Sean Gabb in the Nottingham Post re Cigarette Display Ban

Sean Gabb on the Cigarette Display Ban
The Nottingham Post, 7th April 2012

THIS new law will make buying cigarettes harder and less pleasurable.

Every smoker will be made inescapably aware, every time he or she buys a packetof cigarettes, that smoking is a disapproved activity.

It may push many smokers to give up. It will cause some tobacconists to close.

But this is the stated intention of the law, and I could fill up this article by arguing that it is an attack on adult free choice – that we have an absolute right to do things that are harmful to ourselves; that the claims about “passive smoking” are a statistical fraud; that the various claims about harm to children are also fraudulent.

Why bother? These arguments have had no success so far, and will have none now.

In a few decades, smoking has been demonised and restricted to the point where it may soon be effectively forbidden by law.

Libertarian arguments have failed. So has the numerical weight of smokers.

The only worthwhile question is why?

One reason is the cushy jobs provided by the anti-smoking movement – doctors who cure no one, but preach further restrictions on free choice; epidemiologists churning out bogus correlations; activists in charities funded by the taxpayers, or employed in central and local bureaucracies.

These people are a solid interest group, and have no desire for the truth to come between them and their next salary.

The other reason is that smokers, in the main, are “sheeple.” Every time they are faced with robbery through taxation, or naked persecution, they simply roll over. Unlike some groups in society they never question the lies thrown at them. They never challenge the existence of the interest group that is working for their suppression.

Of course, smoking is less basic to identity than religion or sexual preference. But the persecution of smokers is a good example of how no freedom lasts when those who use it will not defend it. Tough luck smokers – you brought this on yourselves.

7 responses to “Sean Gabb in the Nottingham Post re Cigarette Display Ban

  1. Well, speaking as a smoker, I understand your point Sean but it’s not quite fair about the “sheeple” thing. You of all people know how hard it is for genuinely “outsider” movements to organise or gain any political traction; those nominally “grass roots” movements which succeed do so due largely to “insider” political sponsorship- gay rights, environmentalism, what have you. That is, although they may not be hegemonic at some point in history, they have a politcally inside faction who sympathise with them. If you don’t have that, your chances of success as a group are bleak. (Compare for instance the “sheepleness” of gays when they had no insider friends who would openly campaign on their behalf, in the 1890s).

    The Proggies are insiders and are very good at what they do. They learned from the error of Alcohol Prohibition in the USA that decades of demonisation groundwork- so that nobody dares object- is the key to success, and they have pursued this ruthlessly with target number 2, the smokers. It is hard to know what strategy smokers could have adopted to prevent all this. I’ll be damned if I can think of one.

    When a society decides to persecute some group, however numerous, there is generally very little they can do about it. Stalin was just one man, but millions upon millions of Russians and Eastern Europeans suffered under him. They were not stupid sheeple; they were simply vanquished by the application of power. A million smokers could amass in Trafalgar Square for a demonstration, and if the BBC bothered to cover it at all, it would be by simply filming anyone they could find coughing, or interviewing the least articulate and dim witted demonstrators. Nothing would change.

    People don’t normally resist power because they recognise, correctly, that resistance is generally futile. We live in an authoritarian society; the brief semi-“liberal” phase of the post-war period is thoroughly over, thanks to decades of well organised reaction. Nobody found a way to prevent the reaction setting in. As a result, our country has been changed forever. Nobody found a way to stop mass immigration, or leave the EU, or relegalise drugs or even abolish the BBC. Who is to blame? Everyone, and no-one. We live in history, and history tells far more tales of oppression than of liberty.

    We need a strategy for achieving liberty. This is far more important that discussions of what we might do if we ever got it; whether to be Anarcho-Capitalists or Syndicalo-Minarchists or whether to have a Gold Standard. The Enemy have all the wrong answers, but all the right strategic methodology, and that’s why they win and we lose.

    If I knew the answer to this, I would give it. But I don’t.

  2. I suggest this deserves moving to the front page, David.

  3. Oh, and though I went off my ciggies last year, I still define myself as a smoker.

  4. Some of us do fight, we hold protests, we write to MPs, we complain on blogs, as the only places willing to hear our side, we do what we can as unprofessional activists with absolutely no funding from anyone.

    I’ve smoked for 44 years – almost all of my life – but I never considered myself the be “A Smoker” until after 2007 when I found myself herded into a stigmatised and labelled box.

    Too many smokers are still hanging their heads in shame because of the constant attacks from Govt about how “ugly, dirty, smelly, selfish, disgusting child abusers” they are.

    Give them information on the truth of passive smoking, active smoking and the history of anti-smokerism and arm them to defend themselves and they will start to stick up for thesmelves.

    They need to know what is really being done to them in the name of their children. It’s not about health. It is about ideological social engineering by champagne socialists and control freaks.

    We are David against the combined giant Tobacco Control Industry and political Goliath. We need support, we need help, we need funding, we need organisation, and we need to start taking legal action for some of the wrongs caused and rights stolen such as private property and consumer rights.

  5. What is the truth on passive smoking. Are there any useful sites to visit.? It’s always difficult to judge the reliability on these things as there is always a sense that in any battle of ideas each side will say whatever is useful rather that just giving straight facts so we can make up our own minds. One thing always puzzled me though about this passive smoking thing, especially smoking in the house and the danger to children. How many pets have died from passive smoking, you know, the cat, budgie,puppy. One would have thought they would succumb first and the anti-brigade would be having a field day.But we never hear about this, so perhaps they don’t get ill from passive smoking?And if they don’t, can any thing or any one else? Just an observation. Any thoughts?

  6. Patricia,

    Velvet Glove, Iron Fist is a good place to start-

  7. Good site Ian B, one to keep checking, thanks.