I’m not too great with dates once we dispensed with the ‘nineteen’ prefix, but I can at least be confident that I attended my grandma’s funeral ten years ago this week, as the after-service pub gathering took place in her neighbourhood boozer just a couple of days following the introduction of the smoking ban, introduced on 1 July 2007. Never a regular frequenter of taverns, this was my first visit to one since the powers-that-be decreed not even ‘smoking rooms’ were permissible in the hostelries of Britain anymore. Had my grandmother been buried a week earlier, I wouldn’t have spent half my time during the post-funeral bash constantly stepping outdoors.

Mind you, as was to become a recurring pattern over the coming decade, allegiances amongst the new social outcasts were forged as I ended up getting into fascinating conversations with distant relatives I’d never met before, conversations I probably wouldn’t have had if I’d stayed indoors with more immediate and familiar family members. At the same time, had the pub in question been able to divide its bars into smoking and non-smoking ones (as had been commonplace prior to the ban), no doubt the same conversations would have been entered into. The pub is now closed, by the way, having gone the way of many in the last ten years.

A friend of mine had returned from a trip to the States in the early 2000s and had told me of attending a jazz club in New York after the Big Apple’s own indoor smoking ban had been brought in, which had come into effect as of 2003. For him, the anticlimax of being in that kind of environment with such a crucial element to the ambience absent seemed an extreme extension of American Political Correctness; little did he know the same would apply in his home country just four years later. At the time, it was unimaginable that a traditional freedom for all over-16 was poised to be curtailed thanks to the relentless pressure of the powerful anti-smoking lobby.

Smoking bans may seem a relatively recent encroachment upon individual civil liberties, though if we overlook James I’s anti-tobacco rant of 1604, we have Nazi Germany to thank for the first attempt in modern history to impose the kind of restrictions on tobacco usage we’d find familiar today. Another plus point to add to Hitler’s blotted copybook along with the autobahns, no doubt. Post-war, many of the countries that sourced this neglected aspect of the Nazi master-plan did so gradually and in line with a growing awareness of the link between cigarettes and cancer. Initially, however, restrictions on public spaces arose in areas in which there was a proven fire risk, though the discouragement of smoking became more widespread through bans on television cigarette advertising. The last ad for cigs was screened on UK TV as far back as 1965, though such a ban was made a mockery of for decades with the continued sponsorship of sporting contests by tobacco companies.

Despite several American states passing laws that segregated smokers and non-smokers in places such as bars and restaurants in the 1970s and 80s, the increasing clout of the anti-tobacco lobby and the spreading cult of health and fitness enabled said lobby to press for more extreme measures. Surprisingly, however, Peru was the first country to impose an outright ban on smoking in all enclosed public places, setting a potent precedent in 1993. Bit by bit, as the 20th century approached its end, greater restrictions on smokers were gathering pace that would snowball come the Millennium.

In 2003, both India and New Zealand outlawed smoking in schools and workplaces, whereas, a little closer to home, Ireland followed suit in 2004; that same year, Bhutan achieved the undeniable ambition of the anti-smoking lobby by banning tobacco altogether, effectively placing it in the same category as all narcotics. As more countries have appeased those who had long complained of ‘passive smoking’ in public areas, however, even that is clearly insufficient legislation for the most fanatical anti-smokers, who probably won’t be content until the blueprint of Bhutan is adopted worldwide.

Even as a committed smoker, I fully understand the objections of those who demanded and have subsequently approved of indoor smoking bans; but the problem seems to be that no restrictions are ever enough for those with the power to impose them. The ridiculous need to persistently punish smokers, as reflected in the most recent ‘innovation’ of hiding cigarettes behind cupboard doors in newsagents and supermarkets (let alone the removal of branding from packets), are characteristic of a conscious programme to marginalise a section of society whose rights are diminishing with each new law. It is ironic that in a day and age in which every minority – whether that minority status arises from race, faith or sexually – is catered for and pandered to, the smoker is fair game for a legislative kicking, the whipping boy of the nanny state.

The way in which a proven healthy alternative such as vaping has been banned from public places in record time proves health concerns are (pardon the inevitable pun) a convenient smokescreen for the anti-smoking lobby, whose prohibitionist agenda has been exposed as a consequence. In 1859, John Stuart-Mill wrote ‘The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others’. Vaping doesn’t harm those who don’t vape; the vapours evaporate in a matter of seconds and don’t linger either as an odour or a health hazard; so why is it bracketed along with actual tobacco as a social evil? I appreciate smoking is, and always will be, a divisive issue; but ten years after a long-held objective of non-smokers was achieved, enough is enough.

© The Editor


13 thoughts on “THE FAG END OF HISTORY

  1. “Smoking bans may seem a relatively recent encroachment upon individual civil liberties”…er, bollocks.

    You are not banned from smoking. You are restricted in where you can do it. As are consumers of alcohol. Your civil liberties are not affected. You can still legally obtain and smoke as many cigarettes, roll ups, pipe tobacco etc as you like. You can smoke 24/7/365 without fear of prosecution.

    i am banned from taking LSD, MDMA, speed and cocaine under all circumstances.

    Smokers are the original snowflakes.

    Also to equate efforts to reduce smoking with the state hounding of men who engaged in consensual sexual acts is just wrong. One might almost call it perverse.


    1. To be fair, I would imagine you’ve probably consumed some of those said substances in public places at one time or another, regardless of their illegal status – whereas with cigarettes never having been subjected to such laws, the curtailment of some smokers’ freedoms can feel more acute, especially when they’ve only become subject to them in recent years. And I certainly didn’t mean to equate the penalising of smokers with those who were once penalised for certain sexual acts either; I was merely pointing out that in an age when everyone at one time denied a voice is now rightly given a fair hearing, smokers are to a degree easy pariahs as their habitat is increasingly reduced.
      Now I’m off to find a safe space where I can have a fag… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Winsock, spoken like a typical misocapnist/capnophobe.

      Prohibition by “salami slices”. Here’s a brief history of the antismoking madness (Godber Blueprint) over the last few decades. It’s a slide down the slippery slope that antismoking fanatics claimed would never happen.

      The first demand for a smoking ban was in the late-1980s concerning short-haul flights in the USA of less than 2 hours. At the time, the antismokers were asked if this was a “slippery slope” – where would it end? They ridiculed anyone suggesting such because this ban was ALL that they were after.

      Then they ONLY wanted smoking bans on all flights.
      Then the antismokers ONLY wanted nonsmoking sections in restaurants, bars, etc., and ensuring that this was ALL they wanted.
      Then the antismokers ONLY wanted complete bans indoors. That was all they wanted. At the time, no-one was complaining about having to “endure” wisps of smoke outdoors.

      While they pursued indoor bans, the antismokers were happy for smokers to be exiled to the outdoors. Having bulldozed their way into indoor bans, the antismokers then went to work on the outdoors, now declaring that momentary exposure to remnants of smoke in doorways or a whiff outdoors was a “hazard”, more than poor, innocent nonsmokers should have to “endure”.
      Then they ONLY wanted bans within 10 feet of entrance ways.
      Then they ONLY wanted bans within 20 feet of entrance ways.
      Then they ONLY wanted bans in entire outdoor dining areas.
      Then they ONLY wanted bans for entire university and hospital campuses and parks and beaches.
      Then they ONLY wanted bans for apartment balconies.
      Then they ONLY wanted bans for entire apartment (including individual apartments) complexes.

      On top of all of this, there are now instances where smokers are denied employment, denied housing (even the elderly), and denied medical treatment. Smokers in the UK are denied fostering/adoption. Involuntary mental patients are restrained physically or chemically (sedation) or multi-day solitary confinement rather than allow them to have a cigarette – even outside. In some countries there are also compounded extortionate taxes.

      Laguna Beach, California, has recently banned smoking everywhere, including streets and alleys. The only place one can smoke legally is in one’s car/home. Duterte of the Philippines, who likens himself to H#tler, recently instituted draconian antismoking laws that can attract jail time for violation. Australia has increased tobacco excise by 12.5% for each of 8 years (2013-2020). An otherwise $4-5 pack of cigarettes is currently artificially inflated to $25, and by 2020 it will be inflated to $45.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Smokers are the original snowflakes.

      You’ve got to be kidding? You’re deluded. Antismokers are the original snowflakes. Utter neurotic bigots. Oh, we must get rid of smoking indoors or I’m going to die. My whole lunch was destroyed by someone lighting up on the next table. We must stop those dirty, filthy smoking “addicts”. Oh, there are now people smoking outside doorways. Why should a superior person like me have to put up with having to walk through a wall of smoke. I was temporarily blinded. Ban smoking at doorways. Why are people allowed to smoke in outside dining areas? My whole dining experience is ruined. My taste buds become paralyzed. Ban smoking in outdoor dining areas. Oh, I was about 50 metres behind a smoker on the street. I caught a whiff of smoke. It was just too much. I thought I was going to black out. Ban smoking on streets. I was at the beach and there were people smoking. How can this be allowed. It ruined my whole day. Ban smoking on beaches everywhere. And on and on it goes.

      Antismokers – the original delicate, dainty “safe spacers”. Everywhere must cater only for them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Antismoking is not new. It has a long, sordid, 400+ year history, much of it predating even the pretense of a scientific basis or the more recent concoction of secondhand smoke “danger”. Antismoking crusades typically run on inflammatory propaganda, i.e., lies, in order to get law-makers to institute bans. Statistics and causal attribution galore are conjured. The current antismoking rhetoric has all been heard before. All it produces is irrational fear and hatred, discord, enmity, animosity, social division, oppression, and bigotry. When supported by the State, zealots seriously mess with people’s minds on a mass scale.

    The primary root of the antismoking that we see today (and was also seen in Nazism) is America. The US of A has a long history of anti-tobacco (part of “clean living” hysteria) that goes back to the mid-1800s. Anti-tobacco was latched onto by Temperance (religious) groups and assorted physicians (eventually the Eugenics Movement from the late-1800s). All manner of [baseless] claims were made about the “harms” of tobacco. Within the hysterical fervor to “save” the “slaves to tobacco”, it produced a pressure to quit (or not start) not unlike we currently see.

    Am I allowed to post links?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know there was some ban hundreds of years ago in the Ottoman Empire, but with this piece I was attempting to trace the origins of the modern anti-smoking movement, all the way back to Adolf. Yes, you can post links, but if you’re a new commentator they tend to be held in ‘pending’ until I check ’em. I’ll have a look.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Check movies/documentaries pre-1990s. Smoking was commonplace. Smokers/nonsmokers got along just fine. There is no hysterical hand-flailing and hands cupped over mouth to avoid a whiff of tobacco smoke – even outdoors – as we see today was to be seen pre-1990s. Everything changed when the anti-smokers got the ear of the legislature in a variety of countries in the early-1980s, and aggressively pushed by the unelected, unaccountable World Health Organization. Since then antismoking (prohibitionism) has been adopted as a societal ideal and loads of money has been pumped into antismoking. It’s the perfect recipe for unquestioned inflammatory propaganda galore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was watching a 1973 episode of ‘Softly Softly: Taskforce’ on YT a few months back, with a villain being grilled by the Old Bill; he must have got through a full packet during the interrogation. The coppers were more concerned with his guilt than his smoke.


  4. magnetic01:

    Much of my comment was a deliberately provocative counter-balance to what I perceived as a little bit of Smokers’ Self-pity Syndrome in the original post., but the points still hold.

    Smoking is not illegal and I doubt it ever will be. Alcohol is controlled (and public attitudes to its consumption have also varied over the years). As Pet points out in reply, my drugs of choice are illegal. Merely possessing them is enough to be put inside (hence, being older, wiser and more risk averse, I don’t possess any. Boo!). When you’re in that position, maybe we can chat. Until then, get over yourself.

    Also, many of my friends smoke and they actually now say that smoke free venues are far preferable. When we’re out together, it’s me who looks after the coats and bags and drinks, so you should appreciate people like me being around! (Joke.) And many of those smokers repeatedly try to stop smoking, because of the cost, and the accumulating health problems (throat, lung) and, as we get older, the ageing effects of smoke on the skin.

    But I have no problem about smoking. Puff away. Just the moaning is irksome.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hmm… since there’s no “awaiting moderation” on the long comment I thought I just entered it’s possible I hit the wrong button. Here’s the backup just in case:

    Great article Victoria! I’ve got a few comments on your last paragraph to expand on it though.

    “Vaping doesn’t harm those who don’t vape; the vapours evaporate in a matter of seconds and don’t linger either as an odour or a health hazard; so why is it bracketed along with actual tobacco as a social evil?”

    Victoria, it’s important to realize that Antivapers are simply Antismokers dressed in new costumes. If you visit you’ll see a brief summary of the main “types” of Antismokers and you’ll notice that at least half of them have migrated to Antivaper craziness. The Idealists, unfortunately always a fairly small part of the antismoking population, tends to like vaping, but the Greedy, the Controllers, the Moralists, and even the Neurotics and some in the other groups have switched right over whenever they sense clouds of vapor in a discussion.

    This leads us to your final sentence: “I appreciate smoking is, and always will be, a divisive issue; but ten years after a long-held objective of non-smokers was achieved, enough is enough.” Victoria, enough is NEVER enough when it comes to Antismokers. No matter WHAT is given to them, no matter WHAT concession is made, no matter WHAT statements they make about “this is all we want,” … it’s never, ever, EVER enough. They want the total eradication of smoking and smokers. That is their one, only, and true endgame. Anything else they are given anywhere along the way is simply picked up and used as a new base and a new weapon in the total war. Remember how in the UK people were assured “No one is talking about a smoking ban in pubs!” just a year or so before the total ban came in. Remember “No one is talking about banning smoking in people’s homes.” and then just look at the push to ban smoking in apartments and co-ops. Remember “No one is talking about banning smoking outdoors!” and then look at how the 1 meter and 3 meter zones around doorways were established and have grown, and look at how the seemingly somewhat reasonable “No Smoking In The Playground” rules have expanded to parks and beaches. Each inch of ground given is simply another inch of ground for them to build their offensive upon as they reduce the numbers of their enemy.

    Vapers need to study and learn from the history of the War on Smoking because it’s the same war that will be fought against them. They need to learn the tricks and lies and how to counter them, and they need to work with smokers even if they’re not particularly fond of smoking, or Ben Franklin’s advice will be all too true:

    “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

    – MJM

    Liked by 1 person

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