I've been reading through the comments on the BMJ smokophobia blog. That's all there is, new comments. No new posts. Some long and interesting comments.
One mentioned that the war on smokers was like the war in Afghanistan. They aren't shooting at us yet although they are in training for that. What he meant was that the form of war was the same.
Obnoxio has often pointed out that his ideal society, close to but not quite anarchy, would not be as open to invasion as his critics claim. Rather than take down the generals and the seat of government, an invader would have to take the country house by house because there is no central command to target. That's pretty much the situation in Afghanistan. Taking out one rebel leader has little effect because they come from the ranks. Another one steps forward at once. Taking control of a town means nothing to those in the next town. Taking control of the government, such as it is, means nothing at all to the Taliban because they don't recognise the government.
That pretty much describes the smokers' position. If a smoker quits, we are not damaged. We don't even mind. Their choice - they choose to quit, that's no problem. The war on smokers is just like the war on drugs, the war on booze, the war on salt, all of them.
They are making war on an anarchic system. There is no 'smoker's council of Britain'. There is no 'chief smoking officer'. There are no generals and no politicians. There are a few well-known names but again, all the well-known names are just smokers. There is no industry backup. Take down all the tobacco companies and we'll just grow the stuff ourselves. Sure, you could make that illegal because that really worked with cannabis, didn't it?
When we organise, we do so in small and temporary groups. Trips abroad to stock up. Appeals for help for one of the smokophobes' victims. We come together for one specific task and when it's done, we disperse back into the crowd.
We have no uniforms. When we're not actually smoking, you can't tell who we are. Think for a moment, smokophobes. I know it's an alien concept but give it a go. If, as you assert, we smell of tobacco all the time, why does your doctor ask you if you smoke? Surely it's obvious as soon as you walk through the door? It isn't obvious, despite your best efforts to make us believe it is. No, unless we are actively smoking you cannot see us and that drives you people nuts.
Make us wear badges? We'll wear them while smoking and take them off when not smoking. Appear and disappear, just like that. You can't enforce the badges because you can't tell who we are.
Tobacco advertising is banned, but the likes of ASH keep smoking in the news every day. That's where the new smokers come from. Not the tobacco industry, which is unable to advertise and soon won't even be able to display their products in shops. Will that stop people smoking?
Man with a Van does not advertise and has no display. He doesn't even have a shop. He's doing okay. He does not sell to underage smokers because he is not immoral, but once the displays are gone, well, unscrupulous shops can easily pass a plain grey packet to a ten-year-old, wrapped in the Beano. Taking away the displays and the distinctive packaging will make underage smoking easier, not harder. There won't be a flash of gold or white or red to alert any adults to what that child has. Just a plain grey packet.
ASH create their own enemy by constantly promoting smoking, putting up signs about smoking in every enclosed space - even in churches, where previously smoking would be unlikely to cross anyone's mind. Now, every time they go in, there's that sign. Everyone who starts, does so as an individual. They don't 'join the club'. There is no club. They don't join some 'army of smokers'. There is no army. We don't answer to some Big Boss Smoker and we don't have any rules. There is no membership - start or stop smoking as you choose, we don't mind either way.
Nor do we have any hierarchy. No local organisation, no national organisation. No funding. There are Forest and Freedom-2-choose but if they were suddenly shut down, would the smokers in those groups stop smoking? Would those outside those groups stop smoking? No, they might form another group or they might disperse for a while but only the organisation is gone. The people remain.
There is nothing to attack. There is nothing to break other than the individual and when the smokophobes try to break one by force, the rest of us come out of the woodwork, deal with the matter and disappear again. We don't have marches or rallies, we have no flag and we don't wear badges.
Sometimes we do. Sometimes we have a flag, but the image on the flag is not fixed. We don't have any rules about that either. It can look any way you want it to look. I put the image on magnetic photo paper and stick it to metal surfaces - such as those outside ashtrays. When they vanish, I put up another one. Some use stickers, some use flyers, but the message is getting out. There are no prescribed formats for distribution, there is no central organisation drafting rules.
And there is only one item on the agenda.
ASH have rules. The BMA have rules. Government have rules. They all have organisations, they all have key people who, if discredited, would severely damage that organisation. Take the case of the New Nazi Youth in Medway. If that freak of a teacher were discredited, those children would not feel empowered to harass people in the street. If Rachael Noxious were out of a job, the teacher would not have had funding for her 'Achtung! Juden!' re-enactment. Within their NHS and council supporters are key figures, points open to attack which will bring their organisation tumbling down.
I don't mean physical attack. That would garner sympathy. No, I mean verbal attack. With facts. They hate facts. Discredit them, make them a laughing stock but do nothing that could be considered an assault. Leave the violence to them unless confronted by it.
Remember, the smokophobes organise. They love to have badges, they enjoy the thrill of Gestapo membership, they revel in the acclaim of their masters.
When they attack a smoker in the street, they cannot know how many of us are around them unless we are all, simultaneously, smoking - and that's rare. They also believe that all nonsmokers are antismokers, which is very far from true. Not all nonsmokers will support their actions. The smokophobes are nowhere near as numerous as they think they are, and they love to be noticed.
Smokers are more numerous than their figures show because we don't register when we buy from Man with a Van or overseas. We are invisible as soon as that little fire goes out. We don't organise, we deal with an issue as a group then disperse as individuals. You can't hide from us because you can't see us.
Ollie Gapper, the cameraman who put up the Ciggie Busters video and who listed among his hobbies 'calling smokers and chavs idiots', now knows what our form of war means. Rachael Noxious knows. Mangled Greymatter knows.
From these, we can trace a chain of command, so those who hide behind the frontline lunatics are not safe. They can't see us coming. We might already be there and they'd never notice.
We have no such chain of command. I take orders from nobody and I give orders to nobody, which is a situation that the smokophobes are incapable of comprehending. Because of that, they can't beat me because there is nothing to attack. They invent a chain of command - 'all blogging smokers are in the pay of the tobacco industry' - and attack that. They are fighting ghosts.
If they stop me blogging, if they stop all of us blogging, we'll be back with new blogs within the hour. We won't have meetings about it, we don't have to wait for instructions, we'll just do it. Individually. If they catch Man with a Van there'll be another one along to plug that gap in the market. If they attack one of us in the street, they will be unaware that the street might actually be full of smokers who are not smoking at that particular moment. There's no way to tell.
We'll pop up, light up, and then disappear.
Smokophobes, you brought this into open war. We're all around you and you can't see us.
This is your Vietnam.