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Wednesday
Sep182013

Wanted: thoughts of smokers who don't want to quit

You will be aware of a campaign – now in its second year – called Stoptober.

It's an initiative designed to encourage people who want to stop smoking.

Apart from the ridiculous name, and the questionable use of public money to promote it, I have no real problem with Stoptober. It would be foolish to deny that some smokers want to quit and if it helps them, fine.

Campaigns like Stoptober are only a problem if (a) the cost to the taxpayer is grossly disproportionate to the number of people who successfully quit; and (b) 'encouragement' to quit quickly turns into nagging, denormalisation or worse.

This happened with No Smoking Day which began, I think, as a genuine attempt to help people who wanted to quit. Subsequently it became the perfect excuse for councils and companies to introduce all manner of anti-smoking measures that directly affected even those who had no intention of quitting.

So far I haven't seen anything like that associated with Stoptober. Nevertheless I know some of you find it offensive so you may be interested in Pat Nurse's counter campaign.

She calls it Octabber (which she admits is an equally silly name) and it was launched last year to counteract the misleading impression that most smokers want to quit.

Now it's back and Pat has created a dedicated Octabber blog she describes as "A place for adult tobacco consumers who enjoy smoking and choose not to quit during October or any other month of the year".

There's also an Octabber Facebook group that currently has 210 likes.

Pat says: "Ideally I'd like 28 volunteers to take part during October and tell me why they love their tabs, why they're not quitting and why they're fed up with public health gimmicks like Stoptober."

If you haven't got time to write something Pat will happily call you and take a quick statement over the phone.

To contact her email patnurse@btinternet.com.

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Reader Comments (6)

Thanks for the link and the appeal. Much appreciated.

Two years after No Smoking Day began I guess it was still a helpful campaign for people who did want to quit. I wonder what sort of monster Stoptober will become as it goes along.

I know I'll feel coerced and harassed if an unwanted approach is made to me by people urging me to quit in the name of Stoptober, backed by Big Business, in the High St as I go about my day.

I recall Forest used to do similar events to Octabber during No Smoking Day. Didn't you once go to Paris or something with the press back in the day?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 20:25 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

In an age of austerity, this is one part of the budget which should be cut.

Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 12:44 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

I think Forest and the rest of us need to address the matter of Cameron's new proposed web filters, initially designed to block porn but which will also block any sites dealing with smoking or drinking. This is fundamentally anti-democratic and will also prevent access to sites like this and most of our blogs and information services. It's time to get moving on this or any proposed actions such as "octabber" may not be possible!

Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 17:23 | Unregistered CommenterBlad Tolstoy

Thanks for sticking up my last post, Simon, because I can't stress enough how EVERYTHING needs to be mobilised against this bad bill which needs serious amendment. It's yet another eye-catching initiative jerked off by a government who thinks that controlling adult behaviour by puritanism and anti-democratic means is a good idea.

A lot of readers here who, like myself, enjoy this blog may soon find it inaccessible so there is no room for complacency at all! Moreover, there seems to be precious little detail of even what pornography means. It may be the least of my concerns but where does the line get drawn? How about erotic art and photography by well established artists past and present? And what power do the jobsworths have precisely? In extreme circumstances I can imagine the censorship of Botticelli's Venus.

It can't happen here? Oh yes it can!

I am now commencing the process of communicating my concerns to my political contacts.

Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 19:34 | Unregistered CommenterBlad Tolstoy

Agreed Blad but as per usual, the little people get nothing and are ignored in hope that they go away, the ideologues get funded to promote their causes to control all and everything around them and mould into their own preferred image.

I'll bet there are more people fighting this bill than stuck up for smokers so I feel confident that those who can do something are doing something.

As for us, 6 years after we were socially excluded and marked out for attack, we are still fighting and still getting nowhere. Suffice to say we have our hands full.

And yes, our blogs will go, or we'll have to apply for licences that we won't get unless our words are Govt approved, and blogs like #Octabber which has an adult content warning will probably be one of the the first to disappear.

Welcome to the newly defined "free" 21st century

Friday, September 20, 2013 at 12:55 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Pat, some text from Michael McFadden's latest book - puts a clear
perspective on the issue and we all need to fight it:

From page 387 in the "Trenches" section of TobakkoNacht (Michael's latest book):
====
As things stand today, Internet posters have no defense against such censorship. They are not covered under the First Amendment, since it is not the government that is censoring them; private parties clearly and properly have rights over what material they choose to publish. My quibble is not so much over the censorship itself as it is with the fact that some of those private parties project a false appear­ance of free speech when in reality it does not exist. Legally they may be on safe ground, but morally, they stink to high heaven.

The First Amendment may come into play in the future, though. Antismoking advocates are greedily eying the concept of using .xxx domain names – supposedly to be reserved for marking websites dealing in outright pornography – to put Free Choice blogs and websites off-limits to those under twenty-one years of age. There have already been instances in the UK where outspoken but otherwise inoffensive websites that speak out too strongly against the bans have found themselves suddenly rendered invisible on library search engines. If websites espousing undesirable political content begin to get shut behind the same doors as the ones with pictures of Farmer Gray playing naughty games with his barnyard animals, we will all be poorer for it and the world will be a more dangerous place.

====

and from page 465 in the "Endgame" section:

As a choice of battlefield, the Internet offers a much better playing field than television for a debate in which facts should matter more than style and sound bites. Again as noted earlier, a lot of what we may say in opposing the status quo may now seem counterintuitive to our listeners, an audience who has had contrary opinions and ideas drummed into their minds innumerable times and through many diff­erent avenues over the course of decades. Presenting the contrary argument in a medium where those who are skeptical can easily hit a pause button and quickly open a web page to check on a fact works strongly in our favor – and against ban advocates who regularly stretch the truth far beyond its limits.

How long this window will remain open to us is questionable. As noted in the concluding section of Launched In The Trenches, anti­smoking advocates may very soon seek to limit our voices by use of censorship justified by the concept that our arguments are ones that should only be accessible to adults. While it’s true that it’s certainly better not to bombard children with pro-smoking messages, the likely-proposed “fix” for that would be to brand all Free Choice web content with the same domain tags as explicit pornography, tagging them as .xxx domains or some such. This would have the result of hiding our message from the great majority of ordinary adults who might prefer to see it but who earlier excluded (or will have had automatically excluded as an inbuilt preference of their search engines) pornographic material from their general web browsing and searching. The designation of Free Choice sites as deserving of .xxx domain names would effectively render them and their messages invisible, not just to children, but to the great majority of the Internet-browsing public."

Friday, September 20, 2013 at 22:10 | Unregistered CommenterBlad Tolstoy

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