It always puzzles me that smokers are so invisible. Why is that? Why are some social outcast groups highly visible, but not smokers?
The answer perhaps is that smokers don’t complain. They just adapt to the new circumstances they find themselves in, and just get on with life.
And because they don’t complain, the new circumstances become even more oppressive. But once again the smokers just adapt to the new worse circumstances they find themselves in, and just get on with life.
Whereupon their circumstances get even worse.
It’s perhaps not that Tobacco Control is particularly oppressive, but that they never get any complaints from smokers.
Why don’t smokers complain? Why do they quietly endure everything that’s done to them? Is this peculiar to smokers? Other people complain. Some people complain a lot about almost everything.
Parallel example: A road gets blocked by local council roadworks when new sewerage systems are being installed. When commuters and shoppers find the road is blocked, they change their planned routes to avoid the blocked road. They quickly adapt to the new situation. They expect the roadworks to be completed within a few days or weeks. Nobody complains to the local council. But because the local council gets no complaints from blocking one road, they then block another. Everybody adapts once again. Nobody complains. So the council then feels free to block as many roads as it likes, because nobody ever complains, whatever they do. In the end, the few roads that remain open are blocked with traffic jams. The whole road network grinds to a halt. Maybe then, when everyone is suffering, everyone starts complaining. Or rather the people who will complain about almost anything will start complaining on behalf of all the people who never complain about anything.
It takes an effort to complain. There are costs attached to complaining. People would rather not do it. Nobody in a restaurant wants to send back a plate of food for being inedible. Instead they usually just don’t eat it. Or they order something else in addition. Maybe the chef only realises that he didn’t cook the potatoes for long enough when plates come back laden with uneaten potato. It would have been quicker if some one had complained, and said “These potatoes are undercooked”, and the chef could have fixed the problem. But if nobody complains, how is the chef to know that he hasn’t cooked the potatoes enough?
Or perhaps it’s that, in any society anywhere, some people are at the top of the pile, and some at the bottom. If you’re at the top of the pile you expect your every whim to be granted. But if you’re on the bottom, you expect none of your wishes to be granted. If you’re at the bottom of the heap, you never complain. You just endure what’s thrown at you.
So in the past, when blacks and gays and women were at the bottom of the pile, they didn’t complain. It was only when a Rosa Parks or an Emily Pankhurst started loudly complaining that people began to notice them. Up until then, nobody noticed any of them. They were invisible.
The pile is always moving. There are always people who are rising up the pile, and there are other people descending. Smokers are people who have been descending. They’ve gradually been expelled from more and more places. The same probably once happened to blacks and gays and women way back whenever. One day they were on top of the world, and then the next they were on the bottom. It’s perhaps only when you get to the very bottom that you start complaining. But before you’ve got to the bottom you just adapt to your changing circumstances. You endure it, until it becomes unendurable.
Also smokers now expect to be excluded. The nasty little round red-rimmed No Smoking signs are always telling them that they can’t smoke here, and they can’t smoke there. They expect things to get worse. And so things actually do get worse. And they’ll get worse and worse until they’re unendurable.
For a long time blacks and gays and women didn’t complain. But at some point it probably became unendurable. And smokers will eventually reach that point too. And then what…?