Wednesday, 8 December 2010

My little nicotine gal.

Nowadays, this would be considered Eeevil! Not even Gary Glitter would dare cover this song.

The debate on whether smoking causes lung cancer continues over at Frank's place. I am still on the fence. It seems sensible to assume that anything unnatural taken into the body will carry some risk. Then again, the risk is demonstrably small, because 90% of smokers don't get lung cancer. That's better odds than crossing the road. Then again, we have only recently moved from coal/wood fires to central heating, so is smoke really unnatural to us? Tobacco is just a plant, the same as coal and logs and paper. Over the many years of fires in homes, we must surely have lungs that can deal with it by now?

One thing that has wandered into my Monkey Shouldered brain tonight is this - if the Green Men want us all to go back to living in one-room cottages, who is better suited to life in one room with a dirt floor, a fire and no chimney? Smokers or nonsmokers? Nonsmokers who collapse at a momentary whiff of burning leaf or smokers who deliberately infuse themselves with it? Who will best cope with the fall of civilisation?

A friend of mine is asthmatic. He loved pubs but we don't go now. Me because I will not go out into biting cold as part of my 'enjoyment'. Him because none of his friends go any more. Smoking never bothered him. He could drink me into oblivion and often did. Sometimes we had to stop on the way back from the pub because he had to catch his breath. Once, in Scarborough, we had to stop for a long while on the way up a steep hill after leaving a non-smoking meeting. We never had to stop for me. Asthma is not connected to smoking. It's a lie. So why should I believe in lung cancer and smoking? It is illogical, Captain, and if it isn't you can de-point my ears.

Then there is second, third and fourth hand smoke. Smoke causing inner ear infections and meningitis, which is biologically impossible. Everything from dandruff to leprosy. If smoking increases the risk of anything, it's lost in the noise now. Nothing is credible any more. There is so much utter and blatant made-up nonsense around smoking that emphysema has now become as scary as the common cold. Is that what the antismokers wanted?

So what do I think? I have just passed the halfway mark on this bottle of Monkey Shoulder and I know it's not good for my liver. I also know it grows back if left alone for a while. I have rolled another cigarette and I am certain it's not good for my lungs. Whether it's as dangerous as is claimed is another matter. I might not live as long as I would if I gave those things up, but do I really want to? Do I want those gibbering, incontinent years of extreme old age where I live in a regimented home of defined lunchtimes and bedtimes and no outside interests and pills to keep me from going postal on the doctors and hideously smug zookeepers telling me I'm such a good boy for taking my medicine and just waiting, waiting for that day when I no longer wake up to those beige walls and that Puritan world of just being nice all the time?

I don't want a long and protracted death so I smoke and drink. One day something will go 'pop'. One day, an essential organ will say 'I give up' and I'll pass out, never to awaken. To me, that is far preferable to the State alternative. I cannot live in an old peoples' home. Either they would throw me out or there'd be a coup.

Imagine this conversation:

Drone: Time to turn off the computer and go to sleep. Mr. Leg-iron.

LI: Time for you to fuck off and stick a burning candle up your ass, more like.

Drone: Now, Mr. Leg-iron, we have rules, you know.

LI: How much do you pay me to work for you? How much do you pay me to do as you tell me? Yes, that's right. I pay you. Now go and do something useful, like watering the third rail.

Drone: I see. I can make your life difficult, you know.

LI: I can make yours end. Let's play.

I like to smoke. It's part of my life. Some people don't like it and that's okay. I don't like marzipan but it's on far too many cakes. I avoid it or swap it for icing with the sugar-scared. I do not call for a ban on marzipan. I do not demand that all marzipan munchers go outside and then bleat about having to pass through the almond aroma on the way into the building. I don't pretend that marzipan causes mumps or malnutrition or meningomyelitis or any other disease. I don't like marzipan. I avoid marzipan. No further effort is required. I see no reason to invent second hand cake decoration or third hand pureed almond ingestion or anything remotely so absurd.

I don't like it. I don't want it. If you like it, you can have it.

Why is this so difficult?

All the antismokers have left is 'Meh, it makes my clothes all pongy'. No, it does not. That can
only be possible if you are indoors with a smoker and we're banned from indoors. Three years. Four in Scotland. Still the bleating is the same. Do you have no washing machines? Are you at the river, beating your Ralph Lauren on the rocks, drying them over the camp fire and whining about the smoky smell? Smoking cannot disguise your body odour any more so the stench you now experience is, I'm afraid, you.

There is no antismoking argument. None.

I put forth a challenge. Antismokers, tell me. What is your issue with smokers? Why do you care if I smoke? Why do smoking shelters have to be open to the weather? Why is it unacceptable to have any indoor smoking areas that you will never visit?

Why is it not entirely based on spite and malice?


I wait.


Anonymous said...

I haven't heard the singing postman for decades but straight way sang along to it. Thanks for that.
Also hate marzipan.
I notice that when I walk pass my old local now its empty, nothing to do with chucking the smokers out and raising the price of a pint by 45p then.

banned said...

I heard that phrase "have you got a light boy" this very morning.
It is spoken in the background by David Bowies imaginary friend in The Laughing Gnome.

Neal Asher said...

You'll be waiting a long time for a coherent answer to that question.

It was Billy Connolly that nailed it with his rant about how not eating white bread will enable you to live ten years longer. He went on to say that no one tells you those ten years will be when you're pissing your pyjamas.

banned said...

And another thing, since you mention it. I had lousy asthma as a child, hardly ever slept through a night.
Started to 'grow out of it' in my mid-teens or the same time as I started smoking and going to pubs, not saying that they are related, just saying it was so.

I had that converstion with the Dr. I told him that if he could promise me an extra couple of years as a teenager or twentysomething I might consider giving up but for two more years in an old peoples home? No thanks.

Anonymous said...

Talking of smoking shelters, it was reported on my local news the other evening that three people had died when the roof of the pub shelter collapsed under the weight of snow.

It might have been my imagination but I thought I sensed a slight embarrassment in the presenters. Could it be that even in the Beeb there are dissidents who believe that chucking out smokers from every single public place in the land is just wrong?


Anonymous said...

The government driven de-normalisation of 20% of the population leads to putting people in ovens. Why do the Germans not suffer the bigotry that we exhibit with unbridled glee?

Anonymous said...

Asthma is an auto-immune disease, caused by a person's immune system not having enough non-self-but-harmless bacteria for target practice when they were growing up. That's why kids that grow up in a family with a pet dog or cat don't get asthma as much; more environmental bacteria (much of it adapted towards living on something non-human, so not pathogenic to us) for their immune systems to learn on, so they don't go after their own body. If you compare asthma rates back when there was an East and West Germany, the difference was stark: much less asthma in the East, because the environment had much more bacteria in it.

Smoking is a complete red herring where asthma development is concerned; simply doesn't figure, and other smoke isn't a factor either. Smoking only becomes a factor when someone actually has got asthma, but by then any pollutant will trigger asthma; doesn't need to be fag smoke, could be diesel fumes, ozone from a laser printer, cleaning solvents; you name it really.

All smoking does is increase the toxin load a person sees over a lifetime, and it isn't even the nicotine that is the killer here but the other secondary chemicals the tobacco leaf secretes in life as antifeedants and so on. Smoking only pops up as a public health target because the effects can be teased out of the background noise so easily; people are either smokers or non-smokers so it doesn't take a SAS wizard (not that I ever was one) to tease out the difference but merely a semi-skilled monkey and ANOVA to do it.

There's a difference between longevity in Japanese people and Westerners, and it isn't just genetic and it isn't just diet, either. My money would be on a topic dear to Leggy's heart here: gut flora. Teasing out how gut flora interacts with the host is a difficult job at the best of times, though (just look how long it took for Helicobater pylori to be recognised as a pathogen which causes stomach ulcers), and even in hugely obvious cases like founder in horses, scientists are only just unravelling the tale.

This is what you have to remember in biology, you're dealing with hugely complex systems and people are only just unravelling even the most simple relationships now. The last decade or so of underfunding, dumbing down and educational muppetry hasn't helped things at all. Blue-sky research is almost dead here now; nobody is researching things just for the knowledge it brings, so serendipitous discoveries are almost unheard of.

That leaves us with modern public health officials flailing about for a way to do their jobs, which are to improve the health of the nation. The research which might actually improve old-age health is not being done, and the public don't believe them anyway having been sold a load of old toot on climate change which turned out to be more taxes in disguise. So, they've turned all authoritarian on smokers, the only group who are actively hurting themselves of their own volition, because this is the only easy public health target left.

I am Stan said...

Yo Leggy,

Life without copious amounts of beer,wine and burning leaf would for me, be a living death!

Off to the pub now............

John said...

This prof reckons that her research indicates cancer susceptibility is to do with dairy products.
It's a thought?

FrankC said...

Anon @ 09:34.
Jay, that will be +3 on the smoking related deaths list.

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmm! Marzipan!

I'll trade your marzipan for the nasty, stodgy, cakey bit that's always underneath ........

sixtypoundsaweekcleaner said...

I was told when I was a wee nipper that asthma was caused by cow's milk in your diet. Though I personally think it's more to do with car exhaust fumes.

banned said...

Dr Dan Holdsworth

"asthma; doesn't need to be fag smoke, could be diesel fumes, ozone from a laser printer, cleaning solvents; you name it really.
Could that explain why one of the last triggers to set off my asthma attacks were hotel air conditioning, those that had that peculiar 'electric' smell about them?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the first sentence of your post say it all? If you, as a knowledgeable person, are still sitting on the fence regarding smoking and lung cancer, how much more are people who know nothing likely to swallow the propaganda?

You say that maybe taking 'into your body anything unnatural' will carry some risk. What is unnatural about smoke? What substance in the atmosphere does not carry some risk? Why do so many old people on their death bed succumb to pneumonia? Is this bacteria/virus all around us, in the air that we breath, all the time? Or is it in our bodies all the time?


(All very tongue in cheek, of course)

Anonymous said...

You know that in the past smokers shut up and smoked. Now they rant.

Leg-iron said...

Anon - in the past, smokers were left to smoke in peace. We can't shut up now.

Junican - yes, taking in too much of anything carries a risk but I know the risk of smoking (or thought I did) and accept the risk. It is becoming more and more likely that the risk is less than I thought it was.

The risk of other air pollutants such as traffic, planes, incense, sprays and pot-pourri are totally ignored.

Why? Could it be because the Pharmers don't have a patch for those yet?

Bill Sticker said...

Re the Asthma thing. There was a study not so long back claiming that the upsurge in cases might have something to do with over zealous cleaning by expectant mothers. The Wail reported on it here

Anecdotally speaking, it does seem to fit in with the germ free mania encouraged by certain cleaning material manufacturers. Hey, you can trust me, I'm not a Doctor.

Leg-iron said...

John - I was once in China for ten days. I lost three-quarters of a stone in those ten days.

I was never ill. I was often pissed. Chinese pig farmers can seriously drink! They have a tradition that the guest's glass must never be less than full so you have no idea how much you've had until it's too late. Then there's the game of 'Gam-be' which involves down-in-one.

Everything I ate there was fried. Once, I was stopped from eating what I thought was salad. No, it had to go in the pot of boiling fat in the centre of the table before it was safe to eat. Not one morsel of unfatted food passed my lips and yet I lost weight.

No dairy products at all. No milk, no cheese, no butter, even chocolate was hard to find. I have never felt so healthy.

There might be something in that dairy argument. Inhaling smoke is less unnatural than drinking from the teat of another species, after all. Especially as adult animals.

Leg-iron said...

banned - I forgot about the Laughing Gnome. He even tries the accent!

Leg-iron said...

Anon - Marzipan trade for cake? You are most definitely on!

Dembones said...

When will all this stupidity end? Now SHS is supposedly responsible for kids' poor mental health. FFS.

Anonymous said...

"(just look how long it took for Helicobater pylori to be recognised as a pathogen which causes stomach ulcers)..."

By a complete coincidence, this started gaining traction when the patents for antacids ran out.


Anonymous said...

"There might be something in that dairy argument. Inhaling smoke is less unnatural than drinking from the teat of another species, after all. Especially as adult animals. "

Maybe so. But certainly I feel that if you're going to, or do consume products made from any milk, as humans have done for centuries, it makes sense to make sure it's the full quid - whole milk, full cream, etc.

For decades I've been suspicious of the "public health" propaganda and associated marketing of low-fat milk 'products', and butter substitutes etc. and have avoided them.

I'f I'm broke I'll buy a small bottle of cream rather than milk.
If I want milk, I'll only buy full-cream unhomogenised.
That means a trip to a supermarket since the local small shops don't carry it - little demand!

A friend goes further and travels to an organic farm to buy raw unpasteurised.

So it was comforting to see this, recently:

Intersting opinions there...

Including this too:


Anonymous said...

Oops! "Interesting"...
Well, I thought so.
Typing too fast.
Prompted by the "Safe as milk" post;-
but ended up here.

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