Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Smoking: the new paedophilia

The Flying Rodent asks a very pertinent question...
Do you think that the government could announce an anti-smoking initiative so utterly cretinous that anyone would object?

If, say, a politician suggested that shopkeepers be legally required to deny the existence of tobacco three times before they can sell a pack of cigarettes, would the resultant bill face any opposition in Parliament? I wouldn't be surprised if any politician voting against it found themselves on the front of The Sun under the words Cancer MP Wants To Kill YOUR Children.

Any politician struggling for policy ideas is on a surefire winner with a crackdown on smokers. When the previous government all but promised the country that the ban on smoking in public places would cure death, the newspapers ate it up. Hell, every smoker I know believed it and repeated it with a straight face.

Thus it is with the Scottish Government, who have ensured their popularity throughout their first year by passing practically no legislation at all... But now the pundits have started to ask where the policies are, and as surely as the bus you've spent twenty minutes waiting for follows the click of the lighter, they've coughed up some shiny new anti-smoking proposals.

And—fuck me—they are really fucking stupid bastarding proposals. Do go and read the whole thing.

And drink's next, of course...

21 comments:

leg-iron said...

Alex Salmond should surely realise that the basis of his government's popularity in Scotland is that, by and large, he leaves us all alone? If he's going the same way as the last lot then he won't last long.


That last line in the article cracked me up. 'A lifetine addicted to cigarettes is a death sentence'.

So, if I spent my lifetime not smoking, I wouldn't ever die?

What planet are these people from?

I've heard of this 'tobacco license' before and it's a stupid idea. Kids buy booze even though they're supposed to show ID which they can't possibly have. The license is just more tax on tobacco. Something that's needed because of the reduction in smokers and hence reduction in revenue. This will reduce smoking, and revenue, further so they'll need a new tax later. I wouldn't want to be the last smoker in the UK.

Yes, it can kill me but take it away and I might kill you. Which would you prefer?

What's the scariest thing in an airport lounge? The slim chance that there's a terrorist or the much better chance that a group of 50 thugs on 100-a-day each have just been told that their plane is delayed by five hours, and they can't go anywhere for a smoke? I'd love to see someone go over and explain to them how it's all for their own good.

Soon the 'passive smoking' brigade will arrive. Well, listen to this. In Scotland, you can't smoke anywhere on a railway station, bus station or even at a bus stop.

If you walk to the end of the platform, nobody in sight, no covering at all, you can't smoke there.

If you stand at a bus stop consisting of one upright panel and a roof, in the pouring rain, nobody else there and nobody in sight, you have to step out into the rain to smoke.

Nobody could possibly be inconvenienced in either of those places. No whining fake-coughers would even see the smoker and no trace of smoke could possibly remain.

Yet, you can't smoke there.

Furter, you can't smoke indoors but if you drop a but outdoors there's a £50 fine for littering. Te posters telling you this show cigarette butts. You can chuck your paper cups and crisp packets around all you like, nobody cares, but stamp out a butt on the ground? Pounce!

I'm getting a greenhouse and growing my own.

Shug Niggurath said...

@leg-iron, couldn't agree more with the over-zealous ban happy attitude that these cunts have taken, but neither am I surprised about it.

Before the ban was even active in Scotland legislation was being tried to amend it to extend out of pubs and into their beer gardens.

Fuckers.

------------------

With interest though it's not just the SNP - The government plan was welcomed by opposition parties, although Labour public health spokesman Dr Richard Simpson warned some anti-smoking budgets were "flat lining", while the Tories' Jackson Carlaw said action to deter youngsters from taking up smoking should start with parents.

The Labour party are moaning that we aint spending enough money on any of this. Surfuckingprize surprize.

For some reason they cannot spend enough of my money yet I never have enough to spend.

haddock said...

some of the people interviewed before labours humiliation at Crewe stated smoking bans as a reason to vote conservative.... as if Dave doesn't like to control us too.

Chris Snowdon said...

The little-heard truth is that Labour has long-since promised the EU and the World Health Organisation that it will reduce the smoking rate to 21% by 2010. It's currently around 23% and the clock is ticking, hence these desperate measures. Labour's transformation into one of the world's most rabidly anti-smoking governments stems almost exclusively from this single arbitrary target. Rather makes a mockery of their claim that the smoking ban was done for the good of nonsmokers, doesn't it?

John Pickworth said...

If that make you angry, then wait till you read this...

Last week while we were all distracted by the Crewe and Nantwich thing; the BBC broadcast a small piece about these cigarette proposals. I only saw it once and have no idea who the spokesperson was but I nearly fell out of my chair at what he said:

The suited noteworthy stood outside a Scottish pub (with smokers on the pavement in the background). He claimed that such a scene was a 'living advertisment' which encouraged children to smoke. He further asserted that the graphic warnings on cigarette packets acted like a dare to rebelious teenagers and hence they should be hidden from view in the shops!

As I say, I've no idea who this chap was (I guess some Scottish politician) but I couldn't believe he said what he did with a straight face.

After all, wasn't it the Government that mandated cigarette packets should carry horrific warnings and that smokers shouldn't practise their evil behind closed doors?

I wish it had been repeated... it would have made a great YouTube video.

Chris Snowdon said...

"He claimed that such a scene was a 'living advertisment' which encouraged children to smoke."

Another unholy encounter between Mr Unintended Consequnces and Mr Next "Logical" Step is on the cards, I fancy.

How, if we ban tobacco advertisements, can we allow 'living advertisements'? It's just not on. And how - when we protect adults in pubs from secondhand smoke - can we callously allow children to be exposed to secondhand smoke in the home? Something must be done. And let's ban smoking in cars too. Won't someone please think of the children!?



(PS. Just got my Private Eye and Polly Toynbee's in Hackwatch. It's a belter.)

John A said...

Ash Scotland chief executive Sheila Duffy added: "At present, nearly a quarter of adults in Scotland die early from tobacco-related diseases."

Actually, ALL human deaths can be statistically related to tobacco, since heart failure and brain-structure problems have been so linked.

Which is why we have the famous quotation -
"There are lies, damned lies, and statistics."

wrinkled weasel said...

I am going to get grief for this but never mind. I wanted friends I would get a dog.

A lot of rage is periodically expended on the Devil's august blog about the rights of smokers to destroy their health. I am quite happy to let smokers smoke as long as am not forced to inhale it. Hell, if I was diagnosed with cancer, the first thing I would do is buy a packet of fags.

What is specious here is that these ranters are by and large articulate, middle class and able to think for themselves. These laws, though irritating to you all, are not for you, they are for them. By "them" I mean the 30 year-old grandmothers and their 14 year-old pregnant daughters who can be seen in any Scottish town, walking their babies with a fag in one hand and a can of Iron Bru in the other. (Occasionally this configuration alters to include a Gregg's pie).

This brings into play the libertarian antinomy of private freedom versus the cost of dealing with the effects of smoking on the individual and their offspring and the fact that their kids will grow up less healthy because of secondary smoking - a choice they did not make.

So. It's not about you. It's about the underclass and the need to give them some protection from themselves because I doubt that they are capable of understanding the options.

El Draque said...

The phrase "smoking-related diseases" is the weasel way of multiplying the claimed body-count. Smoking exacerbates asthma. I have asthma and am a non-smoker. If I die of my condition, I shall be classed as "died of a smoking-related illness". The body-count is a fraud and an outright lie.

leg-iron said...

Wrinkled weasel said 'I am quite happy to let smokers smoke as long as am not forced to inhale it.'

I still hear this mantra.

Where, in the UK, are you 'forced to inhale it'? In pubs? On a bus? Waiting for a train or bus? In a private club, even if that club were called 'the smoker's club for smokers only and only smokers can be members'? In any public venue or in any open space on a hospital's grounds? No. In none of these places can we malevolent beings inflict our pestilential presence on you.

You've won, for God's sake. if there's one thing worse than a bad loser, it's a bad winner. The only places anyone can smoke indoors in the UK are prisons and the House of Commons bars. In short, only criminals are allowed to smoke indoors in the UK.

Yes, you've won. but that's not enough, is it? Grind that heel, man, grind it and make sure there's a few poor urchins under there. Where do you think these 30-year-old grandmothers are going to get the money for the new Fag Licence? If they're banned from inside the pub, and banned from outside, can you work out what happens next? Or is that all part of the plan?

As for your assertion that the council chavs are so dim they can't look after themselves, well that's the sort of attitude that has put the labour party exactly where it is. Dim they may be, on average, but they survive, and they'll continue to survive. Mainly because, despite the best efforts of the education system, not all of them are dim.

Not every son of the council estate grows up to join the Burberry brigade. Those who better themselves, still have roots there and the estates don't forget that. They'll listen to their own long before they'll listen to some pampered politician.

Don't underestimate the council-estate population. They are not as dependent on the patronising Fat Controllers as many would like to think.

Nor do they take kindly to being shat on by the party that claims to represent them.

chuck said...

The rumour is their new drugs strategy(out in a few days) plans to stop methadone treatment in favour of abstinence.
If they honestly think this kind of strategy can beat heroin abuse then god knows what they plan for drinkers. There's a really socially conservative feel in Scotland right now (though still socialist to the core) i might have to move to England.

the a&e charge nurse said...

Chuck - if you are really worried about methadone prescriptions may I commend "Junk Medicine" by Theodore Dalrymple, a fascinating read in my view.

Dalrymple snorts, "on the contrary, the social pathology connected with heroin addiction has increased regardless of the services provided for addicts, and indeed it is more plausible to say that such services have resulted in an increase rather than a decrease in the problems to which they are ostensibly the solution" (p59).

Dalrymple notes, heroin 'hooks' no one, addiction arises only after tremendous effort.
Physical withdrawal from smack is not medically serious (a bit like the flu for a few days).
Neither does heroin drive people to crime (in the majority of cases), rather people of a criminal disposition tend to use heroin as well.

leg iron - the effects of passive smoking are greatly exaggerated, as you point out, but....

25% of 15 all year olds smoke, and the children of smokes are three times more likely than those from non-smoking households to develop a nicotine addiction.

The solipsistic bubble exists only in the mind of libertarians it seems ?

Ian_QT said...

@wrinkled weasel: They're not for you or "them", or even for DK. They are, as Chris Snowdon pointed out, for the paternalistic busybody cunts in the un-elected government that rules us.

wrinkled weasel said...

All right, all right, so what I said was a bit of a wind up. I am however, genuinely interested in what people think about "protecting" the interests of those perceived to be unable to protect themselves.

Leg Iron:
I had no say and no opinion about anti-smoking legislation. All it meant to me was that the McLaren F1 team looked a bit different - belatedly so because Bernie Ecclestone gave Tony Blair a million quid and surprisingly, Tobacco advertising got a temporary reprieve. My point was that I hated going to a concert and coming back reaking of stale smoke and wheezing. I never went to bars because I found the smoking an unwanted addition to my enjoyment of a drink. I am of course that arch hypocrite, a heavy smoker who gave up years ago.

All posters who somehow try to deny the science and the data on smoking are really not worth arguing with for they are fools.

ian_qt:
the Ec is a separate issue.The UK should leave it at once.

But to return to the chav on the estate. I agree, some can get out of the underclass and good luck to them, but there remains the question of protecting the weak and the young.

The choices are:
You can do nothing. The result of this is that you are storing up trouble, mostly, from the practical viewpoint, of cost to the Health Service (if you belief in free health care). As A&E says, smokers breed smokers.

You can ban tobacco.
Nope. Not viable and could not be enforced. Nor should it be.

You can regulate.
Why do smokers and libertarians run away from this? I mean, I am a libertarian too, but I don't want a freaked out, drugged up, knife carrying underclass roaming the streets, totally out of control.

I repeat, some sections of society are incapable of keeping to the golden rule, that is being responsible and not bothering others, like the drunk or drugged driver who kills pedestrians. Until somebody works out a way to deal with that, there are going to have to be regulations.

ps It'll be fat people next, gettting refused service in Tesco if they have too many carbohydrates in their baskets - about time too.

leg-iron said...

First off – I am a smoker, but I certainly would never encourage anyone to start. It’s bad for me and it’s seriously addictive. People smoking as few as two a week can’t give up!

I don’t deny that passive smoking is bad either – what I was saying in the last post is that the ‘I don’t want to be forced to breathe others’ smoke’ mantra is still going on despite the impossibility of that now. Unless roving gangs of vicious smokers are trapping people and blowing smoke at them?

Banning smoking in restaurants was always a good thing. Even smokers prefer a smoke-free meal. Banning it in pubs, well, okay, but all pubs? Why not let the publican choose depending on his clientele? Banning it in private clubs was stupid. Even if you form a smoker’s club where all staff and all members are smokers, it’s still illegal to smoke in there. That’s just nannying.

Children smoking is awful but they smoke more if you tell them not to. The same way they walk the pipe over the river, climb the forbidden tree or jump from the high steps. The more forbidden, the more attractive. All kids are the same in that respect.

Council estate kids are no different. They’re the same as they’ve always been – poor education, poor prospects, no money. They have machismo, and lots of it since that’s all they can call their own.

Tell them it’s dangerous to walk the edge of a flat roof and they’ll line up to try it. Tell them it’s dangerous to smoke and they’ll be first in line when the tobacconist opens. Tell them they can’t smoke at a bus stop and you’ll see what I see every day – they go out of their way to smoke there.

These new rules have been made up by some oaf who has ever actually been in contact with those he’s trying so hard to control. If you make the cigarettes more forbidden, by hiding them under the counter or putting them in plain packets, it just makes them look more contraband. Kids love that. If they have to borrow big brother’s smoking licence, they’ll love that too.

There’s no point telling them about the effects of smoking. Fifteen-year-olds are indestructible, they think. Cancer and emphysema are old people’s diseases. Kids have no concept of ageing. The scare tactics were never going to work. Put a sign over every tobacco counter saying ‘Buy this and die in pain’ and watch them flock to it.

It’s important to kids, and more so to council estate kids, to appear ‘hard’. Otherwise you’ll get the crap beaten out of you. Every day. Smoking has long been seen as ‘hard’. Now it’s also seen as breaking the rules which makes it even more ‘hard’.

Regulation will not turn this around. Peer pressure starts them smoking and with these kids – with people in general – peer pressure is the only thing that will stop them en masse.

Bring back TV ads for smoking, but instead of the Marlboro cowboy, have some girlie little nerds smoking. Actors dressed in shellsuits and Burberry can rip the piss out of them. Keep playing that ad.

The kids will make fun of each other for smoking. They’ll jeer at smokers in general. They’ll repeat snippets of the ad when they pass smokers outside pubs.

Remove those gloomy stop-smoking ads. They just make it seem that stopping will make you into a miserable sod. Replace them with ads that suggest only the tough can avoid fags. Smoking is for the weak, the worthless, the kid who gets his lunch money stolen every day. Make not-smoking ‘hard’.

Those appeal to the machismo in this population. Telling them they have to stop because Govvy-Nanny Knows Best is just going to anger them. One of the reasons I’m still smoking, I admit, is because I refuse to be a notch on some patronising anti-smoking campaigner’s stick.

It is possible to reduce the number of people smoking, but not by ordering them to do it. Persuasion is a far better method, one our government doesn’t understand.

Legislation is never going to stop people smoking. It’s always going to make it worse.


PS. I think they’ve already started on the fat people.

wrinkled weasel said...

leg-iron
Very sound stuff.
Of course you are right about 15 year-olds.

Chris Snowdon said...

Wrinkled Weasal:
The choices are: You can do nothing.

Bullseye first time. If people want to smoke, that's their look out - let's move on.

The result of this is that you are storing up trouble, mostly, from the practical viewpoint, of cost to the Health Service (if you belief in free health care).


Firstly, it's very far from being free. Secondly, it would be even less "free" if it weren't for tobacco taxes which pay for smoking related diseases many times over.

As A&E says, smokers breed smokers.


So what? Fat people breed fat people. Idiots breed idiots. Should we sterilise them? Take their kids into care?

You can ban tobacco.
Nope. Not viable and could not be enforced. Nor should it be.


Agreed. But that is the ultimate aim and it's no less enforceable that drug prohibition. Give it time.

You can regulate.
Why do smokers and libertarians run away from this?


In the case of smokers, I would guess it's because they smoke. In the case of libertarians, it's probably because they believe in leaving people the fuck alone unless they are being directly harmed by someone else's actions.

I mean, I am a libertarian too,

There's a "but" coming here isn't there?

but I don't want a freaked out, drugged up, knife carrying underclass roaming the streets, totally out of control.

Me too. I think wielding knives and taking drugs are already against the law though. We've moved on from talking about smoking, right? Your point is?

I repeat, some sections of society are incapable of keeping to the golden rule, that is being responsible and not bothering others, like the drunk or drugged driver who kills pedestrians.


Last time I checked there were laws against these things too.

Until somebody works out a way to deal with that, there are going to have to be regulations.


How about enforcing the laws we already have and leaving the law-abiding alone?

the a&e charge nurse said...

Chris Snowden - passive smoking is considered a significant risk in sudden infant death syndrome.

There are about 300 cots deaths each year - in 9 out of 10 cases the mother was found to be a smoker.
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-wellbeing/health-news/unlocking-the-secrets-of-cot-death-396844.html

Pure coincidence I hear you snort, but do you think these babies were 'directly harmed by someone else's actions' ?
Just a little food for thought.

Chris Snowdon said...

Let's be accurate here. 9 out of 10 women in this particular study were said to be smokers. This might look like nit-picking but let's be clear on this before we start saying that 270 out of 300 mother's bereaved by cot death are smokers. I'm pretty sure that if you rang up SIDS support groups you would find their members are not predominantly smokers. The three mothers of SIDS babies who most people would have heard of - Sally Clark, Anne Diamond and Angela Canning - were all nonsmokers.

The truth is that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome remains a mystery and all sorts of theories have been put forward. Only today the BBC reported that there is a link with bacterial infection: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7426082.stm

A number of studies have shown that suffocation is responsible for a large number of cases:

"A huge percentage of sudden infant deaths will be found to be asphyxia if a proper death scene investigation is done"

http://www.venturacountystar.com/news/2007/dec/16/many-babies-die-from-suffocation-not-sids-study/

"This study suggests that asphyxia plays a greater role in many sudden infant deaths than has been historically recognised."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2006/feb/27/medicalresearch.medicineandhealth

There is also, of course, the suspicion that a proportion of SIDS cases are due to infanticide.

The problem with the smoking theory is that SIDS is by no means unique to the children of smokers and it does not follow geographical and historical trends in smoking prevalence. It should, in theory, have peaked in the 1960s and 1970s when the female smoking rate was at its highest but it didn't. Similarly, there should be a high SIDS rate in places like Russia and Greece. In fact, the rate there is lower than in the UK and the US.

the a&e charge nurse said...

All perfectly valid points, Chris Snowden.

The jury is still out on a simple, or single explanation for SIDS.

But that doesn't alter the reservations many would have about translating the concept of those who are "directly harmed by someone else's actions" into meaningful social boundaries.

Sometimes we just can't be certain (due to lack of information) as in cases of cot death.

There is understandable ambivilance about whether or not 14 or 15yr olds (25% of whom are regular smokers) really have insight into the consequences of their feverish addiction - does this constitute harm to others ?

And then there are those who wish to legalise ALL drugs (myself included) what if a few colombians are bumped off during the production, processing or distribution of the old marching powder - does this in any way constitute harm to others ?

Chris Snowdon said...

All perfectly valid points yourself, A & E. And, by the way, I agree with you about Junk Medicine - a superb book. I particuarly enjoyed the bit where he forces himself to read Trainspotting - which he hates - and then verbally assaults a man who assumes that he is reading it for pleasure. He's wrong about Irvine Welch but he's(probably) right about 'the skag'.