Do Smokers Need Organising?

Business Insider 2017:

In her new book, “What Happened” — officially out next Tuesday — Hillary Clinton wrote that her biggest regret from the campaign trail last year was saying she would put coal miners out of business.

Saying that ensured that she’d lose the votes of miners and people in mining-related industries. Nobody had to organise miners against her. All they had to do is hear what she said.

What she probably isn’t aware of is that, as perhaps America’s principal antismoker, she’d already lost the votes of America’s smokers, who comprise a far larger fraction of the electorate than miners.

…there is a ban on all kinds of smoking in the White House. At First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s orders, all ashtrays have been removed, and at her insistence, they are never to be placed on tables for official dinners. Apparently, her target was cigarettes, yet the effect of her decision also covers cigars.

Nobody had to organise smokers to not vote for her. As soon as they found out what she was, they were never going to. Most of them wouldn’t have told anybody. They wouldn’t have written letters to newspapers about it.

Hillary Clinton was unelectable because she hadn’t just trodden on miners, but she’d also trodden on smokers. She’d probably trodden on any number of other people as well. And they’d all decided not to vote for her.

With rumours that, if Hillary doesn’t run, Michael Bloomberg might step into the 2020 presidential race, it’s worth pointing out that he’s the guy who, as mayor of New York City, more or less single-handedly got smoking banned there. And America’s smokers will have noticed that. And, if he runs, they won’t be voting for him either. So Michael Bloomberg is probably as unelectable as Hillary Clinton.

David Hockney in the Guardian, November 2016:

“…I must admit I wasn’t that keen on Hillary because when the Clintons were in the White House they banned smoking immediately.

“I said, well that would welcome Hitler a lot more than Churchill. Churchill smoked 10 cigars a day for 70 years and lived to be 90, so I don’t know what they’re going on about. And Hitler was the biggest anti-smoker of them all, you couldn’t smoke in his presence – which is why I notice in Germany there are quite a lot of smokers because they can’t demonise smokers there.”

It’s an idiosyncratic reason for a political leaning, but Hockney has been smoking since 1954 and takes delight at thumbing his nose at the demonisation of his habit.

I don’t think there’s anything idiosyncratic or peculiar about this. I think David Hockney was simply telling it how it was (and still is) for smokers. Or it’s no more idiosyncratic than American miners not voting for Hillary because she was anti-coal.

As I’ve remarked several times, I used to be pro-EU until in 2010 I found out that the EU was pushing for smoking bans everywhere in Europe. More recently I’ve learned that it had been since at least 1989. Overnight I swung from being pro-EU to anti-EU. And I also started to believe that the EU was a doomed political project, because it had made itself far too many enemies among the smokers of Europe. How can a political project possibly succeed if it demonises about a third of its population? It’s a politically crazy thing to do.

Nobody else will suggest this, but it seems to me very likely that it’s not “national populism” that’s now tearing Europe apart: it’s disenchanted smokers. Nobody had to organise them to do that. They were just going to turn against the EU as soon as they found out that it was helping to lead the war on smoking, just like America’s miners were going to turn their back on Hillary Clinton as soon as they found out that she intended to do them out of their jobs.

Recently I heard Nigel Farage say that he became a eurosceptic back in about 1990 because he “didn’t like the way things were going in the EU.” That’s very non-specific. There could have been any number of ways things were going that he didn’t like. But I wonder… might it have been because he found out back then about the EU’s plans to rid Europe of smokers, 15 years before I did? Might it have been that Nigel Farage felt the exact same revulsion that I did for the EU’s antismoking plans, 15 years before me? I wonder how many converts he made to UKIP simply by pointing out to blissfully ignorant smokers (like me) what the EU was planning for them?

Do smokers need organising? Perhaps they don’t. All they need is to be kept informed, and they’ll do whatever is necessary, and do it automatically, without bidding. There’s maybe no more need for smokers to get organised than there was for America’s miners to be organised against Hillary Clinton, because they were organised the moment she opened her mouth and revealed her plans for them. There was no need for demonstrations or marches or sit-ins because there was no need to draw attention to what she’d said, no need for “consciousness-raising”, because everybody already knew all they needed to know.

And the apparent disorganisation of smokers, and their consequent invisibility, may also be an asset. Because their enemies are unaware of their intentions. Their enemies are paying no attention to them whatsoever. And so they’ll find out far too late that there’s an army at their gate, one that they never saw coming.

About Frank Davis

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8 Responses to Do Smokers Need Organising?

  1. smokingscot says:

    By all means let Bloomberg spend some of his billions on campaigning for president. Yes he can be certain many smokers will not vote for him, but also those who wish to own firearms. Then there’s the business of his complete support of climate change. He loves that so much that he’s given $10 million to cover the US shortfall.

    So smokers, gun owners, big business, coal, petroleum, car owners – oh and American patriots.

    And he’s Jewish, so scrub most Muslims.

    Hey the guy’s 77 years old, so he’ll be 79 if he wins. And he’s reputed to be worth $31 billion, so yes, feel free to go for it.

    (Trump’s 73 – so 79 when he leaves office. And he doesn’t like wars).

    • DP says:

      Dear Smoking Scot

      The fact that President Trump doesn’t like wars is quite possibly the main reason the deep state don’t like him, because they love wars.


    • waltc says:

      As for Bloomberg, never underestimate the stupidity of the left, or the depth of their anti-Trumpism. Aside from the fact that they’d vote for Mao against Trump, many of them also newly hate guns, religion, cigarettes, and “sugary drinks” and in general like government control. In fact, he may not be progressive enough and then has the personality of a dead fish.

  2. DP says:

    Dear Mr Davis

    I suspect that Mr Farage’s silence on smoking bans is deliberate. Apart from supporting publicans’ rights to decide on smoking, plus the Stoney Stratford demonstration, he lets his convivial smoking and drinking lifestyle to speak for him on his attitude to both.

    Banging on about smoking would serve only to distract non-smokers from the main message – leave the European Empire (as it now has been declared to be, to much applause from the iLib Undems).


  3. jaxthefirst says:

    It’s difficult to know exactly how many angry smokers there are out there, because non-smokers have been so brainwashed in so many ways about smokers that many of them seem to claim some kind of magical ability to read the minds of every smoker on the planet, often despite never having smoked a cigarette themselves in their lives! They all seem to know exactly why every smoker in the world smokes, they are unshakeable in their belief that every smoker in the world is desperate to give up, they know exactly when, where and what they smoke and, uncannily, they all seem to be know with absolute certainty that smokers have “got used to” the smoking ban, that none of them “mind going outside for a cigarette” and indeed that many of them “think the smoking ban is a good thing.” Quite how these non-smokers have managed to get around the whole world to discuss these matters with every single smoker beats me, but they seem to have done it, which is why they are such experts on all smokers’ thoughts and feelings, and indeed never seem to have received any responses which differ from the above. Amazing! But, sarcasm aside, there’s actually a lot of denial amongst non-smokers with regard to the current treatment of their smoking companions which effectively obliges them to brush aside any negative comments made by smokers about the smoking ban, or about bullying, or about persecution, in a way which they just wouldn’t dream of doing if anyone from another group to which they didn’t belong was making the same comments. It’s all rather odd.

    But smokers, too, have been so browbeaten that they often don’t feel able to pass comment on the unfairnesses heaped upon them by our bully State and their minions (a term which includes all those non-smokers who simply won’t acknowledge what’s going on). There’s nothing more humiliating than to have one’s concerns and hurt feelings brushed aside by those who could help but won’t, as if they are nothing more than a minor irritation. Like one of the commenters on here said recently, for members of persecuted groups with no real opportunity to improve their lot often the only thing left to salvage the last vestiges of their pride is to pretend that they agree to, or at least don’t particularly object to, the demands of their controllers. At least that gives the impression that they have made a choice as free-thinking adults, rather than just submitted like beaten dogs, even if the truth of the matter is that to all intents and purposes they never really had a choice in the first place.

    So, there’s a tremendous amount of “non-spokenness” on both sides about smoking and the smoking ban and the prejudice against this particular minority group which, as I say, makes it hard to estimate exactly how many angry smokers there actually are out there, seething silently inside whilst outwardly presenting a rather stoic, “jolly hockey sticks,” public image as they stand outside in the cold and rain, making brave little comments like “Oh, it’s only for a few minutes every now and then,” or “I don’t want to upset anyone who doesn’t like the smell,” or “at least it helps me to cut down a bit.” I’m sure we’ve all heard such simpering little words from smoker-apologists, desperately trying for the sake of their pride to convince everyone that they really don’t mind this persecution. But how many of those apologists, if given the opportunity to speak completely honestly, would admit that they’d actually give their right arm for the smoking ban to be relaxed, that they hate the fact that they are made to feel unwelcome and like second-class customers virtually everywhere, and that they’re fed up with each and every little would-be tyrants’ club using them as a punch-bag whenever they feel like it, and fed up, too, with the fact that their non-smoking so-called friends and acquaintances have, from the outset, turned a blind eye to their plight and never raised so much as an eyebrow to support or speak up for them? The upshot of this “non-spokenness” on behalf of both non-smokers and smokers has, I think resulted in a lot of unexpressed rage amongst smokers. I think it’s there in far, far more than just the few regular smokers on here who recognise it; it’s there in a lot who simply don’t.

    But there’s a thing about anger, as any decent psychologist will tell you: if it can’t be expressed in a direct way towards its real cause, then it almost inevitably comes out elsewhere. So, yes, I think that much of the present unrest and upheaval going on, certainly in the West, is actually driven to a great degree by angry smokers, even if many – possibly most – of those smokers don’t even themselves recognise it. Look at where all the biggest “surprise” upheavals have occurred – in the USA with the election of the wildcard Donald Trump; in the UK with the unexpected two-fingered Brexit referendum result; in France with the ongoing and sustained gilet jaunes protests; in Spain with the Catalans’ continued demands for independence even in the face of open State violence; and elsewhere around Europe with the increasing popularity of all the so-called “nationalist” parties so clearly feared by the EU. Even the independence movement in Scotland – much talked about for decades but hitherto only ever bubbling away on the back burner – seems to have shifted up a gear or two in the last decade and doesn’t seem to have abated even after their own referendum result. In all of these places, it just so happens that smoking bans have been imposed over a period that corresponds pretty precisely to the time that tensions and “rebellious tendencies” have risen. Coincidence? Hmm. Maybe, maybe not.

    None of the protests, of course, are nominally about smoking, but there’s no doubt in my mind that many of them have been “used” by smokers – consciously or unconsciously – as means of expressing all that suppressed anger at the “the authorities” who have treated them so unfairly and disrespectfully, simply because there’s just no mileage, in terms of being listened to, by expressing it in a direct way, about our persecution, towards those doing the persecuting. Possibly without knowing it, smokers have just been waiting for a suitable “hook” to hang all that anger on and express it, and once they found one – whether it was by voting in an “unthinkable” way (Trump, Brexit, nationalist parties) or by actually getting out on the streets and chucking a few things around (France, Catalonia) – then they weren’t going to pass it up. As I say, that’s how anger as a human emotion works. It wants to get out and get heard! And, of course, the more angry people you have involved in any “movement,” the more unpredictable and sustained that movement will be. After all, if you add a few thousand angry smokers to a few thousand people who are angry about something else, and you get all of those people directing that anger towards the same target, then you have a very large number of focussed, angry people to contend with. And all those angry people will be bolstered by the knowledge that there are many other people who feel just as angry as they do, which will sustain them and keep them going.

    So, looked at from that perspective, the imposition of draconian smoking bans could actually be seen to be fuelling the fires of anti-authority feeling across large swathes of the West. It might even have been the addition of smokers’ pent-up rage which lit the fuse for many of them and enabled them to become as widely-felt as they have been. In short, angry smokers, far from just being a part of all these political “protests” could actually be the main drivers of them. It’s ironic to think that, had the countries in question taken a more tolerant and reasonable attitude towards their smoking citizens, many of the recent political “surprises” and protests might well have never happened, or may have been on a much smaller and more easily-quelled scale altogether.

    Oh, well. “You reap what you sow” and all that. It would be nice to think that the connection between imposition of anti-smoking policies and onset of political unrest and the odd correlation of timings of both hasn’t gone unnoticed by the authorities in question, and that it might have given them pause for thought – unintended consequences and all that – but somehow I doubt it. Looking deeper than the surface isn’t usually their strong point, is it?

    Now, I wonder how long it’ll be before Austria has some kind of “unforeseen” political upheaval, given recent news. Anyone want to take a punt on that?

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