frank_davis (frank_davis) wrote,

The Huge Grinning Elephant

Pete Robinson of The Publican has been reviewing the Smoking Ban - Three Years On. It's a great piece. I recommend reading it. He describes how well pubs were doing not so long ago. How they packed in the punters during the 2006 World Cup. And how the same punters haven't showed up for the 2010 World Cup.

What did pubs offer in 2006 that they cannot today?

Of course we all know the reason. What else could it be? Yet still, three years on, as an industry we refuse to accept the painful reality that we're collectively guilty of a terrible, catastrophic error of judgement.

In 2006 it was calculated that every pub in Britain directly contributed an average of £78,000 into the local economy, taking everything into account from employment to charity. Take the 10,000 pubs (CGA) that have closed so far and you have a £0.78 Billion black hole - every year - growing ever wider. And that's assuming no more closures when we're facing another 15,000 pubs disappearing over the next few years.

In these days of austerity and crippling national debt it borders on criminal insanity that we've allowed this to happen. It's positively certifiable that we soldier on in denial, as if nothing's happened, finding any excuse to explain away this carnage rather than recognise the huge, grinning, elephant in the room.

Why is the elephant grinning? Because the elephant knows that nobody's ever going to see her. The elephant could paint herself pink, put on a red dress, and dance around the room singing "Diamonds are a girl's best friend" with a supporting troupe of huge, grinning, dancing elephants, and still nobody would notice.

Over on Your Freedom yesterday, I counted about 7 suggestions to repeal or amend the smoking ban. Today I counted 60 such suggestions. Here are some of them. Repeal smoking ban in pubs, Lift the Ban on Smoking in Pubs, Overturn smoking ban: rescue pub trade & stop inciting smoker hatred., Repeal the public smoking ban, Save Our Culture, repeal the smoking ban. Another went a bit further: Cut all Public Funding to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) I spent about an hour voting all 60 of them to be "excellent". I didn't even get round to making my own suggestions.

The antis were present too, of course, but had managed to post a mere 5 counter-suggestions. Stop smoking anywhere and limit designated places, Ban Smoking in all public places, Increase smoking ban, Ban Drivers from Smoking at the wheel, 'Ban Smoking in all public outdoor eating areas and outside Pub entrances'. I went round all of these too, voting all 5 of them "poor".

So, just on the suggestions count, smokers were outnumbering antis 10 to 1. I bet Deborah Arnott is on the phone, demanding that any suggestions about repealing or amending the smoking ban be removed. Because they "send the wrong message". Or because children might see them. Or because just the word "smoke" is carcinogenic.

Will it make any difference? Nah! Of course it won't. It's just another dancing elephant. And it won't make any difference because antismoking is a religious cult There's nothing reasonable or rational or democratic about it. It doesn't really even make sense in public health terms either. What's 'healthy' about making smokers stand outside. What's 'healthy' about destroying communities? What's 'healthy' about crippling pubs and clubs, and driving many of them to the wall? Nor is it scientific. What's 'scientific' about a science in which nothing is accurately measured. Not the numbers of "smokers", nor the number of cigarettes they smoke, nor what any of them die of? Real science requires accurate measurements of things like length and mass and duration, and real scientists take great care to measure these as accurately as they possibly can. Even before you get to all the mathematics, and statistics, and probabilities, and relative risks, antismoking 'science' doesn't even begin to hack it as real science.

It's all garbage. And it's garbage all the way back to its Nazi origins. Because antismoking 'science' was born and raised in Nazi Germany. It had the personal patronage of Adolf Hitler, who was an advocate of the Big Lie. Antismoking science is a big, Nazi lie. The Nazis themselves were defeated 65 years ago. But this particular Big Lie of theirs has lived on, thanks to the vast multitudes of Nazi doctors all over the world, peddling a Nazi "lifestyle medicine" which is absolutely guaranteed to demonise and marginalise entire social groups. First Jews and Gypsies and homosexuals. But then smokers and drinkers and fat people. And then who knows what other defenceless social groups? It's a cancer. Antismoking organisations are a cancer upon society.

The idea that secondhand tobacco smoke is harmful is just a lie. And so also is the idea that smoking causes lung cancer. It's equally baseless. It's simply been repeated over and over again. In Reader's Digest, in Vanity Fair, in Vogue and Cosmopolitan. It's an ubiquitous message. It's expressed not as a hypothesis, but a fact. An incontrovertible fact.

Try saying to anybody: "I don't think smoking causes lung cancer." They'll look at you as if you're mad. They'll glance at each other and snigger. Because everybody knows that smoking causes lung cancer. In fact, it's far more certainly known than that the earth goes round the sun, and that the earth is a sphere and not a flat plain supported on the backs of elephants standing on top of a giant turtle.

Over the past five years or so during which I've been engaged with this matter, I've had the sense that the propagandised public has been slowly waking up to what's being done to them. I don't think there would have been a 10 to 1 presence of smokers against antismokers 5 years ago. And I seem to be coming across a lot more people who're saying things like, "I hate tobacco smoke. I really do. If I see someone smoking a cigarette a mile away, I have to go and shower. But, having said that, I think that if people are sufficiently lunatic to want to smoke cigarettes in each other's company, they should be allowed to do so." I've got no figures to back this up. It's just my sense of the way things are going.

And I have the sense that the idea - that the smoking ban may not have been quite such a good thing after all - is beginning to slowly filter through into the corridors of power. Very, very slowly.

But it has an uphill battle, because smoking and smoking bans aren't normal politics. Your MP will listen to you when you complain about the state of the roads, or the schools, or the water supply. He (or she) will dutifully write it all down. But if you complain to them about the smoking ban, a knowing smile will spread over their face. Because, in the case of smoking, they know better than you do. Because they've read all those Reader's Digests, and Daily Mails, and Cosmopolitans.

I think that, in the end, the truth comes out. It's not for me to arrogantly assert that I know the truth about all these things, because I don't. All I have are my own best guesses. I can only ever say what I think.

And reference that other great modern religion - of Global Warming - , which is equally backed up with scientific-looking tables and graphs. Public belief in all that is in free fall, it seems. Since the Climategate scandal, people have stopped believing climate scientists. There's been a loss of faith. And faith is a religious quality. The loss of faith starts with the laity (the poor buggers on the ground), and gradually extends upwards through the priests to the bishops.

In about 20 years time, it'll be the established wisdom that smoking bans are 'counter-productive'. And all concerned will say that they always knew that this was true, but didn't say so because they a) had jobs that depended on them telling serial lies, or b) didn't recognise the extent of the problem, or c) were just too fucking lazy to do anything about what was going on in front of their noses. It'll be a seamless transition from one perceived reality to another. All concerned will keep their perks and their pensions. And all concerned will appear on TV every day, glibly articulating the latest accepted truth, whatever it happens to be.

UPDATE 4 July 2010: There now appear to be something like 100 or more suggestions on Your Freedom for amending or repealing the smoking ban. Moderators have now taken to freezing new suggestions, so that people can't vote on them or comment on them. There's no good reason for them to do that. Clearly some of the moderators are antismokers who don't want smokers to have a say. So I've made my own suggestion:

Ban moderators who freeze new calls to ban the smoking ban
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.