Monday, 28 December 2009

Sympathy for the smoking devils.

Yes, it's another smoking rant. Antismokers might want to skip straight to the comments as usual and leave the standard responses.

Smokers are portrayed as the spawn of Satan these days. We are terrible people whose main aim in life is to seek out nonsmokers and infuse their hair and clothing with tobacco scent. One whiff of the deadly smoke will kill a nonsmoker instantly, but we smokers are a different species, born and bred in the sulphurous fumes of Hell, so we are immune. If we do get sick, we must not be treated by the NHS because we will only persuade the patients and staff to take up smoking too, with our silver tongues and yellow fingers. Children? We eat your children and our own too, roasted over a fire of tobacco leaves and phenol and flavoured with benzene and tar.

None of that is true. It is the description put out by the Book of Righteousness and the one favoured by those who take up the torch and pitchfork of the antismoker's league. Smokers are just ordinary people who happen to like a smoke. We are not all ravening addicts who want to stop but can't. If we were, there would have been many cases of violent nervous breakdowns on trains and especially in airport departure lounges when flights are delayed or cancelled. How many such cases have you heard about?

We are not heartless. We do not laugh at the deaths of others. We don't want to break into your house, decapitate your children and use their heads as ashtrays. We don't want to lay seige to any non-smoking venue and demand everyone start smoking in there. We don't care if you don't smoke, we are not going to force you to live like us and we are not interested in 'converting' your children to our 'cause'. We just want a quiet smoke now and then, and when it's -10 C outside, we'd quite like a place where we can do it inside. It doesn't have to be any place you antismokers visit.

Not good enough, though, is it? There must be no smoking in any indoor place at all, just in case you antismokers might one day travel hundreds of miles to a new town, bypass the fifteen non-smoking venues and insist on visiting the one smoking venue. Just in case that were to happen, no smoking can be allowed anywhere, ever.

Every time I put up one of these posts I can guarantee I'll get at least one comment along the lines of 'Smoking is filthy and vile and you must be prevented because I don't like it'. 'Smoking is dangerous to non-smokers so you have to be killed'. 'Smoking harms the cheeeldren.' Then there is always 'I watched a relative die of smoking and it was horrible and you are horrible because you are just a filthy addict who wants everyone to join you in hell'. No I don't. I am the very definition of a solitary individual. I don't see much of other people and I like it that way. I certainly have no wish to spend eternity in the company of the Righteous or their brainwashed pets because that would be Hell indeed.

Let's play smoker's advocate for a moment. Suppose I told you that pot-pourri was filthy and vile and I don't like the smell. Or perhaps certain brands of aftershave or perfume. Suppose I objected to leaving a cat-owner's house smelling of cat. Should all those things be banned just because I don't like them?

Answer: No, but not for the obvious and sensible reasons, but because smokers' opinions don't count. Only those who don't like the smell of smoke have a valid objection. Smokers who don't like other smells are only saying that out of spite. And then they wonder why smokers get angry.

I am, in fact, allergic to cat fur. So should cats be banned from everywhere because they make me ill? Not some imagined connection between meeting a cat today and a possible illness twenty years in the future, but actually and really ill, right now. Surely that is a stronger case than second-hand smoke?

Answer: No, because smoking is the only thing that causes harm. Besides, if you're a smoker, it doesn't matter what else affects you because the smoking will kill you anyway. So just put up with it. And then they wonder why smokers get angry.

Cars harm cheeeldren. Ban all forms of road transport. Trains, too. In fact, children harm each other so let's ban them all and that's that sorted out. Well, if smoking is banned because of the possibility of harm, involving a vague and unspecified form of harm at some unspecified future time, surely it is only common sense to ban all forms of immediate and definite harm?

Answer: No, because that's just silly. The risk to children from traffic is acceptable even though it causes hundreds of child deaths, while smoking has not been shown as a cause of even one, because we need to get around. We need cars and buses and trains. We don't need people smoking at all on any part of them because it's dangerous to children. That's Righteous logic. And then they wonder why smokers get angry.

Finally, the dead relative ploy. I smoke. I have never killed anyone. If someone you know is dying of a smoke-related illness, try to remember that the only reason it's a 'smoking related illness' is that it has been defined as such by people who start from the premise that smoking is bad. It might be caused by smoking or it might not be. Whether it is or is not caused by smoking, I didn't do that. I'm not the car driver who ran over your relative. I'm not the armed burglar they disturbed. I didn't even sell them the cigarettes and I certainly didn't encourage them to start smoking.

Lung cancer, in particular, is always billed as a smoking related illness. I recall a study which demonstrated a high risk of lung cancer from hot showers because the chemicals added to the water supply are vapourised and inhaled in the shower. That seems to have been sidelined. (I recall another that had strong evidence to show that smokers are at lower risk of diseases like Alzheimer's, but that one vanished under a ton of Righteous disapproval too.)

Cancer is not the sole preserve of smokers. Non-smokers get it too and not from associating with smokers. If you want to put cervical, rectal and prostate cancer down to smoking then you must have an unusual lifestyle indeed. Lung cancer is linked only because the lungs are where the smoke goes. They are also where the traffic fumes go, and where the air fresheners go, but these airborne chemicals are blameless for some reason. If a smoker gets lung cancer, no other possible cause is investigated. Smoking did it and that's that. If a non-smoker living in the same house or working in the same building gets lung cancer too, it was the smoker who did it. No other possible cause is investigated or considered. That's why cancer research is making little progress - it's all blamed on one cause these days, with no investigation and no consideration of the possibility of other causes. Even if every smoker stopped, there'd still be lung cancer. Who would you blame then?

I'm sure I sound like a heartless bastard who doesn't care that your relatives are dying of cancer. I am not heartless - but I don't care. If I were to take on the burden of worrying about the six billion people I've never met I'd be in a padded room within a month. It's not that I am unsympathetic, but I don't know you, I don't know your relative and we'll probably never meet. I have no idea whether your relative's illness is due to their smoking or not, and no way of finding out. I cannot feel guilty about it, nor can I make or suggest any form of restitution, because I played no part in it at all.

Likewise, antismokers, you don't know me. Yet you presume to tell me, with absolute conviction, that I am an addict in denial, that I am responsible for making your clothes smell and I am responsible for the second hand smoke you claim is killing you. Oh, and third hand smoke too, which apparently involves pathogens attached to clothing in some Mail reader's minds. If only the schools taught - well, anything.

I know a lot of people who stopped smoking. The ones who didn't go back were not the ones using patches and gum, nor the ones on the NHS programmes. The ones who stopped for good are the ones who stopped because they wanted to. Those who, one day, thought 'I'm not enjoying this any more' and just stopped. Addicts? Really? Can an addict just stop like that?

Many smokers believe they are addicted, not because they are, but because the antismokers tell them so. Many attempt to stop not because they want to but because they have been guilt-tripped and harassed into it. They are told they have an addiction and must be cured. So they react as if they were addicted. As one of those who stopped told me; 'It's easy to stop smoking. Just stop putting cigarettes in your mouth and lighting them'. He's right. It is easy to stop if you're not enjoying it. If you are, you don't want to stop. If you are harassed into stopping, the natural human reaction is to resist. If you are convinced it's an addiction, you will produce psychosomatic withdrawal symptoms which are not real, but feel real.

Why do you imagine it's billed as an addiction? To sell the cures. Nothing more. You can't sell cures to people who don't believe they are ill. Allan Carr had a stop-smoking method that worked well but involved nothing more than reading a book or attending a seminar. It worked so well because those who tried it were those who wanted to stop but believed the addiction hype. Patches and gum don't work because they are foisted onto those who don't want to stop but feel pressured to do so. The NHS programmes all start from the premise that we are filthy addicts who all want to stop but can't. That's why they don't work.

They aren't supposed to work, of course, because the government don't really want to lose all that revenue. So we have a situation where a non-illness is classed as an illness to sell a 'cure' that won't work. The revenue streams from both sources just keep coming. The antismokers are primed to spread the addiction meme and instil guilt in smokers so the smokers think they can't quit but should. It's all a scam, and a very profitable one. Allan Carr was prevented from advertising his stop-smoking method as 'doesn't require willpower' and Electrofag, the best alternative to tobacco so far, is banned all over the place, because they encroach upon the Righteous profit machine. If you want to stop smoking, those things are your best bet (speaking as a smoker, not a drone) but they are not feeding money into Righteous coffers so they must be silenced.

I smoke because I like it. I have Electrofag because I like that too, but I still like real smoking as well. If the day comes when I don't like it any more, I'll stop. Until then, just leave me the hell alone.

No matter what those 'experts' tell you, I am doing you no harm at all. I'm not even allowed near you any more. You have every public space to yourself. Soon the ban will extend into my own home, even though it's child-free and will remain that way. Isn't it enough? You have won.

Yet I know I will get at least one 'filthy smoker' comment. The same ones, over and over and over. Continuous nagging from the people who have banned me from every pub in the land and whose laws will not let me set up a club for smokers anywhere, ever, and who want to encroach upon my home with their ban in the future. No matter that they experience no inconvenience at all from my smoking, they will berate me for it anyway.

And they'll wonder why smokers are angry.


enjoy your ciggies said...

Heck it doesn't sound like much fun being a smoker ! So much anger at Christmas time. A time of peace and joy. Stub out that ciggie and electrofag, take Jesus into your heart instead. Shout out loud with a fresh pair of lungs, " I'VE QUIT !! "
Only joking. Had a good laugh at your post and promise not to mention dead relatives or smoking in pubs ever again !
( Mind you I don't like seeing people smoking in beer gardens - used to enjoy sitting in the beer garden enjoying the fresh air. Oops sorry ; ) )

Leg-iron said...

You know, your jocular remark about smoking in beer gardens reminds me of people who seriously - very, very seriously - object to smokers being in the beer gardens in summer because they want to be out there without smokers spoiling their day.

We're out there in winter too. It's not through choice.

Never mind though. It's only a matter of time before we're banned from there too.

It's not like pubs need our custom at all. Smoky money doesn't count.

Anonymous said...

I gave up smoking over 20 years ago so I shall live for ever????? Not quite sure how that works. In those days it was called a habit. I gave up as a matter of choice, because I wanted to.
During my working day I often go into the homes of smokers. In many the windows are open, apologies are offered, and air freshener (to which I seem to be allergic) oozes from electrical sockets. It seems to me that smokers are already beaten, too guilt ridden to smoke even in their own homes, and astonished by any suggestion from me that I don’t object to them smoking indoors while I work! Sadly, I think we’ve all lost a bit more freedom. Brainwashed.
Somewhere, sometime, I read that smoking can knock 10 years off your life. Which 10 years wasn’t stated. However, I have given it some thought and can assure you that it isn’t 10 years from your youth, early adulthood, or even middle age. It’s 10 years at the end. It’s the 10 years when almost every part of the body you wanted to preserve is giving, or has given, up. The time when the government has taken control of all your worldly goods (because you are no longer of sound mind and nanny knows best) and dumped you in an old peoples homes where if you will be fitted with a nappy and a bib, drugged up and left sit in your own filth day after day.
If you have any lucid moments you can take a great deal of satisfaction from knowing how healthy you are and that you are not a burden on the NHS because you didn‘t smoke.
You cannot save life, you can only postpone death. Everyone should be free to choose how they live, and take responsibility for that life.

Barman said...

Another excellent post Leg-Iron...

I will copy it to a number of forums (fora?) that I post on from time to time... Not that the non-smokers will read it of course...

BTW I am a non-smoker who thinks the ban is outrageous - most non-smokers can't get their head around that at all!

drinker said...

I sometimes enjoy a packet of crisps with my pint but I wouldn't bother if I had to stand outside and eat them in the cold and rain. I can appreciate how enjoyable a cigarette must be if you put up with that nonsense. Maybe I should try smoking.

Mr A said...

Smokers brainwashed?

Oh yes! On a recent stag do to Spain I noticed the other smokers in my group smoking in the bars, but looking furtively around as if expecting some shrill-voiced harridan to descend upon them despite the ash trays on the tables and Spanish smokers easily enjoying the free and relaxed atmosphere.... thirtysomething men, mainly fathers, all professional - surveyors, journalists, company owners - smoking and sniggering like naughty schoolboys.

And the intersting bit? When they got (as is the way with stag-dos) absolutely slaughtered they all started standing up and lurching outside to smoke despite the fact that they could smoke indoors. Pavlov would be proud of how deep the brainwashing goes. And when people are THAT brainwashed, how are you supposed to point out the myriad studies that rubbish passive smoking without people just clicking into drome mode and saying, "No. Smoking.... bad?"

Leg-iron said...

I have actually had visitors to my house who have spontaneously disappeared. I find them outside smoking! There was one I had to argue with to get him back indoors.

It's become so second-nature that even in a house full of ashtrays, many just take it as read that they can't smoke indoors.

Well, for the moment at least, this is a smoky house. Soon the ban will creep under my front door and I'll ignore it. Soon, estate agents will ask if you're a smoker before pricing your house. I'll lie.

Visitors smoke indoors here. Non-smokers can go outside if they want fresh air. There's loads of the stuff out there.

Mr. A - you're right. The conditioning is incredibly effective.

Anonymous said...

Great piece, L-I - I'd have become incoherent with rage by the second paragraph.

It's heartening that at least some non-smokers find the ban outrageous. Most don't get it and the antis, of course, don't want to - they'd rather that smoking become invisible and to hell with the damage their demonisation wroughts of which I've very recently come across two examples: the first was noticing in an estate agent's window that about 80% of properties to rent banned smokers (and it did say smokers and not smoking)and the second was a radio programme this morning in which comedians working in Benidorm were interviewed. Several said that the reason they were there was because the pubs and clubs in the UK were dying because of the smoking ban (and some of the tourists were there because smoking was allowed in bars).


Antipholus Papps said...

I read that smoking can knock 10 years off your life

My nephew's fiancee tried that one the other day. She said "every cigarette you smoke takes 3 minutes off your life". To which I replied "that's because it takes me 3 minutes to smoke it".

Pogo said...

Just count me in as another non-smoker who thinks that the ban is utterly outrageous.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Great piece, LI.

It's the cliches, which you touch on, used by anti-smokers which baffle me. I think they believe they are being original or clever, yet most of these are ASH soundbites which have been knocking around for nearly 2 decades. All based on skewed logic and picked up on by easily-led people due to confirmation bias.

Anonymous said...

Oooh! My first time commenting on your new forum, L-I. I hope it works – it’s a bit more confusing than the old one for an old-timer like me. Here goes, though.

My own (non-smoking) OH recently commented to me how many non-smokers he knows who, now that the ban is in, have said to him how much they hate it. I think many of them didn’t really believe that it would affect anyone they knew. As a late arrival to the Wonderful World of Nicotine, I can understand this. As a non-smoker myself I just know I would have thought that people simply “wouldn’t bother to smoke” if they were in a non-smoking zone. I think it’s a quirk of human nature for people to “approve” of certain things when they think they won’t apply to anyone they know, but that “approval” drops off markedly when they realise that it’ll be their mates, their colleagues and their family members who will be directly affected. Many, many years ago, when the idea of a smoking ban was still in its infancy I’m sure I read a study about this somewhere. A large proportion of the people in the study were in favour of a ban “in theory” but of the same people only a tiny minority (and I mean tiny) said they would support a ban somewhere where it would affect people they knew personally, such as their workplace or their local pub or their local bingo hall. Which may explain much about why so many more non-smokers are now expressing their dislike of the ban. So, once again, this Government has highlighted its unlimited capacity for overlooking the universal law of unintended consequences. Good! Let’s just now hope they keep it up until the next General Election!

Angry Squaddie said...

Saw this on the BBC about the death of MP David Taylor and thought of you:

"Deborah Arnott, director of the anti-smoking campaign group Ash, said Mr Taylor was "crucial in getting the smoking ban legislation through parliament".

During the 1980s Mr Taylor was a keen long distance runner, competing in several half marathons and full marathons including the 1989 London Marathon in which he finished in just over three hours.

In the 1990s he cycled routes including the Pennine Way and Coast to Coast.

He is survived by four daughters and his wife Pam."

Good fucking riddance in my estimation!

PT Barnum said...

'I smoke because I like it.'

Ah, with two of us of that mind, that makes a cult. Get a few more and we can become a religion.

Myself, I have a potentially life-threatening allergic response to some deoderants and perfumes when I inhale the droplets. I have, on two occasions, launched myself across a train carriage at some painted jade about to squirt herself and everything else, yelling 'Are you trying to kill me?' Oddly, this was seen as a sign of mental illness and not a legitimate health issue. Waving an epipen at them made not one iota of difference to them.

Some are just more equal than others, I guess.

Mr A said...

Agh, don't get me going on deodourant. When I'm in the gym (and I mean IN the gym actually working out, not in the changing room) some numpty starts spraying themself with dedourant because they're too manky to have a shower (maybe they're the same anti-smokers who complain that they have to wash their hair the day after visiting smoky places - YOU SHOULD WASH ANYWAY YOU GREASY F***ERS!) and I end up coughing and spluttering and having to halt my session until the haze dissipates. Yet that is not only acceptable but also perfectly legal. Strangely, I've never had a similar reaction when sat in a smokey pub or indeed, after 20 years of smoking. The dual standards at work here never cease to fascinate me.

And yet as annoying as I find it I would never EXPECT someone to go to the trouble of actually placing my preferences in such matters on the Statute books. These are for murder and fraud and treason, not trivia like whether I find a smell irritating or not.

Shame the anti-smokers are so infantilised that they expect the world to revolve around them in such a way...

JuliaM said...

Have you seen the story about crims being forced to give up smoking while in prison?

Barman said...

I was arguing with some friends yesterday about the smoking ban (they are visiting from the UK). I argued that there should be freedom of choice - that owners of bars and restaurants should be able to choose if they are smoking or non-smoking.

In that way, both smokers and non-smokers would have the freedom to choose if they frequented an establishment which allowed or banned smoking...

One of the friends said - "but what if the smoking restaurant was really nice? It wouldn't be fair that I couldn't go in there"

Hand >>> face.

Rob said...

All that exercise didn't help that MP, did it? Righteousness is bad for your health. All that uptight rage because people simply will NOT do what you say.

Can't be good for the old ticker

Trooper Thompson said...


you've pretty much covered it all, except perhaps the 'you didn't care when you had the upper hand, but now the shoe's on the other foot...' argument I've heard. In other words we smokers persecuted with impunity the poor non-smokers and now we must pay.

What pisses me off is that in something like Terminal 5 at Heathrow, they can't even allow one dirty, degraded corner for the smokers.

BTW, a friend of mine related a slightly surreal story from a recent trip to Amsterdam, where she and her friends had to covertly add tobacco to their spliffs, because a spliff with tobacco added is verboten in-doors.

Anonymous said...

MP David Taylor, dead at age 63yrs. Fat lot of good a Righteous life did him!

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