Five years after the smoking ban we are all smokers now
Five years after the smoking ban came in, Utopia is still only one ban away
When I was asked to write articles for The Commentator I was determined not to bang on about smoking. However, five years after the ban came in on July 1st 2007, it seems relevant to raise my head above the parapet.
My thesis and hence the title, that flushed with the ‘success’ of smoking restrictions, a tidal wave of non-governmental organisations (many state funded charities), ‘something must be done’ politicians and an all-too-compliant population have opened themselves up to their own version of stigmatisation, vilification and Acts that receive the assent of the Queen.
The ultimate irony is we have the Guardianista, left wing, Islington dinner party set sanctioning state led bigotry against smokers.
In a remarkable paper by Professor Hilary Graham, commissioned by the Department of Health, society’s attitudes toward smokers is reviewed. It makes grim reading. Smokers are now a despised underclass. She does not mince her words in comparing the plight of smokers to racially discriminated immigrants.
“Across the 19th and 20th centuries, poorer communities, including migrant and indigenous groups, were cast as the contaminating other whose habitual behaviours were seen to threaten ways of life that were in contrast presented as normal and desirable.”
The history of public health is scarred by policies which, pursued in the name of health protection and promotion, have served to intensify public vilification and state-sanctioned discrimination against already disadvantaged groups.
The smoking rates between the classes are 14 percent for the middle classes and 28 percent for the working classes and they have also been most affected by pub, bingo hall and Working Men’s CIU club closures and subsequent unemployment. The ban has led to upwards of 10,000 pubs closing which would be trading if smoking was still allowed.
The British pub’s Bible, the Publican’s Morning Advertiser, even before the ban was one year old in April 2008 said, “as many as 78,000 full and part-time jobs may have been lost if the survey results replicate the situation across the 50,000 pubs in England and Wales.”
What has been one of the more corrosive aspects of the Tobacco Control Industry is the abuse of science. The heart attack ‘miracles’ invented by Professor Jill Pell of Glasgow University and Professor Anna Gilmore of the University of Bath are a prime example. Pell’s study was awarded top ten status in The Times’ ‘The worst junk science stats of 2007.'
Professor Pell was guilty of selecting the months and hospitals she chose for the study. Professor Anna Gilmore was guilty of describing a methodology in her paper and then appearing to abandon it. Her paper in the British Medical Journal said ‘Conclusion. This study adds to a growing body of evidence that smoke-free legislation leads to reductions in myocardial infarctions.’
The three years preceding the smoking saw drops in acute myocardial infarction of 1.33 percent, 3.1 percent and 5.19 percent. Post ban 3.21 percent and 4.26 percent. Draw your own conclusions.
It would be also be pertinent to comment on the social isolation and dislocation caused by the smoking ban, especially the aged and infirm. Do you really expect an eighty year old pensioner to hobble out on their walking sticks in the middle of January to puff on their pipe? The pub, bingo hall and CIU clubs might have been their only interaction outside their home.
As I infer at the start of the piece, if you do not smoke but like a drink and have love handles, Pastor Niemoller is preaching at your door; the neuro-linguistic programming speak is coming to a place near you.
A leader in the Guardian, from Friday June 29th, was sub titled ‘The smoking ban was far too long in coming – and the next campaign for public health will be harder still to sell.’ (I am sure they will try their best.) And went on to say, “the next campaign for better public health is in a different league. Alcohol and obesity – what we eat and how much we drink – these are the stuff of our very souls.”
The Royal College of Physicians wrote in 2007 “The ‘passive effects’ of alcohol, misuse are catastrophic – rape, sexual assault, domestic and other violence, drunk driving and street disorder – alcohol affects thousands more innocent victims than passive smoking.”
We also have this gem: “Supermarkets are exhibiting the morality of a crack dealer”, House of Commons Select Committee on Health as told by Professor Martin Plant.
In an article by Dennis Gottfried, M.D. entitled ‘Anti-Smoking Tactics Can Squeeze Obesity’ he opines: “When people with whom we are closely associated gain weight, such as a spouse, sibling, neighbor or friend, we are also at an increased risk of gaining weight. For example, if your friend becomes obese, you have a 177 percent increased risk of becoming obese. If your friend’s brother becomes obese, your risk is still increased’
Yes that is passive obesity.
Big Pharma in the shape of The Robert Wood Foundation have funded this study, “Soda and Tobacco Industry Corporate Social Responsibility Campaigns: How Do They Compare? The conclusions included: “As they did with tobacco, public health advocates need to counter industry CSR with strong denormalization campaigns to educate the public and policymakers about the effects of soda Corporate Social Responsibility campaigns and the social ills caused by sugary beverages.”
Believe you me I am just poking a scalpel underneath the epidermis of the bully state.
Many people find smoking uncomfortable, perhaps in some cases even a little obnoxious. However after coming for the smokers, the bully state. shamelessly embraced by David Cameron, has been rolled out to you.
You too will be a second class citizen. In a phrase first coined by IEA Fellow Chris Snowdon, ‘Utopia is only one ban away.’
David Atherton is Chairman of Freedom2Choose, which seeks to protect the informed choices of consenting adults on the issues of smoking
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