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Frank Davis

Banging on about the Smoking Ban

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A Separate Reality
The current draconian Spanish smoking ban came into force on 2 Jan 2011. Translated from El Correo.

Doctors and restaurateurs have declared war. Navarra Basque Society for the Prevention of Smoking entered yesterday into the controversy of the 'smoking ban' to attack the restaurants with two accusations that could hurt them a lot. Health professionals claimed that owners of bars and cafes of "being sponsored by the tobacco industry" and said they do not believe they have been losing money since it was forbidden to smoke on their premises. The sector's response was immediate. "We challenge Navarra Basque society to say openly that our association has received some support from the tobacco industry, and it will be in court immediately," the federation said.

The stakes are high. A document sent to the mail by the president of the Basque Navarre Society for the Prevention of Smoking, Carlos Cortijo, said that the statistics of membership of the Social Security Ministry of Labour "shows that the number of people employed by the industry increased "from January 2010 to January 2011."

So let's get this right. A bunch of antismoking doctors have claimed that Spanish restaurants and bars are being paid by tobacco companies to protest about the smoking ban. In addition, they say that restaurants and bars haven't actually been losing money as a result of the ban. Their evidence? The fact that they took on more staff last year.

This is crazy. It's completely unhinged. It's more or less routine for antismokers to claim that anyone who disagrees with them is in the pay of Big Tobacco. And indeed sometimes they are. But the entire hospitality industry? That's crazy. But even crazier is the notion that the trade must be doing fine this year, simply because it was last year. It's as if these antismokers occupy a separate reality.

And that's perhaps exactly how it is.

For the reality of things according to the antismokers is that smoking bans don't harm business, but actually improve it. And that smokers almost universally approve of smoking bans, and carry on going to restaurants and bars just like they always did, only more so. And that there are dramatic improvements in public health. And that smoking bans are always a great success, and there have been countless examples of this success. This, as far as the antismokers are concerned, is the simple reality of the matter. Anyone who disagrees is either uneducated or in the pay of tobacco companies.

And so, when the antismokers read reports of bars and restaurants losing business, they know that it simply isn't true, and that it has to be those damn tobacco companies up to their usual mischief.

It would seem that these new realities (and the antismoking reality is not the only one) are conceived and nurtured in small closed communities (a bit like Heaven's Gate), very often in San Francisco, in which all concerned become true believers before they set out to bring their new reality to the wider world. There it circulates first in the highest strata of society, among politicians and journalists and senior executives and professionals of every sort. And then, once safely ensconced there, it is rolled out for general public consumption. And only a few hundred top executives and opinion formers may be needed to do that. A prince or two helps, of course.

It seems entirely plausible that there was a one-day seminar held somewhere in London in, say, 2004 for a number of top executives from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and several newspapers, and also the CEOs of a number of pubcos, and several senior politicians from the Labour and Conservative and Lib Dem parties, and maybe a couple of celebrities as well. Senior doctors like Sir Liam Donaldson or Sir Charles George would have addressed this select gathering, outlining the known dangers of tobacco smoking, and the newly discovered menace of secondhand smoke, and the medical imperative of denormalising smoking. In a slick Powerpoint presentation, somebody from ASH would have assured all those present that smoking bans had proved to be a great success in America, particularly in California, and there had been no loss of trade in bars and restaurants, and a dramatic improvement in public health and worker productivity. Afterwards, over tea and smoked salmon and egg-and-cress sandwiches, many of these executives would have no doubt expressed their enthusiasm for the idea of smoking bans, given the many clear benefits, and the zero costs. Any doubters would have been referred to the relevant pages of the accompanying glossy brochure for them to be quickly assured that, for example, 70% of smokers wanted to give up smoking. Once everyone was on board, the smoking ban could be rolled out across the nation with the all the political parties and the whole of the mass media and most of the hospitality trade each playing their pre-assigned roles. All that had been needed to be done was to persuade a hundred or so key figures of the coming new reality, and they could be counted on to do their bit to help to create that reality.

Of course, more or less everything they were told was untrue, or was a half-truth. But these busy executives didn't have the time to give the matter serious consideration. They were as impressionable as anybody. All they needed to know was that Sir Liam Donaldson and Sir Charles George had 'Sir' in front of their name to trust them implicitly. Furthermore most of them hadn't been inside a pub or a cafe in years. And many of them no longer smoked.

And so when the ban was introduced, they all did their bit to help launch it, and it was accordingly immediately hailed as a great success, particularly among smokers. And almost immediately, as ever, the usual health benefits were claimed.

But if this is how the 'new reality' was created in Britain, why isn't it quite working in Spain? The answer may be that the British mass media, and the hospitality business, and political power, is concentrated in relatively few hands, and so relatively few people needed to agree among themselves to make it work. And in Britain we currently have pretty much a one-party state, with Labour and Lib Dems and Conservatives all but indistinguishable from each other. And most pubs belong to chains of one sort or other, and for the proprietors of these chains they are simply another business opportunity, not different from a baking or a mining business. And there are only a handful of media outlets. Relatively few people were needed to help create the new non-smoking reality.

But this couldn't be done in Spain where most bars and restaurants are small family businesses, and where the mass media isn't quite so centralised, and where politics is rather more fractured. In Spain, and even less so in Greece, it wan't possible to create and sustain this new reality. In fact, it can probably only be done in fairly advanced Western societies, with well-established media outlets (like the BBC), well-established political parties, and well-established hospitality chains (e.g. Starbucks). For they all have to work together to create and sustain the new reality.

And of course the new reality, when it is rolled out in public, comes up against the old reality, which is one of traditional smoky pubs and bars. It becomes a struggle of one reality against another reality. It becomes a struggle of the political class, the media, and the hotel and restaurant and pub chains, against the ordinary pubgoer, whose reality - all too often of broken communities, fractured friendships, isolation, exclusion, and loneliness - can never be allowed to mar the perfection of the new reality (by being reported, for example).

The new reality is an illusion, of course. But if the illusion can be sustained for long enough, it may become reality. If people can be got to stop smoking for long enough, the ancient vice might yet be expunged from society.

And what applies to the new antismoking reality that has been rolled out over the world also applies to several other new realities. The global warming reality. The European Union reality. And probably a whole bunch more realities. All of them conflict with pre-existing realities in one way or other. And the wars between these realities are all conducted the same way, by suppressing the old reality as far as possible, and supplanting it with the new reality. So the old smokers are never allowed any say. And nor are climate sceptics. Nor eurosceptics. They mustn't even be permitted to be seen. In this manner a new public consensus is created, without any apparent dissenters, with which even ordinary members of the public often feel unable to openly disagree.

Nevertheless, none of these new realities has yet been successfully installed in the public arena. While most of the European political class, with one or two notable exceptions (e.g. Vaclav Klaus), is on board for the EU, the general public in almost every European country is becoming increasingly disenchanted with it. And the global warming reality struck a rock in the form of Climategate last year, and hasn't recovered. And the antismoking reality has encountered strong resistance in Holland and Spain and Greece and most of the old Eastern bloc countries.

It's far from over.

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I don't know all the facts and figures on SF, CA, USA's latest travel, tourist, bar and restaurant business, but I do know from walking the streets, it doesn't appear good, unless you consider good meaning big chains like Starbucks and the like on every corner, with their vile anti-smoking signs on big display, or else the expensive places that came in after the mom and pop smaller places were driven out, due to smoking bans one of the bigger reasons.

Yes, they restructured it so that normal now means no smoking anywhere, even outdoors, not even on sidewalks - smoking is only allowed at the curb alongside speeding traffic and that is exactly the only place anyone can legally smoke, that or more furtively dipping into and through some alleyways, but the no smoking outdoor signs are even out in the alleyways. It's been a huge and sudden push getting all this new signage out too, all without just the last few months and in all neighborhoods it seems.

It's ridiculous calling it a success. It's not a success, not when core businesses that were there forever and affordable to all residents are driven out and only high-class businesses catering to the upper class wealthy take their place.

Restaurants open all day long and selling reasonable meals and bars open all day long that had clientele all day long either close up and go under or else have to change their tact completely, usually to a new owner by that point because the original owners start approaching bankruptcy, no customers equals no income and after a while, it begins to pile up - and then the new owners change the name from Charlie's Bar to Oh-La-La-Posh-And-Proper - and with it the hours change from all day to only a few hours in the evening during prime time meals, the prices go through the roof, the poor and working class are made uncomfortable and the wealthy and posh simply come in and take over, no-smoking and all.

That's the reality of smoking bans. One business type, the homey atmosphere that had all classes mingled together and under proprietorships that loved their businesses and were personally involved, sometimes family affairs passing through generations, become replaced both by the big corporate chains who set the pace and atmosphere and then the new proprietor class who only caters to the wealthy.

It all turns non-smoking, even on the sidewalks and everywhere else outdoors, tobacco retailing is abolished as it is becoming so in San Francisco - and the merry upper classes just laugh and lounge away their hours, uncaring that the peasant class will have to eat cake while they're noshing in their anti-smoking leisure.

It sucks big time and to say it doesn't hurt businesses does not take into count the fact they literally re-arrange society so that anyone not like them and that always means wealthy for starters, is eventually pushed out of the picture altogether.

To make matters worse, they even make it law to ban smoking so that even in the working class neighborhoods, it can't even be found there. They make it exclusive, just for their own selfish upper class interests, and bugger all anyone else in this world.

Anti-smoking is a lot like the attitude Marie Antoinette must have had, is how it appears to me.

I don't know the numbers and statistics, I do notice more and more smaller bars and eateries sitting with less cusomters or else closed longer hours, only open during prime time, I have watched the constant turnover of ownerships and renamings, I have seen how in the richer areas the expensive new bars and restaurants get patronage from those who can easily afford it and I've seen plenty go out of business then never return again.

Currently the streets seem bare too, even in midday, very few tourists and why should there be. They've plastered so many no-outdoor smoking and $500 fine signs even into the tourist areas, after a while it just becomes obvious that only a certain type of person is welcome.

How does one attract tourists when one openly displays hostility and discrimination against entire classes of people, yet in San Francisco, anti-smoking with Glantz at their helm will call this a "success".


The USA has never had a serious prospect of the jackboot. For the time being, the USA is irrelevant (not that it is not important in the long run). The battlefield is mainland Europe, which has felt the jackboot. Our problem in Europe is to stop prohibition crossing the Atlantic. It will not be, and is not, easy because the persecutors are well prepared. But it is only a matter of time before even Americans begin to see persecution for what it is. Have you noticed how it is the people of countries who have never been invaded in the near past who are accepting the shit arguments? - Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Ireland,the USA, etc?

Tobacco Control, Global Warming are genies which have somehow escaped from the bottle. They need to be shoved back in.

We can reasonably take the example of Global Warming. there has been a huge discussion going on in the Guardian for several day about the BBC being biased IN FAVOUR OF climate sceptics! The argument of the climatologists is that only climatologists are qualified to comment, because they are the experts. Again we see that the climatologists must be right because there are thousands of them and they are all peer reviewed.

But there is this essential question. Where have all these thousands of climatologists suddenly appeared from? How on earth did they get funding to personally erect weather stations all over the world in order to independently check the facts? Well.....they didn't, did they? They are all interpreting the same facts and backing each other up - all at public expense!

These genies need to go back into their bottles. A fresh start is needed and a 'sine qua non' must be that 'the facts' must be placed in the public domain - no more lost data and no more hidden computer algorithms.

As regards Frank's main argument - that there has been collusion - this is not a conspiracy theory. There is no doubt that the pubcos went along with the ban in order to achieve a 'level playing field', but it was not a level playing field for all - it was a level playing field only for the pubcos. There lies the rub. As Frank points out, this is not the case in Spain.

If the smoking ban were amended to allow small bars to decide for themselves in this country, one could certainly see a mushrooming of small businesses of that nature in England. Would that be the beginning of the end for the pubcos? That possibility is rather intriguing!

As regards Frank's main argument - that there has been collusion - this is not a conspiracy theory.

No, it's not a conspiracy theory.

These are people who have been swept along with the new coming antismoking thing, just like they've been swept along with the global warming thing, and the EU thing.


Have you noticed how it is the people of countries who have never been invaded in the near past who are accepting the shit arguments? - Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Ireland, the USA, etc?"

Excellent point Junican. And most Americans don't have any recollection of the real misery and folly of Prohibition, it ended in 1933 - 78 years ago.

The other aspect of this is what I like to call the Lush Apathy Syndrome. Too fat and sassy to resist much of anything. Cheer on the Egyptian resistance from the comfort of the easy chair.

Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Ireland,the USA, etc?

Etc. including Canada.
One might think of all the (or former) UK Commonwealth states, even all European colonies.

(I'm not going to go into the UK / Irish Question here!)

All, including the USA, heavily targeted by Soviet espionage and influence campaigns since the 50's, 60's & beyond. 'Peace' movements infiltrated, etc. Governments, too.

Think it all 'just stopped' with the 'break up' of the old Soviet Union?

Successful influence campaigns utilise 'third parties' and keep their real sources hidden, even to those parties, let alone the actual targets.

Is it just a coincidence that Godber (and a club of British docters who visited Russia) admired the Soviet health system?

That a Russian is high up in the WHO FCTC? (citation needed)

That Russia has weak, non-standard "health" warnings on cigarette packets & cites internal difficulties in complying? (ditto)

Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like, but the world is toppling, and the new social systems don't look pleasant for those who prefer individual freedoms.

Yes, but if some of what is dreamt up in America and then put into the mainstream as a "big success" is then used as the excuse to incorporate elsewhere, including overseas, then it has some relevance.

And the last time Europe came under the Jackboot in a very heavy way, it was US involvement in that issue that was of extreme assistance in the matter, again not entirely irrelevant, nor is it a foe of UK as it wasn't the last time around either.

I think gathering support for anti-smoking ban sentiments inside the US is better than trying to make enemies with it or let the anti-smoking experiments as currently conducted, heavily in California and New York go completely unnoticed as if trivial. California in particular has a reputation going back in time of being highly supportive of people such as Mussolini and Hitler and smoking-bans (16 years going on 17 years now), there are historical facts of it being an experimental zone for imposing this type of thought through the mainstream and pushing the agenda onto other areas.

Anti-smoking is global in funding and reach and anti-smoking-ban efforts should at least seem cognizant of what is happening on opposite shorelines, as the oceans have not stopped the anti-smoking people from dragging their purported success stories from one location into another. It is an international anti-tobacco treaty signed by UN.

It alarms me for example, if I hear of some new anti-smoking development going on inside Europe or UK, that it won't show up here one day next, saying it's been proven a success over there - and vice-versa, I would think it important for over there.

It seems entirely plausible that there was a one-day seminar held somewhere in London in, say, 2004 for a number of top executives from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and several newspapers, and also the CEOs of a number of pubcos, and several senior politicians from the Labour and Conservative and Lib Dem parties, and maybe a couple of celebrities as well. Senior doctors like Sir Liam Donaldson or Sir Charles George would have addressed this select gathering, outlining the known dangers of tobacco smoking, and the newly discovered menace of secondhand smoke, and the medical imperative of denormalising smoking.

If I remember correctly something along these lines was the case back then.
Nevertheless, the anti-smoking brigade must be alarmed by the recent failures of enforcing a total smoking ban in the by Frank listed countries, whilst our current government is wringing their hands over lost tobacco revenue. (BBC 1, 7.3.11; Panorama - illegal tobacco trade)
Now we have been informed that there is something worse than smoking: smoking "fake" brands, sold illegally in the streets.
"Fake" brands have always been around - where are the statistics of smokers dying of e.g. lead poisoning?
This I added last night to Saturdays essay:

After reading this utter nonsense:


the suggestion "to shoot them TODAY" (Saturday, 5.3.11) appears somewhat appealing. As a person who would not like to be called a hypocrite, rather than turning the gun on me when finished, I would like to smoke myself to death, though.

It is beginning to look like the anti-smoking brigade found another section of "poor smoke victims" after the "the children, they are our future" babble has lost it's impact - THE POOR HELPLESS WOMEN.
Ah yeah.... RIGHT...... Well done to that desperate lot, CRUK, you have just kicked the women who insist on true equality (none of the Alice Schwartzer cr*p) right in the teeth!!!

and..... this ad is right underneath the article:

Woman quitting smoking
Champix could be provided in Canadian province

The quit-smoking medication Champix could be provided on the public health service in Ontario,....
Read more

Are there more insults on the way?

Re: Reality

"The quit-smoking medication Champix could be provided on the public health service"

In New Zealand, the scene changed very rapidly over the last year or so from:

Quit-smoking pill sparks health warning - NZ Herald 19 May 2009

"Health authorities have issued a new warning on the mental health risks of a quit-smoking pill introduced to New Zealand in 2007.

More than 3300 people were prescribed Champix, which contains the chemical varenicline, in the first year of its use in New Zealand.

There were 22 reports of people experiencing depression for the first time after taking Champix. Recurrence or worsening of existing depression, and other psychiatric and neurological symptoms, were also reported.

The majority of the new cases of depression were probably caused by the tablets, according to the Intensive Medicines Monitoring Programme, which collected the data from pharmacists and doctors. Three of these people also thought about suicide and two of these cases were resolved after stopping the medicine, says the programme's director, Dr Mira Harrison-Woolrych, in a Health Ministry newsletter to prescribers.

"Psychiatric reactions have emerged as a potential safety issue with varenicline and patients should be advised accordingly," she says.

Dr Stewart Jessamine, group manager of the ministry's Medsafe unit, said yesterday the monitoring programme's findings reflected international experience with Champix."


Anti-smoking drug concerns - NZ Herald News Aug 2010

"Ten deaths including a suicide have been tracked by health authorities monitoring an anti-smoking drug that is in line for massive public rollout with taxpayer funding.

The deaths were reported to a special monitoring unit tracking side-effects associated with Champix, a hugely successful drug used to quit smoking.

Government drug funder Pharmac has previously refused to subsidise Champix because of "safety concerns". But it has now agreed to help fund it in a massive drug deal with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

Anti-smoking advocates have welcomed Pharmac's backing, saying the benefits of the drugs outweigh the risks.

The deal will bring the price of the $200-a-month drug down to about $130 a month. It is estimated to be successful in up to half the cases in which people use it to try to stop smoking.

Champix will be available under tight restrictions after Pharmac agreed to take a package of four drugs from Pfizer. The other drugs were sought after by Pharmac, but it had previously been caught up on the price Pfizer demanded and its insistence it owned the patent to one of the drugs.

The package deal of drugs comes after Pharmac stepped aside from its concerns over Champix."


Anti-smoking MPs welcome drug funding - NZ Herald Oct 28, 2010

"MPs crusading to stamp out smoking have welcomed a move by government drug buying agency Pharmac to subsidise the drug Champix.
Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia said nicotine was one of the strongest addictions, and those who were ready to quit smoking needed to have as many options and as much support as possible without costs being prohibitive.
Labour associate health spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway said providing another option for those who want to quit by removing price barriers was a big step towards reducing tobacco consumption and smoking prevalence.

However, he said action also needed to be taken to create an environment that discouraged young people from starting smoking in the first place. "One of the first things we can do is remove the last bastion of tobacco advertising - retail displays of tobacco.""


So suddenly money talks. Pfizer wouldn't budge on price, except with a bulk deal with other drugs, and Pharmac capitulated. Shortly after that, massive advertising on TV for it.

They're only smokers after all; who cares if they get depressed or commit suicide!


All with constant media anti-smoking input:


Re: Reality

"All with constant media anti-smoking input:

I hadn't caught up with the smoking news in the last weeks; look at the "stinkers" and "state funded trolls" out in force in this (very rare - only in editorials & the odd opinion piece, newer press releases, unlike elsewhere) opportunity for "comments".

Editorial: Smoking ban outdoors could be step too far

Will have to write later - 1:33 am here now!


Talking of Separate Reality

This one has me at a loss, it's a suggestion that money from the MSA, paid by the denormalised via the Tobacco companies, should be paid as compensation to the victims of the previous officially sanctioned eugenicists.

Legislators ponder using tobacco money to help sterilization victims

"RALEIGH - The manufacture of Camels and Lucky Strikes kept tax dollars flowing in North Carolina during Big Tobacco's heyday.

Now legislators are asking if they should take long-protected cigarette company settlement money to settle a humbling chapter in the state's past — its sterilization of thousands of people against their will."

"The proposal, obtained by The Associated Press, also would set aside 10 percent of the state's annual settlement funds in 2012 and 2013 to give $20,000 apiece to thousands of mental-health patients and prisoners sterilized through a state program that ran from 1929 to 1974 and focused mainly on young women. That works out to $152 million if all 7,600 people sterilized or their descendants are paid.

The program's details were widely publicized in 2002 by a series of articles in the Winston-Salem Journal.

Democratic Rep. Larry Womble of Winston-Salem said remedying the sterilization is more important to him than protecting the tobacco funds.

"This is something that I would seriously consider," said Womble, who has tried unsuccessfully for years to get compensation for the sterilization victims. "That overrides anything that I can think of."

"But the top leaders of the House and the Senate have wondered aloud if taking money from Golden LEAF — its full name is the Golden Long-term Economic Advancement Foundation — makes sense."

"The foundation agreed in April to give $24 million in matching funds to help secure $76 million in federal stimulus to install 1,300 miles of fiber lines to improve high-speed broadband services to 69 underserved counties.

Without the Golden LEAF money, "probably the most significant impact in broadband infrastructure in the state's history would be in peril," said Joe Freddoso, chief executive of MCNC, the nonprofit managing the project."


I have just been to the NZ Herald and left a couple of comments. I see that they are still in the 'stinker' stage. Also, especially in the early comments (have we seen this before?), there was a marked predominance of what I assume to be ASH trolls, venting their hatred. But it isn't just hatred, is it? It is a wish to hurt, to persecute and ultimately to exterminate.

Thanks, Junican. The comments are moderated by default, so you won't see them immediately.

By the way, I made a typo above: "newer press releases" should have been "never press releases".

So the same outrageous press releases from ASH et al, or "studies" that appear worldwide, are presented with no opportunity for a counter-voice - unlike the UK papers I see links to from blogs like this, DP, VF, UBU, etc. which allow comments.

The NZ Herald, popularly known as "Granny Herald", is generally avowedly anti-smoking in editorials, along with the Otago Daily Times, Otago University being a hot-bed of anti-smoking zealot 'research', the home of George Thompson, Nick Wilson, et al.

Who are busy creating evidence that there are more fine particulates around outdoor smnoking areas than inside... no mention of possible confounders like traffic fumes!

Smoke testers call for outdoor ban 5:30 AM Monday Mar 7, 2011

Every press release like this just gets 'rubber stamped' & published.
Zero investigative journalism it seems on any smoking issue.

This apparently more lenient "could be a step too far" editorial appears to be just a foil to allow the trolls to 'confirm' that 'public opinion' says no, it isn't; let's go further...

- Ross

Hello, Frank --

Although I have not been commenting lately, I haven't missed a post!

A few quick observations:

1/ It doesn't seem as if the non-smokers care if smokers live or die, and if they did the latter, apparently, so much the better. If so, they should just let us smoke. Problem is, we'd probably live until we were 90! ;)

2/ Lots of concerns about Champix. One of them is if someone taking it has a serious car accident (because the drug has messed with their brain) and injures someone else. Champix is a potentially deadly drug (as is Zyban). Have you read the blog 'UBHDenton' about one woman's personal experiences with it in a Texas hospital? Frightening.

3/ On US smoking bans in places of entertainment. When we went there last year, the restaurant-bar that normally had patrons all night long (as well as queue to get in) now had empty tables. People eat or have a beer and go -- quickly.

4/ Also on the US -- there is one chain of hotels that still allows smoking in the rooms. As you would expect, they get a lot of repeat custom from smokers, most of whom are business travellers who stay there regularly. The place is really nice, immaculately clean and reasonably priced. Let's hope they can maintain their 'live and let live' stance.

Finally, I think it might have been on another of your posts where mandatory NHS check-ups could become a reality. This is straight out of the US HMO playbook. However, there is a difference between HMOs (or whatever they are called these days) being privately funded, and the NHS which is funded by tax. I thought we were so hard up for cash in the UK? So, how is there ample funding not only for ASH but extra cash for surgeries to perform these tests and recommend treatment for all and sundry? The costs will be enormous. Better health? I don't think so. It hasn't made a difference in the US, except that there are more irradiated Americans walking the world. ;) A case in point: mammograms have been a very big deal over there for decades -- selling fear and panic. I'm not saying breast cancer isn't serious, but could they be doing more harm than good?

Mention health to North Americans and they go squirrelly. For some reason, becoming unwell is their greatest fear. Has been so since the 1970s, fuelled largely by nurses in private conversation (I knew a lot of nurses there) banging on about 'the Big C', smoking and breast cancer.


Mention health to North Americans and they go squirrelly. For some reason, becoming unwell is their greatest fear.

Truer words were never spoken. Every conceivable form of media constantly bombards their brains with scary health stories sponsored in large part by Pig Pharma commercials. Mass hypochondria is in Pig Pharma's interest.

It drives you crazy. You want to spray paint the side of a big building with the uptrending life expectancy chart.

Another thing is the notion that they're somehow paying for the unwell. What on earth do they think the Master Settlement Agreement with the tobacco companies was all about? Recovering supposed medical costs by the states for treating smoking patients. The states won for christsakes! They got their money in spades. And more state and federal taxes were added on after the MSA. Is it ever enough?

Just watch NBC's Today show which is on 7 days a week. It is a non-stop Healthscare Lecture interspersed with Skinnerian reinforcement designer drug advertisements. It's pitiful.

I left one thing out there.

It is a non-stop Healthscare Lecture interspersed with Skinnerian reinforcement designer drug advertisements, interspersed with anti-smoking public service announcements.

Yes -- I had a very good friend who was quite left-wing and had a Ph.D. in Psychology. Even she warned me off of Skinner and RD Laing. She said they were both dangerous.

Thank you!!

Do you notice how many Americans with anti-smoking comments always write, 'Here I am working my ---- off for these deviant smokers'? They then say that smoking shouldn't be allowed in public housing. There was an article in a Vermont paper late last year about the subject (maybe Frank covered it), and the number of so-called decent middle-class taxpayers who wrote in about funding 'smokers living off the public!! It should be banned!!' was incredible. Insensitive. One desperate lady who wrote in said she had a psychological disorder and described how smoking was the only thing keeping her reasonably sane. The vitriol poured upon this poor woman was unbelievable. I give her a lot of credit for coming out and saying (I paraphrase), 'Hey, folks, I'm sorry, but a fag or two keeps me going and out of your hair'. People should be ashamed of what's going on. Remember the 'only-a-two-hour-smoking flight ban'? I remember it well. Now look where we are.

And that Master Settlement is another joke. Talk about scope creep, including SCHIP. I read today where they want to use the settlement to compensate victims of (or their families for) forced sterilisation programmes in one of the Southern states. That had nothing AT ALL to do with tobacco companies and everything to do with state legislation and federal eugenics experiments nearly a century ago. Great -- now eugenicists want to connect tobacco companies with eugenics? I don't think so. Something must be done. What, exactly, I don't know. But to connect the two is bang out of order.

As for Today, which I watched almost religiously since I was a kid (I clearly remember Barbara Walters, Hugh Downs, Peter Paul and Mary and John Glenn's orbit), it's Fox and Friends for me these days.

Gee ... how times have changed (for the worse).

... to IessaLB (something got a bit lost in translation). Thanks, Iessa!

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