Maximum Contention

It seems to be a feature of blogging that most days there’s a steady stream of readers, and then one day there’s a flood of them. It’s the same with rivers: my banner image shows the river Severn in flood.

Most days I get about 500 page views a day, and yesterday I got 10,530 page views, mostly of The Inconsiderate Jeremy Vine, and mostly from the UK. In the past I’ve had similar figures from time to time for pages like The Black Lung Lie.

This time, however, the flood seems to have been a consequence of a storm that broke out on Twitter when the BBC’s Jeremy Vine asked whether smoking should be banned in pub gardens, and got 50% Yes and 50% No response.

50 – 50 is maximum contention. If he’d got a 90 – 10 or 10 – 90 response it would have shown that the matter was uncontentious, and most people were agreed about it in one way or other.

Another example of near-maximum contention was the 52 – 48 Brexit vote. And I’d guess that pro- and anti-Trump feelings in the USA are at similar levels.

I can believe that pub garden smoking bans are highly contentious, if only because, in my personal experience, smoking bans have been the single most divisive issue in my life. The UK smoking ban tore apart my social life, because unfortunately many of my friends turned out to be antismokers.

So, if my experience is anything to go by, I think Jeremy Vine was disturbing a hornet’s nest with his tweet.

I wonder if it was deliberate? If you want to find out what the public mood is like about something, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have some public figure like Jeremy Vine post some contentious tweet, with an appended poll for people vote on? Within a day or two you’d have an answer. And, given the strength of the response, you’d also get an idea of how strongly people felt about it.

If so, it would seem that they found out that pub garden smoking bans are highly contentious, with a lot of people on one side, and equally as many on the other side.

It might also explain why there’s a strange silence about smoking bans: it’s precisely because they’re so highly contentious. It’s why Basil Fawlty was telling people “Don’t mention the war,” when a party of Germans visited his hotel. The war was in itself, of course, a nasty case of extreme contention, so it was something that couldn’t be mentioned, lest bad feelings get stirred up again.

So the public silence surrounding smoking bans may simply reflect the fact that smoking bans are so extremely divisive. They are so extremely divisive that hardly anybody dares to talk about them.

And smoking bans are extremely divisive because they result in large numbers of smokers being quite literally exiled to the outdoors. What could be more divisive than that? But will any of them talk about it? Of course they won’t. Their feelings run too deep. And they may run too deep to be expressible in words.

Smoking bans are so contentious that, at least in my own case, that contention feeds into apparently unrelated matters. For example, I voted for Brexit largely because the EU proved to have its own antismoking agenda, and not because of any of the other reasons that are usually cited. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there are many other smokers in Europe who feel the exact same way as I do about the EU. If true, it may well be that smoking bans are what are really tearing the EU apart.

In fact, I’ve occasionally wondered whether someone like Nigel Farage feels the exact same way that I do about smoking bans and the EU. After all, he’s been a strong contender against outdoor smoking bans, as I found out at Stony Stratford. But if he hardly ever talks about it, it’s because even he lacks the words with which to express his feelings.

I also wonder whether the current near-civil war in the USA has its roots in the same thing. Maybe it’s got nothing to do with Donald Trump, and everything to do with smoking bans in states and cities? But nobody will talk about those bans, so they instead talk about Donald Trump, who has become a lightning conductor.

If smoking bans are as deeply divisive as I’m suggesting, then we will be seeing deep divisions in nearly every country in the world, because nearly all of them have got smoking bans these days, working their poisonous effect on hitherto harmonious societies.

 

About Frank Davis

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16 Responses to Maximum Contention

  1. Rose says:

    But how much of that flood of comments was real?

    Smokefree Outdoor Spaces:
    A Community Advocacy Toolkit

    Click to access Smoke-free%20outdoor%20spaces%20advocacy%20-sept2010.pdf

    ” …….. For the next few months, strive to ensure there are positive media stories, letters to the editor, etc., that tout how well the bylaw changes are working. There will no doubt be a backlash from smokers in the beginning until they get used to the changes. In the meantime, you have to counter their negative comments in the media, in comment sections of online news pieces and blogs, on radio call-in shows, etc. Your job is to make politicians continue to believe that they did the right thing. It is not unheard of for councillors to backtrack on their decision and water down legislation. (page 48)

    …….. Plant stories in the media about non-smokers politely asking smokers to move to a designated smoking area or outside the smoke-free area and smokers complying. Create the impression that the bylaw is working and it will! (page 48)”
    http://cagecanada.blogspot.com/2011/02/inside-tobacco-control-industry-and.html

    • smokingscot says:

      A couple of nurses, a patient and one who defers to “experts” and thinks we’re terribly naughty for daring to question them. Then there’s the pedantic who took issue with some incorrect grammar.

      All bumph.

      Thankfully the other 4,994 elected to zip it.

    • Thank you for that documentation Rose! I’d pointed out elsewhere that I noted two little clusters of three comments each on the Vine story. All six displayed the same slightly grammatical structure with slight imperfections and were clearly written by the same person in two different sit-down sessions.

      This kind of sockpuppeting was being encouraged by groups like ASH and GASP all the way back in the 1970s, though I have no extant documentation to prove it… just my memory.

      Dunno if you’re familiar with Rollo Tommassi (?spelling?) over on some of the Brit boards, but he was a long-time Anti of a higher than usual skill level at offering the best antismoking soundbites and finding vulnerable spots among the smokers to dig at.

      I had suspected him/her of being a Pro for a good while, and remember one day, somehow, maybe using some data someone else had found and sticking it into some sort of program, tracking him down via an IP addy or somesuch to within a three (?) square block area of CRUK or somesuch over there. Not “proof” by any means, but certainly adding a lot of weight to question.

      Then one day something spurred me to stick his name in a translator program and it came up with one of those names meaning “No Man” in some language — just like the old Ulysses trick of telling the Cyclops that his name was No Man so that the dumb Clops would let him go!

      I began talking about this and a few other folks began ragging on Rollo, and then, possibly late some Friday or Saturday eve after a few too many drinks Rollo posted some sort of mini-diatribe about having “a right to anonymity”! Thereby giving himself away entirely! (Although I believe he tried to make some attempt later on to claim that he’d simply been talking about general internet principles just on a whim or somesuch! LOL!)

      So, yeah, there ARE “Professional Antis” out there who sign on under fake names, although there’s no way to pin down whether they’re actually being paid to post stuff or if they work for a CRUK type organization or a PR agency, or are just purely unusually literate Antismokers. If they’re that literate however, there’d be NO reason for them to use a fake ID: After all, while it’s perfectly legal to fire smokers for various reasons — including causing “difficulties” over ban policies — I believe Antismokers are a “protected group” in that regard, with ban laws specifically they can not be fired for their antismoking actions.

      THere’s also no motivation of someone trying to hide their nonsmoking status for insurance reasons, or hide their opinions because they actually work for Big Tobacco (note “protected status” in the preceeding paragraph)… so there’s literally NO REASON AT ALL for any smoke banner to EVER hide behind an alias UNLESS they are a paid Anti.

      – MJM, not a paid Anti. (Or actually a paid “pro” since I believe my balance books have me in the negative on book publishing/incorporation costs etc!)

  2. margo says:

    re Nigel Farage, my guess is that he does think about the smoking ban and knows that the first step to removing it in the UK is to get us out of the EU. All his focus is there, and to talk about smoking would muddy the waters (and give the media and the puritans something else to demonise him about).

  3. waltc says:

    The political split in the US isn’t rooted in the smoking bans. Aside from the fact that now the smoking rates are down to less than 20% and the ex’s either no longer care or are proud to identify with the (superior) majority. However, it’s the same issues everywhere: the economic effects of globalism and the whole range of imposed elite “values” and the disparagement of those who don’t go along. Sure, the bans are one of those things but they don’t affect enough of the population to influence the vote, especially since way more than half of the remaining smokers buy into the idea that their secondhand smoke is lethal, or at least highly offensive. What’s to be noted, though, is that the great majority of antismokers seem to be liberal/ progressive.

  4. Joe L. says:

    OT: The “secondhand smoke” myth worked well for Tobacco Control, so the neopuritans have coopted the term in their crusade against alcohol. I’m surprised it took them this long.

    Effects of ‘secondhand drinking’ hurt 53 million Americans: study

    Forget secondhand smoke. Now you have to worry about the secondhand drinking.

    One fifth of adults — or an estimated 53 million people in the United States — suffer from other people’s boozing annually, making this “a significant public health issue,” according to a new study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

    “One thing to think about with the 1 in 5 number is that it is only limited to a snapshot in time of about a year. So, probably more people have actually been harmed by someone else’s drinking at other times in their life,” study author Katherine Karriker-Jaffe, a senior scientist with the Alcohol Research Group at the Public Health Institute in Emeryville, Calif., tells CNN.

    Researchers analyzed responses from 8,750 adults interviewed in 2015 for the National Alcohol’s Harm to Others Survey and the National Alcohol Survey. Subjects were asked whether they experienced any of the 10 types of harms — caused by someone who had been drinking alcohol — in a 12-month period. The damages included everything from traffic accidents, physical abuse, marital problems, property damage and financial issues.

  5. Smoking Lamp says:

    Well, the global antismoking cartel is gaining momentum as new smoking bans are enacted in Atlanta and Austria.

    In Atlanta, “The Atlanta City Council voted Monday to institute a broad-reaching ban on smoking and vaping in restaurants, bars, workplaces and many other public places in the city, as well as at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.” In addition, “The ordinance would also prohibit smoking inside the Atlanta airport, which would prompt the closure of smoking rooms on the concourses.”

    The ban was justified on the grounds of the risk ‘second hand smoke’ despite those claims being demonstrably false. Nevertheless, paid antismoking activists claimed: “Secondhand smoke “causes the same diseases as we see with direct tobacco inhalation,” including heart disease and cancer, said Len Lichtenfeld, acting chief medical officer for the Atlanta-based American Cancer Society, who spoke in favor of the ban at the City Council meeting Monday.” “Atlanta City Council votes for ban on smoking in public places” https://www.ajc.com/news/local/atlanta-city-council-votes-for-ban-smoking-public-places/umJQUM9r0rmHosIkQObmKL/

    In Austria, “Parliament on Tuesday passed a ban on smoking in Austria’s bars and restaurants, extinguishing a flagship policy of the recently collapsed right-wing government which had scrapped the measure after it was already on the statute books.” “Austria passes smoking ban, snuffing out fallen government’s flagship policy” https://www.reuters.com/article/us-austria-politics-smoking/austria-passes-smoking-ban-snuffing-out-fallen-governments-flagship-policy-idUSKCN1TX23Z

    • Smoking Lamp says:

      An additional story on the Atlanta ban contains a quote by the bill’s proponent City Councilmember Matt Westmoreland who said he’s proud that Atlanta ““has joined every other major American city in adopting a comprehensive ‘Smoke-Free’ ordinance.”
      Translate that too he’s proud to persecute smokers based on prejudice and propaganda.

      The story “Atlanta tightens smoking ban inside bars, restaurants, airport” takes comments
      https://www.reporternewspapers.net/2019/07/02/atlanta-tightens-smoking-ban-inside-bars-restaurants-airport/

    • smokingscot says:

      The law comes into force in November. However their election to chose the next coalition government is in September.

      If the same party that opposes the ban does garner enough votes to get into government they have made it clear the law will be repealed.

      This is just opportunism, deep state stuff, so I’ll just wait patiently to see how many Austrians want to stick it to them.

  6. Mark Jarratt says:

    Smoking bans and astronomical punitive taxes are so contentious they are totally ignored by UK PM candidate Boris, although by any objective measure prohibitionist tobacco controls are the elephant in the room of sin taxes. Of course the usual baseless claim that high taxes lower smoking rates on a consumer product with inelastic demand (aren’t smokers addicts?) is repeated, although in reality the nations with the highest and most draconian tobacco control policies do not have the best profile with smoking “related” illness…
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-eu-leader-sintax-idUSKCN1TX2ZU

  7. Pingback: Bad News From Austria | Frank Davis

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