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Frank Davis

Banging on about the Smoking Ban


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The Loneliness Triblogology
frank_davis4
frank_davis
Freedom2Choose has an important series of blog posts on loneliness. There are three of them. The first is here, the second here, and the third here.

scream


It's my own personal conviction that the really serious damage that smoking bans do is to the very fabric of human society. I'd like to try to explain how this happens and why it matters.

Smoking bans drive smokers from pubs and bars and cafes, and one result of this is that pubs and bars and cafes close down, and this is a visible consequence - 'closed' and 'for sale' signs spring up on the bankrupted pubs. Much less visible are the human communities that are also closed down. A pub or a cafe is a centre of community, a place where people meet and make or renew friendships. When the smokers have been driven out, these bonds of community begin to be broken, because they are no longer being repaired and renewed. The entire community (and not just the community of smokers) begins to unravel. But no 'closed' or 'for sale' signs go up on these communities. The loss is invisible.

One may think of a community as a number of interconnected nodes. The nodes represent individual people, and the lines connecting them represent the relationships between them, some close and some distant, some strong and some weak. At the outset, in a vibrant pub or cafe society, there will be lots of connections between people, lots of friendships and acquaintanceships. But when smoking bans expel smokers - even by just making them stand outside - they stretch and weaken and break many of these bonds of friendship. And the result is that the little society centred around a little cafe or bar becomes less cohesive. It may even disintegrate entirely. At which point the cafe or bar closes down, and the 'for sale' signs go up.
disintegration
One consequence of this, for example, is that more cohesive groups of friends may set up their own little convivial sub-communities in their own homes (e.g. 'smoky-drinky places') where they can continue to meet to enjoy each others company. But when this happens, the community as a whole has become fragmented, broken up into small groups of families or friends.

But because these groups of families or friends exist in private, it's difficult for anyone to join them. The original vibrant, cohesive pub community was always being renewed and revivified with new people, even while illness and old age depleted them. The new private groups, starved of new members, are likely to in turn gradually become depleted, and themselves die out.

The end point of this process is one in which society has been entirely atomised, and consists of a set of atomic individuals, who have no connection whatsoever with one another, beyond that of an occasional casual encounter.

Does it matter if this happens to a society? Does it matter if communities disintegrate? The antismoking health establishment that has been demanding ever more extensive smoking bans does not seem to think it matters at all. The only thing that seems to matter to them is "health", by which they mean the physical well-being of individual people. In their view, smoking bans improve "health" by "helping" smokers to give up the unhealthy habit of smoking. (It does not seem to occur to any of them that, when smokers are driven out of pubs and cafes to stand outside in the wind and cold and dark and rain, they are put at far greater risk than they were while they were smoking and drinking inside. Even by this crude measure of "health", smoking bans are far more unhealthy than the alternative.)

If we are really to make a decisive improvement in this vacuous, one-eyed notion of "health", it has to be said that the very best thing to do would be to close down all pubs and cafes. Because it's not just smoking that is claimed to be bad for people's health, but also drinking alcohol, and eating crisps and peanuts. All these things are deemed to pose "health risks" of one sort or other. But even if nobody smoked or drank or ate anything, and pubs became indistinguishable from churches, there would still be a discernible "health risk" simply from people transmitting communicable diseases (colds, flu, measles, mumps, etc) to each other. The "healthiest" society is quite obviously the atomised society in which nobody knows anybody else, and everybody stays at home.

And, who knows, perhaps this is what these antismoking health professionals would really like to see?

But let's look a little more closely at what happens when communities disintegrate. These communities do not consist solely of shared friendships, but they also provide a network of mutual support. In these communities people actively help each other out in all sorts of ways, doing shopping for each other, lending things to each other, repairing things, cooking food, checking to see how people are. It's not all just sitting in the pub talking about football. And when a community disintegrates, a network of support disintegrates too. People are left entirely to their own devices. And in the case of the elderly, their devices may be very limited, if they can no longer walk or read or hear. For such people, the death of the community is quite likely to be the death of them.

Nor is it that friendships and acquaintanceships are not important. A marriage is probably the greatest friendship that many people find. In marriages families are bound together by strong bonds. It is in these marriages and friendships and acquaintanceships that many people find meaning in their lives. Take away their marriages and friendships, and their lives become meaningless.

And in an even wider sense, it is through language and writing and music and art that human society is bound together. When people speak, it is so that someone else may hear. And when they write, it is so that someone else may read. And when they play guitar it is so that someone else may listen. Destroy society, and there is no point in anyone speaking or writing or painting or playing music, because all these activities are essentially and inherently social activities.

Smoking bans do not just drive pubs and cafes out of business. Nor is it even that they shatter communities. Smoking bans strike at the very heart of human society itself, and all its wealth of speech and literature and art and music. Smoking bans attack the core interconnectedness of human society. They are an assault upon humanity itself.

The foundations of human society do not lie in universities or government departments or shops or cinemas. The foundations of human society lies in the networks of millions upon millions of bonds of marriage and friendship which tie communities together. Shatter these bonds, and you shatter human society just as surely as you may fell with a power saw in a single afternoon a mighty oak tree that has taken hundreds of years to grow.

It's not just that smoking bans don't even improve "health" (even in the narrow and dwindled sense that antismokers use that word) at all. People carry on smoking and drinking anyway. They just stand outside and do it, and catch their death of cold. But what smoking bans do achieve is the destruction of communities, and the breaking of millions of bonds of affection and aid and support which go to make up the edifice of human society.

The antismoking "healthcare" industry is no better than a band of wolves which has been unleashed upon humanity to rend and tear it apart. Or else they are vandals armed with chainsaws. We have, as a matter of dire necessity, to rid ourselves of these people and all their works. For if we don't there will no longer be any "we" to speak of.

Loneliness

(Anonymous)
Lysistrata here.
A superb post, Frank. Thank you.

Beware the "Big Society"

(Anonymous)
Having destroyed the cohesiveness of society with the smoking ban the "healthists" will now seek to take control of communities. How long will it be before the power being delegated to communities by the Government results in local laws pushed through by the very Partnerships and Alliances that supported a smoking ban.

Look out for stricter local bans on smoking, alcohol and food being implemented all in the name of "it's what the community wants". But it won't be the voice of Joe Public that will be heard but the concerted and organised bleatings of the Partnerships and Alliances.

Hope you don't mind but I've nicked this - all of it - and posted it again, here:


I've nicked this - all of it - and reposted it here:

http://wiganpatriot.blogspot.com/2011/02/smoking-bans-results.html

Hope you don't mind.

Not a bit. Give my regards to Wigan.

Frank

Another excellent thought of the day. Having enjoyed almost a full day of aloneness after a long week I now feel much more sociable and can now either go to the pub for last orders or sit in front of my pc. As there is a cold wind outside (and a boring emptiness in my local pub) I sit in front of my pc for a little while. I know next week is going to be a very busy one with work and social outings, so I make the most of a quiet "me" time.

.....And in the case of the elderly, their devices may be very limited, if they can no longer walk or read or hear. For such people, the death of the community is quite likely to be the death of them.

Nor is it that friendships and acquaintanceships are not important. A marriage is probably the greatest friendship that many people find. In marriages families are bound together by strong bonds. It is in these marriages and friendships and acquaintanceships that many people find meaning in their lives.


Friendships/acquaintances/partners are a very important part of all our lives, more so for the elderly who experience the 'wind that blows cold on the ones left behind'.
I have noticed one thing last year when - impatiently - stood in a queue at the supermarket; a lot of elderly people start a conversation in which "I-used-to-go-to-the-bingo-once-a-week-but-it's-not-the-same-with-this-blimmin'-smoking-ban".
And, yes, I do remember the crowd of "oldies" in the village pubs who, when finally saying: "Oi, aren't you xxxx's youngster? Sit down and have a drink on us", graduated us into adulthood.
I wonder how many of these great characters are now isolated and have to expect nothing more than loneliness until "the lid is put in place".

All for the benefit of health, ey?


Thank You

(Anonymous)
Thanks for the link, Frank - and for highlighting this side of the ban that gets forgotten.

The most terrible thing about all this is that the people behind the bans know exactly what is happening. Rose posted some links a few days ago here, and there were links on that CAGE find (the outdoor ban 'toolkit') that lead to studies showing what the consequences of 'denormalising' smokers are: stigmatisation, isolation and embarrassment. These last two are played down as inconsequential compared with 'real' damage.

Far from rethinking this evil policy the answer for the anti-smoking sociopaths is MORE smoking cessation 'support'. If people are lonely, then health sevice providers must try harder to make them give up smoking.

I don't think this subject will go away any time soon.



Karen

Here is a little homily which highlights the situation further.

A few days ago, my grandson and I went into our local little town centre (Atherton, not Bolton) for some reason or other. While walking about, I came across two or three people I knew: "Hello! How are you? Not seen you for ages! Etc, etc". And grandson said to me, "Funny, Granddad, how all old people seem to know each other"

Actually, it isn't odd at all. It is because, over many years, people went to their locals. Different locals had different atmospheres - some were very 'darty', some were 'rugby league-y', some were 'posh', some were noisy and some were quiet; and over the years, you circle of acquaintances grew bigger and bigger and bigger. And then you throw in all the clubs - the labour club, the cony club, the catholic club, the garrick club (serving til eleven with cabaret!), the botanical club (would you believe!), the golf club, and so on.

My wife won a cruise for two in 1982 (in a raffle at the rugby union club), and, believe it or not I knew three people on the Canberra - one was a seaman who went into the Concert Inn, another was a young man who spent a few days as a relief member of staff at my bank branch nd the other was the mother of a member of my golf club.

Are those days gone for ever? I fear so. And is that largely because of the glorious organisation named ASH?

ASH is at the centre of a web in the UK. It was set up by the Royal College of Physicians to collate studies and lobby the Gov. The US also has an ASH and a web. And above these webs sits the WHO.

The WHO, ASH and the politicians are destroying several centuries of social cohesion. The actual buildings of the pubs do not really matter - it may be that many of them are too big and too grand and too inefficient, but with the smoking ban in place, there is little chance of smaller, more efficient bars opening up, especially in small towns and villages.

All the clubs which I mentioned above were havens for little old ladies, especially. Most women did not go into pubs as men do, but they were quite happy to go to clubs for the bingo nights, whist drives and beetle drives (remember them?). Now even their bingo clubs are going to the wall.

It is all so sad.

I remember saying to someone a long, long, long time ago – way before the smoking ban was even a twinkle in the antis’ eye (I think the conversation was about the increasing number of hours which people felt obliged to work these days even when they weren’t paid overtime, and thus how tired everyone always seemed to feel), that what “they” seemed to want for the majority of people in this country was for them to get up, go to work, go home, eat, watch some mindless TV, go to bed and then get up and do it all again ad infinitim.

At the time this was just a sort of vague theorising, but as the smoking ban loomed closer – then arrived – and as further and further inroads are made into so many areas of our lives where we can go out, socialise, meet other people, form friendships, meet lovers, chew the fat a bit, and just – well – connect with each other, this idea now seems to be becoming a miserable reality. Even friendships formed at work – about the only place where many of us still regularly go and mix with other people – are now, often, rather disapproved-of by many employers, who seem to think that colleagues fraternising with each other is somehow a “bad thing,” as if their sole function is to keep their noses to the grindstone and that any extension to this of one’s own volition - even if in one's own time - is somehow taking advantage! No wonder internet dating sites are springing up all over the place!

Even non-smokers I know can’t be bothered to go out these days, and not just to pubs, either, and it’s certainly not about having to smoke outside for them. As one of my non-smoking friends said to me not long ago – nothing seems to be fun any more. No-one seems to have any “oomph” - men are terrified of talking to women because they might be accused of harrassing them, and women are afraid to talk to men in case they are secretly axe-wielding serial killers! Even when she does make the effort to go out she usually ends up wondering why on earth she went to all that bother just to sit in a different place with the same people she could have sat at home with for a quarter of the cost and much less effort. She agrees that the downturn started at pretty much the exact same time that the smoking ban came in, although she, like me, can't quite understand exactly why that should have affected non-smokers like her in such a drastic way, and it is hard to pin down exactly what, along with tobacco smoke, was banished from social venues in 2007. As you say, it's a sort of intangible quality that can't be measured as such - which is probably why the anti-smokers find it so easy to sweep it under the carpet and pretend it isn't really happening.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - the smoking ban is just part of a much, much bigger social "plan." It is not, and never has been, about public health, employee health or even about pandering to the wishes of those who don't like the smell of smoke. And anybody who genuinely, truly still believes that it is, or ever was, about any of those things is not only deluding themselves, but they've also got some nasty shocks coming their way in the not-too-distant future ......

it's a sort of intangible quality that can't be measured as such - which is probably why the anti-smokers find it so easy to sweep it under the carpet and pretend it isn't really happening.

I'll probably return to this sometime. Pub closures are real, if only because 'for sale' signs go up outside them. But the decimation of communities is invisible. Also a price can be put on a business like a pub. The same can't be said of friendships. For this reason, I think antismokers more or less completely discount social damage, simply because it can't be measured, and so isn't happening. The blinkered way they look at the world simply excludes these things.

The antis look at the world differently in other ways. I quite often get the strong impression that they believe that when people have been made to stop smoking, and are 'healthier', they will also work more efficiently. In their view, people are principally workers, and any time off they get is a sign of economic inefficiency. I suspect that they would like to close down all pubs and cafes simply because people sit around in them drinking and talking, when they could be better employed. It's really the sort of attitude that a slave-owner might take to his slaves. He wants to see them working.

My own view is that this isn't how society works (except in slave societies, of course), and that what free people actually do is to work to produce the idle time in which they can do things they enjoy like sit in pubs drinking and talking. Far from being indicators of economic inefficiency, pubs and bars and cafes are indicators of economic success: people are doing what they want to, and that's the whole point. The rather paradoxical notion of working in order to produce leisure is explored in Idle Theory.

Should these fools succeed in creating a new slave society, the result will not be improved efficiency, even by their own measure, but something more like the collapse of the economy, simply because nobody will have any incentive to do any work, because nothing is to be gained from innovation and invention.

the smoking ban is just part of a much, much bigger social "plan."

It may be. Sometimes I think it is. But I usually end up concluding that they simply don't know what they're doing.

Frank

The Plan (Anonymous) Expand

Good article

(Anonymous)
I've been thinking the breaking of 'society' or perhaps more accuately 'community' is what the smoking ban is really all about for some time but this is a very, very good article that should be sent to every newspaper and 'politician' in the land - if only journalists and politicians had a soul and a heart it would achieve something!

I thought that you might like to know, Frank, that 'the Wigan Patriot' shows every sign of being BNP. He gives a reference whereby one can download Nick Griffin's speeches.

Am I right in thinking that, no matter what your own political leanings might be, your blog is apolitical? Like Leg Iron, DP. Subrosa (even though she is very SNP!), Snowdon, etc you are essentially pro-freedom and anti-tyranny and anti-brainwashing and anti-ban. I am sure that that is correct.

It isn't that I am particularly anti BNP - as far as I am concerned, BNP is just another political party. Also, your blogs are public property on the internet (provided that a person quoting you makes the attribution). That is the internet convention, isn't it? Anyone can copy what you say on your blog - that is not a problem. The only thing that bothers me is that your reply to Wigan Patriot could be interpreted as supporting BNP.

I was really heartened that a local blog had appeared which represented the Smoking Community locally to me. I was disappointed to find that it was a political party (BNP) blog.

Bloody annoying.

Like Leg Iron, DP. Subrosa (even though she is very SNP!), Snowdon, etc you are essentially pro-freedom and anti-tyranny and anti-brainwashing and anti-ban. I am sure that that is correct.

Yes, that's about it. I've really only become 'political' over the past few years, and almost entirely in response to the smoking ban. As I've mentioned several times before, I used to vote Lib Dem, and regarded myself as a bit left wing.

I posted my response to the Wigan chap before I'd looked at his website. It would seem that he is indeed BNP. Not that I mind. It simply makes me think that the BNP don't like the smoking ban either (something I've read before). If so, good for them.

Frank

Wigan Patriot (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Wigan Patriot (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Wigan Patriot (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Wigan Patriot (Anonymous) Expand
Junican - I don't give any sign at all that I'm pro-BNP I out-and-out proclaim it. We say it loud and clear on the heading to our blog.

And it IS "we": there are four of us authors, and we all have different points of view

Morgan.

The Antis

(Anonymous)
As Frank has so well stated, we know how things have gone for many smokers; but, what has happened to the antis?

I suspect damn little. They didn't go to the small local pubs in the first place and the city places that they do go to are mostly bars/lounges in restaurants.

Except for being slightly purified, their, out of home, world has changed little.

These vile, slimy twats and pricks have ruined others lives at no cost to themselves.

The smoking ban is a grand medical experiment fomented by the antis and put into effect by politicians; but, in medical science there are ethical concerns about hurting some people for the greater good and such experiments are considered ethically unacceptable.

So too, smoking bans must be considered as an experiment that is ethically unacceptable.

Gary K.

Another major impact has occurred in the jobs market, especially in the building trade.
Tradesman would always go to the local pub to see what work was around. There were always other tradesman there who needed a chippie /sparks/plasterer or decorator etc.
More work was found in pubs than the job centre.
How many couples met in pubs ? Millions I expect as pubs were the ideal singles experience to be able to meet other people.
No wonder there is not much work in the building trade, except for agency workers earning less for themselves and more for the agencies.
Also not as many couples getting together like they did in the past.

The smoking ban is a grand medical experiment fomented by the antis and put into effect by politicians; but, in medical science there are ethical concerns about hurting some people for the greater good and such experiments are considered ethically unacceptable.

It is questionable if this is really for the 'greater good'; it would more seem that some people live out their obsession of e.g. prolonging life; health etc.etc.

Just before I read a post on the Bavarian facebook group page; One member of this group had been to czechia and he did notice that there was no hysteria on lighting up after a meal; non-smokers and smokers sat happily together on a table, deep in conversation. Just as it used to be here.
Then the member of the group did also spot a sign somewhere, saying:

'It is not about adding years to life - it is about adding life to years'.
---------------------------

Another major impact has occurred in the jobs market, especially in the building trade.
Good point!