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« ‘Bring back fags to save our pubs’ | Main | Civil liberties up in smoke: ASH's response »

Zealots on the march

"Attempts by anti-smoking zealots to smear a report on civil liberties reveal just how bankrupt their arguments are."

Further to my previous post, Rob Lyons, deputy editor of the online magazine spiked, writes:

Yesterday, I received an email from Amanda Sandford, research manager of the anti-smoking organisation ASH UK: ‘We understand that a report published by the human rights “watchdog” organisation Privacy International has been released today. Please note that this is a tobacco industry-funded report published over a month ago in association with the tobacco manufacturers front group, Forest.’

Phew! Not only has ASH long been a guardian of the nation’s collective health, protecting us from the nasty smoke spewed out by cigarette abusers, but now it is stepping up to the plate as moral guardian, too. Many easily led people may simply have checked out the report, Civil Liberties: Up in Smoke by Simon Davies, and fallen into the trap of judging the arguments within on their merits. Never fear, because ASH has saved us from that. Some money from Big Tobacco helped to fund the report, so there’s no need to read a word of it or engage in any debate about it.

Such is the nature of the discussion today about smoking, where anti-smoking campaigners seem to take the jokey name for tobacco - the ‘evil weed’ - quite literally, and regard anyone who has a good word to say for cigarettes and smokers as somehow infected with the evil, too.

Taking my life in my hands, I decided to examine the contents of this contraband report. Does Davies argue that children should be forced to chain-smoke from the age of three so that they are hooked on nicotine and set up for a lifetime of addiction? Does he at least argue that smoking isn’t that harmful? Er, no. The report explicitly does not examine the evidence about smoking and health. Instead it looks at how, in a remarkably short space of time, smokers have gone from being the life and soul of the party to latter-day lepers.

Full article: The fag end of the argument.

I do believe ASH have shot themselves in the foot.


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Reader Comments (15)

I have noticed that several bloggers and such like have had to take a break recently. I have experienced the same feeling of burning out myself. ASH and their fellow evangelists have sometimes almost crushed the life out of us.

There are so many things that wizz around in my head about this whole issue. I will however mention two which are nudging my flow at this moment in I allowed to say nudging, sorry.

Those of us who are active on the internet know what is going on in this anti smoking campaign. Yet there are millions of smokers who know very little. I may be wrong, but I seem to remember that during the last week in June 2007, 40% of those questioned in a survey did not know that there was a smoking ban starting a week later. There are still millions of adults who do not even own a computer. My gardener for example. A lovely guy, not far from retirement, walks everywhere, does a manual day job, maintains peoples gardens, smokes unfiltered roll ups and is as fit as a butcher's dog. Does he know what the next intallment is in makiing his smoking pleasure more difficult? No, he doesn't, because if you are not on the internet you know nothing.

Now this is the bit which encourages me. I honestly believe that there will come a time when those millions of smokers who do not yet know what evil awaits them are going to find out the hard way, and there will be some pretty big protest and revolt. A bit like the reformation, which would have brought me to my second point, but I will leave that for another time.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 23:14 | Unregistered Commentertimbone

Imagine, therefore, Timbone, what it must be like actually writing a blog - like Puddlecote, etc! How disheartening must the constant battle be! It is hard to battle against the constant drip, drip of lies from ASH et al. I have felt the same vague despair.
But what is it that keeps us going?
For me, and, I think, for many others, it is the anger.

'The Anger' is not concerning one specific aspect of the smoking ban. It has many causes. I could list them thus (but not exclusively):

1. My Dad smoked woodbines althrough my childhood. Was he murdering my mother, myself and my sister?
2. I have smoked in the presence of my daughters and my grandchildren all my life and theirs. ASH ET AL accuse me of murdering them. That accusation makes me very angry.
3. The Labour Party said that they would not inflict a ban upon wet pubs and private clubs, but they did - without notice, thus springing a trap.
4. They used parliamentary tricks to push the ban through.
5. ASH use slogans and repetition to delude the public. The reality is that adults can decide for themselves whether or not to enjoy tobacco - SHS is harmless.
6. ASH continue to disseminate lies about pub closures, club closures and the death of bingo halls. From their point of view, general statistics which MAY possibly be true about the hospitality trade IN GENERAL, denies that pubs and clubs and bingo halls are closing in large numbers.
7. And what makes me really, really, really angry is that politicians, for reasons of Party Policies, are allowing the decimation of pubs etc, and even allowing a creeping insertion of the State into our homes and private living spaces and private property (in this instance, the propertyof publicans.

All these things strengthen my resolve not to give in, but most of all, it is the accusation of harming my children and grandchildren. What makes it even worse to behold is the inroads which Tobacco Control is making into schools. I fear for future generations if children are to be brainwashed.

Are these points sufficient reason to carry on fighting? I think so. I also think that more and more people are connecting via the internet - although slowly, as these things do. Whatever ASH say, their appeal is basically emotional, and only emotional. They have no real science to back them up - only their own 'studies' - financed by the Government and by the Chemical Industry (Big Pharm is a chemical industry).

So, Timbone, do not despair. Time will tell.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 0:51 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

PS. maybe we should start refering to Big Pharm as THE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY, since Big Pharm is indeed such an entity. ASH is a front for THE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY. Sounds OK to me.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 0:57 | Unregistered CommenterJunican


Re your point about the brainwashing of children – there is, of course, one very valid point which all the teacher-drones overlook (because it causes them some discomfort to accept that it’s true), and that is that no matter how much children at primary school may hang on Teacher’s every word and come home preaching the same gospel, once adolescence kicks in the vast majority of youngsters, to a greater or lesser extent, do a complete about-face and teachers turn almost overnight into a bunch of fuddy-duddy old bores whose every word is rooted in a history which has absolutely no relevance to them whatsoever.

I was by no means a rebellious or naughty adolescent, in fact, at school I was one of the goody-two-shoes brigade who never got into any serious trouble at all, but even I can remember looking upon teachers with some disdain for how out-of-touch and old-fashioned they were, and youngsters today are no different. No matter how “hip” or “down with the kids” teachers today like to think they are, with their low-slung jeans and their rather uneasy and slightly embarrassing usage of the latest teenage slang, the hard fact is that they’ll always be part of the “older generation” and as such the last thing most self-respecting teenagers want to do is to be seen as being in any way like them!

I’ve long said that if teachers (and parents, for that matter) really wanted to stop young people from taking up smoking, the best thing they could do, when youngsters reach secondary school level, is take up the habit themselves. That way, smoking would become a terribly “un-trendy” habit which only “old” people did, and no teenager would dream of starting!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 1:30 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

"I do believe ASH have shot themselves in the foot. "

Pity it wasn't their little conical heads...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 1:31 | Unregistered CommenterMac McCubbin

The delightful Christiana Hambro on the impending outside smoking ban in Stony Stratford.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 11:29 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

The ASH Bastards and The Chemical Industry would burn you out at times.
There's so many of them and they're so relentless especially in these recessionery times that I cant believe they still hold so much sway and that people are still complying to their diktat but I guess thats the way Hitler made ground.
Thats why the flame of anger at the injustice of it all keeps me going.
I wait in hope for the revolution when some shivering cold drunk starts it all off by tearing a smoke box off the wall of a pub and fucking it through the window.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 14:54 | Unregistered Commenterann

Did you mean "chucking" it through the window Ann?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 16:02 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

Stony Stratford takes the persecqution of smokers, to a whole new level. They can't make smoking illegal do this is the next best thing, forcing people into bit smoking.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 18:25 | Unregistered Commentermàrk

Oh crap, what i meant to say was forcing people into not smoking.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 18:28 | Unregistered Commentermàrk

La Sanford is now 'Research' Manager for ASH ?? WOW. Just a couple of years ago she was a harpy for FreshNorthEast. What does she research, one wonders... and who Peer Reviews her 'research' Deborah Arnott ??
Surely 'Dissemination Manager would be a more appropriate jobscrip.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 20:55 | Unregistered CommenterD'babe

THis is what we should all do

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 23:16 | Unregistered Commentertimbone

If only, Timbone!

But I am not 'mad as hell'. 'Mad as hell' is temporary and shallow. I am deeply angry, for the reasons that I mentioned above. The longer the smoking ban goes on in its present form, the angrier I become. No charity gets a penny from me. I buy nothing in airports and buy nothing on aircraft, other than what I absolutely wish to. I do not succumb to any temptation. I no longer tip at all anywhere, other than the very kind Asian gentleman who takes us to the airport at 4am. And so on.

If only all the deeply angry people could get together! Not an easy task - expensive to organise. And yet chinks of light are appearing. Adult freedom is slowly awaking. Questions are being asked about all sorts of Government edicts. Why should not adults amuse themselves with cocaine if they wish to? WHY NOT? Not that I, personally, am interested in such stuff. (Why should I have to say that?)

Our political system stinks, but it is hard to say precisely why that is so. One's mind goes around and around. Here is a thought which might shed some light:

In opposition, a POLITICAL PARTY POLICY is decided by the Party. In Government, however, that POLITICAL PARTY POLICY is decided by shadowy, unelected figures in the background who 'instruct' Ministers. Thus, PARTY POLICY ceases to be what the Party wants, but becomes what the various 'advisors' want.

Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 0:50 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

That's exactly it Junican, opposition policy promises everything the electorate wants until they get into govt then its the same old diktat just like the lot that has vacated the seat, but with a few tweaks to keep us happy for the first few months, then its back to the same old business.
What should be asked in future elections is for them to show us their vested interests portfolios so as we know where we stand.
And Peter, I meant what I said because I'm mad as hell over this smoking ban and party policy.
If I had a bomb . . . . .

Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 9:05 | Unregistered Commenterann

Roger Helmer MEP has a thoughtful piece on the growing smuggling market.

Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 9:30 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

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