No Such Thing As The Slippery Slope

Shutterstock/Canna Obscura

Remember when anti-smoking campaigners just wanted no smoking zones in restaurants? Or how smoking was banned on flights – for various reasons, the overriding one being “public health” – the biggest lie ever told?

Over the years, puritanical anti-smokers have insisted on the ever-increasing prohibition on where smokers can enjoy their legal habit. Culminating, of course, in the 2006/2007 nationwide smoking bans in all public places.

Naturally, as the graph shows, that didn’t have the substantial benefit that the scum-sucking knuckle draggers had clearly stated it would; it was all a “confidence trick” by the Puritans to get their way.

(H/T Christopher Snowdon)

We’ve had bans in public places – bars and restaurants and such, we’ve had the ban on smoking in company vehicles (which, by the way never actually stopped me, nor anyone else), the utterly pointless, illiberal and thoroughly unenforceable ban on smoking in cars with children where there has been a whopping one prosecution.

Of course, the Puritans made noises that the ban didn’t go far enough (natch) and that the ban should be extended to cover all vehicles. You’ll remember the debacle that was the Public Health (Wales) Bill that sought to include homes as part of it’s smoking ban extension (admittedly it was only if it was used as a workplace, which would be amusing to enforce for say, a freelance writer who spends all day at home in front of his PC).

Unsurprisingly, Scotland (who led the charge by implementing the smoking ban in 2006) is now looking to extend their smoking ban to private homes.  This, as Simon Clark notes, has been a secret ambition of ASH since day one. Of course, if tobacco control has an end goal in mind, it won’t do to announce it, instead, they use the “next logical step” argument.

After the implementation of the ban on smoking in cars, it was reported that:

Smoking could be banned in some new council homes in a bid to protect the health of children, a UK public health expert has said.

Under the proposals, tenants would be asked to sign an agreement not to light up inside their home.

President of the Faculty of Public Health, Prof John Middleton, says some councils and housing associations are already exploring the smoke-free housing idea.

You can’t say it wasn’t obvious. This is something they’ve been working towards, and as Frank Davis will remind us, the Puritans – particular the demented harridan Arnott – will gleefully state that “smokers will be exiled outdoors“.

What strikes me about this, and similar proposals in the US, is it is aimed at shared accommodation blocks (flats and terraced) and housing owned by the Local Authority. Meaning, as always, tobacco control is aiming squarely at the low hanging fruit. Punish the poor (who put them there in the first place?), then once the proles are finally compliant (which, after decades of social engineering, won’t take long), extend the ban (again).

Naturally, the premise for these proposals boils down to two items:

  • Pervasive second-hand smoke
  • The Children

The Children are the trojan horse that tobacco control wheels out whenever it wants to push a new proposal. Why bother using science (which is almost always junk) to support the proposals, when playing the emotional blackmail card works?

Second-hand smoke is utter bollocks:

No significant associations were found for current or former exposure to environmental tobacco smoke before or after adjusting for seven confounders and before or after excluding participants with pre-existing disease. No significant associations were found during the shorter follow up periods of 1960-5, 1966-72, 1973-85, and 1973-98.

Published by James Enstrom in 2003 – the largest study conducted to date on the impact of second-hand smoke on non-smokers in the home – the supposed link between second-hand smoke and the various diseases that are commonly attributed to it was thoroughly, and utterly debunked as “considerably weaker than generally believed”.

Yet, tobacco control insists that the second-hand smoke science is “settled” and that the debate is over. Naturally, this study was met with an outcry with this quote from Debs being rather telling:

“This could be very damaging as it will be used by industry lobbyists to argue against laws to ban smoking in public places and workplaces.”

Of course, why bother trying to debunk science when a simple smear job will do. Where have we seen that recently?

Some things never change, do they?

The second-hand smoke myth has become so widespread, that far too many believe it making it next to impossible to counter. It is, by far and away the core soundbite used by tobacco control, alongside “protecting the children”.

Ms Duffy said: “We know second hand smoke is a toxic substance and many people are experiencing smoke drift into where they are living. We would like to see a choice of smoke-free social housing.”

The move could lead to entire buildings, stairwells and communal garden areas becoming smoke-free zones, with tenants at risk of breaching agreements if they allow smokers to light up.

Ms Duffy added: “We would like people to have the choice to live in smoke free accommodation. At the moment there’s not an option.”

Ah, Sheila Duffy. The Scottish counterpart of Deb Arnott. Another batshit-crazy harridan. Here, she’s claiming that she wants to see a “choice of smoke-free social housing”; well in care-homes, wouldn’t it be up to the respective care-home provider as to whether the premises should be completely or partially smoke-free?

Instead, Duffy wants to impose smokefree rules on all care-homes. There’s nothing like providing choice is there?

“As a society, we still consider that legislation to protect children in their own home from this known hazard, this known carcinogen, would be a step too far and would infringe smokers’ rights.

“We need to look at ways to help smokers quit or, if that isn’t possible, to make sure they only smoke outside.”

“Why is it that in Scotland in 2017, a worker in a bar has had legal protection from being exposed to second-hand smoke for over a decade but a child in their own home has no equivalent protection from the same substance — and often at higher concentrations than we measured in bars in 2006?”

I always thought that these rules were meant to prevent The Children and non-smokers from seeing the filthy smokers? Instead, smokers are being forced outside where everybody can see them.

Proposals like this are obnoxious and should be rightly opposed by anyone with an ounce of common decency. Aside from the obvious, and blatant, disregard for people’s privacy, this is once again an attack on the marginalised and thoroughly disillusioned group in today’s society.

But of course, it’s all in the name of “health” isn’t it?

Fuck off.

(image credit Shutterstock/Canna Obscura)

7 thoughts on “No Such Thing As The Slippery Slope”

  1. Where do you think this will end? It is tempting to follow historical developments in ideological anti-smoking and assume that what is now considered extreme will become “normal business as usual” in the future (as it has happened in the past). However, there are practical limits to this analogy. There will come a point where there will be no other possible ban to enact, save perhaps forbidding it in private homes (the children) and in whole large demarcations. This is plausible in nut case areas like California or Singapore (or by tyrants like Duterte and Erdokan). In most parts of the world this extra prohibitionist step will require an enormous police effort to enforce it.

    Part of tobacco controllers and public health types are now supporting vaping and THR, partly on the grounds that extremely harsh anti-smoking interventions will push people to low risk products. Harassing and bullying smokers “for their own good”.

    This does not work. Authoritarian enforcement of “virtue” always backfires and brings back the “sin” in full force. I remember visiting the old Yugoslavia, where big leader Tito kept Serbian and Croatian nationalist in tight and forceful control (for their own good). As long as Tito lived, Serbs and Croatians complied, but this was external, virulent nationalism remained always latent. Once Tito died, it all exploded and the rest is history. Just replace “nationalism” with “smoking” and Tito with Tobacco Control. Even if TC manages to bully smokers to almost disappearance, once the tight leash looses smoking prevalence will rise again, like nationalism in the old Yugoslavia. A much better strategy would be to convince smokers to migrate to low risk products without coercion. This would work, but those of us proposing it are regarded as naive. We will see who is the naive one.

    1. I always enjoy your comments Roberto!

      Where do I think this will end? Well, for starters, there have been calls from some in Australia to actually take that final step and ban tobacco sales outright. That, by the way, received widespread media coverage via The Age which I link to in “Vaping as a Stick”.

      Will it ever happen? Probably not, there is – as you rightly point out – a growing number of THR friendly tobacco controllers and public health types, and among those are the ones that look at vaping (and naturally, by extension HnB products) as a means to an end.

      The thing is, and this is the point that consistently concerns me as many are either not seeing it, or don’t want to – once tobacco has been “eliminated” ~5% prevalence is what they are aiming for, what is to stop them from turning their attention to eliminating vaping (and HnB) products?

      Mission creep is a fundamental part of tobacco control, and public health, as has consistently been demonstrated over the years. Neither group can fully be trusted to fully endorse or encourage smokers to use reduced risk products. This, I think, is one of the key reasons why people that propose coercion free encouragement to switch to reduced risk products are looked at as naive fools.

  2. “Public places” is deliberately misleading. More accurate is, “all non-residential buildings and (later) secure mental hospitals.” It is illegal to smoke in a private members smoking club staffed only by volunteer smoking members.

    1. Although if the Puritans get their way it’ll read “all residential, and non-residential buildings, hospitals (secure and insecure), airports, public transport, private members-only clubs, any motor vehicle, most beaches and all parks”

  3. It has been clear, and even many anti-smoking Nazis admit, that their ultimate goal is to extinguish the tobacco industry, criminalize smokers, and impose total prohibition. They will do this incrementally.

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