for the National Plan on Drugs … were unable to explain the rise in smokers.

How wonderful that these two fuckwits can’t understand it.

There are a lot of dogged, stoical smokers in Spain, who are carrying on smoking just like their less numerous British cousins.

There are lots of dogged, stoical smokers in France as well. Almost as many as in Spain.

Smoking in France was so much of an issue scientists have even invented a name for it: the French paradox. The paradox consists how the French seem to smoke so many cigarettes but don’t appear to be affected by their adverse effects at the same rate as their European counterparts.

There are two ways of looking at this paradox: either the French cancer care system is vastly superior to those in neighbouring countries, or scientists have fallen victim to the stereotype that France is still the tobacco haven it was back in the 1960s…

Its annual health report shows that the number of people lighting up regularly is no greater than the 2013 WHO official European average of 28%…

Given the stats, why then do French people seem to smoke conspicuously more than the British, or Americans? Tourists visiting France frequently cite smoking as the first culture shock they experience when they set foot on French soil, or perhaps simply when they step on a discarded cigarette butt.

A survey by travel website Tripadvisor revealed that users found that France was by far the “smokiest” country in the world.

My experience of the UK smoking ban has been, as I say, like having someone standing on my foot for 10 years. And I dare say that 34% of Spaniards, and 28% of French, feel pretty much the exact same way.

Which may explain in part why France has just experienced a sudden volcanic political explosion. Beneath the surface, a lot of pressure has built up. In France they’ve had a draconian smoking ban for slightly longer than Britain: theirs dates from 1 February 2007

Smoking and vaping are banned in all indoor public places (government buildings, offices, public transport, universities, museums, restaurants, cafés, nightclubs, etc.). Cafés and shops selling tobacco-related products are submitted to the same regulations. No exceptions exist for special smoking rooms fulfilling strict conditions. Additionally, some outdoor public places also ban smoking and vaping (railway stations).

Perhaps it just takes a while for the pressure to build up to breaking point. Perhaps it takes 10 years, or 20 years, of slowly mounting pressure before there’s an explosion. The explosion doesn’t come immediately: it comes 10 years after. Or 11.8 years, to be exact. And if Spain hasn’t erupted yet, it’s because they’re only 7 years into their smoking ban: 2 January 2011. Spain is likely to explode in 2022.

And, by this analysis, Britain is due to explode in April 2019. And in fact, recent political developments very strongly suggest that Britain actually will explode around about then. Although it will be Brexit (or the lack of it) which will be the nominal cause of the explosion, much like fuel tax hikes were the nominal cause of the French eruption.

About the archivist

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to 10 Years After

  1. smokingscot says:

    Not in the least surprised that you had a non smoker vote and even take the time to add their two pence worth.

    At my place I believe about 35% of the hits are from non smokers, with their IP number sometimes showing which university or hospital or even the NHS. And yes sometimes I even see a hit from Stanton’s unit in California. By the by, the most popular page I have is the number of fags you can roll from a pouch of tobacco, do to my mind they’re probably just researching.

    You of course have your German fitness walla as well as the triple dick.

    With regard to the thrust of your post, I wholly agree that some of us seek payback and yes I can imagine the yellow vest movement might well appeal to some simply because it serves to punish the establishment. I noted an article today in the Express claiming it has spread to Belgium as well as the Netherlands. Good!

    That the establishment haven’t begun to comprehend the depth of feeling we harbour just makes every success that much more satisfying.

  2. The paradox consists how the French seem to smoke so many cigarettes but don’t appear to be affected by their adverse effects at the same rate as their European counterparts.

    There are two ways of looking at this paradox: either the French cancer care system is vastly superior to those in neighbouring countries, or scientists have fallen victim to the stereotype that France is still the tobacco haven it was back in the 1960s…

    Immediately followed by: “The fact that smoking has plummeted by as much as 60% since Gérard Depardieu was born suggests it is the latter.”

    Have the lame brains noticed that their ‘conclusion’ doesn’t make their so-called paradox go away? French smoking rates have fallen steeply since that fateful day when Depardieu was born (1948), but French “smoking-related” death rates were already remarkably low in the 50s to 70s as compared to Britain’s. This boils down to a false dichotomy (pitting two false hypotheses against each other), which can only be solved by a third hypothesis: smoking rates never had a direct effect on those secular trends, only *quitting* smoking might contribute (hasten the onset) indirectly, due to stress resulting from the loss of an easily available antidepressant, causing cellular disturbances on a psychosomatic level (cf. this Indian study quoted by Rose a couple of times).

    Number of lung cancer death in two countries:
    Males, 1950
    France: 2623 (crude rate/100,000: 13)
    UK: 11503 (crude rate/100,000: 47.3)

    Females, 1950
    France: 1014 (crude rate/100,000: 4.7)
    UK: 2310 (crude rate/100,000: 8.8)

    Males, 2013
    France: 22190 (crude rate/100,000: 71.4)
    UK: 19511 (crude rate/100,000: 62)

    Females, 2013
    France: 8021 (crude rate/100,000: 24.5)
    UK: 16011 (crude rate/100,000: 49.3)

    These crude rates provide a pertinent comparison, since the age pyramids of France and the UK have been similar in size and structure for at least seven decades: no need for confusing age-adjusted trickery.

    From a Google search, I notice you’re the only one quoting from this May 2017 article. When only pro-smoking bloggers quote the anti-smoker’s drivel for their readers to guffaw at, the collapse of the citadel can only be imminent!

    The French and smoking: Is France really ‘Europe’s chimney’ – The Local

    • RdM says:

      I saw an Al Jazeera doco a day or few days ago, perhaps a part 1 or 2?
      on “Generation Identity”.
      One of these, perhaps start with the obvious earlier ones?
      I’d be interested in any comment you might make. Thanks!

    • Frank Davis says:

      Have the lame brains noticed that their ‘conclusion’ doesn’t make their so-called paradox go away?

      There were lots of other possible conclusions. One of which was that all the tobacco studies are complete nonsense. And another of which was that perhaps the French don’t identify as smokers for the purposes of surveys.

  3. Lepercolonist says:

    I loved Ten Years after with Alvin Lee. Thanks for that.
    I hope the French smokers storm the Bastille !

  4. slugbop007 says:

    I saw the Jeff Beck Group in Toronto in 1968 at the Rockpile. The group included Nicky Hopkins and Rod Stewart. A splendid time was had by one and all. Also saw The Who in Ottawa in 1969. Broke the mainspring on my watch.


No need to log in

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.