The anti-tobacco industry tell us that if smoking had been invented today, it would immediately be banned outright. With the health, safety, food and drug laws we have in place, coupled with what we now know about smoking, there is no way any Government would allow smoking, or the sale of tobacco to be legal.
“If smoking was unknown to us and someone invented it today, it would never be allowed”.
That’s what they tell us, but I dispute it.
Imagine a world where smoking had not been invented, where tobacco was simply a plant that nobody paid much attention to and nobody had thought of curing it and smoking it. What would such a world look like?
The world we currently live in is one big Nanny State. The West is firmly entrenched in Nanny Statism and the Third World is catching up just as fast as it can. Governments restrict out freedoms with gusto, largely cheered on and pushed by sock puppet charities who gain a great deal of power, influence and money by doing so.
And it all began with tobacco control. What used to be a few prod-nosed people with a chip on their shoulder has now become a huge, multinational industry. Part of the reason for this massive expansion, was the rise of Socialism and the likes of Tony Blair dishing out huge sums of money to groups who were willing to pretend they spoke for a people who wanted more and more Government restrictions. After 1997 in the UK, Nanny State activism went from a part time hobby to a full time and very well paid job.
Tobacco was unique in this respect. You don’t eat it and you don’t drink it, you roll it inside a bit of paper, set fire to it and inhale the smoke. It’s not ‘normal’. Anything similar has always been illegal. Due to the unique nature of tobacco, it was targeted by certain random crackpots who produced certain studies that we’re all aware of, which demonstrated that tobacco was not just a unique substance, but a uniquely harmful substance.
This gave the puritans who do not like tobacco, a first rung on the ladder to it’s de-normalisation. If it had been any food or drink item, this would not have been possible. You can’t stop people from eating and drinking and although some food and drink groups can be harmful in consistently large quantities, moderation is always the rational answer. Tobacco as they say, when used as intended, is harmful in any quantity and for any duration.
So began tobacco control, pushed on us little by little over the years, with a huge surge in the last few decades. But once it was discovered that people are happy to accept excessive restriction into other peoples lives, as long as you tell them it’s for their own good, ‘control’ began to extent beyond tobacco.
The control industry has since branched out into salt, sugar, alcohol, and with the advent of Public Health England, all food groups. This was only possible because of the template laid out by Tobacco Control. Without tobacco, there would have been no traction in attacking booze or any of the food groups; people would not have stood for it, or even understood it. To convince people that children get fat from seeing pictures of food on the London Underground, takes years of conditioning and needs a basis in something they are initially willing to believe.
So in our world where smoking had not been invented, there would of course be no Tobacco Control and without Tobacco Control, there would be no fake obesity epidemic, no ‘junk food’ moral panic, no salt scare, no sugar scare and no new wave alcohol prohibitionists.
And most importantly of all, there would be no junk science. Without all of the above, there would be no need for junk science and quack scientists, because there would be no benefit from it. Apart from possibly Climate Change, which is it’s own little niche area and nothing to do with health, we would live in a world where scientists had integrity, worked towards the truth and could be trusted, simply because there would be no reason not to, unless you worked in ‘Climate Science’ (And even then, a small and isolated group turning out junk may actually be ostracised by the scientific community rather than joined en masse).
So here we are, a world without large chunks of the Nanny State and without junk science and somebody decides it would be a good idea to roll some dried tobacco in a bit of paper, set fire to the end and inhale the smoke. Would it be banned outright? I see no reason for that to happen.
New products on the market do have to pass certain standards before they can be sold and tobacco would be no different, but what would those standards be?
Tobacco is not food and it’s not drink. The closest thing it could be compared to is cannabis, as that is also rolled in paper and smoked. Tobacco is not a mind altering drug though and it’s not a psychotropic, so even though the first reaction may well be to ban it because it resembles an illegal drug in it’s delivery method, it would be unlikely to happen once it is discovered that nicotine is no more harmful to health or mind altering than caffeine.
So if tobacco is not banned as a drug, the next step is to ensure it’s safe for consumption. That would probably come under existing food standards. The smoke would have to be tested to ensure it does not contain anything harmful to the end user. How many chemicals are we told there are in tobacco smoke? 4000, or is it 6000 now? Image an impartial scientist with no agenda, testing the smoke and finding that out:
“We’ve extensively tested cigarette smoke and found in the region of 6000 chemicals, none of which come close to levels that might cause harm and most of which, as you’d expect from burning a leaf, are naturally occurring and exist in many other food items readily available.”
Can you image that being said by one of today’s scientists? Even if a scientist with some integrity came out with a statement like that, he would be ignored in the media and accused of being a Tobacco Industry shill by the anti-smokers.
The Tobacco control industry tell us that cigarette smoke contains formaldehyde, a chemical used in embalming dead bodies. A real scientist would tell us that there is more formaldehyde in a pear than a cigarette and that it is a naturally occurring organic compound.
So our scientist in a tobacco free world would probably tell us that smoking a cigarette is likely harmless. How about we give him a little knowledge of ‘what we know now’?
How would he react if asked him to test if smoking causes inner ear infections in children, or if it restricts the blood flow and causes impotence, or causes ageing of the skin? He’d think the idea was preposterous and wouldn’t waste his time. The same with many of the things we are told are caused by smoking, which after many years of indoctrination, the modern populace is happy to believe, but in a world new to tobacco, which still has science with honesty and integrity, would be dismissed out of hand.
But what about the big one? Lung cancer?
There was a time when I believed, as most people do, that smoking causes lung cancer. After the smoking ban of 2007, when I actually started looking into second hand smoke, I started to find my doubts with active smoking. My beliefs have changed a lot over those years and at most, I now believe smoking can be a risk factor to certain genetically pre-disposed people or very heavy smokers.
The bulk of the ‘evidence’ that links smoking with lung cancer is statistical. To put it in very basic terms, incidents of lung cancer have risen along with the numbers of smokers. Recently however, lung cancer has continued to rise, but smoking rates have fallen heavily.
That proves or dis-proves nothing, but it does open the door to the possibility that something other than smoking is responsible for the steady rise in lung cancer rates. What could it be? Well as I see it, there are two obvious possibilities. One thing that has risen along with lung cancer rates, is the use of diesel engines. At the moment, our Governments are telling us that diesel causes cancer. They change their mind quite often though, so who knows if this will continue to be the narrative? It might just be a good way to appease the Green Lobby and attack car ownership.
There is one other thing that we can all agree does cause lung cancer without doubt. Gamma radiation. There have been over 2000 nuclear bomb tests in this century and they have thrown thousands of tonnes of radioactive dust into the atmosphere, much of which is still up there and slowly finding it’s way back to Earth on the weather patterns. If the Governments that did these tests were to have to compensate every person that got lung cancer, they would be bankrupt and unviable. It’s eminently possible that this is why smoking was initially blamed for lung cancer, so Governments could put the blame on the sufferers themselves, rather than taking responsibility.
I don’t know if either of these scenarios are correct, but I do think that in a world without tobacco, there are enough reasons to suspect that lung cancer rates would have still risen at their current trajectory.
Science can show that radiation causes cancer, but it cannot show that tobacco causes cancer. It’s all statistical and if you do get cancer, doctors cannot find out what actually caused, it, only that you have it.
So I don’t believe our scientists would be looking to see if smoking causes cancer. I don’t believe that in a hundred years from now, our scientists would be correlating smoking with cancer. I think the cancer rate would have been consistent from the end of WW2 until the present date and would not change with the introduction of smoking in 2019.
So in my opinion, If smoking was invented today, I don’t think it would be banned, I think we would all be enjoying our first cigarette. And what of the future? If smoking has been introduced almost a century after mass industrialisation, I don’t think anyone would even think of banning it. The health issues currently attributed to smoking would have already been blamed on something else and we would all be free to enjoy our cigarettes.
What about public smoking bans in this hypothetical world? Sure, there would be some people who do not like the smell, but as actually happened in our real world, most people would like it. Smoking would be no different than drinking a cup of coffee, and the sale of coffee is very much encouraged in pubs and restaurants.
When I worked for a pub chain, we were taught to ask customers after they had ordered a drink, if they wanted any crisps or nuts with that. I never did it, as I figured if they wanted crisps or nuts, they would have bloody well asked, but it’s what we were taught to do.
In our, new to smoking world, once we realised how good a cigarette goes with a beer, we would be asking punters if they want a smoke with that. Just like a pint of lager and a packet of crisps goes well together, so does a beer and a smoke.
The idea of banning smoking in pubs would be totally barmy in that world!
I think that when the Tobacco Control Industry tell us that smoking would be banned if it was invented today, they mean it would be banned on the basis of years of junk science, but in a world that had only just invented smoking, that junk would not exist and people as a whole would be of a much more rational mind, now and in the future.
What a pity we will unlikely ever be a around to see a similar world become reality.