Weird report I saw yesterday:
The last cigarette smoked in England will be put out in 2050 – and Bristol’s final smoker will quit in just five years, scientists claim
Study commissioned by tobacco giant Philip Morris and conducted by analysts Frontier Economics
Bristol to be smoke free by 2024 followed by York, Wokingham, Berksire in 2026
In 1990, almost a third of British adults smoked, but that has halved to 15% since
One weird feature of this report was that it was commissioned by a tobacco company. And another weird thing was that it was prediction of what life would be like in 30 years time. And a third weird thing was that its prediction applied only to cigarettes, not tobacco.
I suppose that Philip Morris believe that cigarettes are on their way out, and they probably think that they’ll be replaced by e-cigarettes and a variety of other similar new technologies. After all that’s what’s been happening for the past few years, and will probably carry on happening.
But I doubt the prediction will come true. I think that the cigarette is one of the world’s great inventions. It made smoking cheap and easy. It was the Model T Ford of tobacco. Before it was invented people only had cigars and pipes. And cigars were expensive because they were hand-rolled. And pipes were cumbersome and hard to keep alight. The cigarette solved both the problem of expense and convenience. And it was also highly stylish.
And it’s still the best product around.
Because the new technologies are as heavy and unwieldy as pipes. E-cigarettes will only be as good as cigarettes when they weigh the same as cigarettes. And I don’t think they ever will. I think they’ll remain heavy, cumbersome things until they find a way of storing electrical charge in something better than batteries.
In fact, thinking about it this morning, I think that cigarettes made smoking popular only because they made smoking cheap and easy, and not (as I usually think) because two world wars increased the demand for tobacco. And so suddenly everybody was smoking, just like everybody was driving around in Model T Fords, which were cheaper and easier and faster than horses (ever tried riding a horse? It’s damn difficult.). Tobacco is no more addictive than cars or books or TV. People only started reading books when they became as cheap and easily portable as paperbacks. While it’s expensive and difficult to do something (e.g. space flight) very few people will do it. When space flight becomes cheap and easy, everyone will do it.
The antismokers don’t like smoking because it became cheap and easy, and everyone started doing it. And so now they’re trying to make it expensive and difficult again. Just like the anti-car people are trying to make travel expensive and difficult again with e-cars. New technologies liberate people, and the antismokers don’t like freedom.
I think Philip Morris should recognise that the cigarette is the best product the tobacco companies ever had, and it will remain the best product for the foreseeable future. And what they should be doing is making the case for their best-ever product, and fighting against the wall of lies that the antismokers tell about it. Because everything that’s said about tobacco is a lie. Everything.
Cigarettes are going to be around for a very long time.
Another weird thing I read yesterday:
The use of terms like “mainstream media” and growing distrust in “the establishment” are an “assault on freedom of expression”, the head of the BBC has claimed.
BBC director-general Lord Tony Hall said the effects of globalisation have fuelled a “progressive erosion of trust in … all those perceived as expert or elite” he complained, warning that journalism was under attack from “a crisis of faith in our traditional institutions”.
In a speech to the House of Lords this week, the 68-year-old life peer said he remembered “an age when … journalists could command the attention and respect of a whole country with the quality of their craft.”
Now, reporters for media outlets like the BBC face “attempts to target, troll [and] intimidate them” in addition to “constant anonymous threats online, simply for reporting on opinions that others might not want to hear”, he alleged.
I think it’s an “assault on freedom of expression” to deny people the ability to distrust the mainstream media. Why should people trust them? Why should people trust anybody?
Trust is something that’s earned. And trust is also something that can be lost. But this Mister Hall seems to think that the BBC and the mainstream media should be automatically trusted.
Look, Mister Hall, I stopped trusting the BBC when they threw Britain’s smokers under a bus. It was the same time (and the same reason) that I lost trust in the Liberal Democrat party, and in the medical profession, and in the European Union. I don’t trust any of them any more. They won’t speak up for smokers like me, so I won’t listen to them. Why should I listen to someone who won’t listen to me?
If, Mister Hall, you can remember “an age when … journalists could command the attention and respect of a whole country” it was because they spoke for the whole country, and not just for those who didn’t smoke, or those who thought Britain should be in the EU, or those who were worried about global warming. The BBC (and in fact the entire mainstream media) have become partisan in multiple ways. They’ve taken sides. They no longer speak for everyone. And that’s why journalists can no longer command the attention and respect of a whole country.
Hall is not alone. A lot of people think the same way he does. They think they should be automatically trusted and believed because they’re Scientists, or Doctors, or Teachers with letters after their names. None of them can understand why they’re no longer trusted. They’re no longer trusted because many of them have complete contempt for the people they want to be trusted by – and so those people have complete contempt for them.