Joe Jackson, who has been a globally successful musician for more than 40 years, with more than a dozen studio albums and hits like „Steppin’ Out“ or „Is she really going out with him“, has also acquired a reputation as a critical mind within our movement. Besides his profession as an artist, he has regularly attacked tobacco prohibition and healthism with opinion pieces and interviews.
The Briton, who escaped the smoking bans in New York and in the UK by moving to wild Berlin, in 2007 took over the patronage of an initiative by Netzwerk Rauchen. In the same year, he published an essay titled „Smoke, Lies and the Nanny State“, which remains a rewarding must-read.
In his preface he already states the result of his comprehensive research work:
“I’m now convinced that the dangers of smoking – and particularly ‘passive’ smoking – are greatly exaggerated, for reasons which have more to do with politics, power and profit than objective science.”
In the first part Jackson deals with the risks of smoking in general.
“It is has become ‘common knowledge’ that smoking is one of the worst things you can possibly do to yourself; ‘all the experts agree’. Of course, ‘all the experts’ once agreed that masturbation caused blindness, that homosexuality was a disease, and that marijuana turned people into homicidal maniacs. In the 1970s and 80s British doctors told mothers to put their babies to sleep face-down. Cot deaths soared, until a campaign by one nurse succeeded in changing this policy, which we now know to have claimed something like 15,000 lives.”
It should be added that the same ‘experts’ like to blame Sudden Infant Deaths (SIDS) on smoking – a doubtful exercise. Furthermore, the author quotes some “inconvenient numbers“, which may shake many people’s, caused by constant brainwashing, beliefs of the deadly effects of tobacco consumption.
The second part of the essay deals with passive smoking. Which is a (post)modern scare story – or, as Joe Jackson tells us after having analyzed the alleged scientific evidence:
“Anyone who really studies the evidence must come to one inevitable conclusion: that the intention is not to protect the public from a threat, but to stigmatise smokers and make smoking ‘socially unacceptable’.”
Such statements will make you a heretic in the eyes of sanitarists:
“If health is the new religion, antismokers are its Spanish Inquisition.”
The third part addresses smoking ban legislation. An interesting detail:
“I recently came across an article by psychologist Ernst Dichter in which he states that while everyone likes the smell of smoke, most people have to acquire the taste. It was written in 1947.”
The “second-hand-smoke nuisance” for third parties, which is an often used argument against smoking, stems largely from a conditioned aversion. In the past, people were more tolerant to odours, but when it comes to smoking decades of indoctrination unfortunately have borne fruit.
Jackson explains that smoking bans were never demanded by the main section of the population, but have been orchestrated ‘from above’, and that they lead to economic losses. He criticizes the state encouraged denunciation of prohibition violations as “the tactics of the Stasi or the KGB“ and addresses another phenomenon:
“Bans may get some people to quit, but it just makes most of us angry and defiant. There are, of course, smokers who want to quit, and who support smoking bans in the belief that this will help them. These guys are beloved by anti-smokers and greatly over-represented in the media. Personally I find them both rather pathetic (because they want the state to make their decisions for them) and selfish (since the bans they support affect millions of other smokers who have no intention of giving up). With friends like these, who needs enemies?”
In the fourth and last part of the essay, political and social backgrounds are deepened, including the infantilizing “zero-risk” culture. Finally, Jackson writes:
“I take some comfort in the belief that while they’re [the anti-smokers] winning most of the battles, they can’t ultimately win the war. You cannot ‘un-invent’ tobacco, and there will always be many people who love it. A backlash will surely come; even now there are glimmers of hope.”
In the meantime the anti-smokers unfortunately have been able to win additional battles, and there is no U-turn in sight. Nevertheless: They are far from having won the war. In Berlin, which is the adoptive home of our esteemed fellow fighter Joe, not even the Green Party calls for a total smoking ban in bars and restaurants any longer – an encouraging sign. It is worth the fight – we are still in the game and we shall not give up.
Joe Jackson’s song about the NYC smoking ban in 2003: