Australian Politics & Current Affairs
For decades now, the anti-smoking crusade has marched forward in triumph. Taxes, education, taxes, confronting advertisements, taxes, medical interventions, taxes, nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs), taxes, strict marketing regulations, and of course, taxes, have attacked from all angles. Not to mention the frowning of a lifetime smokers cop every time they light up. Every conceivable weapon has been used, pushing back hard against a powerful and resourceful industry, and against a habit notoriously difficult to kick. The results are as clear as the air in a smoke-free pub – smoking rates have halved since 1980. For a product that has been blamed for the deaths of more people in this country than murders, car accidents, suicides, alcohol, and AIDS combined, this is a triumph for public health.
But I believe we have hit a threshold. By and large, what remains is a pocket of the truly dedicated, or rather, the truly addicted. These are the ones for whom smoking is the utmost pleasure, who have tried and failed at every new year to quit, who will forgo basic necessities before they bow to ever higher taxes, and who would create an army of black market consumers if tobacco were outlawed.
Of course, there are exceptions – the “casual” smoker, the “social” smoker, and the ones who will chain through a pack and a half in a night out on the turps yet shun the darts completely during the sober working week. Chances are they won’t be turning up at your local lung cancer ward anytime soon.
But the die-hards remain. They have been relegated to the status of lepers in our modern society. Their very existence in the presence of others arouses a level of contempt that is unparalleled. We are explicit in our criticism, seething in our rhetoric, and self-righteous in our crusade. This, from a self-proclaimed “tolerant” and “open-minded” society.
This is a symptom of a frustrated effort. Quite simply, the anti-smoking lobby has run out of ideas. They have reached a limit in what can be achieved through reasonable means, and are now trying to push water up a hill with a rake.
The lobby has been reduced to desperate measures, distortions of facts, and woe betide anyone who dares to argue with them about… “Passivrauchen”. Better known as passive smoking. Both a phrase and a myth created in Nazi Germany, by people bent on controlling the lives of their citizens “for health reasons”.
In spite of a complete lack of conclusive evidence, the “threat” of second-hand smoke is now spewed forth by prohibitionists at every turn. It is a crafty trick, a masterful recruitment tool, bringing hordes of non-smokers into this ridiculous campaign of dictating to other people how to live their own lives.
Sir Richard Doll himself, the man whose team of researchers were the first to find incontrovertibly prove the connection between active smoking and lung cancer, has openly dispelled the myth of “harmful second-hand smoke”. This learned scientist, who devoted his life’s work to finding the direct effects of active smoking, once publicly declared “the effect of other people smoking in my presence is so small it doesn’t worry me”. Clearly, however, the anti-tobacco lobby is not one to let the truth get in the way of a good yarn.
The method is genius – convince non-smokers that even standing in the vicinity of a smoker will send them to the grave, and bingo, you’ve got yourself an army of frightened citizens at your side. The end result? Smokers are now pariahs, the lepers of our modern society. They now embody the nemesis of public life.