WE'RE NOT QUITTING
Edited by the Beleaguered Consumer
The #Octabber campaign intends to show the Government and others that not all tobacco consumers want to quit. Most are content with their hobby - but angry and dismayed at the unprecedented attack on their legitimate and chosen adult lifestyles. As October continues, we will update new statements from smokers who want the Government to STOP wasting their tax on silly gimmicks and to START taking their views into consideration.
31st OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 31
Today is the last day of October and the end of the #Octabber campaign. It was a tongue in cheek counter campaign to mirror the 28 days of Stoptober and was supposed to end there, but smokers wanted a voice for the whole month so it continued until the very last day of the month. It aimed to show that most tobacco consumers enjoy smoking, they don't want to quit but they do want the Nanny State nagging to stop. They also want a reason to return to paying UK tax on tobacco. Until their hard earned cash stops funding the anti-smoker industry's quit gimmicks, and attacks on consumer choice, and starts funding direct patient care and unbiased research, then they'll keep fighting in whatever way they can. Today's consumers John and Tom bring the Tabbers' Tales series to a close.
John worked in the pub trade until 2007 which changed life completely both at work and at play. He knows the industry well and as an expert, he knows that it's slow and painful death began with the fatal blow caused by the blanket smoking ban which forced smokers to find alternatives and create the smoky-drinky. The badly thought out piece of legislation also ruined careers, killed favourite pubs, and obliterated many social lives.
I worked in the pub industry for a good few years and in quite a few roles, from barman to eventually relief manager. The hours could be long and the opportunities to get out for a beer myself, quite rare. On those rare occasions, the whole family often met up for a few scoops. We used to go to the White Lion in Darwen.
It had a bar area, two lounge rooms and a pool room. We would meet up as a family, me and my wife, my mum and dad and my sister and her husband and spend the evening in the pool room - winner stays on.
We were all smokers apart from my dad, but he had no objections. He married a smoker and he's never subscribed to the second hand smoke nonsense. Smoking was allowed throughout the White Lion and Mick, the landlord, had a sign on the entrance to say so.
They were good times before the smoking ban came into effect. After the ban though, all the fun was lost. Five of us popping out for a fag when we pleased was quite messy. All of us popping out together meant my dad would also join us so as not to be sat in the pub alone. He hated the ban as much as we did. During the winter we staggered our fag breaks so there was always at least two of us in the pub with him.
After a while my mum's knees started to go. She's had them both replaced now but back then she couldn't move around very well. She gave up the pool in favour of sitting, but found it very difficult to keep getting up and going outside for a fag.
Eventually my sister and her fellah bought a pool table and dart board and put them in their back room so we could go to their house instead. Not long after, we also bought a pool table and dartboard and my folks bought a wii. That gave us three smoker friendly houses we could go to and have just as much fun as we used to in the pub. Had there been no smoking ban, we would never have thought of doing these things.
Within a year of the ban coming into effect we had abandoned our local for the smokey drinkey. Within two years, the White Lion had closed. It's open again now for about the third time but it's just a chav and kid infested hole.
I also saw the decline of another venue and this was much sadder than our local. When we had a Monday night free we would go to the local club for the bingo. We were by far the youngest people there. All the old dears knew each other and all had their own seats. They were very friendly and welcoming. After the ban there was no chance of them going outside for a fag when they wanted, not just because of their age but because it was a bingo night and you don't just pop out for a fag on a whim. They just stopped going.
I don't know what they are all doing now but I do know that going to this club was the only social life many of them had.
The ban affected my working life aswell. By then, myself and The Mrs were working as relief managers for a local brewery who had a large tenanted estate and a number of managed houses. We worked in the managed sector.
We saw what was coming and bugged out in time. We now work for a marketing company. Shortly after we left, every one of the managed pubs had been sold on and many of them turned into other types of property. The tenants were handing in their keys at a rate of one per day. People talk about the recession and cheap supermarket booze but I was working in the trade at the time and I know that this was a direct result of the ban, nothing else.
We attended a training seminar when the ban had become law but before it was due to be enforced. We were told how this was going to be great for pubs and how many non smokers who never used pubs before would start coming in, This never happened but the smokers (and many non smokers) stayed away in droves.
We were also told that our brewery had set aside three million pounds for training and implementation of the ban and for building outside smoking areas. We were also told that Carlsberg Tetley, a much bigger brewery, has set aside ten times this amount. When I asked why we were not clubbing all this money together to fight the ban I was told it was not in our best interest. I bet they are kicking themselves now.
So the destruction of the pub industry did not just affect our social lives, it affected our careers too. We were lucky as we both left at the right time and got new jobs (which we like) fairly easily. I wonder if everyone else was so lucky? 6000 pubs closed is a lot of bar, kitchen, cleaning and entertainment staff out of work.
Not only that, the landlords of many of these pubs will have lived on site so lost their homes as well as their businesses.
All to save bar staff from the illusory threat of second hand smoke. Well they are safe now, they are on the dole.
Life is enhanced by smoking, says today's second Tabber who grew up in a non smoking household but was always drawn to becoming a smoker one day. He wonders why cigarettes are now such a tool of polarity and manipulation and why labels are slapped on those who enjoy them. It's not that he believes they're "good" for you or "bad" for you but rather that truth is buried under the weight of war from both sides. As a person who just wants to get on with life, he rarely speaks out on issues that concern him, but recognising that tobacco control is out of control has caused him to speak up during the #Octabber campaign.
Sometimes, I remember what my real purpose is in this world. It is to defy conventional thinking, standards and norms at all costs. I don't trust in authority or people who think they know. In my estimation, a belief I've held since long before I ever knew I held beliefs, 'experts' exist only to be mocked and lampooned for thinking that I want to clap along with them or parade around in one of their approved sets of padding and protective headgear. It isn't, of course, the case that I've any brilliance to compensate for such a vacuum. I don't. I make shit up, figure it out on the fly. I like that. That is the point of life - my life, anyway. I think I've always viewed this earth as little more than a vast playground. I don't want to follow. I don't want to lead. I just want to be chaotic and enjoy figuring things out for myself. I want to live a genuine life.
Growing up, I cant remember a moment in my life where I wasn't completely smitten with the smell of cigarettes, observing the little rituals of lighting one up, watching the smoke curl off the lit end of one. I can't remember a moment where it didn't seem like the whole point - the one consolation prize - of being an adult. Speaking from experience, I can honestly say, I think it is. I knew I would smoke at the first possible chance I could get. I was the kid who, left unattended, would rifle through any ashtray nearby and begin putting spent cigarette butts in my mouth - even as a toddler.
It's a bit strange to have had this life long fascination with smoking. Aside from a brief period when my father smoked a pipe, I grew up in a completely non-smoking house. The only people in my family who smoked, that I ever knew of, was my grandfather, "Papa", and my aunt, the only other left-hander in the family. She eventually taught me to tie my shoes. They were the two people in my life who seemingly understood me in ways other adults did not. Though, maybe I was just fascinated with them more than all the others.
I smoked my first cigarette in Batavia, Illinois in 1975 - a mere stones throw away from the West entry of Fermilab. I was eight years old, about to enter third grade. It was compliments of my girlfriend at the time - a sandy-brown haired girl named Hillary, who had freckles and was the same age. I've long since lost contact, but I'll never forget her. She stole a couple of Alpine (menthols) from her parents and we sat atop a giant mound of dirt, two doors away from mine, behind a house being constructed.
I never coughed. I absolutely loved it immediately. It was better than I could have possibly imagined. I didn't smoke for a number of years after that, though I never put it out of my mind. It was never a matter of if I'd do it again, merely when.
It was never a 'cool' thing to me. I never did it from peer pressure. I never did it to fit in with any group, I never felt 'hooked' and incapable of leaving it. It's never been that to me. I've always found it to be just sort of amazingly blissful. Utterly comforting. Lovely. The perfect companion to thinking and dreaming and wishing. I wish I could describe the allure to people who don't partake. I have grown leery of them, to be honest. I wonder if they understand what it means to desire anything.
At the same moment, I fell into the 'jock' crowd, played football, wrestled, no one I knew in my peer group smoked. They would have probably been horrified to ever know that I did or that I liked it. I can't remember ever smoking during my high school years. Once I began college, though, the fractured life of working a job many miles away and living in a fraternity with absolutely no relevance to me, I found cigarettes all over again. I would always take the long way to and from work, drive around the lake, listening to music, smoking (mostly) Camels, not wanting to ever get to where I was supposed to be going. Maybe it was then, I realized exactly how much I just liked the interim more than anything - realizing it's always been the only place I've ever really lived or found the most contentment.
I transferred to another college and eventually got into architecture school. In a short while, I fell into the routine of wandering off again, living on the fringe between worlds. It wasn't in the studio or with professors that anything happened for me on projects, never in groups. I found myself working on and sorting out ideas under a row of poplar trees on the border between the mobile home park I lived in and a wheat field, smoking cigarettes, staring at the stars in the late hours of the night and early morning. It felt like life should be, the one place on earth I felt a sense of being complete.
I only ever dabbled with cigarettes until I was about 35. It was a 2 week experiment, still going on to this day; I quit going to the gym and started cooking and realized the allure of smoking was a part of me that was never going to go away. I started smoking for 'real' about that time. I suppose that's strange to 'start' so late, to realize that it was something I just wanted to do, was a part of who I am, and how I will always see myself, and that I'd rather be around other people who smoke too.
I sometimes think it's strange and silly what the world has become - life, culture, the ability to freely be who you are, partake in the things that please you and make you complete, to realize that these days they all come with a label, a scarlet letter, often. It puzzles me that cigarettes have become such a tool of polarity and manipulation. Honestly, I love smoking. I think there's beauty in enjoying something so much. It's a sin to deny oneself of things that make you happy.
Of course, you can't just say that anymore. You can't admit that the sight of a woman smoking a cigarette, enjoying it, can be sexy and beautiful. You can't admit that it adds an element of quality or contentment to your life and you don't ever want to quit, or that just seeing other people smoking makes you smile a little bit. You can't because you're only ever meant to see it as the riskiest and most lethal of activities ever devised. I've always been skeptical of the risks. Simple things like the wording on warning labels, claiming that 'Smoking Causes Lung Cancer'. It's a lie. Throwing a match into a puddle of gasoline 'causes' a fire ball to erupt - always. Smoking most certainly does not 'cause' lung cancer. Could it contribute to it? Maybe - though shockingly, I've found that it's never actually done that in any laboratory experiments . Most smokers never get lung cancer, and non-smokers can and do. As I've become more curious and read more about the risks, it's amazing to find what distortions there are, what people blindly believe as fact, the ever growing mountain of lies and misinformation that spews. Even more amazing is discovering there are benefits to smoking, aside from the happiness it brings.
I've never stood up much or spoken out because I've never known quite what to say. Maybe I've always taken it as a given that I don't blend into groups well or have much of a desire to be a part of one. I'm speaking up now, mostly because of the fetishistic zeal the 'experts' all have in trying to rid the world of smoking, or anything that resembles it, no matter that the price is our individuality and freedom. So much the better, actually, for them. Maybe that is the real intention they have. Certainly, it's not about health or honestly educating people about risks. I think I've realized that it doesn't matter what I say, only that I say something. Our strength isn't in cohesion - it's in the chaos of all the individual voices and stories and motivations that brought us to the same place. It's easy to be polite - too polite - and get caught up thinking maybe it's OK to give in a little. I think lately, I've given in too much, been too polite, sought to please others for too long. I'm tired of it, and I'm not going to play along so nice anymore.
As Kurt Cobain said, 'I'd rather be hated for who I am, instead of loved for something I'm not'. You can be anything you want, and none of it matters or carries a label, or fully defines you. Other people may try to pin that all on you, but really, it's their own weakness, not yours.
30th OCTOBER 2013 - Day 30
UPDATE 17.42pm, 30.10.13
#Octabber ends tomorrow so today gets an update to ensure all contributors are heard. Blassie writes about the first anti-smoker Christopher Columbus and says the zealots against tobacco will have no more success in stamping it out today than the tyrannical coloniser did then. Smokers are here to stay. They're not quitting.
Brace yourself, for you're about to read a positive treatise on smoking that's not produced by an ex-smoker, a non-smoker, a guy who lost his aunt to lung cancer or a socially acceptable occasional cigar-smoking man. No dear friends I'm a current and long term aficionado of the golden leaf who has not one iota of guilt nor shame for being one. I'm glad I smoke.
I'm also glad that during October of the year 1492, a crewman who accompanied Christopher Columbus on his epic voyage to the new world had the curiosity and gumption to partake of the offerings of the Mayans living on the island of Cuba. By doing so he introduced the Old World to the mystical and cerebral joys of the regal tobacco plant The genie was out of the bottle. It seems old Captain Chris himself might have been the original antismoker or, at the very least, the first tobacco skeptic - he jettisoned the gift. And there's nothing wrong with that, smoking is an acquired taste.
I always strategically positioned myself downwind of my aunt's Kool's as a wee kid because I liked the peppery aroma. But the first time I sneaked a toke for myself with my fellow rebel friends without a cause, I coughed like a misfiring engine and my eyes turned a fire red (thanks Jimi). So I suppose that made me a preliminary Columbian tobacco skeptic myself. As I continued sneaking around, puffing away and acting like a grown-up-before-my-time, I didn't inhale for the first year and a half. When I finally got the hang of it I became happily hooked.
I'm also hooked on sex (STD's!), Jeff Beck guitar solos (what about Jimi !), surfing (drowning!), char-broiled double cheese burgers and phonics. So what. I'm hooked on everything I find pleasurable. I always thought that was the idea.
Another thing I'm hooked on is a visceral resistance to uninvited interlopers who purport to know what's best for me taking it upon themselves to affect how I live my life. I've got news for them, they may as well just try and catch the wind (thanks Donovan). And I think I pretty well speak for the vast majority of the men and women of this world who like to smoke (and generally do as they please) when I say this.
The dream of a smoke-free world that Doctor God (C. Everett Koop) first publicly enunciated just a month past the start date of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four is just that - a silly unworkable, undoable dream. He and all of his fellow Hans Brinkers should remove their fingers from the dike and take Don Quixote and his windmills with them on the way out. Smoking isn't going away anytime soon. You might say the genie is permanently out of the bottle and I'm glad that it is.
No, I won't be quitting this October, especially since that's crewman Rodrigo de Jerez month. Nor will I be quitting in September nor November.
No siree Bob, and Stanton and Deborah and all the rest of your miserable lot - don't hold your breath in anticipation.
Scratch that. Do hold your breath. I can't think of a more fitting end to the antismoking, Nanny State, Elfin Safety Twist craze than by asphyxiation.
Junican cannot tell you his real name because he commits the heinous crime of being a gardener. In this "progressive" freedom loving Britain, he must hide behind a pseudonym because his hobby is growing tobacco. This isn't a crime in itself but picking the leaves and smoking them is because the anti-smoker industry wants every single penny it can squeeze out of smokers. To admit being a grower means you invite the Government jackboots to make up a figure they claim you owe in tax and they will collect. Unlike those who grow other home produce, like potatoes and tomatoes (which also contain nicotine) smokers are the only ones to be bullied into handing over cash for their hard graft in the garden. Junican also tells how he has researched the scam behind the second hand smoke issue since the ban of 2007 and found no case heard anywhere in any court that has ever stood up to scrutiny.
It was around 2005 that I became significantly aware of plans to ban smoking in "public" places. Like most people, I assumed that phrase to mean places like libraries and town halls. I promptly put the matter to the back of my mind - and then came the Health Bill 2006. Little was mentioned about it in the press apart from snippets. It was only then that I really became aware that the definition of ‘a public place’ was any place that the public might frequent, even if it included private property.
I was aware that private clubs and wet-led pubs were to be exempted but these exemptions were removed at the very last minute and then I began to see the hidden picture. Suddenly it became clear that the whole business of the Health Bill ban was the product of a long pre-planned hidden programme of persecution. The anti-smoker industry doesn't even mention the alleged health of bar workers in defending the ban now. Instead they talk about how useful it was in turning smokers into lepers - "Denormalisation" is their official word for it.
That's when I began to do some research and came across blogs and other pieces of information on the internet which had spoken of these devious plans to treat tobacco consumers as second class citizens long before they became a reality to most ordinary folk.
I was so angry at the deception, I began to look for ways to protest. First, I determined to avoid buying tobacco products in this country like the plague. Why should I pay for my own persecution? I have paid tax on the product for a lifetime and I'm still waiting for any of that money back in healthcare so I've paid my dues, three times over already, and there is still some left to treat the anti-smokers too, and some left over to feed gimmicks we don't want or need like Stoptober.
Most of my tobacco purchases have been in Spain, but I have also been to Prague and Belgium - all are very tolerant countries that treat smokers equally and with respect so they deserve the tax that I deny the UK. It only throws it at the self-interest academics, uncharitable "charities" and salaried quangos which all work towards smoker exclusion now, and criminalisation of tobacco consumers in future to create the world the smokerphobics want that has no smokers in it.
Secondly, I started to investigate growing my own plants. It turned out that tobacco plants grow well in this country. Seeds are easy to germinate indoors and pot on indoors until around mid-May when they can be planted out. Drying and curing the leaves can be tricky, but there are methods which work. Further, it is perfectly legal to buy whole, cured leaf. Some non smokers are also really angry at how their smoker friends are treated that they have taken to growing tobacco too to help them in the aim to stop funding the tobacco control industry which uses their tax to attack them.
Finally, I made it my business to investigate the ‘science’ which is supposed to back up second hand smoke hysteria. There is none. Everything is propaganda. I found out about the McTear versus Imperial Tobacco Case in Scotland where Tobacco Control had the perfect opportunity to bring to court their evidence for actual smoking danger, which they failed completely to do. The judge rejected their claims totally. Not one single case of alleged harm caused by smokers has ever succeeded in the courts.
And so, knowing what we know about activities of the charlatans, we fight on against fascism and tyranny because make no mistake, that is what drives the modern anti-smoker industry. It's not about health.
29th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 29
Tobacco consumers have been denied a voice for so long that now they've got one, they intend to make the most of it. They don't want #Octabber to end after 28 days so we've extended the campaign until the end of October. Today's Tabber busts the myth of youth smoking, and parental influence in the choice to smoke, and says that smoking in the 21st century has become more attractive to rebels both young and old - and bans just make it more fun.
I was brought up with parents that smoked, along with all my aunts and uncles. Then there was the fact that my home was a pub. Yes, l too am a smoker and no doubt the anti-smoking brigade will put that down to my upbringing and environment. Except there is one problem with that … I didn’t start smoking until l was 36. By that time, the pub had long gone and both my parents hadn’t smoked since l was 16.
I started smoking when l was going through a messy divorce. Exactly where and when l couldn’t tell you but l can tell you this … I liked it and still do. Please don’t try and tell me it’s an "addiction." I know all about addiction … I lived in the time of ‘sex, drugs and rock n roll’ but willpower enabled me to dump the more destructive and expensive lifestyles because I chose to give up the crap. If I ever choose to quit smoking, it would be easy in comparison so perhaps the hysterical anti-smokers could explain, reasonably, how tobacco is more addictive than cocaine?
Whilst I’m on about lifestyle I think I should add that l like Jack Daniels too. When I party I can drink JD till the cows come home … and then some. After I’ve finished partying I’ll not touch a drop till the next party … whether that be days, weeks or months ahead. I don’t drink any other forms of alcohol either.
Nothing is forced upon me, it’s my choice, and my life. In my profession as Casino Consultant, alcohol is always available … along with previous vices and their associates. I choose not to do some of the things I used to do … it’s as simple as that.
What I do choose to do is smoke and that’s because I enjoy it. To me, that is what it is all about … freedom of choice. I choose to smoke, others choose not to. Earlier on I spoke about living in a pub. My grandmother gave her customers that choice. She had a room that was for non-smokers but the fact of the matter was no-one used it! Now what would be so hard that they can’t give us tobacco consumers a smoking room? The room wouldn't go unused.
I came home last week through Schipol Airport, Amsterdam and lo and behold the Irish pub in the airport has a smoking room! Are times changing? One has to hope so. Also, did you know that despite the smoking ban in the USA, nearly all the casinos are exempt? This goes for many other countries too - except for the smokerphobic UK of course.
As for this Stoptember, Stoptober or whatever it is … they can shove it where the sun don’t shine along with the smoking ban. I choose to smoke and take great pleasure in smoking where I am not ‘allowed’ to.
Suffice to say, in reality and not only in spite of bans but because of them being enforced without consultation with guests, no one takes a blind bit of notice in hotels, chalets, apartments, or ships' cabins and continue to smoke because they have paid for the privilege of a home from home.
Now, one wonders what happens to all the anti-smokers when they see such as myself breaking the smoking ban? I have yet to have anyone come up to me and tell me to stop. Perhaps smoking makes one invisible?
If smoking is breaking the law, so be it. I quite like being outside the law. Being an Outlaw is fun … and makes smoking so much more pleasurable. Why would l want to quit?
28th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 28
One of the most offensive insults invented by the anti-smoker industry is that smokers "stink." However, smell is subjective and it isn't against the law, yet, to love the smell of smoke, especially when it brings back memories of happier days when Britain was a free country and proud of its culture of tolerance.
They say that a smell is one of, if not the most, important memory triggers in one's life. How often have we forgotten about an event completely, and then walk past newly mown grass for instance and a memory from your childhood comes flooding back to fill your brain with maybe one certain day all those years ago, when we were free from the responsibilities and anxieties of adulthood, and could roll carelessly and freely down that grassy hill?
We all have a particular smell that we like and do not like. I hate the smell of rubber for instance, whereas other people seem to love it, but for me, one of my favourite smells, that always brings back fond memories of my childhood and my loving parents, is the beautiful fresh aroma of the burning tobacco leaf.
My mother smoked from time to time, but my father always smoked; everything from a pipe (I even made him a pipe rack in woodwork classes at school) to cigarettes, to cigars. I knew I was home, in a beautiful and loving environment when I smelt that beautiful smell.
I have smoked since I was in my teens, and I can honestly say that I have never had a day's illness in my life, apart from a cold; I don't even have a doctor.
I love smoking, I love the smell, I love the act of lighting up, even more so with a cigar, as it has this almost magical ritual about it. I also love the freedom to be able to do what I want, to live my life the way I want - not to be constantly told what to do and what not to do. I attribute my continuing good health to my way of life. I eat meat - I eat fried foods - I have plenty of salt in my food - I have two large sugars in my coffee - I drink wine every single day of the week, and I finish the day with a large brandy - all accompanied of course by a cigarette or two and a weekend cigar.
In my opinion, there is nothing in life, which is 100% cut and dried. What is good for one person may not be necessarily good for another, and vice-versa. It is impossible to say with any conviction that this product or that product will cause someone to contract cancer - if it were that simple, a cure would have been found years ago.
As for the second-hand smoke myth, I am dumbfounded that this is still used by people such as the medical profession, who should know better. There has never been any substantial proof of this, and as we all know, there never will be - so why was a law allowed to be passed on the strength of such outright piffle?
Instead of wasting millions of tax-payers money in conducting poll after poll on should cigarette packs be plain - should smoking be banned in cars - should smoking be banned on beaches, etc., etc., I even saw an article the other day, stating that a recent poll found conclusive evidence that if you smoke you would not be able to swim!
Unbelievable isn't it? But the terrible truth is that the madness is real, and our money is being emptied down the drain and into the pockets of such fraudulent organisations such as Action on Smoking and Health which is more of a political lobby group on behalf of smokerphobics than it is a "charity" as there is nothing "charitable" about it.
I want to see more money being put into genuine health care and genuine research, not into finding out the best method of bullying and controlling the electorate.
27th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 27
Anti-smoker scaremongering just doesn't add up to those who have smoked a lifetime or their friends who have not witnessed first hand the human disasters from smoking as exaggerated by the anti-smoker industry - such as one in two smokers will die. Today's Tabber questions the validity of the uglification of cigarette packets.
I have smoked at least 20 cigarettes a day for 40 years and am healthier than most of my peers, taking no medication and now at the point where I don't go to the doctor as I am tired of the quit lectures.
I am particularly outraged by the "plain Packs" which have been forced upon us. If any other product made such definitive statements as "Smoking Kills' or "Smoking Causes Lung Cancer", they would be pilloried for false advertising.
I have been surveying smoking friends and strangers I meet. I start with the question: What do you expect would happen if you jumped off the platform in front of an oncoming train? Of course death is a VERY high probability in this scenario.
Then I ask how long have you smoked? How many smokers would you have known over your life? How many people do you know who HAVE died from Lung Cancer? Like me they know none or perhaps one. Certainly not the certainty that our packet promotions state. When the penny drops, I see the light or realisation flash in their eyes. My own good health is enough proof for me.
In the treatment of cancer, it is suggested that positive thinking is helpful and if so this constant fear-mongering may in fact contribute to poor health.
Now we hear from the biased, or lazy, media that "Everyone Knows" that smoking is "bad for you" and yet it buries any mention of the positive effect of nicotine in treating some illnesses including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
The fact that a true cause of cancer is still NOT FOUND, is buried under anti-smokers' rhetoric and Nanny State control. Pharmaceutical companies marketing ineffective quit therapies, now take aim e-cigs, which for those who do want to quit, or perhaps enjoy their hobby in non-smoking areas such as offices, public transport or wherever the brainwashed sheeple fear the "dreaded" second hand smoke.
I will not only not quit, but I will become a militant pro-smoker. If I am attacked, I will fight back.
26th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 26
Two for the price of one Tabber today as the call for tobacco consumers to take part in this campaign to tell the Govt that we're fed up of being attacked with our own tax money, have brought in more than than the 28 we needed to mirror the gimmick that is Stoptober, so the #Octabber campaign will see the whole month out and not just part of it.
Peter is an artist from the UK who wonders why those who enjoy smoking are not respected more given the huge amount of tax they pay and why they are being marginalised in a country once famous for it's attitude to tolerance for all.
I started smoking more than 50 years ago when I was at school and it was a bit naughty but that was the point.
Smoking was an important part of my life especially around Christmas time when all my uncles and my grandfather were smoking their Christmas cigars. I loved the smell of those cigars and pipes. It was a comforting friendly atmosphere.
My family like many others had come through the second world war and were very happy and were always ready to help someone in need. They knew the true meaning of community. A cigarette and a cuppa was a great help in times of stress. I remember the packs of Player's Weights, a family favourite. Tobacco was always comforting and sociable.
I am not keen on the current judgemental uncaring society. I do not wish to "quit". Smoking to me is a symbol of comfort, caring and tolerance. I smoke to relax and I am told by "experts" who have never met me that I just think I am relaxed when I am sure I know my own body and mind better than they do.
I do not wish to live forever but I do want to enjoy my life, and it is my life, and help as many others as possible to enjoy their lives. We get one go at life and it is our duty to put as much as we can into that life, having fun, sharing and helping others to have good lives too.
As a smoker I get a lot of fresh air as I am now a criminal if I smoke inside a "public" place that only includes a "public" that agree with anti-smoker laws. I have noticed that the big pharmaceutical companies have muscled in since and are investing in anti-smoker publicity to push tobacco consumers towards their quit products.
They are also making a lot of money out of anti depressants which is an anti social way of coping with the stresses of life, partly created by government policies which are making many people unhappy in all sorts of ways. Whether people smoke or not is at the bottom of most of the public's priority issues.
I wonder why there is so much pressure from governments to stop people smoking? I'm sure it is not just a health issue as they don't invest so much into other real health issues and tobacco revenue is generally around £12bn a year which is a useful amount in anyone's language and still much more than they claim is spent on healthcare on tobacco consumers.
Where will that cash come from if people stop smoking? It's bound to be shared out on other goods and those currently carried by a smoker's tax will have to dig deep into their own pockets to cover the loss. And what do politicians have to gain from stopping people from smoking? I'm sure it is not just to make people more healthy and to live for ever. If it were, then the focus would be about so much more than smoking and kids hearts hospitals and cancer wards would not have been affected by the recent cuts.
I am enjoying smoking during this and every October along with my caring and non judgemental friends who both smoke and don't smoke. No amount of anti-smoker propaganda can ever change the view of decent people who know the real meaning to what makes people feel happy and included - and it isn't forcing them to quit, calling them names, or making laws against them.
Mihnea comes from Romania and knows it is EU ideology enforcing the extremism of blanket bans on all nation states and so he is gritting his teeth in preparation at the loss of a freedom he currently enjoys in a country that once turned its back on tyranny and dictatorship.
I started smoking about 10 years ago when I was still in high school. Back then it was kinda cool to smoke without your parents knowing, around the school fence. You were considered something of a rebel for doing it.
My mom also smokes, has for at least 30 years now, but she didn’t allow me to do it, not until I was 18. In retrospective smoking might have been a starter for critical thinking and social interactions. It was also a better way to calm myself after all those hours of boredom, counting the hours ‘till recess when we could go out and light one up.
Things have changed since then, but not that much as opposed to other countries. There are still a lot of people smoking in Romania, but the government is now adopting laws against smoking, at the EU’s regulations. It does not affect me that much now, but I suppose that in the future, smoking will be banned from public spaces, which is appalling.
I do realise that some people find this hobby distasteful, but that doesn’t mean that they have to ban smokers from all public places such as all bars and restaurants. It’s the rule of the minority in spite of the majority - and most people really don't care if they're around smokers, especially when technology is used to make the air inside cleaner than thet air outside.
And the thing that annoys me the most is that the anti-smokers' ideas about smoking come from cheap propaganda and the fact that they assume that smokers are drug addicts. I’m not forced to smoke, I don't have to smoke,I love to smoke. I no longer light one up because I want be cool, or because I’m a rebel. I just love to smoke, especially my fave brand.
Of course, that's not what it used to be because the anti-smoker industry modified all cigarettes so that if you leave them around they will extinguish themselves, which I find stupid. It involves putting yet more chemicals into organic tobacco which cause more harm as a result.
But with everything they throw at smokers, I will not quit. I will continue to smoke at least a pack a day. I will continue smoking while listening to a good song. I will continue to smoke after good sex (or bad). I will continue to smoke while writing my next novel. I will continue smoking while I enjoy my morning coffee. I will continue … well, you get the picture.
I'm not quitting.
25th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 25
Young people of a rebellious nature can find risk taking exciting and beating them up for it, either metaphorically or physically, just strengthens their resolve to kick back at the system. Today's Tabber was given a public caning for secret smoking as a kid but it didn't make him want to quit and neither does making him socially disabled as an adult. More than ever smoking is a blow in the fight to preserve freedom and individuality.
My 'story' as a smoker was pretty uneventful until 2007. I started at 12 years old. It wasn't the alluring designs on any of the packets that tempted me to do so either. It was the group of schoolkids on the school playing field I was sitting with during dinner times who did.
One day they bet me that I couldn't hold the smoke in my lungs without coughing, to begin with, and then they they just offered me a drag on the cigarette that was being secretly passed around us all. We did get caught once, when on a wet afternoon we had taken our 'secret society' to the gardening shed. A teacher walked in and discovered us in the smoke filled hut. It was possibly the amount of smoke inside it that had attracted his attention in the first place. A small window was open, perhaps, and we hadn't noticed.
I don't know how we were found out but we all got a public caning on the playground from the headmaster (himself a smoker) after we had been lined up to walk back into school at the end of the dinner-time break.
I enjoyed smoking from the word go, others didn't. I have never had health issues because of my chosen hobby. Up until the present day, before the rise of the you will do what we say is good for you brigade, I have never found it a social 'disability'.
However, nowadays it's a different story because lunatics (who would rather blame a mouthful of cigarette smoke than point the finger at the megatons of diesel fumes and radioactive fall out from nuclear meltdowns and the 2058 nuclear bombs that have been detonated during the last 50 years that contaminate the air we breathe today) have taken over the asylum.
In the present day I AM forced to be disabled socially because of a choice to smoke made decades ago. I cant go out to the pub anymore, or enjoy being in a restaurant or nightclub of choice, because these lackies of profit seeking pharmaceutical industry funding have usurped rational thought on smoking with an irrational fear of it, using false statistics and downright spoken and written lies about the consequences of being anywhere near cigarette smoke or even a smoker who is not smoking.
I now suffer greatly from social exclusion because I refuse to 'comply with their health advice' (their words). But - my father and my grandfather placed their lives on the line, and gave it up in one of those cases, fighting to ensure that I, and their grandchildren, would never have to bow down to the dictatorial commands of others.
So, I keep on smoking in order not to even appear as if I am doing that. I consider every cigarette I smoke now as an act of defiance - a blow for freedom if you like. My cigarette has now become a metaphorical 'middle finger' that I stick up and light up to those health fascists who demand that we all concur and 'comply' with THEIR ideas and notions of what is an acceptable thing to do or not.
When it comes to smoking I smoke how I think - I roll my own!
24th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 24
The blanket smoking ban preceded a sudden and massive decline in the pub and hospitality industry which killed a way of life for some people, and led to the closure of favourite pubs for others. Today's Tabber recalls a time when life was normal, people knew they wouldn't live forever, and anti-smoker extremism hadn't taken root.
I first started smoking in primary school when I was eight or nine years old, of course at that age I wasn't really serious about it I was just 'pushing the envelope' I think, when I was inevitably caught the teachers quite sensibly made a huge joke of it and embarrassed me into mending my ways!
At the then legal age of 16, when I first started work in the family business, I chose to take up smoking again. My father and my uncle, who were my work colleagues both smoked so it just seemed natural for me to smoke as well.
The family firm used to repair printing machines, great big ones! And as this was back in the eighties when tobacco control wasn't really taken all that seriously, and certainly wasn't the industry it has become.
You could smoke where you liked and funnily enough although our biggest customer had a no smoking policy, this wasn't actually a hardship as when faced with a seemingly baffling machine fault we would decamp outside for a smoke and quite often, stepping away from the problem for a bit meant all would soon become clear, the issue would be solved, and time was actually saved in the long run.
Back then the highlight of the day was a pint after work when we would, if we were lucky, be sitting outside the pub waiting for it to open and many an early evening would be spent over a beer and a smoke discussing the days events and plans for the following day. We spent a large chunk of our earnings in that pub, it's closed now.
Times changed and I had left the family business by the time that the smoking ban was enforced. If I hadn't left then I would have still been using the pub every night after work and I may have paid more attention when this insidious little law crept, literally, onto the statute books. The Big Con Trick as the extremist anti-smoker organisation ASH called it at the time.
I still find it almost impossible to believe a public house could be non-smoking, Samuel Pepys described pubs as the “Heart of England” who would have thought that they would ever succumb to the massive intolerance of a ban on a legitimate pastime enjoyed by a good three quarters of their customers, yes three quarters. Smokers were big pub users as evidenced by the fact that since the smoking ban the proper English pub has all but disappeared.
I used to foolishly believe that most people were basically decent enough and that every body was trying to make their own sense of life until the smoking ban came in and then I realised that I'd been wasting my time because professional naggers had obviously already worked out the answer to life and possibly every other question in the known universe. They had become some sort of omnipotent God sitting in judgement on the rest of us.
Who would have thought that all you had to do was hate smoking and you would become a superhuman immortal, eh!
And no I won’t be giving up smoking, my life, my choice, STOPTOBER you can sit on it and swivel. To the Government, I say STOP wasting my tax on gimmicks.
23rd OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 23
Anti-smokerism has driven a wedge between many families but one young man in conflict with his parents managed to change their attitude towards his lifestyle choice. He educated them about Junk Science and they became more tolerant which turned his home from a battle ground to a tension free zone.
Image from here
"I started smoking out of, well, love. Teenage love. I liked a girl that smoked, so I wanted to be close to her and share things with her. Tobacco was perfect for sharing and talking and being together.
And that was all it took. I did not pay any attention to brands, or bright colours in packs, or ads in the media. She smoked and I liked her, that’s it. In fact, I can’t even remember what brand she smoked, but I remember her and her intense blue eyes.
My mother was somewhat against smoking, but in a motherly “put on a sweater, it’s cold” kind of way.
At first her hectoring was gentle but as the campaigners against tobacco increased their aggressiveness, years later she would sometimes admonish: “Smart people don’t smoke”, probably parroting some antismoker ad.
But by then I was very much into science and I always checked to see if my scientific heroes smoked or not. So I would reply in rebellion: “Einstein smoked.” I knew she knew Einstein and like most people she considered him a very smart person.
Nevertheless she grew more insistent over the years, so finally I told her that I would quit on my 35th birthday. I wasn’t at war then anyway and it seemed like a nice round figure for a distant future. After all, it was well known that everyone gets bored and quits at some point, right?
But when I became 35 , I saw no reason to quit smoking because I still very much enjoyed it.
“Maybe later on”, I conceded, even though I'd made my choice. But by then my mother had become really, really insistent on the matter and it became a battle of wills. My father had quit smoking and so had my older sister.
“It’s just you and your little sister now. You have to quit, people don’t smoke anymore,” she said.
Everytime I visited, I got the same sermon. But I was not at war yet and I would just smile and tell her not to worry so much.
After a few years more, my father joined in, with very aggressive words. Every time I visited it was like this: “Look at all those cigarette butts! You are killing yourself. They are gonna slice your throat, the doctors, you’ll see. And what about me and your mother? It hurts our throats when you smoke at home and it takes days to get rid of the smell!” And on an on. But it did not bother me.
“You are exaggerating a bit, don’t you think?” I would reply with a smile. I was still not at war.
You see, I was not aware there was a war. I had become disenchanted with the media years earlier, and had not read a newspaper, watched tv or listened to radio in ages. But there was a war against me, against people who smoked. My parents strange behaviour was just the distant echo of a war raging over the horizon. And I was totally unaware.
But a couple of years later, the pub became a front that was quickly lost. A full blanket smoking ban was instituted in all bars and restaurants, no exception whatsoever. I was suddenly flung into the war. Suddenly, I was an addict, an outcast and a murderer. They said I killed people with my tobacco.
Shocked, I did my research. I concluded my parents had been fed lies and I was going to prove it to them. I exposed my research to my family and concluded the speech with strong words:
“I will never quit smoking and much less will I ever be FORCED into quitting. Any word against my smoking will be met with a strong and angry reply, for there seems to be no other way. You know now that what you have been told against smoking is false, but if you prefer me not to smoke in your house, I will respect your wishes. I will visit less though. And I WILL NOT QUIT SMOKING. EVER. The fight against the smoking ban is now a big part of my life and will be so till the ban is amended. I will never go to a bar or a restaurant, not for birthdays, not for weddings, nothing, till owners can choose if smoking is allowed or not. Only then will I consider a non smoking venue. No one will be spared from these rules. Not friends, not even family.”
Because now, it’s war. I am a rebel now. I will not comply.I will not submit.
I am glad to report, however, that my parents have not again said a word against smoking. They support my cause and still allow smoking in their house. Their throats don’t hurt anymore because they never did, it was all anti tobacco rhetoric messing with their minds - and my father says he will smoke a rather large, rather expensive Cuban cigar for his 80th birthday."
22nd OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 22
The war on smokers has made some lose patience with charities, such as John, today's Tabber, who ensures he does not donate to those that invest in persecution of tobacco consumers. Here he describes an altercation he had with one cancer charity chugger in town.
After spending some of my hard earned cash on a trip to town with the wife the other morning, I decided to stand outside for a e-smoke while she went into the bank. As I stood there, my ears were assaulted by a guy 'playing' a didgeridoo that sounded like an elephant giving birth on top of hot coals.
I skedaddled a few yards away to be free of the sound when I was approached by a total stranger trying to get me to donate to some cancer 'charity' that I had never heard of.
"Anything to do with Cancer Research UK mate?" I said.
"No but we are similar to them," the young guy with a clipboard replied.
"Interesting," I thought for a moment. "So your CEO is on quarter of a million quid a year then?"
"Eh?" came the response.
"How much of the donations go to paying staff? It's important for me to know these things.
"I don't really know," he said.
Some idea would have been good because I do like to know that my donations will go direct to caring for people with cancer - or actual progressive research that investigates how we can really beat cancer without just beating up people who smoke.
"I want to know how much of my pounds will ever see the light of day on research," I eventually said and he looked rather confused at me.
"Not a great amount I suppose," he eventually replied.
"So you want me to pay their wages then?" It was at this point he realised I had a cigarette in my hand.
"Those are bad for your health."
"Yes I know."
"And do you realise how many people the smoke of your cigarette kills each year?"
This was not his best approach but perhaps the easiest form of attack.
With a heavy heart I replied : "My dear fellow. You are a young man whom I gather from our discussion is most obviously naive. Anyone who would accost people in the street requesting funding for a 'charity' that those you approach have never heard of, and who you cannot tell what percentage of that donation goes towards any form of research, and is so prejudicially clued up as to wrongly indicate that 90% water vapor kills hundreds of thousands of people a year, from a distance of several miles whilst standing on the verge of a road with cars passing pumping out nasties far in access of my little puff of smoke, must be on the verge of a mental break down."
I followed that with my best hard man stare and leaned towards him and whispered "Now go away or you will feel the full force of my second hand smoke light sabre."
The wife of course was less than impressed but I enjoyed it.
21st OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 21
Today's Tabber was once just someone who smoked because he loved tobacco. He had no interest in the smoking issue and no reason to distrust much of what was spouted by public health, even if he chose to ignore it. But then the politicisation of tobacco, and lifestyle control using the disputed issue of second hand smoke, changed his stance to one of an active member of the public in search of answers to why people were being misled.
Ah, the pleasures of tobacco! A gift from Mother Earth to an undeserving mankind. There is no other recreational pastime that can compare. The time is never wrong. It is the only small extravagance that is both stimulant and relaxant simultaneously. Smoking tobacco increases concentration and endurance, stimulates creativity, engenders social interaction, aids digestion, calms frayed nerves, provides companionship, aids relaxation and reflection, and is of course famously the perfect post-coital indulgence. What else can provide all these things and more?
I have enjoyed tobacco for 50 years now, and I never tire of its contribution to my enjoyment of life. In many ways I feel sorry for those people who don’t seem to be able to understand what a wonderful product tobacco is. And unfortunately, many of those people who lack the ability to appreciate the pleasures of tobacco (for whatever reason, sometimes through no fault of their own) turn to ‘the dark side’, and make it their life’s aim to persecute and punish those of whom they have no understanding, and whose pleasures they themselves cannot enjoy.
It’s a sad and unfortunate side of human nature which we have seen repeated through history, whether it concerns religion, race, colour or lifestyle. If it’s ‘different’, then there will always be those who want to destroy it, because they can’t imagine that anyone’s opinion/religion/lifestyle (other than their own) is valid.
Currently, we disturbingly have a situation where the bigotry of a minority has conjoined with the business aspirations of a global industry (Big Pharma), and has resulted in a few fanatical zealots with massive funding (and hand-in-hand with money comes power and influence) which has elevated their status far beyond the ‘disgruntled, joyless and spiteful’ minority that they in reality are. And their proclaimed objective is to deny the pleasures of tobacco to all.
They don’t like it, so nobody can have it.
For most of my life, smoking was unremarkable and unremarked on. It was just something that people did if they wanted to. And the vast majority of people who didn’t want to smoke themselves were completely tolerant of those who enjoyed it. They hardly even noticed it, it was so ubiquitous. But you will always find fanatical zealots in any society, and of course there have always been those with the mindset that demands that we all don sackcloth and ashes, eschew all pleasures in life and live like ascetics. For the most part, these fanatics are ignored by the sensible majority and do no harm, but there seem to be periods in history when for some unaccountable reason they manage to grab the reins of power. They rise to ascendency for a brief period, during which they manage to inflict horrible damage to the economy and to society. Their tenure lasts as long as it takes for normal people, who tend to get swept up by their propaganda machine, to realise that they’ve been gulled by a fanatical and mendacious fringe group. We then have to go through an adjustment period where we try to repair the damage they’ve done. In many cases that takes years, as we have witnessed with America’s disastrous flirtation with prohibition.
Like many here, I never really questioned the claims of ‘Public Health’ with regards the damage caused by smoking to ones health. I heard it, accepted it and then ignored it. My body; my life; my choice. It was only when the ‘Health Lobby’ (read grossly overfunded single-issue NGOs) started on the ‘Second-Hand Smoke’ malarkey that I started to pay attention. It made no sense to me. I could fathom no logic behind the claims. So when the subject came up on a forum on which I was active some years back, and the anti-smokers there started showing their true colours, I became very defensive. I was, apart from another two posters, a lone voice. I was being attacked with “oh, this research has shown; and that research is conclusive – the science is settled…” (as well as the usual “smokers stink” type of comment), and I didn’t really have any real answers apart from what my commonsense told me. So I started digging for information, and that led me to blogs like those of Frank Davis, Leg Iron, Dick Puddlecote, Chris Snowdon and many others. This in turn led me to a great deal of information on the subject, which is not actually very easy to find when you don’t know what, exactly, you’re looking for.
The more I learned from my studies of the subject, the angrier I became about what was being foisted on us. Just who the hell do these people think they are that they feel they can dictate how people should live? What right do they have to interfere in my private life?
The lies, the statistical chicanery, the misinformation, the encouragement of outright bigotry, the drive to marginalise, stigmatise and disenfranchise decent people on account of their lifestyle choices; all in an attempt to socially engineer them into the ‘approved’ model. All these things have moved me from a position of (more or less) neutrality to an attitude of militancy. I now actively seek out newspaper stories around the globe where further restrictions on smokers are being lauded so that I can join battle against the propagandists and bigots. I try to disabuse other readers of the veracity of the article they have just read, and to provide links to the reality of the situation, to lead them away from the blatant propaganda being sold to them as ‘truth’. I collar people in social scenarios and inform them of the real reasons behind the bans. I argue and discredit anti-smoker rhetoric wherever I find it. I (metaphorically) shout from the rooftops that I AM A SMOKER, AND I’M NOT ASHAMED OF IT! And why the hell should I be?
And most of all, I continue to smoke. And enjoy it. And I have absolutely no desire nor intention to deny myself the pleasures of smoking, least of all at the behest of a coterie of bigoted, spiteful, lying misanthropes, aka the Tobacco Control Industry.
I’m in my mid 60s now, and the idea of kowtowing to a bunch of wet-behind-the-ears, self-righteous neo-puritan ideologues is anathema to me.
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” -- C S Lewis
Stoptober? They can take ‘stoptober’ and shove it up their collective arses. Sideways, preferably.
20th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 20
Tobacco consumers used to be seen as part of the community but now they are labelled eyesores by anti-smoker evangelists who don't like the look of them. This evolution was engineered with the aid of junk science to cause prejudice and discrimination, argues today's Tabber who just wants to be left alone in peace to enjoy what is a legal product of choice.
I started smoking around the then legal age of sixteen. It's a very long time ago and the reason I started is a bit hazy, probably because some of my friends smoked. Back in those days cigarettes were, in real terms, much cheaper than now. I'd ask for 'Ten No. 6 please' on a Friday evening and those lasted me a whole week.
My mother smoked Kensitas (remember those?) and collected the coupons in the packets which enabled her to exchange them for all sorts of useless domestic gadgets. 'Just pop out and get me twenty Kensitas please Ian' was common. It was as socially easy for the corner shop to sell them to me as it was a chocolate bar.
It wasn't considered antisocial to smoke, in fact it was absolutely fine. No-one faked a cough as they walked by, no-one had the self importance to interrupt your quiet 'by yourself time' by coming up to you and verbally judging you. In fact it was a common courtesy to offer a cigarette to a stranger you had struck up a conversation with in a café.
My word, how times have changed. I am now on the 'wrong' side of 60 and still enjoy a cigarette except that now I am aware that I may be harassed at any time by some anti-smoking evangelist and told, in no uncertain terms, the 'error' of my ways. I am subjected to anti-smoking propaganda each and every day.
When non smokers get a cough (around October) people show sympathy – if I get a cough I am told that it's my own fault and I should stop smoking!
I am not one of those 'inconsiderate smokers' the antis complain about, you know the ones they say that light up when people are eating a meal right next to them, or sitting up-wind of a non-smoker, one of those 'foul smokers' who litter the footpath with thousands of tip ends (mind you, it would be difficult at times to spot a biodegradable tip end amongst all the other non biodegradable litter dropped by perfectly 'decent' non smoking people.)
When I'm sat at an outside table at a coffee house and an adult with a child comes and sits right next to me when there are plenty of other free tables, why should I suffer a moral lecture? They have many choices of where to be but choose to sit where they can be bothered by me and then moan about it. I should not need to move because of their stupidity. This has happened on many an occasion and I've been told that little 'Jamie' or 'Sarah' shouldn't have to suffer seeing me smoke. SEEING – Yes. It is no longer acceptable for those good non-smoking evangelists to even see a legal consumer enjoying a legal product.
The lies told by Government and big pharma have been well documented so I won't repeat them here but, because of the black art of disinformation by these institutions, for me, lighting up a cigarette has now become a political act asserting my right to smoke rather than just a pleasurable thing to do. A real shame as I have no intention of stopping as I can actually, despite the above, still enjoy a cigarette.
If they don't like seeing smokers outside, then they should do the decent thing and allow the hospitality industry to give their customers inside choice in both smoking and non smoking establishments.
19th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 19
Today's Tabber has found life in another EU country far more tolerant, considerate and inclusive than in icy cold Britain. She volunteers her time to fight against the blanket smoking ban, and stigmatisation of consumers, because she believes that anti-smokerism is prejudicial and socially divisive. Her special birthday tale tells the story of how a return to civilisation and moral values is a better way to create healthy societies.
Today is my 65th birthday. I am a smoker and of sound mind and body and I choose not to quit. I refuse to feel denormalised because I enjoy my tabs so I'm buggered if I'm going to stop smoking during October - or any other time of year.
For the past 10 years I've been living in Greece, returning home to England for two or three months each year. I love both countries, but the contrast in terms of smoking is extraordinary. The complete indoor smoking ban started in England in July 2007 and in Greece in December 2010. The regulations are almost identical. The only difference is the Greek fines are more punitive, and the reactions of tobacco consumers and their friends have been very different.
In England, 20% of adults enjoy smoking, but rarely admit it. In Greece 40% of the population is out loud and proud. Even the nice Greek Census lady cheerfully lit a cigarette in our home, after politely asking permission. Our European cousins are not forced to hang their heads in shame in the naughty corner like the British consumer.
I had to visit a group of clients in South West Kent in June 2007, and again in September of that year. I found that old Kent pubs were delightful, and busy. Returning that autumn I was horrified to find that all of them were almost empty because of the smoking ban. My favourite local in Yorkshire was also a shadow of its former self.
In contrast, the ban in Greece lasted about a fortnight. The police smoke, the health workers smoke, the politicians smoke, the tax collectors smoke and smokerphobia doesn't exist. Lip service to the law was paid by removing ashtrays from the tables and stacking them neatly on the bar. Despite the law forbidding smoking in all public places, unlike Britain, Greek staff still retain a sense of humanity and concern for their tobacco consuming clientèle too. They actually know the meaning of and practice hospitality.
In a Greek town centre bar last year, we'd ordered drinks and then noticed there was no-one smoking and no visible ashtrays. I walked outside to smoke. Within nanoseconds a distressed barmaid rushed outside after me asking if I was ill. I explained how awful it was for smokers at home and how we had been conditioned to accept we weren't welcome in some places but she told me it was too cold for me to stand outside.
"Please sit, Madam," She said as she took my arm and solicitously guided me inside. "You are very welcome here. I will bring you an ashtray."
She even apologised for her rudeness in not noticing me straight away.
Within a few minutes about half the customers were smoking - we'd just hit a lull when we arrived. Of course now, three years on, the ashtrays have returned to all the tables in Greece. No lip service is paid to a bad law and no one objects.
Athens airport has a clean and bright well-ventilated indoor smoking room with seating and tables with chrome ashtrays, and is airconditioned or heated according to the time of year. Manchester airport has a disgusting outdoor mesh cage with little protection from the rain, a filthy concrete floor, no seating or heating, and a seldom-emptied or cleaned filthy metal trough running round two sides for an ashtray.
It reminded me of something that the founding father of European Smokers' Rights Gian Turci once said about a trip he made back in the 1990s when denormalisation began. He complained that an American smoking room in an airport was disgusting and asked why it was never cleaned.
"The (smoking) room was put up after many complaints from smokers and foreign airlines, but I was told not to maintain it because the people should see the filth smokers create," he was told.
Anyone who doubts that legitimate high tax paying British consumers are being personally and individually attacked, should read this from Action On Smoking and Health's Amanda Sandford. Such language is unacceptable. It encourages fear and division in communities which once got along in harmony.
She said : "Pubs are forcing vapours to go outside and mingle with smokers and that's the last people they should be hanging out with ..."
It was after the war on the industry moved to the individual, unprotected consumer and began to get nasty that I joined the British smokers' rights group Freedom2Choose. I now volunteer as a member of its small but hard-working committee. I've found many good friends and like-minded people there - some of whom don't consume tobacco but share a love of freedom in common with those who love their tabs, and a sense that social inclusion is a vital part of a healthy society.
I'm often asked why I spend so much of my time on this issue when the ban doesn't really effect me as a smoker treated equally in another EU country. I've always despised tyranny and injustice. I was brought up to think of it as my civic duty to help others under the jackboot. But I'm also white-hot seething with anger about how the ban was imposed and how people who refuse to conform are being treated.
It's more about the lack of compassion, about the destruction of social and community life, and about the prostitution of science and research. It's complete propaganda manipulation and when analysed, found to be largely rubbish. We know the effect on the individual consumer is far less harmful than claimed, the alleged "harm" caused by second hand smoke is at unfounded hysterical levels, and the claim that third hand smoke also harms, is, frankly, just invented for political and ideological reasons.
This war on smokers is being waged on a world-wide basis, and needs to be resisted on a global basis. For these reasons I will continue to fight for the Resistance until tolerance, consideration, compassion and inclusion are again words in the English language that mean what they say.
So, wish me a happy birthday! I am a smoker and of sound mind and body and I choose not to quit. I refuse to feel denormalised and so I'm buggered if I'm going to quit during my birthday month of October - or any other month for all of the reasons above.
18th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 18
With a PhD, a string of scientific papers, a growing list of published short stories and two published novels, H.K. is the very epitome of what tobacco control like to promote as “stupid” for no other reason than because he loves his tabs and the culture of smoking. He writes horror and fantasy fiction so we thought tonight's full moon would be the perfect time for him to tell his Tabber's Tale of modern life in this anti-smoker asylum.
H K HILLMAN
I owe a debt of gratitude to the antismoking movement. If not for them, I would probably have stopped enjoying tobacco years ago. It had become less interesting with time and with commercial ‘sameness’ creeping into the range of tobaccos available. My favourite brands (Franklin’s rolling tobacco and Three Nuns for the pipe) were getting harder to find, and with all those warnings and hectoring it was just becoming too much bother.
The ban changed all that. I did not give up smoking when the pubs took up the fight against me. I gave up pubs.
The ban triggered a rebellious reflex in me and many others and we started looking at the ‘evidence’. Others have dug far deeper than I have and, from their researches, I have learned a great deal of fascinating and hugely useful information. All as a direct result of the antismoker activities.
I began to see things differently when I realised that suddenly I was instantly barred from every pub in the land. I live in the north of Scotland and standing outside of a pub in gale force blizzards, using a shelter you would be prosecuted for keeping a pig in, has no appeal at all, neither have the clubs or any other public place where one is supposed to relax and have fun.
Health was clearly not the main factor in the blanket nature of the ban. Suppose I bought a piece of land at the dead-end of a dirt track, surrounded by a chemical factory, a sewage works and a diesel refinery. A place nobody would ever pass. Suppose I then built a club with an air filtration system that meant any air leaving the pub was the purest air on the planet. Suppose I staffed that club only with smokers and allowed only smokers to be members. Could we smoke indoors? The law says no, we can’t, the entire membership and staff would have to go outside to smoke. The toxins in the air outside are of no consequence to any government, only the smoke from half a gram of burning leaves is deadly.
Anti-smokers are motivated by spite alone. They wouldn't recognose fair or tolerant if both turned up at the family barbeque. The ban was only ever about spite. I hate spite. It's not in my nature so I learned how to fight back.
With these people, the art of battle lies not in fighting but in losing. Let them win the first round. It will not even occur to them that there might be a second. Do not engage the enemy in the second round at all – let them busy themselves with the first round of the next battle, which you intend to lose anyway. The second round involves circumventing the controls put in place in the first round and anticipating the final battle. The final battle can be won before the enemy reaches it. They work to a rigid plan. They have an organised hierarchy.
They cannot understand, or they refuse to believe, that people like me and others who fight for fairness on this issue have no leaders and no funding. We are a collection of disenfranchised individuals acting in concert. It is a concept so alien to them that you might as well try to explain planetary orbits to a sea anemone. They can’t fight our organisation because we don’t have one.
Even Octabber is a transient resistance group, people come and go, nobody can ‘join’ but everyone can join in. If the enemy change tactics from ‘Stoptober’ after numerous meetings, focus groups and costing exercises, ‘Octabber’ can dissolve and reform into the appropriate response in a matter of moments.
My own form of resistance means I win when I lose. Plain packaging is the next battle to lose. I don’t care. I transfer rolling baccie into an unbranded tobacco tin anyway. The tin has no warnings on it other than ‘If my smoking offends you, don’t breathe’. Tubed cigarettes contain pure tobacco only and also have no branding and no warnings. I have been on plain packaging for years. Let the antismokers launch their spite. I will shrug, say ‘okay’, and do as I damn well please – just as I always have.
Only the tobacco companies really lose when plain packaging comes in. When, not if. They don’t actually lose all that much now that all packs are behind the Doors of Shame anyway, but they have drawn a line in the sand here. All other businesses should be lined up on the tobacco companies’ side of the line because the booze will be next, then the fizzy drinks, then the chocolate, then whatever else someone doesn't like other people to enjoy.
Warnings on packs are already on the cards for all of them. Let’s see whether they realise that the tobacco template applies to them all. The big picture is not really about tobacco, that was just the easiest target to start on.
The anti-smoker industry's endgame, on the tobacco front, will be the banning of all tobacco products and anything that looks like smoking. That is some way off yet, they can suck a lot more gravy off this train before it hits the terminus – and then they’ll hop on the next train anyway. Growing your own tobacco is legal in the UK but it wasn’t in the past. For around 400 years it was illegal, and soon it will be again. I am preparing for this future battle now.
There are still many people who believe that tobacco cannot grow in the UK. I have produced six-foot plants outdoors here, north of Aberdeen, and I hear it still grows wild in the Cotswolds from previous tobacco farms (oh yes, we had them here). I would have dismissed the idea of growing in this climate as nonsense if not for the antismokers. Now I am working on developing a strain that will grow wild here. If I succeed in producing a tobacco plant growing wild this far north, imagine what it will do further south.
I am sufficiently qualified in biological matters to know how to make it happen, and as long as all antismokers believe ‘all smokers are stupid’ I am under their radar. Another thing to thank the rabid loonies for – I can pass for a nonsmoker any time I need to. I don’t smell of smoke, I have none of the scaremongering haggard appearance smokers are all supposed to have, and don’t look as old as I am. I’m also far too smart to be ‘a smoker’. Most doctors don’t smoke, you know, or so you're told, but many do including me.
And what about that ‘sure and certain truth’ that smoking causes lung cancer? I believed it, years ago. Then the ban came, smokers became angry and started looking into the actual research. There is no sure and certain truth beyond the one that says stopping smoking increases the risk of lung cancer. Basically, if you don’t smoke, your risk of lung cancer is very small. If you smoke, your risk of lung cancer is a little more than very small, but not much. If you smoke and stop, you are in the highest risk group of all. A group which is still small.
I've been told by someone who works in a hospice that they see people all the time, usually smokers or former smokers, with lung cancer’ but really, it's a place where you see only people who have lung and other cancers so the perspective is warped. They do not see any of the majority of both groups who do not get it. They don’t end up in hospices. Only sick people go there. You will never see me in one of those places, even if one day I do get cancer. I would rather die in a ditch than spend my final days being tutted at by the pompous and the judgemental. Given six weeks to live, I would sell everything, buy a load of whisky and fail to notice the end when it comes.
The depths to which the NHS has fallen is made clear by this war on smokers. Heroin addict needing treatment? No problem. Fallen off a mountain when climbing without ropes? No problem, come right in. Crashed your car, while drunk, into a school bus? Straight to the front of the queue, you’re an emergency. Smoker with a broken arm? Get lost. Come back when you are living as directed.
I would gladly forgo the services of the NHS as long as I can stop paying National Insurance. No deal on that one, is there. I have to pay for a ‘service’ that can refuse to help me if I ever need it. That is not a national health service. That is a protection racket. Like the pubs, the NHS have decided they want nothing to do with me. The difference is that I can choose not to fund the pubs, and pubs don’t send me letters demanding I do as they say.
There are some big positives to this war on antismokers. If not for the smoking ban, I would never have discovered the fun flavours of Electrofag, nor would I have ever bothered with tubing. This involves buying (or growing) tobacco, visiting the local pound shop for a tubing machine and boxes of empty cigarettes, and making your own. They do not have to be straightforward cigarettes like you buy in boxes.
Try making the front half Burley and the rear half Virginia and vice versa. Run a thread of pipe tobacco through it. The dried sepals of tobacco flowers are amazing, put some halfway down for a real surprise. You cannot buy these in the shops but it only takes a few moments to make your own. They contain none of the additives of shop-bought cigarettes and cigarette cases don’t have warnings on them (get one now before the idiots in government decide they must ban them – for the sake of the children of course.)
None of these experiences would even have occurred to me if not for the smoking ban. Antismokers have made smoking new and wonderful all over again.
To answer the original question – why am I not giving up smoking? It’s become a battle of wits with the witless, a battle that lets me try to convince a drone to death using their own propaganda, an exercise in predicting and circumventing the next move in a chess game against a draughts player. In short, it’s far too much fun being on this side to ever consider leaving the game.
There is also the ‘national no smoking day’ effect. Back when I considered stopping, that was the one day of the year I would never have chosen as a stop date. I will not be a notch on an arrogant control-freak’s score stick. Now that every day is ‘stop smoking day’, I will never stop. Never. When I die I will have my corpse and coffin stuffed with tobacco and be cremated. Even Satan will be too scared of second hand smoke to bother with me. I will not be kept in an urn but scattered in the few remaining ashtrays in the land.
Most of all though, the antismokers have made smoking so much more interesting now that even a jaded smoker, who has enjoyed his tabs for 30 years, can’t get bored with it. No more all-the-same commercial blandness for me. Brandy-cured leaves, flowers, my own blends of commercial and raw baccy, new flavours, a mix of these with a hint of this – there are so many new things to try now, none of which would ever have existed if anti-smokerism had never existed. Smoking would have paled into boring repetition and we’d all have eventually said ‘meh – it’s no fun any more’. Before the ban, I know many who gave up for that reason. They just got bored with the ‘sameness’ of it. I would have too.
Thanks to the antismokers, there are now more permutations than I will have life left to try. I will never be bored of smoking again. They have also given me an endless stream of indoctrinated drones to play with, to terrify with words.
Meanwhile, like others, I'm getting ready for pack size control and increased filter length. Vapers already face e-juice strength controls (you can make your own from leaves, you know) and will soon face battery power limits and heater temperature maxima – which will make Electrofags about as powerful as a damp ‘Consulate’ (without the menthol, naturally). The silly exploding-battery stories are heading that way. Stock up on the good stuff while you can.
I enjoy smoking, and I enjoy a good mind-game. The antismokers have given me both, in spades.
It’s their game so I play by their rules.
17th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 17
Wars were fought and men and women died for the right to live free lives. It is that which makes the apparently trivial issue of the right to consume a legal product like tobacco even more important, argues today's Tabber who says we should never be complacent about the loss of the simple right to smoke.
JOHN E JONES
Schemes like Stoptober have me running for my tobacco pouch even if I don't feel like smoking. It is my act of defiance at being pushed around. I refuse to join the party folks because the plain fact is I enjoy my tobacco. I smoke it when I want to, and that isn't all the time. I have no wish to quit for good. That may change but if and when it does, that will be my choice.
Public nudging just makes me feel like digging my heels in on principle because the freedom to own your own body and the freedom to choose how to live the life that was given to you is not a matter politicians and their supporting quangocrats should decide.
Just last week I was reminded of the sacrifices that have been made in the name of Freedom, Democracy and all they stand for. While searching in a late uncle's memory box, I came across some photos. One of those showed a group of young men in France on June 7th 1944, they had been amongst the first to land on the French coast and after heavy fighting were taking what most likely was their first rest.
Many had a cigarette in their hands, smiling at the cameraman. Death could be upon them in the most awful circumstance at any moment but they looked content. I wondered what such men as these would think if they knew what was happening to their grandchildren in the country they were willing to lay down their lives for. My uncle survived long enough to see this brave new puritan world and it saddened him. He wondered what his friends had died for.
That for me bought everything into perspective. We are not just holding out against the banning of tobacco and where it can be used, we are upholding a much larger and indeed greater matter of importance. It is about freedom, freedom of choice, the right to be your own person and make decisions for yourself, the right to say I am me and I will not be bullied into anything I do not want to do. It's about standing up for what you believe in.
If we cannot use a legal substance openly without fear of being attacked or denied health care then everything those young men stood for and died for was for was worth nothing. The First World War may have happened almost 100 years ago but like the Second World War it was a battle for a way of life - liberty over dictatorship, democracy over tyranny.
The right to consume a legal product may seem a trivial matter but freedom is taken step by step and there has to be a line. This is mine and why I won't be quitting in October or at any other time as long as the war on consumers continues. The removal of small liberties leads to massive loss of freedoms. We older people owe it to our parents and grandparents to remember that.
16th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 16
Today's Tabber believes anti-smokerism has warped people's sense of perspective and altered their reality about the alleged harm caused by smoking. He recalls the time colleagues were more scared of a wisp of smoke than a cruise missile headed in their direction.
After Leaving school I decided on a career in marine engineering and consequentially spent fours and a half years at college. You could smoke in class, the only proviso was that you had to supply your own ashtray. I left college as an Officer cadet in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, a commercially manned offshoot of the armed forces, existing to supply the Navy, and later the Army, with all their logistic needs. Everything from fuel, food, munitions, and even beer.
Off course the SHS scaremongering panicked the civil service which jumped aboardd the anti-smoker bandwagon earlier than in the global civilian or commercial world.
First it was no smoking in dining rooms on ships. I didn't complain, of course, because meals were often staggered so it seemed entirely fair. Next to come in was no smoking in alleyways (corridors).
Of course if you worked in an office on-board ship you were next to be doomed. It started with banning smoking in multi-occupancy offices and finally all offices. Regardless of whether the single occupant wished to smoke or not. The creeping bans didn't stop those addicted to banning from continuing their insidious quest to ban smoking wherever they could get away with it.
Traditional workstations such as the Bridge (That's where the ship is steered from), and the Machinery Control Room (That's where the really important people work), soon became anti smoking zones - but not always.
During the second gulf war I was the Officer in Charge of HQ1/MCR (Damage control headquarters/Machinery Control room) when over my command headset came a short and sweet update from the Bridge. This little missive caused me to do the only thing that seemed right at the time - I lit up a cigarette. Faces dropped in shock and horror in reaction from my staff.
"This is a no smoking area", one said tersely, lips pursed in disapproval.
My reply : "This is likely to be an area where we will all smoke any second now. We're being targeted by an anti ship missile."
I managed to finish my tab, as my colleagues realised there were bigger dangers than a wisp of smoke, thanks to our countermeasure system which caused the missle to miss.
I didn't die that day and neither did anyone else but we could have done. When our time is up, it's up. Why are we fixated on trying to extend our lives, to the detriment of enjoying them?
Tobacco control and its supporters need to see the horrors I have seen and then they'd feel really silly about their phobic fears, and realise just how vacuous and self-obsessed they are. My best friend was killed in the Falklands conflict, I've seen unspeakable child injuries in Angola, and the stuff of nightmares that still haunt me today.
My decision when to retire was re-enforced when it was decided that an individual's own cabin was deemed to be off limits to smoking - that's a seafarer's HOME, his own private space, for two-thirds of the year.
The only place left to smoke on my last ship was a very exposed, dimly lit,area of open deck with poor access.
I wonder if anyone one has died there yet. People die all the time of all sorts of things.
15th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 15
Over regulation in Australia has created a thriving black market and forced poor smokers into criminal hands. The country is the first to allow the anti-smoker industry to defecate on tobacco packaging which does little in stopping people from taking up smoking. Instead it humiliates legitimate tobacco consumers and denies them consumer rights to brand recognition, product information, and price comparison. Today's Tabber gives her view from down under where young people still smoke but smokerphobia is rife and smokers are a breath away from leaving the country for good.
I was always the 'sensible' one, from earliest childhood. From my straight 'A's at school to babysitting my younger siblings when I myself was barely 10, I never so much as pinched a sweetie from the local shop as most kids do. I was an 'old soul' in a youngster's body who wanted to do everything in my life by the book.
So when I was handed a cigarette at a party when I was 15, it was a very significant moment for me - I took it. I thought, this is just like losing your virginity, this is something everyone does at some point, this is the moment you become an adult, this is trying your first tab. I had never liked the smell and fully expected to take a drag, cough and choke and hand it back, my revulsion for it validated forever.
Instead, I inhaled - and LOVED it. No coughing, no choking, just pure pleasure. I guess it was in my genes. Perhaps I'd already smoked in a previous life no matter what the reason, cigarettes and me were one.
My mother had quit a decade previously because my step-dad threatened to divorce her if she didn't. I still remember what he had once said to me: “I don't care if you get pregnant, I don't care if you start doing drugs, but if you ever start smoking, you're getting booted out of this house.”
For a long time, therefore, I smoked in secret... at school, at my boyfriend's house, at friends' places, in bars and discos – anywhere but at home. I was so rarely there that it didn't matter. One evening, I snuck around the back of our house to enjoy my smoke and as I lit it up in the dark, I heard something, looked over to my right and saw the unmistakeable orange glow of a cigarette end. Then I heard a voice.
“Shit, we're both so busted!”
“I won't tell Dad if you don't!”
Turns out not a day had gone by where Mum hadn't missed smoking. For over ten years she had refrained but started again secretly when she found out my Dad was cheating on her – with a smoker. But that's another story.
As an adult, I lived and worked in both England and Germany and now look back on those times fondly as 'the golden years'. Smokers and non-smokers lived together in harmony. I worked as a barmaid and a waitress while I was studying in both countries and had some of the best times of my life in those smoke-filled pubs, meeting fascinating people, roaring at the football, and generally being young and carefree.
Then when I was 26, in 2006, I moved to Australia. I couldn't believe how restricted it was here. They had already implemented the indoor smoking ban and when, after a few months, my husband and I moved to the state of Queensland, smoking was even banned in any areas outside where food was being consumed. Many pubs wouldn't even permit you to drink and smoke outside – you had to choose one or the other.
We owned our house, so we smoked at home, but when my marriage ended and I moved out, I quickly discovered that 99% of rental places in this country forbid smoking and discriminated against renters who have to smoke outside of their own homes – and pay more for the privilege of being out there.
I now pay a ridiculous amount in rent every week for what amounts to a 3m x 4m covered patio – the only area in the 4 bedroomed house where I can enjoy a ciggie, and where, therefore, I spend most of my time when I'm not asleep. I write for a living and simply cannot concentrate if I don't have an ashtray beside me.
If you're house or flat-hunting here, you will see this sentence in almost every single ad: “No children, pets or smokers.” And the application form asks you specifically whether you smoke or not.
I cannot describe how upset I am by the growing persecution. Not satisfied with forcing us out of every single indoor area available, most outdoor areas like parks and beaches, and steadily increasing the distance from doorways we must maintain in order to have a cigarette (it is currently 10 metres), the anti-smokers continue to persecute us and brainwash the public so that we are now treated like lepers.
We are lucky to have a sub-tropical climate here so we don't have to freeze to death outside like the smokers in other countries, however we Australian smokers face a different problem. Not one of the designated smoking areas anywhere is undercover. We live in a country with the highest rate of skin cancer, so much so that our car parks at shopping centres are covered with shade sails to stop the steering wheels from melting and most pavements are covered in some way as well, but we smokers are forced out into the punishing sun. So if the lung cancer doesn't get us, melanoma probably will.
Then there is the issue of plain packaging. From what I understand, a few hundred people were shown branded packs of smokes and the hideous 'plain' packs – and because those people preferred the branded ones, some brainiac deemed the plain packaging a good idea. In December 2012, not a coloured cigarette pack was available to buy anywhere in this country. What's more, the tabs themselves are now completely identical, save for a prison-esque number stamped near the filter. No gold bands, no names, nothing. Just 'BE115' or similar.
I have seen reports claiming that some smokers complained of their chosen brand tasting different after the new packaging came in. I myself didn't notice any difference. And so far there does not seem to have been any marked change in tobacco consumers' purchasing habits. I certainly don't smoke less. I did, however, go out and buy a pretty purple cigarette case for a fiver so I would not have to look at the hideous photos which cover 75% of both sides of the packs.
They've recently brought out some new ones; a gentleman with a hole in his throat, a woman who is apparently suffering from a stroke and – my new favourite – a toilet bowl full of urine with some blood streaks in it. There's even a little bit of toilet paper. “Smoking causes kidney and bladder cancer” it says in huge, white letters.
It's disgusting but not in a way that makes you want to quit but in a way that makes you want to vomit with anger and disgust at how they've been allowed to get away with it.
One of the packs had a huge eyeball on it, and when I went to Germany to visit my Mum, I had to hide it because she was unable to stand the pack lying on the coffee table. It made her physically ill. However, younger smokers collect them – a shopkeeper told me they ask for specific pictures they don't yet have.
The people behind this genius concept claim the packages discourage children from taking up the habit. At that, I can only scoff. When I started smoking, there were vending machines full of cigs on every street corner. Minimum age in Germany, where I was at the time, was 16, but you could get them anywhere and say you were buying them for your parents. No-one cared. Things have changed.
I was still asked for ID when buying cigs - on my 32nd birthday, no less (I was delighted). The legal age is 18 but if you look under 25, they will ask you for proof of age.
Furthermore, you are only able to buy cigarettes at tobacco shops, petrol stations or special counters at the supermarket now. You can neither purchase alcohol nor cigarettes at supermarkets here in Queensland. I have to go to three different places in order to get food for dinner, the wine to go with it, and my cigarettes.
In addition, all cigarettes are hidden behind black doors. You don't actually see the packaging until you've bought it. Nor can you compare the prices, which change daily and vary depending on which brand you buy, what size packet and where you buy them.
You also have to name the actual brand you want. You can't go in and say “What are your cheapest menthol cigarettes?” anymore. They are not allowed to 'recommend' smokes to you. You have to name the brand specifically. As I am on an extremely tight budget, I will spend ten minutes asking the cashier the prices of each brand available and calculating the cheapest in my head before purchasing.
The price of smokes here has risen some 43% since 2007 alone, and this year they decided to increase that by a further 12.5% per year for the next four years. This will take the price hike to a whopping increase of 158% within a mere 11 years!
Those under 18 can't get their hands on legitimate cigarettes in this country – and it's almost impossible for adults to buy them. It's no surprise, therefore, that Australia lost $1.1 billion worth of tobacco sales to criminals last year.
This isn't about health. If it was, they would allow e-cigarettes containing nicotine which are currently banned in Australia. They would ensure we were protected from the sun in the few remaining outdoor places where we can smoke. They would display the nicotine and tar content on the packet, as they do in Europe. They wouldn't charge so much for smokes that low-income families are often forced to choose between food and cigarettes. They would make nicotine replacement therapy – including e-cigs – available for free to those who do want to quit. And they wouldn't ban people from using e-cigs on planes and most other public places.
My GP is constantly on at me to quit. So the last time I was there, when he asked the inevitable question, I lied and said I had stopped smoking.
“Well you're still unhealthy because of it anyway,” he said indifferently.
I was stunned. Had I actually stopped, I would have been infuriated by that comment - as it was, I just felt sad for the way things have become.
Until this week, I was considering moving back to Europe to escape this smokerphobic madness. I was there to visit family in February this year and was delighted that there were one or two cafes where you could still smoke inside. I was so ridiculously excited, in fact, that my mother took the above photo.
But now they intend to ban menthol smokes throughout Europe on made up “evidence” that it will reduce youth smoking rates. I started smoking regular tobacco but when I was a little older, I found the taste of menthols better and have smoked nothing else since then. My absolute favourite brand is currently only available in Germany and I get the odd packet sent to me by my mother. (As you are now only allowed to bring in 50 cigarettes duty-free when you come to Australia, we find post is the better way.) I will be devastated when they are lost to me and if I had the funds, I would buy the whole factory today – or stock up in thousands like one privileged smoker has done.
I smoke. I love it. I have enjoyed every single cigarette I have ever had and never experienced any ill-effects from my smoking. If the day ever comes when I do decide to quit, it will be because I no longer enjoy it, not because some spoilsport in an office, who is spending my tax money on beating me up, decides for me.
When I was a kid, I hated being told what to do. “When you're a grown-up,” my mother always told me, “THEN you can do what you like.”
Except I can't. Every day, new rules are being made by people who seem intent on treating the public like particularly dim-witted toddlers.
We smokers need to stop feeling ashamed and start standing up for our rights. We vote, we pay taxes and we deserve to live freely and without discrimination and harassment.
14th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 14
Today's Tabber has witnessed the rapid decline in relationships between smoker and anti-smoker since the ban of 2007 and thinks smokers are unfairly targeted. He wonders if the war on tobacco consumers is worth the money spent on it given there are many harmful things in life and because he enjoys them all, including smoking, he won't be quitting in October.
Of all the choices that people make for pleasure, including excessive consumption of alcohol, driving, and over-eating, smoking has to be one of the least damaging options.
I'm no less guilty than most on these, but I've smoked for the last 13 or so years, and seen how society has turned against those that enjoy their tabs.
Having started before the age restriction was increased, and smoking only permitted outdoors, I've seen the social grouping between smokers and non-smokers split, and the isolation between the groups end up with hostility and the belief that all smokers want to 'give up'. The fact is, many don't. Yet the only way to appease the anti-smoking brigade is to claim difficulty or reasons not to smoke, and that only breeds the bigotry we smokers have become used to.
Not only does the intolerance of the ban serve to alienate friends, it's impinging on health by forcing many people to have their legitimate enjoyment in what is generally a damp, wet, cold and unhealthy environment.
The logic of protecting people from smoking is at times perverse. I've had a family member who was forced to 'give up' smoking while on her death-bed, simply because it was thought that this would help her to die better. It's likely that forcing her to give up something that she had enjoyed for a lifetime in her most desperate hour of need, and suddenly and cruelly depriving her of the nicotine in her blood, hastened her end and made it more miserable than necessary.
The anti-smoking lobby is failing smokers on every level and causing economic damage at the same time. It has killed off the pub industry, served to increase the stress levels of many, and introduced more complex laws and responsibilities for shopkeepers, wardens, council officials and confusion or prejudice in what circumstances these laws should be enforced
We can't go anywhere without seeing "No Smoking" signs on every business, shop and railway station. Not that there is anyone that doesn't know the law. It seems to only serve as a reminder that we should all gather in our small groups outside, with metaphorical bells around our necks in the rain, enjoying our short three minutes of 'devious and offensive activity' before we can rejoin the 'normal and well-rounded society' and the monotony of restriction and lack of freedoms.
I won't give an excuse for smoking, I simply enjoy the taste and the refreshing feeling of nicotine. I won't hide the fact I smoke, nor that it's bad for me - but too many other things are. Life is all about informed choices, balanced risks, and moderation, thrown in with a little common sense.
But I do wish the media and uninformed public would treat those who chose to do any 'bad' activity with some respect. We don't need to criticise people into doing what we want, nor should we waste money on those who choose to do so. It doesn't make anyone want to quit, the propaganda only serves to strengthen the differences between smokers and non-smokers.
I won't be giving up for Stoptober, nor would I give up enjoyment for any other Government-sponsored event. I'm proud to do what I enjoy. I'll just be wishing we were at a stage where people and their choices were treated with respect.
13th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 13.
Young people who start smoking do so because it is part of growing up, says today's Tabber Pat Nurse who argues gimmicky regulation, like bans and attacks on packaging, is not protecting today's children but rather setting them up to be dismissed as criminals without any healthcare services if they end up on the path she took 45 years ago.
I always wanted to smoke. For me it was just as much about growing up as slipping into my mum's high heels or smearing my big sister's make up on my face. It was probably the same reason why I used an old bent nappy pin to pierce my own ears, aged 9, which I've worn earrings in ever since and still do.
I was the youngest of five kids so maybe that's why I was more eager than most to taste the adult world. None of my smoking siblings would give me a tab, however, and I would never dare ask my mum - a single parent before the term was invented. They used to call them abandoned women in those days and certainly that's how she felt after my dad left for someone else, but she was a double disciplinarian to make up for what was missing. My only brother, the only male influence in my young life, was 15 when I was 8. He eventually caved in to my constant pleas for a drag on his fag and said he'd give me one if I managed to beat him in a fight.
Perhaps he wished he'd never set down such a challenge, and he certainly expected to win. His friends looked on as I whupped his backside. He held me back safely with his hand on my forehead as his arms were longer than mine and my punches swiped the air between us. There was no hope I'd get even an inch close enough to drop him and then just as he thought it was all over and relaxed that arm, seeing how worn out I was, I managed to push him over. Then I just jumped up and down on him until he submitted.
He gave me that first well-earned tab of my own and I enjoyed every minute of it - although I didn't smoke it properly. My friends were a couple of years older than me and taught me the art of inhaling. We'd go to our den in an old lorry that had been abandoned on a piece of rough land and smoke in secret. When we clubbed our pocket money together to buy a pack of cigarettes, none of us dared take them home so our secret smoking sessions would often involve chain-smoking two or three tabs at the same time to ensure we got through them all before curfew.
One lad in my class who had seen me smoking with these friends in the park used to bully me at school because of it. I still remember those mocking cries of "Cancer Stick" he yelled at me, but I'd always known smoking could be bad for you. My teachers told me it would stunt my growth. It never did. I ended up having a fight with my playground tormentor one day too but the story of how he beat me up, and how my big brother taught me to punch properly in case the bully started on me again, is a story for another time.
I only smoked for a couple of years because I got fed up of it. Maybe I'd proved my point in getting that which was forbidden and it got boring. I didn't miss it but did take it up again within a couple of years when I bumped into the same friends that I hadn't seen in a while.
There has never been a time I wanted to quit - including during the many No Smoking Days in my lifetime or the now month-long quit shove Stoptober - although many when I wish my tabs had been more affordable.
As a young single mum myself, times were very hard. I could probably write a book on the many sacrifices I made for my kids, as my mother had made for us - as mothers who love their kids make all the time- and cigs were certainly on the bottom of my shopping list. Thanks to the ever rising tax on a pack, I was becoming priced out of smoking but I found a way to smoke that I could afford. A packet of 10 was the cheapest, and I went for the cheapest brand. It was never about packaging - choice was always based on cost even from the earliest days.
I bought 70 a week and then broke them up so that I could make four roll ups from each one. If I ran out before pay day then I'd smoke tea. Taking just enough time out for a smoke during the worst of times was enough to think through problems and find a solution. Many tobacco and tea tabs were smoked as I analysed my way to a better path and future for both me and my children and we all feel the benefit now of the success and better times that followed as a result.
It wasn't until the early 2000s that I began to feel like an outcast. It came out of the blue with various bans and NHS TV adverts that were personally abusive with such catchlines as "If YOU smoke YOU stink."
I'd never been anything but welcome by people I knew who both smoked and didn't smoke. A colleague at a meeting we had in a cafe, where you could choose either smoking or non smoking, said she didn't mind at all if I wanted to smoke. As a never smoker, she had always liked the smell of fresh aromatic tobacco burning. Another colleague, who I later found was really intolerant about smoking, was surprised to learn that I was smoker because I didn't stink. I often had a smoke before our meetings but she had never noticed.
I wondered why the then Labour Government had to launch such a personal attack on consumers and I figured with the amount of bans coming in that they were preparing for the blanket ban which eventually came in 2007. In 2001, a place I did business in banned it not because anyone had complained about smoking, or that they were frightened of being sued because most of the clients smoked, but because, as the manager told me : "Everyone else is doing it so we thought we should too." I gave him a few good reasons why they shouldn't but he shrugged and said that little could be done now as the policy had been made.
One of the reasons I gave why they should think again was that such a ban could only lead to greater intolerance in society and promote such things as employment discrimination. It was already happening with "Non-Smokers Only" showing up in job ads and that has got worse with capable and hard working people even being sacked from jobs now because the boss has found out they smoke in their own time.
Even some who should know better, like medics and health trusts, have called for discrimination against smokers. They argue that we shouldn't be given any of the healthcare we may need in later life because we won't do as they say and quit. We've also seen this modern intolerance move into other areas of life too. It seems it's acceptable to stigmatise, marginalise, exclude and discriminate today - as long as the group targeted can be made unpopular enough among a majority of people.
As a former child smoker who had to fight to smoke then, I'm now into grannyhood and still fighting for my right to live my life how it suits me and those around me - none of whom care if I smoke but all of whom hate that I've been forced into a fight in self defence of a way of life enjoyed by millions of people in this country.
Children today are better protected than I was because there are now regulations in place that didn't exist when I was a child, more is known about smoking and health risks, and children are kids for longer than my generation was allowed to be. However, today's under age smokers are less protected because of the easy availability and growth of the black market. The blame for that is down to over taxation of the product. Smokers will always be driven by cost over brand or packaging. Curious and determined children, like I was, will always seek a source that won't challenge them at a cost they can afford. Anti-smokerism has just driven what was once visible to the dangerous underground.
Sanctimonious politicians and healthists don't have any real idea or knowledge about why and how kids today start smoking but for their sake they attack what they can see - ie, adults who still smoke into older age, the ones they say they don't care about, the ones they couldn't save as kids so that makes them targets of a different sort since they haven't had the decency to drop dead yet.
Children and young people today are simply weapons for the antis to use against adults to force through ideological policy aimed at making a smoker-less world in future. Should any child today start smoking despite the antis' best efforts then, unlike us, they will be criminalised - the first generation to suffer that indignity since Rodrigo de Jerez 600 years ago. Our Government should not take us back to Medieval times but engage with adult tobacco consumers to find real progressive policies.
12th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 12
Smokers resent being labelled as heroin addicts and urge the Government to get some perspective on the issue for the sake of the children. Meanwhile, the creation of health inequalities has encouraged them to avoid NHS hospitals and health services where they feel judged and unwelcome.
I'm 48 this year and have been smoking for 35 years. I'm not addicted, I want to smoke, I choose to smoke. There is a difference. To compare smoking tobacco to heroin abuse is not only offensive, but it sends an irresponsible and dangerous message to children and young people. It minimises the danger of dependency on hard drugs in favour of exaggerating the desire to smoke. Smoking is more akin to drinking coffee than jacking up.
This mother knows the difference as does any parent whose child has fallen into hard drug use. More young people's lives are ruined and more are killed by illegal drugs than smoking behind the bike sheds (as they did in my day.) According to Stoptober, 28 days is enough to break the habit of smoking - it takes a hell of a lot more than that to kick heroin.
Common sense has been replaced by hysteria. In recent times when you could light up in a cafe, restaurant, cinema, aircraft, hospital, or office, the person next to you, who could be a non smoker, never so much as noticed. No one would ask you to put your cigarette out, no one would start to put on a fake cough as a hint, no one feared the contested health issue of "second hand smoke" - no one was irritated by it, no one believed it. Smoking was a part of everyone's everyday life.
As a child I often sat in my grandparents' living room whilst they smoked up to 60 cigarettes each a day, windows shut, doors shut but I'm not ill and never have been. Why? Why am I still alive? There was no evidence to say so-called SHS killed or made anyone seriously ill back then and there isn't now. The science, despite what we're fed by political propaganda, is still not settled - although the debate has been shut down.
Smoking is a small comfort in times of distress. It doesn't suit everyone but if some people feel it is beneficial then why should they not be permitted to decide what's best for them? My tabs are my haven, a truly enjoyable smoke, every single one.
In common with many other smokers, the blanket ban wasn't just a minor inconvenience but something that without any consideration stole away a huge part of my life. It effects everything I do and prevents me doing almost everything that I could do just a few years ago.
A nice cold pint with a cigarette, a simple pleasure, is no fun any more - unless I want to catch my death of cold in the freezing air outside in winter - or suffer anti-smoker organisations calling for bans outside in summer. Holidays to my favourite destination, Disney World, are out of the question unless I'm prepared to wait six hours pre-flight at a non smoking airport, an 11 hour non-smoking flight followed by another two to three hours upon arrival at another non-smoking airport.
I understand some people don't like smoking, I'm not asking them to smoke, I'm also not pushing my smoke in their faces. The anti-smokers love their smokerless pubs even though the rate of pub closures since the blanket ban demonstrate that people did want choice. Why deny a pub the opportunity to have smokers in one room and non-smokers in another? Would it really be the end of the world if just one little well ventilated room, that did not impact upon anyone else, was set aside in a pub, a cafe, restaurant, or even a 20 square mile airport?
The tourist industry must have lost a LOT of money from people who no longer travel because of these restrictions. Imagine if even one charted long distance smoking only flight was laid on each day, while several others could be given over to those who don't like smoking. How could it harm?
They talk about preventing health inequalities as a reason to stop smokers smoking but in reality, health inequalities are being created by anti-smokerism. Calls for smokers to be denied hospital treatment and operations if they need them - even for things unrelated to smoking like a broken arm - makes me feel I'm not welcome to use the services I have paid for in tax during most of my lifetime which everyone, including anti-smokers, have benefited from.
Deliberate stigmatisation has done this. No other consumer group or community group would be treated in this way - although the healthists have now moved on to stigmatise the overweight in the same way that they demonised smokers.
Rather than making me want to quit, this selfish exclusion and continual propaganda war on smokers has made me angry and determined to retain control over at least my own body - unlike heroin addicts who don't have that control - so I won't be giving up for 28 days in Stoptober. I'll smoke more because despite denormalisation I am proud to be a smoker. It says I'm strong, I make my own decisions, I'm a free thinker, an individual and I will face bullies. Nothing they can do will stop me.
11th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 11
Young people are turned off by anti-smoker campaigns designed to marginalise those who enjoy their tabs. As a result the next generation will kick back at the system instead of kicking the habit, argues today's Tabber who recalls a time before anti-smokerism killed social interaction between adults and threatened the very existence of a free society.
I started smoking in the early 70's, when the only people who frowned on the idea were your mam and dad.
Those were the days when we could freely smoke anywhere - in hospitals, in cinemas, in people's homes because it was good manners to have an ashtray or even a box of cigs for smoking guests, and we could smoke on the upstairs on the bus. It was at the back in 'single deckers' but what constituted the 'back' was entirely open to interpretation and really just depended on how many smokers were onboard. The concept of smokers and non smokers didn't exist in those days. We were all just people.
Anti-smokers were a militant minority and part of a new breed pushing extremist views of health and the "body as temple" concept.
Over the next few years, smoking restrictions started creeping their way into society. Informative health campaigns in the early days were useful, and polite, and promoted harm reduction. Some smokers found them useful, no one found them offensive.
There were no great anti-smoking fanfares hurling personal insults like today and no great headlines in the newspapers or on TV claiming smoking was akin to a nuclear fall out. Like a wisp of smoke, the nasty and abusive adverts and bans that followed just appeared out of thin air. One day we could smoke, the next we couldn't.
Most of us remember going to the cinema, when from nowhere, a huge arrow would appear on-screen, pointing smokers to the right hand side of the auditorium. That was followed by a new-fangled concept in cafés and restaurants - the dreaded smoking areas. We didn't quit but we moved on because we smokers are, in the main, considerate people, and as such we didn't complain. We complied with this initial segregation because, after all, it was only a minor inconvenience. We could still enjoy our tabs, and everyone seemed happy.
If only we knew what was to come - total exclusion - exactly what the anti-smokers said for years they didn't want. They even blamed the tobacco industry for scaremongering when it dared to suggest that the anti-smoker industry was pushing for a blanket smoking ban even in places that only smokers used.
July, 1st, 2007 was the day when I, and a quarter of the population, were overnight reduced to second class citizens and any Tom, Dick or Harry was invited to abuse us. No longer did I enjoy a trip to the cinema or the bowling alley. These venues, like so many others, are now consigned to the pre-ban history of my social life.
Anti-smokers refer to people like me as a pro-smoker or pro-smoking. They do it deliberately to give the idea that we want to kill people and that's why I don't particularly like this term. I'm no more a pro-smoker than I am a pro-eater or a pro-alcohol drinker. I am pro-living, pro-choice and pro-freedom. I prefer to call myself an 'anti-antismoker'. It's hard not to be once you're clued up to what is happening behind the scenes in what began as a charitable cause but is despised because of the methods it uses against the very people it claims to want to help.
They say 'a man's home is his castle' - but for how much longer? Smokers have respected all restrictions to date but there is a line that should never be crossed or we lose the very foundation of what constitutes a free society. Smoking is a small freedom, but if we don't hold on to the smaller ones, we will lose the larger ones, bit by bit.
What makes this anti-smoking tyranny bearable is the expectation that its obsessiveness will come back to bite it. The next generation’s norms are always in direct opposition to the one that came before so mealy-mouthed anti-smokers are inadvertently making smoking cool again.
Young people love what has become known as "smirting" (flirting and smoking in groups outside a pub) and of course what is frowned upon by those in authority always attracts the young - especially if they are of a rebellious disposition.
Smoking may again have its glory days. Perhaps that's the point. After all, as tobacco companies need smokers to survive, so too the anti-tobacco industry needs it quitters. I know which of the two has been the greater friend to tobacco consumers, the most dignified and the most civilised, and it isn't the one that frowns at grown up adults as their parents did all those years ago.
10th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 10
Tobacco consumers grew up in a free world where they were able to enjoy their lives like everyone else. Now their movements are severely restricted and many feel isolated. They believe that when anti-smokerism became a lucrative industry, dependent upon smokers to quit, politicised science was invented to make scapegoats of people who believe they have been targeted for public abuse and humiliation in the name of greed and ideology.
I smoke because I want to, I enjoy it, it’s as simple as that. If I ever give up it will be if and when I want to. I come from a smoking family with longevity genes as most died in their 80's and 90's after living full, active and meaningful lives. The smell of smoke makes me feel secure and happy.
Since 2007 my husband and I have not been out to restaurants, pubs, or on public transport. We used to go out on the train for the day now and then. My husband was a train driver for 47 years so we get free travel all over Europe but the war on consumers has severely curtailed our lives.
I cannot travel to the south of France any more due to a 10 hour journey without a tab. The fact that I am forced not to smoke rather than choose not to smoke makes it even more unbearable. My generation, whose parents fought against tyranny and totalitarianism, finds dictatorship totally unacceptable.
We have good friends in the USA but I am not going on a long hall flight for 11 hours because flying terrifies me. A tab in these circumstances helps to calm me down and brings peace of mind. I hear that since they banned smoking on planes, operators have cut costs and don't change the air circulation as they used to which means everybody now suffers from the dirty unclean air with cold, flu and goodness knows what germs that get recycled through it.
However, like all smokers I know, I am always willing to compromise. I recently brought an e-cigarette so that I can go on a long train journey but many companies have banned those too because they simply don't like the look of people who smoke whether the tab in hand is real or fake.
I am angry with the government and the EU. What have I ever done to any of them that led them to believe it's ok to treat me like a criminal? I have never done anything illegal in all my years. I have always worked hard and paid my taxes and I know damn well that I have never harmed anyone else as long as I have lived.
Anti-smokers are spiteful. I ask again - what did I ever do to them? I am not asking to sit at their table and blow smoke in their face. They are free to believe all the piffle they are fed, if it suits their own phobic prejudice, but they have no right to micro-manage my life or that of anyone else who disagrees with them, or is more tolerant than they are.
I would like to have a choice of a smoking pub or smoking restaurant - even a bloody café would do. How about the old greasy spoons? I am sure the smokerphobic health freaks wouldn't go within an inch of those places either but still they'd demand them because they are selfish. It's not just that they want it all. It is that they don't want smokers to have anything.
The anti-smoker's aim is to make smokers homeless, jobless and friendless. They get a lovely warm glow at the thought of turning smokers' families and the authorities against them too. These social perverts believe the mother of Baby P, who served four years' jail for cruelty, torture and murder of her own child, is a better parent than a smoker who loves, cares for and nurtures their children into responsible adults - just because of a wisp of smoke from a legitimate product, like smoke from a candle, that melts into thin air. A product, incidentally, that has brought pleasure to billions over hundreds of years without obliterating the human race.
I want to enjoy what I have left of my life. I've worked hard for it, contributed and done my bit but my life is now controlled by faceless, nameless bureaucrats who haven't been breathing air as long as I've been smoking but think they know more about me than I do.
They moan about and intimidate the tobacco companies via its consumers while shamelessly taking the funding to do it from Big T's main competitor for the nicotine market - Big P. These pharmaceutical companies are responsible for millions of deaths. I worked in the NHS for 22 years and I know what their greed for money has done and how many they have killed with their drugs. Their vast profits have given them the power to get away with murder.
One day they will pay for what they have done. I hope they are finally brought to account in my lifetime so that they can cause no further damage to my children's and grandchildren's generation as they have done to mine.
9th OCTOBER - DAY 9
If the smoking issue hadn't become so embittered, the fact is it would have evolved to ensure that consumers enjoyed a less risky product as tastes and attitudes changed over the decades. However, one thing that will never be in trend is acceptance of bullying or abuse by those who think they have the right to tell others how they should live someone else's idea of a perfect life.
The war on tobacco consumers is fuelled by a belief that there is a perfect lifestyle and that is led by what is or isn't fashionable at any given time.
I won't quit because the view that smokers are somehow imperfect is one pushed by people who are paid large salaries to convince us all that perfect lifestyles do exist and they can be achieved if we just do as we're told. But what we're told changes depending on the mood, the view or the agenda followed by each news media provider and it can't be trusted anymore.
Newspapers, for example, say one minute that eating 24 stalks of broccoli a day is good for you - while saying the next that it can cause cancer. But all of this, of course, doesn't even touch upon the most important point, that health IS NOT the "highest virtue" for a lot of people. Life and how they live it is.
Life is unique to each individual and how that person wants to live their life is what defines, for me, whether it's perfect or not.
If I gave into the "Stoptober" brigade just because they run a snazzy little gimmick, then where should I stop being led by the nose by Public Health? On the monthly quit campaign's Twitter feed I'm already seeing them giving wonderful "tips" such as "Go for a run round the park twice a day" and "Avoid people who drink and places where people drink". I don't want to do any of those things any more than I want to quit smoking.
These people don't just have smokers in their sights anymore but people happy with their lives whatever their consumer product of choice. It seems more about wanting to recruit people into this new creepy religion of "health."
While help might or might not be nice for some, it's hit and miss - a gamble. Most illnesses one contracts, one would not have avoided anyway, and if one did, they would simply have got another! We are human and humans have sell by dates. No one is going to live forever hence we are here to enjoy the lives we have chosen while they are ours to live.
The use of children as human shields to force through someone else's idea of how others should live a life they believe is perfect makes me feel slightly sick. This is never more so than whenever I see people talk about "their health" and "their children's health" with regards to "second hand smoke" and the alleged "harm" it causes.
I defy anyone to read these facts on a myth that has since become something of a legend but still isn't true.
The war on tobacco consumers is modern day blood libel, and the anti-smokers are pushing bigotry and hatemongering beyond belief.
Smokers, on the other hand, despite enjoying their perfect lives, are always happy to compromise. That's why some have taken to using e-cigs because they can enjoy the sensation of smoking without bothering the faux nicotine-sensitive parts of our population.
Had the war on tobacco consumers not been declared then the evolution of e-cigs would probably have naturally attracted a lot more from one product of choice to another as trends and fashions changed - especially because of the cost of tobacco rather than the alleged health benefits of e-cigs.
If adults who smoke don't quit then it's because they believe they have the right to decide how they should live the lives that were given to them and no one else. I know that's how I feel.
8th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 8
Mild mannered consumers were just ordinary people going about their business, as generations had done before them, when their lives were stolen from them in 2007. They had no interest in politics until they were excluded in a most cruel and unfair way without any compromise. As today's Tabber explains, the resulting anger has built up year on year since and it isn't going away any time soon.
I have been smoking for over 40 years, I enjoy smoking and I am rarely ill and if I do not have to suffer the indignity of a nursing home where you are forced into the freezing cold to smoke then that would be great for me and many others I'm sure.
I am now a very angry person and I never used to be, I am angry at the cruelty being shown towards elderly tobacco consumers who do not have a voice, so much for "empowerment" for them.
I am angry with the blatant lies, bloated statistics, and the manipulated propaganda, which aims to squeeze people out of their communities - people who have contributed to those communities all of their lives - some even fought wars for the privilege of freedom of choice - and both sides of the debate could have choice. They were betrayed.
The smoking ban, and the intolerance and sheer nastiness that followed it, opened my eyes to other things going on in politics. I didn't like what I saw - things that I would never have noticed before as I sat happily with smoker friends in pubs chatting about anything but politics. I don't go out anymore either. Ignorance was bliss but knowing what was done and how it was done revealed what liars and self interest cheats this new generation of politician is. And they wonder why the British electorate hate them so much.
Many years ago when my children had a hamster and chinchilla I had asthma, smoking was blamed by my doctor who took the easy diagnosis option. Failure to treat tobacco consumers impartially and without prejudice is why I avoid my GP or other health services now.
My asthma eventually sorted itself out after the pets died. I've never needed an inhaler since but I still smoke. Useless information and lazy diagnosis from doctors helps no-one. There isn't a single smoker related illness that only affects smokers but it does help to bolster prejuidces and create health inequalities for tobacco consumers who have paid far more into the healthcare system in tax than their whining smokerphobic counterparts.
Junk science should be banned and the evil people who promote it to ensure their own funding keeps rolling in should be held accountable for the harm, deaths, and social and economic damage they have caused.
I cannot imagine how isolated some of the elderly tobacco consumers feel. They are people who have been made targets because being old and weak means they are easy to push around.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy is a con. I once tried the useless patches and landed up smoking more than I ever had before. Most people I know who have quit gave up without any aid at all because they wanted to. It's always been a well known fact that the only thing you need to quit is to want to quit and if you don't but are forced into it, then you will struggle.
I truly believe Big Pharma companies have far too much influence on this issue. The anti-smoker quangos that act as their mouthpiece are the biggest hypocrites who say nothing about harmful prescription drugs, or testing dangerous drugs on 3rd world children because no one will complain or even notice if they die or are maimed by side effects.
Tobacco consumers have contributed to their societies for decades and they have paid more into the UK economy than anyone else. It's about time they got something back for their money. Until they are treated as human beings, this anger that builds year on year will not go away.
7th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 7
Anti-smokerism is a cult that has destroyed a tolerant culture in the name of control, argues former smoker Norman. He was a long time quitter in 2007 but then took up the occasional pipe in protest at the socially divisive and exclusive blanket smoking ban. He has watched as the anti-tobacconists have changed society for the worse, and allowed cruelty and lack of compassion to creep into the core of our most "caring" and "responsible" establishments. Now he feels like a stranger in his old age because of the totalitarian crusade to rid society of something that others enjoy.
There was no need for the totalitarian smoking ban because provision could have been made for all. I’m thinking especially of pubs and clubs, although those who hound people who smoke are looking hungrily at private cars and even people’s houses, for more prey.
But July 1, 2007 made it clear to me that at the age, then, 72, I was an outsider in my own culture. And on that day I had smoked nothing for 10 years, having stopped without any pressure to do so, during a year of difficult health in my early 60s.
It wasn’t only the enactment of the new law which changed things for me; it was something within the spirit of it which I sensed to be cold, threatening and alien to the country in which I grew up. And hostile to me and all who would remain independent in their spirit: independent of the state, and sovereign over their own lives and decisions.
The huddle outside the pub door and the old lady in a wheelchair having a smoke outside a hospital, were and are, outward and visible signs of the cruelty I perceive in this crusade against tobacco that became relentless following the ban.
I lit my first cigarette on my 15th birthday (1950). Later, during National Service, smoking was a blessing and help in all sorts of situations. A smoke break during square bashing was a moment which was mine to control, free from the regimentation necessary to being turned into a Serviceman. Over the next 50 years there were times when it helped in many ways, not least as consolation in times of distress. I think it may have had a critical impact on my getting through some situations. And, again, it was under my control.
I think that is what prohibitionists hate about tobacco. It’s out of their control.
The climate of conformism to the anti-tobacco cult has spread everywhere, especially in the NHS, which means, at my age, that it gives me the feeling of being at the hostile mercy of a magistrate, a judge, a headmaster or a warder should I ever have to receive hospital treatment. The very notices at the entrance to these places forbidding smoking, even in the grounds, makes me think of Dante’s hell: ‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.’
So, I don’t belong in the pub. I fear the NHS. Most of my friends have never smoked and have no idea what I’m talking about if I raise the subject, which most of the time we mutually agree not to discuss. And at the moment I don’t actually smoke.
But after the ban came I thought, if I want to have a smoke again before my life is over, that is my business. So I took up a pipe again, although only for a short time, as a way of making a statement in solidarity with those now outcast.
I’m not into betting on horses or anything else. I’m not LGB or T. I never joined a bowls club. I haven’t made a parachute jump and I positively dislike Scrabble. If the players are in another building or room devoted to betting, or Scrabble, chess or LGB or T, and I am not there, why on earth should I want to pass a law to stop people enjoying what pleases them?
It’s a simple formula for a truly inclusive society. Live and let live. That consideration should be given to people who smoke too.
6 OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 6
Older tobacco consumers began smoking in a different era and spent their lives around people who smoked. Some began as children, when regulation was non existent. They reject any modern notion that they are "victims" because they could have quit in later life but chose not to. They are happy with their lives. The Quit or Die approach makes them suspicious of the real motives of corporate-backed "charities" and their influence on the NHS - especially when they are creating a new generation of pharmaceutical nicotine addicts which makes them no better than the tobacco industry of old.
Today's Tabber, Allan Hansford, says yesteryear's child smoker, now into older age, does not want nor need to be saved from themselves and they resent being patronised. The continual push to force them to quit through social exclusion, marginalisation, stigmatisation, and silly tax-funded gimmicks, is just making them very angry. They will use their vote to punish political parties that support their persecution.
I am now almost 69 and always wanted to smoke for as long as I can remember. At the age of 9 my father wanted to put me off the idea of smoking because I kept pestering him for a cig. He tried the old cure for smoking as many parents did back then. He rolled a cigarette with some strong dark tobacco, sat me in the middle of the front room, lit it up and made me smoke it so I'd be sick and put off smoking for life. It didn't work. I loved it. When I’d finished he saw I was not sick and asked me if I wanted another so sure was he that I would go green gilled and never want to touch another. I said, “Yes.” and the procedure started over again. When I’d finished the second one with no ill effects, he said, “I give up!”
By the age of 12 I had a part time job and could afford my own cigarettes and started smoking regularly, enjoying my cigs whenever I wanted one, and have smoked 25-30 per day ever since. That is over half a million cigarettes so far.
We hear all sorts of lies and some truths about smoking, but most of it is bullshit designed to push the idea of denormalisation or "smoker as (something horrible)". "Smoking kills brain cells" is one example of pushing the "smoker is stupid" angle for example.
This so-called “proof” came from only two French scientists using lab-rats. Research funded by Big Pharmaceutical companies to assist the pushing of their drugs, in the name of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) which is worth billions in any currency. But nicotine is not a replacement for tobacco smoke which is why it has a dismal failure rate but it does cause addiction in itself. Smoking tobacco is not only about nicotine, there are a multitude of other chemicals involved in the pleasure and benefits of tobacco smoke and some smokers smoke for the smoke and not the nicotine.
Many people who switch from tobacco to NRT use it for years without end. That is what I call nicotine addiction. They become addicted to pure nicotine and that means the Big Pharmaceuticals can be assured of a solid and returning customer base. The more who become addicted to the NRT drug, the more money is made. The Pharmaceutical Mafia is dependent on serial quitters, like my wife, who stop smoking tobacco, take NRT, find it lacking, and then start smoking tobacco again, then again, through social pressures, stop, only to start on another whole new round of pharmaceutical nicotine.
In my view there should be a great deal of unbiased research done, especially into why some people smoke and enjoy smoking and some do not. Why do some people become addicted to smoking from the time they first start and some can take it or leave it? I believe some of us, and certainly I'm one of them, have an ‘addictive personality’ whether the drug of choice is tobacco, nicotine, social media or computer games that many of todays's children and adults are addicted to. I won't put games on my computer because I know I would lose hours.
There is now a huge social rift between smokers and anti-smokers that did not exist before 2007. Governments should be more responsible and should find ways to close that gap so we can all live our lives of choice without the continual harassments and new hatreds developing. There is more than enough hatred in the world already without encouraging more. There is no reason on earth why we shouldn't have smoking only pubs, bars, clubs, restaurants and other such establishments. It would create millions of jobs and pump millions into the stagnant if not crippled economy. I do not go anywhere I cannot smoke in comfort unless I have to. I used to frequently go to restaurants, now I am almost a gourmet chef. I used to go to bars, clubs cafes and pubs with friends and spend money. I never do that anymore unless in summer when I can smoke outside. I flatly refuse to stand in the cold or rain like some outcast criminal. It saves me a fortune and more than pays for my cigarette tobacco. Millions of smokers are just like me. I guarantee that taking into consideration the views of tobacco consumers would be an election winner for any party which could do both smokers and non-smokers a favour and nobody need complain.
I love smoking it is a massively important part of my life, so much so that I have had three doctors tell me that in my case I should not give it up. It is a part of who and what I am, a part of my character, a part of my biological make up, and to give up smoking could not only be disastrous for my health in my own personal circumstance but would also be like losing a part of myself, a part of my self-image, of my ID. I believe tolerant and caring GPs know that.
Pharmaceutical lobbyists are powerful enough to influence governments for what they want. Don't forget that Labour health monster Pat Hewitt was a £3000 per day taxi-for-hire to Pharma lobbyists at the time she swept away expected exemptions to the 2007 blanket smoking ban. It is clearly all about £$MONEY. It's not about health.
5th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 5
Peter never complained about any ban on smoking in shared public places until the war against consumers became unreasonable and went too far. Now he explains why living life is more important than fearing it.
Life is for living and enjoying. Quality and not quantity matters but I don't fear an early death. I fear an unlived life more. I smoke because it enhances the life I live.
Modern society appears to be driven by a disturbing puritan dogma where having fun is seen as a sin, ignoring health warnings is seen as blasphemy, and religion is about trying to save people from their lives, pastimes and people they love.
I've smoked for 28 years. My first tab was enjoyed on one of many nights out clubbing and socialising. I'd spent my childhood on medication for arthritis. A strange and unusual side effect of smoking was that I found that it helped in controlling pain far better than prescription drugs. Perhaps because it's relaxing. Research shows that nicotine has beneficial medicinal qualities but we will never really know how smoking can benefit health because of the politicised science around it. The negative and regressive demonisation of tobacco and smoking appears to be far important than backing independent and progressive research that could prove a positive outcome for health for both those who smoke and those who don't.
When bans began to move into shared public areas where non smokers had no choice but to sit with people smoking, such as on planes and buses, I was a part of the herd that accepted it was to protect the health of people who didn't smoke. I've never argued against any ban until the blanket smoking ban in pubs and clubs where there was quite clearly a choice for both sides of the debate but one was being ignored, pushed out and excluded.
I just couldn't understand why there was a need to protect smoking workers in smoking pubs and clubs from customers who smoked. Non smokers had non smoking pubs and clubs to work in and everyone had a choice. With the ban that facilitated the demise of the pub industry came many redundancies for both smoker and non smoker employees. No one has gained from the economic madness of pub closures but it has opened the eyes of some to the fact that this issue is now about politics and not about health.
I couldn't help thinking that no way could my wisp of smoke in a well ventilated building be as harmful to anyone as the exhaust fumes coming out of the back of a car, a bus, a train, or even the chemtrails cutting through the sky.
When my non smoking housing syndicate sent a notice saying smoking was being banned in the car park of our building too it seemed wrong because it wasn't evidence based at all, but prejudicially led. There still isn't any study that says smoking outside is bad for anyone else nor as harmful as the chemicals being spewed from the cars that use that car park.
I began to research the issue of smoking, health, and anti-smokerism which was driving the agenda and found that much of the anti-smoker propaganda simply wasn't true while a large part of the rest was manipulated propaganda using blown out of proportion statistics. It's clearly not about health anymore but forcing an ideological agenda by fear to achieve the political outcome desired.
I'm not part of the gullible herd anymore. I think for myself now. Perhaps I'll be like my 87 year old dad, who began smoking in the army during WW2, and live to enjoy my ripe old age like he does.
Then again, perhaps like an unfortunate anti-smoker, I'll get run over by a bus tomorrow, or be unfortunate to take a plane next week that crashes, or be involved in a fatal car accident on my way back from the airport. Who knows?
No one can predict the future which is why one's duty in life is to enjoy every single minute of it and live it to the full. Smoking is part of a life I enjoy. I don't want to hurt anyone else but I do want to be left alone and free to associate with other people like me in places where anti-smokers won't go. It can be done and should be done. The war on tobacco consumers must end.
4th OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 4
Much has been made of the "addictive" power of smoking which was hyped up to force through the belief that tobacco consumers needed "help" to quit when frankly they're very happy with their hobby and just want to be left alone to enjoy it, argues the author of two books which investigate anti-smokerism and it's roots.
One of the most common "unintended side effects" of quitting smoking seems to be some form of depression. The Antismokers of course make a big thing about this as supposedly illustrating addiction, but there's a much more likely, direct, and simpler explanation: smokers enjoy smoking.
Nicotine is a stimulant, fairly similar to caffeine, and just as people often enjoy caffeinated beverages more than decaffeinated ones, so do people enjoy smoking tobacco more than tobacco-flavored lettuce leaves.
This isn't necessarily true for all smokers of course. Smokers who smoke a cigarette and then smoke another one a half hour or two hours later will feel the stimulant effect of the nicotine in a more discretely pleasurable way than the person who smokes 60 a day from the moment they open their eyes in the morning. But most smokers don't tend to do that, and each time they pause for a moment in what they're doing to light a cigarette and inhale its smoke they are ENJOYING the feeling that they get when they do it.
What happens when you enjoy things? Well, they tend to make you HAPPY. What happens when you remove things from people's lives that make them happy? Well, they tend to feel depressed -- at least in relation to how they used to feel: they've experienced that nice "happiness every 30 minutes" sort of life and now it's been taken away from them, often by some form of economic or social force rather than through a truly free decision.
I enjoy smoking when I smoke. It makes me happy. Is it a major source of happiness in my life? No. But it does exist, and it is nice, and I'm not particularly inclined to give it up.
Would I have stopped smoking years ago if the antismoking movement didn't exist? Probably. Despite the fact that I enjoy it, I also think it's bad for my health in the long run, on the average at least. I haven't given it up though, nor am I likely to as long as the antismoking campaign is in full storm and basically attacking people who prefer to live their lives with the little happinesses they get from smoking rather than live them without those happinesses. I also haven't given it up because the awareness of the lies behind the antismoking campaign in regard to secondary smoke exposure have also made me aware of the possibilities of lies and exaggerations about the effects of smoking itself in way that would never have been true if it were not for that campaign opening my eyes.
Aside from just me though, are the happinesses worth the claimed negative health to them that might result from their smoking? I don't know. And neither does anyone else. And no one else ever WILL ... because such judgments are a highly individual thing and no one has either the ability or the right to make them for someone else. Unless they think they're God. Which some of the more mentally ill Antismokers evidently do.
So yes, for Octabber, I most definitely plan to be smoking 300 to 500 or so tabs. And enjoying them.
* Michael's books Dissecting Anti-Smokers' brains and TobakkoNacht can be ordered HERE
3rd OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 3
The Government-backed anti-smoker taunts of "smokers are ugly" and "smokers stink" are particularly offensive to female tobacco consumers who are the main target of "Denormalisation" - or abuse in any other language than health-speak. Today's Tabber tells why she's had enough of the bullying and why she refuses to be browbeaten.
"Young woman with a Pipe", art photography copyright - by Perseia Hekate.
I have always enjoyed smoking from the first taste when I was 17. I wasn't rebellious, I wasn't trying to be cool, I wasn't making any statement, I wasn't attracted by packaging and to suggest I could have been is rather insulting. I just wanted to grow up.
Cigarettes are symbolic of adulthood. Some people try them and dislike them immediately and then wonder why on earth their parents and friends like them. Others, like me, take to them straight away. Smoking is all part of growing up and it comes at a time when teenagers move from being children to become young adults and the person they will be. The identity emerges and for some smoking is a big part of that but attacking that identity won't make them quit being who they are. It just makes them angry.
I was a book lover from an early age. I am an author today. By 17 my writing skills had already appeared. I was fond of talking with other people and exchanging views, discovering how one thinks about this or that, and I found smoking was a common trait between creative people. Ideas fly and interact around smoking which has always gone hand in hand with being naturally sociable.
Trying to present smoking as ugly and something other than just a pleasant sociable experience, such as addiction, is as futile as trying to present the earth as being flat. Everyone gets that except the anti-smokers who appear never to have lived in the real world of all sorts of risks and temptations that they navigate through as they begin to grow up.
Perhaps they are desperate to turn the world into their own image of a fantasy land but it is a world shared by much diversity - lots of differences, cultures and ideas of which smoking is a part for billions of people across the globe.
Denormalisation is a bullying tool but those who designed it are denormalising themselves in the process. No one thought that anti-smokers were weird, or misfits a decade ago, but nowadays most people do, smokers and non-smokers alike.
It just isn't right for someone to believe they have some special privileges to other people's property whether a home or a privately owned pub, restaurant, café or bistro. It isn't right that public health now feels it also has the right to decide how someone lives their life and what they do with their own bodies.
Tobacco will always be a great pleasure in life and people will always smoke as they have done for centuries in Europe, thousands of years in other cultures.
To prove it, my photo above is my own modern twist of an old Van Gogh classic. People smoked pipes back then and they do now. They will in future too which proves the futility of the war on smokers and the black hole that is swallowing up cash that could be more beneficial to all.
I won't quit. I am a mature, well balanced adult. I make my own decisions, I live my own life, I speak my own mind.
And that is what being grown up is all about.
2nd OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 2
Lili was just someone who enjoyed smoking before the smoking ban of 2007 and now she considers herself a rebel with a very important cause and cigarettes are the mark of her defiance. Vive Le Resistance.
I won't be giving up on my faithful little tabs in October or at any other time of year because I have thoroughly enjoyed every single cigarette that I have ever smoked.
Cigarettes have always been there at every great moment of my life along with books and coffee. I refuse to be outcast because I smoke and as a result, I'm happy these days annoying all the right people.
This unbearable control freakery began to surface in the 80s and the 90s along with muscle building, the insufferable colognes and natural sadism born out of an inability to have sex without Viagra.
They say smokers have no sense of smell but that isn't true either. I was trained by one of my grandfathers, from a very early age, to detect the whiff of totalitarianism like a pure-blood hound. This campaign stinks like a three day corpse to any owner of a nose.
Such desperation to force people like me to quit would be funny but this irrational comedy of errors goes deeper than the "well meaning" but dangerous nanny state and it is no laughing matter.
Like Orwell warned with Big Brother, Nanny is more of a pragmatic political tool, designed to mask the uncertain times we live in. The concept gives legions of the frustrated a safe hatred hidden behind a vacuous smile or a new religion if you will – a religion that affords a priceless tool for political parasites.
The Nanny State and it's supporting propaganda weeds out the smart, the interesting and the original in favour of the mediocre, the compliant, and the slave.
It creates a social wall. It attacks the working man and woman. It attacks the poor. It singles out, marginalises and isolates people that were once the heart of their communities and right in the centre of fun. It is socially divisive and economically damaging. It feeds hatred and intolerance. It is pure fascism hidden behind a pinny.
The desperate outdoor smoking ban demanded by paid and funded self interest groups reveal that Nanny and her anti-smoker quangos don't really care about health but rather having it all their own way, while creating social exclusion of a group of people they don't like the look of. They incite hatred for rebellious souls that they do not understand. It’s the logic of panic. It’s the politics of envy.
I've hardly been out into public establishments since the ban in 2007 and then only as a favour to people I love, such as bands that need support, or friends' who hold exhibitions or screenings.
My relationships with acquaintances have suffered immeasurably but I have lots of friends who love their tabs as much as I do. We stay in and have private parties that anti-smokers are not invited to.
I guess enjoying yourself in socially regressive modern Britain is forbidden. Perhaps modern anti-smoker and public health quangos are now coming for tobacco consumers in their own homes for the same reasons that Victorians looked through bedroom keyholes and didn't like what they saw. Fun and ecstasy were alien concepts then and the puritans are back in the room in a different guise.
I am young, I can ignore them but I worry about the old like the 70 year-old in her own flat who has been abandoned because we don’t know how to look after the elderly in this country. Perhaps they are not trendy enough for the modernists.
Care of the elderly is another issue that could be eased by diversion of some of that Stoptober gimmicky funding which is used instead to hound older people into acceptance of a forced change of lifestle. Public health would rather send the old to a lonely grave than to allow them to have their cigs in the company of their mates at the pub. Cigarettes, my friends, don’t kill people like loneliness does.
However, let's not kid ourselves. This is no longer a war on smoking, the product or the tobacco industry, but an attack on the lifestyles and freedoms of the adults who consume something the anti smokers don't like. The older, weaker, more vulnerable they are, the easier targets they become for anti-smoker bullies.
Smokers are some of the smartest people on earth so it is easy to work out what's going on here. Anti-smokers are sadistic, paternalistic and damaging to public health. They bring to mind the unprincipled ‘principals’ of not sparing the rod for fear of spoiling the child except we are grown up now and we resent being tortured because it makes them feel better about themselves.
I have a message for the antis – smoking prevents the degeneration of the mind in later years. So roll that in your bitter sandwich and eat it on a cold day, if you can remember where you left it.
I personally find smokers are infinitely more interesting and intellectually more able than anti-smokers and I'm not alone. Nicotine sharpens the mind while intolerance renders you idiotic.
So I thank my little friends, the Marlboro Reds that I love, for the many years of happiness and sanity, and vow to defend people’s right to freedom with my life, and while most people wish for a sudden death, I do hope that mine will be decent enough to allow me the time to enjoy a last cigarette.
1st OCTOBER 2013 - DAY 1
Prejudice against tobacco consumers means that research into lung cancer is the most underfunded of all other diseases. The war on smokers is adversely affecting the health of those who smoke and those who don't and leaves many health questions unanswered.
08:30 AM a year ago last March, I was at the back door smoking the first of my 60 a day when the phone rang. It was my GP.
Rural Norfolk GPs don’t ring their patients. GPs in this country especially don’t ring their patients before they themselves have 2nd breakfasted on the NI contributions of a grateful nation.
My GP was phoning me to tell me I had Lung Cancer. Of course he didn’t actually say that, just that there was an "an ill defined density"- in my lung, that he’d made me an appointment with the Consultant and I should be ‘really worried’.
A day before I had started coughing up blood and he’d sent me off for an X-ray. The X-Ray which was now on his light board.
I lit another smoke and then proceeded to ruin the days of those unfortunate enough to be in the Contacts list of my not-so-smart smart phone. “Hi Mom, guess what, I’ve got cancer”, “John, what sort of deal can you do me on a cremation?” ,“And Pat, do you know any shit hot cancer specialists?”.
Why did so many of the people I rang with the news of my impending demise assume I would be giving up smoking? I can honestly say the thought didn’t even begin to think about getting out of the shower and dressed, let alone “crossing the central reservation of my imagination”. Even if you choose to believe that lung cancer is caused by smoking, surely the time for me to have given up would have been before the diagnosis?
I started smoking at age 19 (yeah, I bike-shedded one once aged 14 or so but it didn’t appeal). Not being female and a Government Minister I wasn’t tempted into smoking by the shiny packaging. Someone at a Xmas party offered me one and, for reasons I still don’t understand (I probably hoped to get in her knickers), I tried it. Menthol Consulate.
I LOVED IT. From the first drag. It was amazing. The taste. The sensation. Maybe not quite as good as sex but what is when you’re a white middle class kid aged 19 with parents who thought John Knox was a dangerous liberal? I continued smoking all that evening and within a week I was up to 40 a day and off the ‘girly’ menthols and onto manly Rothmans, More and B&H - when I had money - and Old ‘Orrible or Gauloises tobacco if I didn’t. Every brand seemed to taste better than the last or at least differently good.
So that’s why I won’t be giving up. I ENJOY it. Call me deluded, call me an addict if you want, you may be right (although having been addicted to alcohol and drugs I’d dispute that nicotine is all that addictive).
I ENJOY it. From the first of the morning until I empty the ashtray outside my back door last thing at night. I enjoy smoking the way Brits enjoy ‘a good cuppa’...ie at all and any times of the day, to any occasion, before a meal, after a meal, before-during-and after sex (what DO non smokers do postcoitus? Tweet?).
I made a conscious decision, as a legal adult (although truth be told I was mentally pubescent until about the age of 28-like most blokes). I am aware of the supposed risks but I am also aware of the fact that the black diesel ‘soot’ that collects on my window sill every day is far more likely to kill me. I also long ago gave up any idea that I might be immortal.
...oh and it turned out I didn’t have cancer after all. The doctors never did find out why I was coughing up blood or what the 'cloud' in my lungs was, it disappeared of it's own accord. I probably ate some vitamins by mistake or somehow otherwise managed to poison myself.
I'll probably never know what caused it, where it came from or where it went, because research into lung disease is the most underfunded of all research according to Robert Peston.
The BBC business correspondent, whose never smoking wife tragically died of the disease, says prejudice against smokers is killing non smokers too even though historically “experts” have over estimated the link between smoking and lung cancer.
And now smokers have been banned from everywhere, and lung cancer in non smokers is on the rise, they can't keep blaming us for all ills and using lazy junk science to prove a negative because they have no other answer.
Instead of finding scapegoats, they need to STOP wasting cash on gimmicks like Stoptober, end the bias against tobacco consumers, and put anti-smoker industry money back where it belongs – into direct patient care or progressive and not regressive research so that both smokers and non smokers can benefit.
26TH SEPTEMBER 2013 - PREVIEW
As today is the first day of the Stoptober paid for Twitter promotion, it seems a good day to kick off with the first of our smoker profiles. Check back through October for more.
I have a number of passions in life - blogging, theatre, horseracing, literature, Victorian and Edwardian murder cases, flowers, good food, the grandson, the radio. All are passions. I don't put smoking in that category. It is just something I like to do. Like walking, having a glass of wine, taking my car on an open road on a sunny day, eating chips at the seaside.
It never used to be a problem. It is now but I have adjusted to it. Mostly. I don't sit near other folks when I smoke, I don't smoke in my car when not alone, I don't smoke in other peoples houses. I don't get angry about it. Except on behalf of others. Like old men forced to smoke in the rain at an old folks home or hospital patents denied an indoor smoking area.
I do get angry at the creeping denormalisation. Painting our minor vice, yes it is a vice but a pleasant one, as modern life's greatest sin. We are not yet linked to rapists and muggers but it is a short step. I once heard a politician, on the radio, include smokers in a list of problem groups in society. The cat and I had a long heated debate about that idiot.
I don't defend smoking. It is expensive and can be unhealthy. But so are so many other things. You don't need me to list them. Kingsley Amis once said that he could not think of any vice worth giving up just so you could have two extra years in a nursing home. Neither do I. We are all going to die one day. If we didn't the streets, so crowded now, would become impassable. So enjoy your years here I say.
For me, having a fag is one of those pleasures. Walking the streets, sitting reading book, blogging on my computer. Cigarettes are a part of me and I am not giving up because someone says I should. However difficult they make it. I am not addicted. I have had two long stays in hospital and did not take them with me and, in spite of the myths, never climbed up any walls. But I welcomed that first cigarette when my wife collected me. It is my choice. It is freedom, slowly being eroded. But I come from genes that don't bow to dictats.
I am more likely to stop if the powers that be introduced a compulsory law saying I must smoke, perverse sod that I am. But until that day comes, God willing, I will enjoy my smoking vice just as others enjoy their coffees or chocolates or burgers. Nothing relaxes quicker, nothing creates a greater feeling of inner peace. For me that is. My only sadness is that, in my old age, this law abiding citizen with not a blemish on his character is slowly being criminalised.
Now that really is a sin.