frank_davis (frank_davis) wrote,
frank_davis
frank_davis

A Divided Society

I think that the antismokers believed that, while many smokers would initially object to a comprehensive smoking ban, they would eventually assent to it, and embrace the new smoke-free culture. They would ruefully admit, "It's a fair cop, guv." They might even one day thank the antismokers for helping them kick a pointless and unhealthy addiction. All that was needed was to keep the ban in place for long enough, and the smokers would gradually see reason, and acclimatise to the new situation. During this period, it would of course be necessary to turn a deaf ear to their protests. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.

Three years on from the inauguration of the UK smoking ban, it's just possible that some antismokers are beginning to wonder whether things are going quite according to plan. Smokers have just carried on smoking anyway. Evicted from inside pubs, they just stand outside in all weathers. Or they meet up with friends at home. There's not much sign of smokers packing in the habit and rejoining polite society inside the pubs.

Nevertheless the antismokers are still hoping that one day the smokers will come in from the cold, grinning sheepishly, and admit the game's finally up, and their resistance is at an end.

That day will never come.

Because the day that the smoking ban came into force, it was not simply that smokers lost the right to smoke inside pubs. No. On that day smokers were evicted from society. On that day smokers became second class citizens, unclean and no longer fully respectably human.

And that is a truly colossal blow for anyone to endure, particularly if they have been upright, law-abiding citizens all their lives. It's a very deep wound to be inflicted upon anybody. Particularly for no good reason at all.

And there is no possibility, after that, that smokers will ever come knocking at the pub door, asking to be re-admitted, and saying "We surrender. You win." It's no more likely to happen than a man who has been mugged in the street would stand up and shake his assailant's hand, and thank him for relieving him of his wallet. It's simply not going to happen. And the sooner the antismokers recognise this the better.

All that the antismokers have achieved is to create a divided society. On the one hand there is the polite, legal society which is now to be found in pubs and restaurants. And on the other hand there are the smokers and their friends who are to be found on the streets outside or in private houses. These two societies aren't going to merge back together. There isn't going to be a happy day when smokers and antismokers meet up, like British and German pilots after WW2, to exchange reminiscences of their war years over a few friendly beers.

Antismokers like to complain about all the years that they had to put up with smokers, how they had to go home at night and have a shower. But it's as nothing to what smokers now endure at the hands of antismokers. Antismokers were never made to stand outside, never refused jobs, never refused medical treatment, never subjected to a barrage of media abuse. And however much antismokers may have hated smokers, it's as nothing in comparison with the hatred smokers now feel for antismokers.

In time, the antismokers will gradually wake up to this division in society. They will come to realise that the smokers will never be coming back inside their smokefree pubs. They'll come to realise that their dream of a unified smokefree society will never be realised. They'll probably blame this entirely upon smokers. They always do. Antismokers are always blameless.

And smokers won't be going away. Even if tobacco is made illegal, they won't be going away. Making marijuana illegal didn't make it go away.

And as time passes, isolated scattered smokers will continue to gradually meet up with one another, and come together, and create a gradually growing political opposition to the antismokers. That's already begun to happen, and it's set to go on happening more and more. And there are one hell of a lot of smokers in the world.

Too late, the more far-sighted authorities will begin to recognise the depth of the social division that has been created, and belatedly act to try and mitigate it. There'll be calls for relaxations of the law, and for smoking rooms in pubs and restaurants. These will of course be fought tooth and nail by antismokers. And the continued exclusion will simply make smokers even angrier than they already are.

There is going to be no healing this division. Smokers and antismokers are simply a modern secular version of Catholics and Protestants. Once they lived together happily. And then division was created. And it'll never go away.

The doctors and politicians and bureaucrats who created this division will come to regret what they did, when they at last realise what terrible damage they have done.
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