Back in about 1950, lots of people smoked tobacco, and they smoked more or less everywhere, and everyone got along quite happily. British society back then consisted of a minority of non-smokers (grey), and a majority of smokers (yellow).
Over the next 50 or 60 years, smoking prevalence dropped, and smokers who had been in a majority gradually became a minority.
In 2007 the British government banned smoking in public places, and the minority of British smokers were expelled from society, “exiled to the outdoors”.
Around about the same time, refugees and migrants from foreign countries (many of them Islamic) began to arrive in Britain in large numbers. These migrants usually concentrated in a few places, rather than dispersing throughout Britain.
And the same thing has been happening all over Europe. Very large numbers of smokers in Europe (where smoking prevalence in the east and south remains 30% or more) have been “exiled to the outdoors”, made very unwelcome in their own countries, while large numbers of complete strangers are being welcomed from foreign countries.
In addition, the immigrants form close-knit societies, and rapidly gain political representation and media recognition. But smokers, who are scattered all over Britain, and all over Europe, do not form close-knit societies. Nor do they acquire any political representation or media recognition. They remain invisible, even though their numbers far exceed those of the migrants.
Is it at all surprising that the indigenous smokers throughout Europe are angry that complete strangers are being welcomed and included into their societies while they themselves are being rigorously excluded from them?
Might not the anger of these excluded and invisible European smokers be part of what is driving the current explosive growth in populism throughout Europe, which is a popular revolt against governments which no longer represent their own peoples or their own cultures?
Might it not be a good idea to stop excluding smokers from almost everywhere, and instead start to include them back into society again?