For those willing to see it, the War on Smokers has become the War on Drinkers, the War on the Overweight, the War on Salt, the War on Sugar, the War on Drivers... the list has no end and the method is always the same. Watch for the endgame on smokers because exactly the same is coming for you. Look at the comments on this article. Never mind the article, just the comments. Are you a little on the portly side but hate smokers? Are those comments something you might have applied to smokers, maybe even written? How do you feel to see the same hate applied to you? Now, how do you think smokers felt about it?
If you're a drinker who hates smokers, how do you feel about an MP spending his time chasing a PR group who are trying to prevent a persistent verbal link between strong lager and violence? Evil Big Booze is trying to pretend that not everyone who has a drink becomes a raving psycho. Don't drink Stella? It's only about 5% alcohol, which by today's standards isn't all that strong. How strong is your preferred tipple, and have you stopped beating your wife yet? Joke? I'm a smoker and a drinker. I'm not laughing.
Watch the faces in the chip shop when you ask for lots of salt on your chips. Watch the faces behind the counter when you ask for booze or fags. Watch the faces when you buy more than one cream cake. Try putting the booze at the end of your supermarket-shopping and watch the till operator's face as it reaches them. It's not yet all-pervasive but if you watch, you'll see it and you'll see it increase over time. The disgust at the filthy subhuman.
You want to see real disgust? Buy whisky before lunchtime. They assume it's your lunch (It's not - well, not every day). It's way beyond smokers now. We're all being denormalised. Fit the pattern or expect contempt, and expect to pay an ever increasing cost for your filthy addiction.
Once there was duty applied to tobacco, increasing it in the name of Public Health became easy. It's bad for you so you must be deterred from buying it by increasing the cost. So it was with alcohol, so it was with petrol, so it is now with fizzy drinks in France, and so it will be with any salt or sugar containing product soon. It's the same game.
Just as we smokers are defined by how many 'units' we smoke - whether thin, short rollups or Superkings which contain about four times as much tobacco and it's more processed too - drinkers are classified by how many units of alcohol they drink. Whether concentrated or diluted, it is taken as the same thing even though drinking neat absinthe is a very different experience to drinking the same number of units in beer. One will gradually develop a comfortable buzz, the other will rip your throat out and stuff it up your nose. If you're a regular neat absinthe drinker you're taking a much bigger risk than someone drinking the same units as you in red wine. But then, if you're a neat absinthe drinker you'll have passed out before reading this far so you won't be worried.
The Righteous are already talking in terms of the price per alcohol unit being too low even though nobody, anywhere, prices per unit. VGIF has the quote. These people are no longer talking in terms of imposing a price per unit, they are talking as if it has already happened and now has to be increased. They are talking as if alcohol tax is already applied like tobacco tax, based on the amount sold. They are talking next year's talk already because they are confident of winning.
Why? Because of the smoker ban. Nobody resisted, nobody put up much of a fight other than a few pub landlords, one of whom went to prison as a result and was sprung early due to the efforts of Anna Raccoon and Old Holborn. Having won that battle so easily, the Righteous are confident of winning again, and they are. Their alcohol controls are meekly accepted by the brewing industry, they have an army of mindless drones to attack fat people, they have convinced the gullible that salt will kill them, that all fat is bad, that sugar is a poison, and they continue to push. No safe level of anything, and that includes pleasure.
It seems to me that if we can break the smoking ban then the rest of the controls will fall because they are built on the foundation of that ban. How to go about breaking it has been on my mind for some time and it won't be easy. I still don't have a foolproof battle plan.
There have been repeated calls for a group of us to descend on a pub and all smoke there. I've never been in favour of that because it's the landlord, not us, who will get fined and not all pub landlords are in favour of the smoking ban. As in my fictional world of Panoptica, they have been turned into unpaid monitors and unpaid enforcers through threats. All stick, no carrot, is the Righteous way.
Also, why a pub? Restaurants and cafes are not permitted to decide whether to allow smoking. Neither are cinemas, buses or trains. Why take it all out on pubs?
I was Emailed a link to this article by the author. He parodies the ban by comparing it to a ban on farting. Not an ideal comparison because those delicate little flowers who cover up the smell of a bit of burning leaf with sprays of mysterious and possibly deadly canned chemicals would likely agree with a ban on farting, and also because farting is something all mammals do and can't be helped. A friend's dog brews some exceptionally vicious ones. You wouldn't notice fifteen people with cigars when he's around, you'd just think it was the Aurora Borealis lighting up. Nonetheless, the author's point is valid. It's all about something some people don't like.
What was interesting was the comments. Only two at the moment.
S. Bryant left this one:
It is a fact that smokers continue to blame us for the smoking ban. The
following is a post on a Daily Telegraph forum yesterday looking at pub
closures. It is typical of the mindset of many smokers.
'Anyway, I shall put my soap box away, I shall leave the podium on the
note that NOT one landlord stood up for the rights of the smokers when
it was introduced... NOT ONE... no-one disobeyed, they were all perfect
little pussies... so don't expect to see me in the pub spending my money
to pay their mortgage anyday soon... to hell with them.'
The attitude he describes is one I have often seen, but not here. We are all aware of what happened when Nick Hogan defied the ban and while we applaud his stance, nobody can blame him for not repeating it. The Righteous hit him with a hammer that could dent the Forth Bridge.
Perhaps more pertinent is this one by R. Yates
Nicely put Robert. I too am bored with a section of society that
continues to blame us publicans for the ban. Have they stopped using
cinemas, planes, buses, restaurants etc. of course not, they are just
using the ban as their excuse and sadly often a reason to shoehorn in
their political agenda onto us.
It's dull....though I have noticed the bars have improved by the pub
bores no longer propping up the bar. Coincidence? I think not!
Have I stopped using other venues since the ban? Yes. I stopped using cafes and coffee shops for lunch or for ... anything. I stopped visiting the local dairy where I used to get a great bacon roll, cup of tea and cigarette while shopping. I have not been inside a cinema for years and have no plans to visit. I used to take train rides for fun but now only when necessary. I don't even browse shops, even though smoking was never allowed in them,. because I don't go into town for lunch any more, ever.
If I was a pub bore, Mr. Yates, you are well rid of me and if I see your name above the door when this silly nonsense ends I will be sure not to trouble you. He doesn't sound like a publican, I have to admit. He sounds more like an ASH drone. But there are publicans who welcomed the ban even though they could have banned smoking on their own premises at any time if they'd wanted. We would obligingly have gone to another pub. That's what they didn't want. They thought that if the smoky pubs were banned they'd have a level playing field but it turns out they now have no playing field at all.
R. Yates maybe never liked smokers in his pub but nonetheless he raises a point that should be addressed. We smokers tend to concentrate on being banned from pubs but we are banned from everywhere. I hear no calls for smokers to descend on Starbucks and light up inside but if it came to crippling business-closing fines, I'd rather lose the Starbucks than the pub. If the ban breaks, which would you rather see survive, the Starbucks or the pub?
What about an open, windswept station platform in the middle of nowhere? We're banned from there too. How about a bus stop that is less than 50% enclosed but still has a no smoking sign? What about shops where nobody has ever smoked but which now meekly display signs telling people not to do something that nobody has ever done in there anyway? They might as well put up 'No fishing' signs but few seem to have realised the creeping control that smoking ban represented.
That smoking ban did something that has yet to materialise in other areas, but probably will. Frank describes it well. Before the ban I would have been unlikely to mention smoking at all online and nobody would have asked. Now we seek out other smoker blogs and are banding together. If I saw someone else smoking in real life, it was just someone smoking and nothing more. Now we exchange a glance and a knowing nod. We are both wary, and with good reason as Jredheadgirl reports. The threat of violence is ever present and drinkers (not drunks, drinkers, and unless you are tea-total, that means you) and fat people ( not blobbies, we are talking just a little chubby here) are starting to get this too. Soon, put salt on your chips and you'll be pulverised by Government-supported thugs before you've finished them.
We are circling our smoky wagons at last. It has taken us too long but we smokers didn't see the template. There is no excuse for the rest of you because it's the same template, the one many of you helped create. The one you thought would never apply to you.
We smokers have concentrated on our exclusion from pubs because that's leisure time but we have neglected our exclusion from the workplace, the lunchtime cafe, cinemas, restaurants, transport (aside from a surge of interest now they have started on private cars) and everywhere else. We cannot even foster or look after children which to me is a positive thing but it isn't for others.
The war against us has been going on for years and really, we've only just begun to talk about it. It's as if the Second World War involved Germany bombing us for ten years and finally someone says "That banging sound, do you think it might be someone shooting at us? Let's form a committee to study it."
We have to actively fight this war. It's no good saying 'Oh they'll lose, they always do' because they keep trying precisely on the basis that one day they will win. We keep saying 'they never learned a thing from US Prohibition' but they did. Every time they come back they have learned something from the last attempt.
We have to learn too and the biggest thing we have to learn is one of Granny's old sayings. "Give them an inch and they'll take a mile". She was underestimating them. Give them an inch and they'll take the damn planet.
Smokers have learned the hard way. If you are an inch over the waistline laws or a shandy over the drinking laws, you don't have to learn the hard way. You can start your fightback now.
If the smoking ban breaks they all break. If the smoking ban stays then all the bans stay and the bans increase and proliferate. You want to be a Puritan Vegan, fine. I have no objection but I don't want to be one.
If you want to stop the rot, start at the source. Trying to stop it halfway along the beam is futile. Hate smokers today and you'll have to hate yourself tomorrow. Do you want to see the smoker-hate that is now posted against the overweight eventually posted against you? Let the hate ride, join in while it's not you, and one day soon it will be you. Or deal with it before it gets to you, as it inevitably will. Choice is freedom if you choose it.
Pat Nurse has something in mind. My own mind works along more devious and cruel paths and I am not well equipped for a march but if you are, this is a good and sensible place to start.
Even if you hate smoking, bear in mind that we are only the beginning and we are near the end of that beginning.
If you still derive delight from your hate of smokers after all you have seen, then we are at the beginning of the end.
It's, uh, not my end I'm talking about, antismoker. Your eventual fate is here. Many of you have already reached that point and it started with ASH and the smoking ban. You really want to live that way?