Why Worry?

Hot on the heels of the news from Simon Clark that ASH is having its government funding slashed is the news that Public Health England is going to be abolished.

Public Health England – goodbye and good riddance

It seems to have been a very bad week for Tobacco Control. And probably for the reason I suggested in my last post: the emergence of Covid-19 as the UK’s prime health threat.

But in at least once sense nothing has changed at all: it’s still all about health.

Why are some people so obsessed with health?

Until a few months ago I was blessed with perfect health, and never thought about it much. And so was everyone else I knew. The modern obsession with health seems to have been a new development. Where has it come from? If you read Plato and Aristotle, and in fact any philosopher, none of them seems to worry much about health. Yet they lived in far unhealthier times than ours, when there were no vaccines against any disease, and no cures either.  Why is it that in one of the healthiest times in history that so many people now seem to worry about little else?

One possible explanation is that only healthy people will ever worry about health. It’s only when you’ve got something that you can worry about losing it.

The same applies with Climate Change. It’s only when you’ve got a nice, balanced climate that you’re likely to start worrying about losing it. It’s the same people who worry about their own health who will also worry about the health of planet Earth. It’s the same worry writ large.

Yet even though my health is no longer perfect, I still don’t worry about health. My heart is no longer working quite as well as it did for the past 72 years of my life. But is that very surprising? I’ve grown old, and people die when they get old. Nobody escapes. And I won’t either. So why worry about it?

So I carry on smoking and drinking as much as I ever did. And I also keep on eating “unhealthy food”, like hamburgers, and fish and chips.

Why stop now?

And anyway I don’t believe that what anyone eats or drinks or smokes has very much effect on how long they live. I’m not a believer in lifestyle medicine.

And also I think – heretical thought – that all lives must end. I think that if a life has a beginning, it must also have an end. If there’s a bookend on one end of a bookshelf, there must also be one at the other end. It’s those bookends that frame the life recounted in the books between.

And I’ve had a good life. In fact I’ve had a magic life. I didn’t get sent off to fight for years in a trench in Flanders in 1914. And I didn’t die in the Plague Year of 1665. Nor during the Black Death of 1347. Nor during the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. I’ve been lucky. So why should I complain? Be glad of what you have.

The health-obsessed healthists want to live forever, but I don’t. They’re like those ancient Egyptians who hoped that they would live unending lives in some afterlife. But I don’t want an afterlife. I’m just grateful for the beautiful life I’ve already lived.



About Frank Davis

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32 Responses to Why Worry?

  1. Mark Jarratt says:

    It is excellent news that the petty prohibitionist lifestyle dictators of PHE UK will be targeted for “cancel culture”. Long overdue and hopefully the start of a global trend. The WHO (not the band) should be next, compromised as they are by PRC (China) influence and accepting bribes from the likes of chief nanny state “I know best” bullies like billionaire Bloomberg. Good riddance, now they might have to get real jobs rather than making a career from harassing other adults into their neurotic obsession with bourgeois purity, waging war on the recreational pastimes of workers.

  2. Timothy Goodacre says:

    My sentiments exactly Frank ! Thank you very much for this wonderfully written perceptive post. I ‘m 67 and have no reason to be unhappy with my lot either. Pity more folk don’t think like us !

    • petesquiz says:

      I’m also in complete agreement…and I’m ‘only’ 62. I think that many people think like us, but don’t shout about it because it is seen as dull and boring and depressing…whereas…the attempt to live forever is seen as exciting and good and positive. Those people cannot understand, nor accept, the inevitability of death, but the grim reaper will have us all…one day. (and that’s perfectly fine by me!)

  3. Rose says:

    I’d like the 13 years of normal, happy life Labour and anti-tobacco stole from us back in one way or another.

  4. Александра Собина says:

    My dear friends,
    I’m sorry to be such pessimistic, but I think there will be another PHE for us, and perhaps even worse than previous one. Remember, bullies never change.

    • Joe L. says:

      A frightening yet realistic possibility. It certainly is hard to believe they’d completely abolish Public Health England, especially in the middle of a supposed pandemic. It wouldn’t be surprising if they’re planning to use those funds to form a new, more draconian Ministry of Health riding the tremendous fear of COVID-19 they have skillfully cultivated using the Tobacco Control playbook.

      However, I hope this news is actually as positive as it sounds, and that maybe–just maybe–we’re seeing the trickle-down effects of the US withdrawing from the World Health Organization. Hopefully the slush fund is truly drying up.

      • Frank Davis says:


        The new body will be formed from a merger of PHE, the Joint Biosecurity Centre and NHS test and trace, and will be headed by Dido Harding.


        The choice of Dido Harding to run England’s new public health agency cements her position as one of the most powerful unelected officials involved in the fight against coronavirus.

        As chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, she will take control of a huge scientific, technological and bureaucratic empire which ministers hope will play a vital role in ultimately defeating the virus.

        As well as continuing to oversee the much-criticised NHS Test and Trace system, which she helped launch in May, she will assume responsibility for all local public health protection teams following the abolition of Public Health England, as well as the Joint Biosecurity Centre.

  5. Joe L. says:

    Why are some people so obsessed with health? … The modern obsession with health seems to have been a new development. Where has it come from?

    I have been asking myself the same question for a while now. I don’t have an answer (yet), but I’m almost finished reading the book, “The Coddling of the American Mind” which does a great job of examining the causes of the rise of “cancel culture” and why “Generation Z” (or “iGen” as referred to in the book) feel they need “safe spaces” and get “triggered” at the mere mention of an idea that is opposed to their own beliefs. Why they stifle free speech and will go as far as to use physical violence to do so in order to spare their own feelings from words and ideas that they call “violent.”

    The authors of the book repeatedly use the term “Safetyism” to describe the ideology which gave birth to this insanity. I can’t help but believe that “Healthism” and “Safetyism” are very closely related. They both appear to have started gaining momentum in the 1980s and have both reached levels of hysteria today. Both concepts revolve around the need to protect oneself from normal, innocuous aspects of life that they have been conditioned to believe are threats to their wellbeing. The authors even discuss how the rise in peanut allergies correlates with parents preventing their children from having any exposure to peanuts out of the fear that they might be allergic, thus preventing their immune systems from developing a normal response to peanuts. This is a perfect example of the close relationship between Safetyism and Healthism.

    I kept hoping the authors would make this connection between Safetyism and Healthism, but the latter is never mentioned. In fact, the authors list some “good” safety practices that have arisen, and they mention “not smoking around children” as one of them (of course, without citing any scientific justification because, as we know well, there isn’t any). That was very disheartening to read. It’s hard to believe these authors can be observant enough to write a book about the ideology of Safetyism, yet be so blind as to not consider that Healthism–and the Antismoking crusade in particular–is essentially a part of the same ideology.

    Nevertheless, it’s a good book and I would still recommend it. It just leaves me yearning for a book which connects more dots between Safetyism, Healthism, Environmentalism and other “Progressive” ideologies which are destroying our society and depriving us of our civil liberties.

    • Zia says:

      There’s also an attack on “cool” people. I can’t help wondering if that has something to do with all of this.

      • Barry Homan says:

        You’ve hit on something there. Something I’ve believed ever since the start of the smoking bans was that your average anti-smoker was also the type of person who never got invited to the party. The internet hasn’t helped, it’s created a vast culture of vindictive little people who’ve suddenly been given a voice and a soapbox to stand on, and they’re not about to give it up. If tomorrow we suddenly had smoking and non-smoking pubs and bars, the anti would stroll right into the no-smoking pub, look around, and only see people who were just like him. Uh-OH! This is the sort of scenario the anti never wants to be confronted with.

        • Zia says:

          I’ve heard it said that smokers are forced to segregate, but I think we are being forced to integrate with non-smokers. If we want to go to a bar/pub, it must be with them. If we want to go to a movie, it must be with them. They always want to know what we’re talking about, and they feel they are “missing out” of the “cool” conversations if they can’t join us. Also, we might be able to find work-arounds to the bans if we’re allowed to congregate amongst ourselves. They would definitely need to hear all about it if we did. Of course, we’d welcome them if they weren’t so bossy, but they are too afraid of the smoke. Anyway it got me thinking…

          Since they’ve chosen to be so brutal… Wonder what would happen if every city/town had someone open a “SMOKERS ONLY” bar/pub? Even if we can’t smoke inside. We’d be among like-minded people and not have to worry about the dissenters.

          We’d need a way to make it less boring, so maybe we could have outdoor pool tables, outdoor darts, music, solar Heating/Cooling that doesn’t change the temperature of the “room”, but applies heating/cooling to the persons directly. Like those mist blowers at amusement parks. It would have to be somewhere that noise wouldn’t be a problem. People would have to smoke at least once to prove they aren’t antis before they’re allowed in. The places could have cute names like Smokie’s, or COALS: Consumers Of A Legal Substance. (That may not be a great acronym though because they’d just easily mock it by changing the word Legal to Lethal, and I’d rather skip giving them the opportunity, but you get the idea). Since we’re censored from advertising such a place online, we’d have to go old-school underground or pass out flyers or something. Anyway, I can still dream. They can’t ban that.

  6. Steven simon says:

    I can never understand why the authorities are more concerned about the longevity of life rather than the quality of life.Im 69 and smoke 40-50 cigarettes a day.Why do I smoke because I enjoy it it’s that simple.I was brought up from a middle class family who instilled into me to fight for the people who can’t fight for themselves.

  7. Zia says:

    Is it really possible that people who see the wrongs of certain healthists regarding their covid claims, really don’t see the exact parallels regarding those same people’s claims about smoking? How can they not? Just how? I think many people have been so brainwashed that they actually want smoking to be so harmful. I can think of no other explanation, but willing blindness. Utterly. adamant. obstinance.

    As a side note, it’s difficult for me to enjoy Moby anymore after learning from Wikipedia’s page about him that he so cannot tolerate cigarette smoke, that:

    In 1993, Moby toured as the headlining act with Orbital and Aphex Twin. A rift developed between Aphex Twin and himself, partly due to Moby’s refusal to tolerate their cigarette smoke, so he travelled to each gig by plane, leaving the rest on the tour bus.
    [Wikipedia’s Ref: Ostroff, Joshua (June 1, 2002). “Moby: A Whale of a Tale”. Exclaim!. Retrieved May 4, 2019.]

    • Frank Davis says:

      My Only Love is an old favourite Roxy Music track of mine. I found a few covers of it, and liked the one by Moby. It’s the track that I particularly like, not the artist. I doubt if I’ll like anything else by him, given what you’ve told me.

      • Zia says:

        I thought about not mentioning it, as the number of things we’re allowed, and willing, to enjoy is ever dwindling. On the other hand, what I feel about anti-smokers is far beyond a grudge. Guessing you all feel about the same, I decided to post it.

    • Joe L. says:

      I think many people have been so brainwashed that they actually want smoking to be so harmful.

      I think you’re absolutely right, Zia. There’s an old saying, “It’s easier to fool someone than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

      Many people have drastically altered their lives because they swallowed the Antismoking propaganda. Some have unwillingly given up smoking themselves. Some have excommunicated friends and family members because they refused to quit smoking. Some have parroted the same Antismoking propaganda into the impressionable minds of their children. Some have done all of the above. None of these people want to admit that everything they’ve done has been in vain. They want to believe they were right; that they changed their lives–and the lives of others–for the better. It would completely crush these people to admit that they were on the wrong side of history, and hurt not only themselves but countless others in the process.

      The same now goes for COVID-19. The majority of people have accepted with open arms the lockdowns and business closures and mask mandates, etc. at the expense of small, “non-essential” businesses and those employed by them. None of these people want to admit that they unquestioningly fell for pseudoscience and lies and fear, destroying the lives of countless others for a disease which now appears to be no more deadly than a strong influenza strain.

      Once convicted, it’s nearly impossible to get most people to admit they were wrong. They will instead begin hoping that they are right, because they cannot accept the possibility that they were wrong.

      • Zia says:

        Sad, but true.
        We should actually celebrate being corrected when we’re wrong, specifically because we like being right. The sooner the better. The longer we delay, the more time we spend being wrong. The sooner we clean the egg off, the more time we get to spend actually being right – and the quicker we do it, the less it hurts.

  8. Rose says:

    H/T Phil on twitter

    Sometimes you want to weep with sheer frustration at the simplicity on show today, just look that this.
    The world and his dog have known for ever that some people with mental problems find smoking helpful, their doctors have previously assumed that they are self treating.
    It’s one of the things I knew when I started researching tobacco, I heard it years ago on BBC 4

    But despite the fact that time after time around the world reports are coming in that tobacco smoke seems to be protective –

    Prevention of COVID-19 by drug repurposing: rationale from drugs prescribed for mental disorders
    August 2020

    “At present, no treatments or vaccines are available to treat or prevent the coronavirus SARS-Cov-2 infection. As drug development is time-consuming and costly, there is an urgent need to find a rationale for repurposing clinically approved compounds that could rapidly enter clinical trials. To guide the selection of molecules for the prevention of SARS-Cov-2 infection, we believe that there is great potential in exploring drugs prescribed for mental disorders. Indeed, these past few weeks, an intriguing relationship appeared between SARS-CoV-2 infection and psychiatric disorders.”

    “Patients with mental disorders were intuitively thought to be at increased risk of becoming infected: non-compliance to protective measures, delayed access to health services due to social discrimination, confined conditions in psychiatric units favoring dissemination of infections, and a high prevalence of high risk co-morbidities (diabetes, cardio-vascular disorders, obesity). Alarmed by these high risk situations, psychiatric departments in France created specialized COVID-19 units dedicated to psychiatric patients. Very much to our surprise, these units remained nearly empty during the lock-down period since only a small proportion of psychiatric patients were found to have COVID-19, suggesting that these patients, under treatment surveillance, may be at reduced risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

    Nicotine normalizes brain activity deficits that are key to schizophrenia

    “A steady stream of nicotine normalizes genetically-induced impairments in brain activity associated with schizophrenia, according to new research involving the University of Colorado Boulder. The finding sheds light on what causes the disease and why those who have it tend to smoke heavily.”

    “Eighty to 90 percent of people with schizophrenia smoke and most are very heavy smokers, a fact that has long led researchers to suspect they are self-medicating.”
    https: //medicalxpress.com/news/2017-01-nicotine-brain-deficits-key-schizophrenia.html?fbclid=IwAR1ERhL_XKpyTuCDBGJa7vzZdNbme6l_f9sOxjwYqT2IvNKgRtdWrdnmEms

    Niacin-respondent subset of schizophrenia – a therapeutic review

    “It is well known that niacin deficiency manifests with several psychiatric manifestations. Also historically evidence has accumulated that niacin augmentation can be used for treatment of schizophrenia. However, the etiopathological associations between niacin deficiency and schizophrenia as well as the mechanism of action of niacin in its treatment. More importantly, the subgroups of schizophrenia which will respond to niacin augmentation has never been highlighted in the literature. In this article, we review three of the mechanisms in which niacin deficiency could lead to schizophrenic symptoms: (1) Niacin deficiency neurodegeneration (2) Membrane phospholipid deficiency hypothesis and (3) Adrenochrome hypothesis. We will further move towards the clinical as well as treatment related associations as reviewed from the literature.

    Here, we propose a model that a subset of schizophrenia can respond to niacin augmentation therapy better than other subsets because these patients have contributions in their psychotic manifestations from the neural degeneration resulting from niacin deficiency. We present a short description of our case report which showed rapid improvement in schizophrenic psychotic symptoms subsequent to administration of niacin as an augmentation therapy. We, thus, propose that niacin deficiency is a contributory factor in schizophrenia development in some patients and symptom alleviation in these patients will benefit from niacin augmentation, especially in some particular psychotic features.”

    • Zia says:

      It’s things like this, and as you posted yesterday, their callous indifference to people who are suicidal, (which I’ve seen a few sites echoing the same), that are the real, truest epitome of that overused and often misused word ‘disgusting’.

      • Rose says:

        T h e D R U G S T O R Y


        By Morris A. Bealle

        “Thirty years ago the Standard Oil Company became impressed with the methods of the big packing houses which used, processed and sold every part of the hog but the squeal.

        Their sales research department went ‘way back to the 1860’s when “Old Bill” Rockefeller, the itinerant pappy of John D. (the first) and a patent medicine showman, used to palm off bottled raw petroleum on the yokels as a cure for cancer.

        “Old Bill” was an upstate New York farmer until 1850. He moved to Cleveland then, entered the patent medicine racket and had himself listed as a “physician” in the city directory. In selling raw petroleum in a pretty bottle “Old Bill” did nothing new.

        He merely took a page out of the book of other patent medicine fakirs who were then hawking their wares from the backs of wagons — covered and uncovered. When oil was discovered in northwest Pennsylvania (1850) the jackals of the oil trade found there was more gold in the jeans of the gullible yokels than there was in working for it in the oil fields.

        They began to bottle the raw petroleum and palm it off under various names as a cure for everything under the sun. The popular maladies of the day were liver complaint, cholera morbus, consumption and bronchitis. Among the names given this raw petroleum were “Seneca Oil,” “Rock Oil” and “American Medicinal Oil.”

        “Old Bill” opened up a new field for himself. He called his bottled petroleum “Nujol” (meaning new oil) and sold it to those who had cancer and those whom he could make fear they would have it.”

        • Zia says:

          What an eye-opener! Thanks for the link.

          I plan to read more, but from just skimming through, I’m reminded how the mainstream media can be bought, and is strictly wedded to the highest bidder.

          If only we could ever solve the dilemma of demolishing crony capitalism, without completely ending helpful capitalism.

          I’m not a fan of creating more laws, when effective laws are already in place and just not enforced. And we should be careful to not rush things, but something must be done about our mainstream media and censorship problem. Buy billboards? Pass out flyers? Everything I could think of has been thought of by greater minds, but there must be a way. Sometimes I still have hope.

  9. Александра Собина says:

    We have some news in sunny Scotland.
    Police are being given fresh powers to break up large house parties and councils will be able to shut down firms that fail to comply with coronavirus regulations under new measures announced by Nicola Sturgeon.

  10. Dmitry says:

    Going back to the topic of OUR health, I have a strong suspicion that we, all of us, have received such a blow in the times when impossible and ugly things were happening, that it cost us a lot of blood. I feel exausted at best. I wonder how many people were crumbling down at the times of revolutions and wars, even without participating directly. But then, who was counting.

  11. Rose says:

    At least we know another thing that tobacco was used for, killing viruses. The trouble is the British government pushed antismoking too far and now there are not enough smokers in England to protect everyone as there were in former years. We didn’t know we were doing it , but we were.

    SARS happened before smoking was banned in England

    Smoking as a Sars cure? Nonsense, say doctors

    “Rumours that smoking can help prevent Sars have been sweeping the mainland.
    With fears rising over the increasing number of cases, the claims have become a hot topic of conversation, but doctors are worried.

    Some people say that few smokers were among the total number of victims in Guangdong, where the disease is thought to have originated. As the rumours intensify, fears that many teenagers and women could turn to smoking have prompted doctors to write newspaper articles warning people of the risks involved.”

    ” A doctor reached on Shanghai’s Sars information hotline dismissed such claims as ‘nonsense’, saying smoking damaged the lungs – making smokers more susceptible to respiratory problems.
    Hong Kong’s Department of Health yesterday released a statement saying that the rumours on smoking are ‘totally unfounded’.

    A spokesman said people should stop smoking immediately since it weakens immunity, makes transmission of the virus from a person’s hands easier and reduces protection since smokers must remove their facemasks.”

    Nitric oxide (a short lived gas in tobacco smoke) was the gas that stopped the SARS coronavirus multiplying.

  12. Rose says:

    Right on cue

    Doctors Are Looking At Inhaled Nitric Oxide Gas As COVID-19 Treatment
    August 20, 2020

    “A gas used in the past to treat breathing problems in babies and erectile disfunction could be the next treatment for COVID-19.

    “Everybody who knew me were, they were preparing for my passing,” Bill Whyte recalls to Newsy.
    When Whyte got COVID-19, his case was dire. He was on a ventilator for 40 days and received various treatments, including a gas that some clinicians have dubbed a “miracle molecule”: nitric oxide.

    “We think it played a major role in him,” Dr. Keith Scott, Whyte’s doctor and the nitric oxide clinical trial site lead investigator at LSU Health Shreveport, told Newsy.

    “Nitric oxide is a vasodilator, meaning it essentially tells blood vessels when to open or close, improving the flow of oxygen into the body via your heart.”

    “The four clinical trials that we have ongoing are: One for severe patients who demonstrate respiratory failure or are on ventilators; [two,] patients who have moderate COVID-19. Third is a protocol targeting health care providers who take care of COVID-19 patients and [are] therefore at risk. Can we provide them with nitric oxide as a preventive therapy? … And the fourth protocol is active in the emergency department, treating patients as they arrive with who have COVID-19,” Carroll, a pediatric intensive critical care doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital, told Newsy.

    Researchers Newsy spoke to are still recruiting patients and expect their results this fall. N.O. does have some drawbacks. It’s produced by a limited number of suppliers and is only administered by special personnel in a hospital.

    Until a COVID-19 vaccine is approved, inhaled nitric oxide could be one of the next widely used treatment options.

    “It’s really hard for us to stand by and just provide supportive therapy if we can investigate and provide possible therapies with with possible efficacy. We’re going to do it,” Carroll said.”

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