Simon Clark has been promoting a new report: 40 Years of Hurt: The hyper-regulation of smokers 1979-2019.
“What began decades ago as a legitimate public health campaign to educate people about the risks of smoking has become a moral crusade that threatens our culture of tolerance and diversity.”
Just the title prompted a lot of questions in me. Why 40? Why not 12? Or 100?
And why is this a legitimate public health campaign? And does it educate people about the risks of smoking? Does anyone really know what the risks of smoking really are?
I share the sense of hurt, of course. I wake up every day thinking about the smoking ban. But that sense of hurt – or of oppression or exclusion – really only began on 1 July 2007, the day the UK public smoking ban came into force. As far as I am concerned, Britain hasn’t been the same place since. Everything changed that day. Absolutely everything.
So, for me personally, the hurt only goes back 12 years. Before that I didn’t feel hurt. I remember noticing when smoking got banned in some carriages on trains. But back then the bans were piecemeal, slowly creeping. I suppose they were worried about generating a backlash. But by 1 July 2007, they’d gained much more confidence. There was nothing piecemeal about the ban that came into force that day: it extended to every pub and restaurant and cafe and club in the entirety of the UK. Bang! And all and everywhere on the very same day.
These days I see it as a war, and a war that is essentially no different than WW1 or WW2. It’s just a war that’s not (yet) being fought with guns and bombs. And in wars people attempt to impose their will on other people. And the antismokers want to make people stop smoking. They want to make everyone stop smoking, everywhere. And not just everywhere in Britain, but everywhere in the world.
I don’t know how many smokers there are in the world, but if 20% of the population of the world are smokers, that’s about 1.5 billion people that the antismokers in Tobacco Control intend to impose their will on.
Will they succeed? I very much doubt it. There is no single ideology that has ever completely captured the whole world, and the antismoking ideology of Tobacco Control is unlikely to be the first. Because every ideology always generates its own opposition. Every force always and invariably produces its own counter-force.
The current intense War on Smoking is also really just one campaign in a war that has been going on a very long time. It’s a war that’s been going on for over 500 years, since the first tobacco plants arrived in Europe from the New World. For if some people instantly loved tobacco, then some people instantly hated it.
It’s probably true of everything, that – whatever it is – there will be some people that love it, and some people that hate it. And somehow or other – I really don’t quite know why – the smoke-haters have been multiplying in numbers over the past century or so, and becoming more and more powerful. And, conversely, smokers have been retreating before them as they have advanced.
But resistance is slowly mounting. And it’s slowly mounting everywhere in the world. That’s what always happens with resistance. And because this is a global war on smoking, we are seeing the emergence of global resistance.
And because there are so many smokers under attack all over the world, there are bound to be global political consequences following on from this war on smoking. And many of these consequences will be surprising and unexpected consequences.
For in my own case, the war on smoking that is being waged against me has had the surprising consequence that I voted for Brexit. I voted for Brexit because the EU has emerged as being a close ally of Tobacco Control, urging – even requiring – member states to impose draconian smoking bans on their own peoples. There are all sorts of other reasons why I could have voted to leave the EU, but that happens to be the really compelling reason for me.
Equally, if I’m a Trump supporter, it’s not because I’m a great believer in the man, but instead because his principal opponent at the last election was Hillary Clinton, who happens to be a world-renowned antismoker. For me, Donald Trump is simply the enemy of my enemy. And I hope he really does Lock Her Up.
And that’s just me. All smokers everywhere will also be reacting to the intense war that has been launched on them, Is it really any wonder if so many countries are on the brink of civil war, with so many people under attack? Looking across the English channel to France, I can’t help but think that many of Yellow Vest protesters are actually Yellow Finger protesters, protesting against the virulently antismoking Emmanuel Macron.
And if mass shootings seem to be taking place with increased frequency in the USA, might that not be because millions of US smokers are also under a continual intense attack which is dividing communities, shattering friendships, setting people against each other. Is it entirely coincidental that the Dayton shooter fired on people smoking and drinking outside bars? He may as well have been working for Tobacco Control.
And is global warming alarmism completely unrelated to the war on smoking? Tobacco smoke contains carbon dioxide, and so antismokers are very likely to be as worried about global warming as they are about secondhand smoke, because they’re pretty much the exact same thing. So the battle lines are drawn up there as well.
People who are under intense attack may not fight back directly at their enemies. They may not have the means to do so. But they can often fight back indirectly. So if the EU wants to ban smoking throughout Europe, I can vote for Brexit. If Emmanuel Macron wants to get French people to stop smoking, I can join the Gilets Jaunes. If Hillary Clinton runs for President, I can vote for Donald Trump. And I think that a great many British and French and American smokers are doing exactly that. They may not tell anyone that this is what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it. In fact, they may not even know themselves why they loathe Hillary Clinton and Emmanuel Macron and Jeremy Corbyn, and everyone like them. In such manner, and in countless other indirect ways, smokers can secretly fight back against their antismoking enemies.
It’s going to be a very, very long war. If it’s already been fought for the past 500 years, it will very likely last for another 500 years.