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.