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Should smoking on streets be banned?

A Councillor’s proposal to ban smoking in public places could effectively make the city centre an unwelcome place for a significant proportion of the population

Smokers at work (source: www.traveladventures.org)

Melbourne City Councillor Richard Foster has a “radical” proposal to prohibit smoking in all public places within the municipality. Smoking should be banned, he says, in:

Any public place that could in no way be considered a private place, so basically anything that is not private land, so that would include al fresco dining areas, outside office  blocks, anything like that.

What makes Councillor Foster’s proposal “radical” is that he wants to prohibit smoking on streets entirely!

Opportunities for the circa one fifth of adult Australians who smoke to light up in public places are getting fewer and fewer. Starting around the 1980s, smoking was progressively banned in the nation’s workplaces and more recently in enclosed venues like restaurants and pubs.

It’s being stubbed out in outdoor settings too. Many jurisdictions now restrict smoking in outside dining and drinking areas, in playgrounds, swimming pools, major sports grounds, transport stops and around the entrances to public buildings.

Some entertainment venues like casinos, pubs and clubs offer designated outdoor smoking areas on the premises. However in dense places it can be hard to find sufficient separated outdoor space to cater for smokers. Even in the ACT, most venues find the requirements too hard and Canberra consequently “is now almost totally smoke-free.”

The arguments for further regulation of outdoor smoking are summarised in the Cancer Council of Victoria’s comprehensive on-line resource, Tobacco in Australia.

There is persuasive evidence, it notes, that secondhand smoke can be harmful in crowded outdoor areas like restaurant patios.

However in non-crowded situations the main arguments aren’t about secondhand smoke. For example, the danger from smoking in playgrounds is bad role modelling and the risk children might swallow butts. In parklands the primary concerns relate to littering and the potential for bushfires.

In fact one of the key rationales for outdoor restrictions is they make it harder for smokers. Limiting opportunities to puff lowers consumption, provides another reason to stop, and helps prevent smoker’s who’ve quit from relapsing.

There are some public health academics, like Boston University’s Professor Michael Seigel and Sydney University’s Professor Simon Chapman, who think the risks from transient exposure to secondhand smoke are greatly over-stated.

The Cancer Council of Victoria also notes there is less exposure to secondhand smoke in outdoor settings and that arguments for banning smoking may in some situations “be chiefly about nuisance rather than public health risk.”

I think opposition to smoking on streets, where exposure to secondhand smoke is usually brief and passing, is one of those cases that’s really about nuisance rather than health. Nuisance is still a legitimate complaint, but it doesn’t carry the same weight as a health risk.

The loss of amenity for pedestrians needs to be balanced against the value of the street in providing a universally handy place where smokers can always go for a quick drag to feed their habit.

That highlights a key problem with Councillor Foster’s idea – he fails to recognise, or accept, that smoking is an addiction.

It means it would be hard to enforce a ban on smoking on footpaths and squares. City streets are essentially unsupervised territory reliant on occasional and sporadic police patrols.

It’s not a good idea to make laws that can’t be enforced easily or cost-effectively and are likely to be ignored. The city centre is a popular metropolitan-wide destination for night life – it’s probable there’d be many smokers who after a few drinks would ignore any ban.

While there’s an argument that a ban would be justified by its symbolic value, the key problem is it would give smokers little quarter.

They wouldn’t have anywhere to go to satisfy their craving other than to those licensed venues within the City of Melbourne that are able to, or choose to, provide complying outdoor smoking areas (assuming Councillor Foster doesn’t want to do away with them too!).

The centre of Melbourne is dense and property is expensive. It can’t be taken for granted that most venues could provide a well-insulated outdoor smoking area.

And even if they were readily available, not everyone wants to sit in a bar or is comfortable in one, especially if they’re alone. Certain bars might be unsavoury and some patrons might not even be admitted. In any event, some smokers don’t drink.

There’s a vertical equity dimension here too – Councillor Foster’s ban would fall disproportionately on citizens of lower socio-economic status. Smokers are very heavily over-represented among those with lower levels of education and poorer life prospects.

It would effectively limit the scope of smokers to participate in the public life of the city. That’s not a trivial matter, as many of the key metropolitan institutions and attractions are located within the City of Melbourne.

City centres are cosmopolitan places. There are plenty of unpleasant sights, sounds and smells. It’s not hard to find something distasteful if you look for it, but cities work because we’re tolerant and forbearing in the face of diversity.

Smoking is a legal activity, so there should always be somewhere convenient smokers can go for a fag. If that means the four-fifths have to briefly put up with the smell of smoke on the footpath as they pass by from time to time then that’s unpleasant and a nuisance, perhaps it’s even an aesthetic outrage, but it’s not a major sacrifice.

There are plenty of other ways to address the social costs of smoking and so far they’ve been very successful.

As a society, we regulate closely how it can be advertised, packaged and sold. We provide a lot of public information on the appalling costs of smoking, impose high taxes on cigarettes, and subsidise withdrawal programs. It’s long been banned in workplaces and indoor public venues, and it’s increasingly being restricted in crowded outdoor venues.

There’s doubtless some scope to “tidy up” those huddles of smokers outside buildings so they’re less offensive to delicate sensibilities, but to give addicts virtually no refuge would be harsh, insensitive and unworkable.

Councillor Foster’s proposal is another step in the homogenisation of the centre that goes hand-in-hand with gentrification. John Lennon reminds us of what we might lose:

I regret profoundly that I was not an American and not born in Greenwich Village……I’m here just to breathe it. It might be dying, and there might be a lot of dirt in the air that you breathe, but this is where it’s happening.

BTW, I don’t smoke.

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  • 1
    Dylan Nicholson
    Posted February 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Surely it’s private spaces such as in your car while your kids are with you that we should worry about more.

    But yes, much as I abhor second-hand smoke, I’d much rather we see a push for smokers to be more respectful to others because it’s the decent thing to do, rather than out of fear of being fined.

  • 2
    Sue B
    Posted February 2, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    As a non-smoker, I think the proposal is extreme and ridiculous. It completely ignores the fact that smoking is an addiction. It will never get through.

    What I would rather see is a ban on smoking in outdoor eating areas – anywhere food is served, and within six metres of them (so people don’t just stand up next to the place). Also within six metres of and building entrance. And with that, a $5000 on the spot fine for cigarette butt litter. If they have a cigarette packet, they have a place to put the butt once they are done. Oh, and added to that, I’d like to see some real enforcement.

  • 3
    IkaInk
    Posted February 2, 2013 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    The proposal is indeed extreme, but it’s a pity you haven’t researched Foster’s proposal a little more, it seems you’ve responded to The Age’s article, but not the embedded interview on the same page. Foster has outlined that there would be public spaces available for smokers to nurse their habit in the form of designated smoking zones.

    Also, despite The Age’s claims that this would be the world’s toughest smoking ban; it is almost identical to rules that exist in parts of Tokyo, most notably Shinjuku where it is generally illegal to smoke on the street except in designated areas which are fitted with many ashtrays and smokers. This ban has existed since 2005.

    This aside, I think the proposal is abhorrent, unfair and unjustified.

  • 4
    Bill Bunting
    Posted February 2, 2013 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    I think that this is going one step too far, for a number of reasons. Even though we are talking about city and urban streets there has got to be a point where people have a degree reasonable of freedom to do things that are not illegal in what should be able to be considered free open space. In and around buildings and specific function public places where people are confined there is a reasonably strong case for restricting smoking. However on open thoroughfares those justifications wash away. There is also the consideration of visitors to the city by people from all parts of the world where smoking is practiced to varying degrees. If these people can go into shops and legally purchase cigarettes, it will be difficult for these people to understand that they cannot utilise their product in the open.

    I do not smoke and I will be quite happy when no-one else does, but I do not think that this is the path to that end. The new packaging has only now been implimented, there must be a period of adaption before a further ratcheting of the restrictions to this habit are attempted.

  • 5
    Alan Davies
    Posted February 2, 2013 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    IkaInk #3:

    I linked to the on-line version of the article for the convenience of readers, but I actually read it in the newspaper (ie paper) and there was certainly no embedded video there! Was it in the iPad version?

    The Age’s leader writer must’ve read it in hard copy too because Friday’s editorial interprets Foster’s position exactly the way I do.

    In any event, Foster doesn’t say in the video (it’s a radio interview actually) what he means by designated areas, but he does explicitly say there should be no smoking on the street. I accounted in my article for the possibility that smokers might be confined to designated areas in certain venues.

    I’d like to see Foster’s press release or the transcript of his interview with The Age’s reporter to see if designated areas were explicitly part of his original proposal or whether it was something he made up on the go under questioning.

    Comments like “just ban [smoking] outright and be done with it” don’t sound too accommodating to the needs of smokers.

  • 6
    hk
    Posted February 3, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    With nearly 17% of the Australian population still addicted to smoking, it is not realistic in 2013 to now legislate to completely ban smoking outdoors in public areas.

    The reasons preventing reduction of personal harmful practices such as smoking, that increase the burden of disease for individuals and the general public need much more discussion.

    BTW for personal and public health reasons I stopped smoking more than forty years ago. If I reach 100 I will celebrate by smoking again in pvt

  • 7
    John Anders
    Posted February 3, 2013 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    When will people wake up? One would think that at least journalists would have some investigative skills. But, it seems that journalists in particular have lapped up the inflammatory propaganda hook, line, sinker, aluminium boat, outboard motor, and part of the jetty, and have themselves become disciples of the deranged antismoking cult. They are utterly clueless as to what has been occurring over the last three decades or, as relevant, over the last century.

    Antismoking is not new. It has a long, sordid, 400+ year history, much of it predating even the semblance 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. The current antismoking rhetoric has all been heard before. And when it is supported/funded by the State, all it produces is irrational fear and hatred, discord, enmity, animosity, social division, and bigotry. The two major antismoking (and anti-alcohol) crusades of early last century were in America and Germany. The bulk of claims made by antismoking zealots were baseless and highly inflammatory that unfortunately did their manipulative job in the short term.
    http://www.americanheritage.com/content/thank-you-not-smoking
    http://www.velvetgloveironfist.com/index.php?page_id=18
    http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&File_Id=5339
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2352989/pdf/bmj00571-0040.pdf

  • 8
    John Anders
    Posted February 3, 2013 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    2.
    The current antismoking crusade is much like previous crusades. It is a moralizing, social-engineering, eradication crusade decided upon in the 1970s by a small, self-installed clique of fanatics operating under the auspices of the World Health Organization (the Godber Blueprint http://www.rampant-antismoking.com ). This little, unelected group decided for everyone that tobacco-use should be eradicated from the world. These fanatics were speaking of secondhand smoke “danger” years before the first study on SHS, together with advocating indoor and OUTDOOR smoking bans. Secondhand smoke “danger” is a concoction (first introduced without basis by the Nazi eugenicists) to advance the social-engineering, eradication agenda. The goal this time is not to ban the sale of tobacco, but to ban smoking in essentially all the places that people typically smoke. Unfortunately, America is again the world leader in the current antismoking derangement. Once the State falls into the trap of supporting/funding zealotry – particularly physicians exploiting/prostituting their medical credentials as occurred in the eugenics of early last century – the inflammatory rhetoric that constantly plays on fear and hate starts flying.

    The antismoking insanity that now engulfs the world is an American concoction – again – that has been enshrined in the World Health Organization “Framework Convention on Tobacco Control” that most countries have signed up to. They have signed up to American madness.

  • 9
    John Anders
    Posted February 3, 2013 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    1. “Smoking is a filthy, disgusting habit, and why do (smokers) feel they have the right to ruin someone else’s meal?”

    2. “The use of tobacco, in any form, is a dirty, filthy, disgusting, degrading habit….
    You have no more right to pollute with tobacco smoke the atmosphere which clean people have to breathe than you have to spit in the water which they have to drink.
    …. use of the filthy, nasty, stinking stuff [tobacco]”
    …….

    These sorts of statements are typical of what we hear from antismoking. However, one of the statements is from 2013, the other from 1915.

    The first quote is from:
    http://www.whig.com/story/20512454/five-years-later-no-smoking-law-seems-to-be-working-for-both-sides

    The second quote is from an anti-tobacco billboard (photo circa 1915) on the road leading into Zion, Illinois, USA. When considering the sentiments appearing on the billboard, it must be remembered that this was many, many decades before the concoction of secondhand smoke “danger”. Zion City was a “utopian” community established in the early-1900s by John Alexander Dowie representing a so-called (questionable) “Christian” sect (Christian Catholic Church). Tobacco, alcohol, and gambling were banned within Zion.
    http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/whi/fullimage.asp?id=55422
    http://yeskarthi.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/1915-anti-smoking-sign-zion-illinois/
    ……

    Serious, dangerous fanaticism/extremism was rife in America right up to WWII. The Temperance (religious leanings) and Eugenics (physicians, physicalists) Movements, both having dictatorial tendencies and a delusional emphasis on and obsession with physical health at the expense of all other dimensions of health, wreaked considerable damage in America. The EM was by far the most influential in America and eventually produced catastrophe in Nazi Germany with global consequences. The Temperance and Eugenics Movements shared the anti-tobacco sentiments in the quote above. While they attempted to change society with destructive consequences, Dowie chose to create his own “protected”, albeit highly dysfunctional, community.

    Some background on Dowie’s dysfunctional sect:
    http://churchmousec.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/john-alexander-dowie-a-prohibitionist-masterclass/

  • 10
    John Anders
    Posted February 3, 2013 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    From Bayer & Stuber
    “…..In the last half century the cigarette has been transformed. The fragrant has become foul. . . . An emblem of attraction has become repulsive. A mark of sociability has become deviant. A public behavior is now virtually private. Not only has the meaning of the cigarette been transformed but even more the meaning of the smoker [who] has become a pariah . . . the object of scorn and hostility.”
    http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2005.071886

    This change from fragrant to foul has not come from the smoke which has remained a constant. The shift is an entirely psychological one. Unfortunately, the way the shift is manufactured is through negative conditioning. The constant play on fear and hatred through inflammatory propaganda warps perception. Ambient tobacco smoke was essentially a background phenomenon. Now exposure to tobacco smoke (SHS) has been fraudulently manufactured into something on a par with a bio-weapon like, say, sarin gas. There are now quite a few who screech that they “can’t stand” the “stench” of smoke, or the smoke is “overwhelming”; there are now those, hand cupped over mouth, that attempt to avoid even a whiff of dilute remnants of smoke – even outdoors. There are those that claim that, arriving from a night out, they had to put all of their clothes in the washing machine and scrape the “smoke” of their skin in the shower. There are even those that claim they are “allergic” to tobacco smoke. Yet there are no allergens (proteins) in tobacco smoke to be allergic to. And it didn’t stop with just the smoke. Cigarette butts – heretofore unheard of – suddenly became a “monumental problem” too. These are all recent phenomena born of toxic propaganda; it is an expanding hysteria. It says nothing about the physical properties/propensities of tobacco smoke. These people are demonstrating that they have been successfully conditioned (brainwashed) into aversion. They are now suffering mental dysfunction such as anxiety disorder, hypochondria, or somatization. Typical symptoms of anxiety disorder are heart palpitations, chest tightness, shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, etc. These capnophobics (smokephobics) are no different to those irrationally attempting to avoid cracks in the pavement lest their mental world come crashing down. Questionable social engineering requires putting many into mental disorder to advance the ideological/financial agenda. It is the fanatics/zealots/extremists and their toxic mentality and propaganda that have long been in need of urgent scrutiny.

  • 11
    John Anders
    Posted February 3, 2013 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a brief history of the antismoking madness (Godber Blueprint) over the last few decades.

    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, particularly in the USA, 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) rather than allow them to have a cigarette – even outside.

    At each point there was a crazed insistence that there was no more to come while they were actually planning the next ban and the brainwashing required to push it. There has been incessant (pathological) lying and deception. Many medically-aligned groups have been committed to antismoking – their smokefree “utopia” – since the 1960s. They have prostituted their medical authority and integrity to chase ideology (this is exactly what occurred in the eugenics of early last century). All of it is working to a tobacco-extermination plan run by the WHO and that most nations are now signed-up to (Framework Convention on Tobacco Control).

  • 12
    John Anders
    Posted February 3, 2013 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    Concerning heath care costs, there are many articles indicating that smokers are not a burden to the health care system. For example:
    http://velvetgloveironfist.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/one-more-time-smokers-healthcare-costs.html

    There was a presentation in the 1980s (see Godber Blueprint) at one of the World Conferences on Smoking & Health concerning the “cost of smoking” to the health system. There were no studies to that point. The presenter, who was partial to antismoking, concluded that smokers were not an additional cost. He also pointed out that these sorts of studies are highly arguable in that they rely on so many questionable assumptions. Obviously, the fanatics didn’t receive this presentation too well and simply disregarded it. For decades, they have been proclaiming that smoking/smokers are a burden to the health system, even though study after study over that time indicates that it is not true.

    Through this fraudulent claim, the fanatics convinced governments to hike tobacco taxes to “cover” the extra medical services. Governments are only too happy to oblige; it means more money in the coffers. And the fanatics always insist that they should be given a cut of the extra taxes to continue “educating” the public, keeping them in comfortable employment. In the last decade, tobacco taxes have been hiked many times into the realm of compounded extortion. So inflated are the taxes that it’s impossible to hide the charade any longer.

    Consider a recent “cost analysis” appearing in an Australian government publication. Net health costs of tobacco-use was estimated at $318,400,000 (p.51). The net revenue from tobacco sales was $6,700,000,000 (p.22). The revenue from tobacco is 21 TIMES the extra cost of treating smokers. Even the extent of this “extra medical cost” is arguable, but we’ll leave that for another time. The difference is obscene.
    http://www.nationaldrugstrategy.gov.au/internet/drugstrategy/publishing.nsf/Content/34F55AF632F67B70CA2573F60005D42B/$File/mono64.pdf

    Governments and the fanatics that advised them aren’t going to come out and admit that they’ve severely overcharged smokers to the point of robbery and that the tax on tobacco should be considerably reduced. Given that the fantasy that smokers cost the health system can no longer be maintained, the fanatics do what they do regularly – they change the “argument” (storyline), i.e., shift the goalposts. NOW they argue, smokers [way] more than cover their additional health costs, but there are “other costs”. And the above report concocts around $32,000,000,000 of “other costs” which are not actual expenditures. There isn’t time to consider how all these “other costs” are entirely arguable. However, the absurdity of the claims attracted some rare criticism. Further, these “costs to the State” smack of a socialist framework where individuals are the property of the State, with the expectation of a particular, average “working life” able to be extracted from each individual.
    http://www.theage.com.au/national/economists-challenge-healthist-view-of-smoking-alcohol-risks-20111221-1p5nl.html

    Shifting the “storyline” or goalposts keeps the ideological fanatics happy (and they usually call for additional funding to help “educate” the public), Gigantic Pharma is happy because it can keep peddling and profiting from its essentially useless Nicotine Replacement wares. And the government is happy because it can claim that it needs to extort even more taxes from smokers. There is now a lucrative antismoker industry that did not exist 30 years ago. From part of the extortionate taxes, it is smokers that are financing a considerable portion of it: They are being forced to pay for their own persecution. It is a very sick, fraud-based, self-serving system. It can well be referred to as racketeering.

  • 13
    Dylan Nicholson
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Next week: should smoking in blogs be banned?

  • 14
    Steve777
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Smoking should not be banned but whether or not you smoke should be a personal choice. You should not be forced to smoke because someone else in the same room chooses to do so. Apart from health concerns for smokers and those who live and work with them or just happen to be in a confined space with them, my main objection to smoking is its delivery system – it’s rather like someone drinking alcohol (or lemonade) from a garden sprinkler in the middle of the room. If smokers mixed their drug in with a drink or popped nicotine pills it would be less objectionable to those who don’t use tobacco.

    That being said, I think, apart from some tidying up, we’ve probably taken smoking bans as far as is reasonable for a legal product. The main fight now should be to stop young people taking up the habit becuase it looks cool or because they want to rebel. Children take up smoking. People old enough to vote rarely do, but they may be hooked by that time.

  • 15
    Steve777
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Some were onto the harmful effects of smoking right from the start. The first government health warning may have been this from King James I of England (of King James Bible fame) in 1604, calling it “a custome lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomlesse.”

    Now the sight of people smoking doesn’t worry me, except when it’s children. Otherwise, though, King James got it pretty right, especially the part about the lungs. It’s a pity more people didn’t pay attention back then. People have a right to smoke in private with consenting adults if they wish. If is not dictatorship or fanaticism to insist on one’s right not to have to put up with their harmful and obnoxious exhaust. Of course smoking should be banned from confined public places. The old ‘non-smoking’ areas in trains, planes and restaurants were as effective as a ‘no peeing’ section in a public swimming pool.

  • 16
    Charlie Maigne
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    As an ex-pack-a-dayer, I think smoking should be banned on the basis that our modern society would never allow it as a current proposition. We only tolerate it for historical reasons, so it makes sense that we work towards consigning it to history where it belongs.

    That said, right now a smoking ban in public non-enclosed areas is probably a step too far. As Alan said it would be impossible to enforce, and it would leave so few options for smokers as to amount to an outright ban (which in my opinion should only be considered as a coup de grâce for when smoking rates are vanishingly small).

  • 17
    John Anders
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    “Otherwise, though, King James got it pretty right…..”

    Steve, are you serious? King Jim’s “Counterblaste” was a blather-fest of baseless inflammatory claims presented in pseudo-religious (Biblical) symbolism. It is testimony to the toxicity of the antismoking mentality – whether then or now. Here’s a link to the whole “Counterblaste” piece:
    http://www.laits.utexas.edu/poltheory/james/blaste/blaste.html

    For all his anti-tobacco ranting, James I was an opportunist. He didn’t ban smoking. Rather, he banned the English from growing tobacco, upped the tax by 4,000% and took his cut from the imported tobacco from America (Virginia colony) as it went through the ports. Amongst other things, he was a robber. Wonderful man!

    Here’s a little background on King James I.

    James VI & I (19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was King of Scots as James VI from 1567 to 1625, and King of England and Ireland as James I from 1603 to 1625.

    He became King of Scotland as James VI on 24 July 1567, when he was just thirteen months old, succeeding his mother Mary, Queen of Scots. Regents governed during his minority, which ended officially in 1578, though he did not gain full control of his government until 1581.[1] On 24 March 1603, as James I, he succeeded the last Tudor monarch of England and Ireland, Elizabeth I, who died without issue
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_I_of_England

    Guy Fawkes tried to blow him up

    “Fawkes was in charge of executing the plan because of his military and explosives experience. Authorities foiled the plot shortly before its final execution, when they captured Fawkes as he guarded the gunpowder. He aroused suspicion by wearing a coat, boots, and spurs, as if he intended to leave quickly.
    Fawkes left a lasting mark on history and popular culture. Bonfire Night, held on 5 November in the United Kingdom (and some parts of the Commonwealth), commemorates Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes

    The Wisest Fool in Christendom

    “He was deeply learned, without possessing useful knowledge; sagacious in many individual cases, without having real wisdom…He was fond of his dignity, while he was perpetually degrading it by undue familiarity; capable of much public labour, yet often neglecting it for the meanest amusement; a wit, though a pedant; and a scholar, though fond of the conversation of the ignorant and uneducated…He was laborious in trifles, and a trifler where serious labour was required; devout in his sentiments, and yet too often profane in his language…”

    The Berwick Witches

    “This was the first major witchcraft persecution in Scotland, and began with a sensational case involving the royal houses of Denmark and Scotland.

    King James VI sailed to Copenhagen to marry Princess Anne, sister of Christian IV, King of Denmark. During their return to Scotland they experienced terrible storms and had to shelter in Norway for several weeks before continuing.

    The admiral of the escorting Danish fleet blamed the storm on the wife of a high official in Copenhagen whom he had insulted. Several nobles of the Scottish court were implicated, and witchcraft trials were held in both countries.

    Very soon more than a hundred suspected witches in North Berwick were arrested, and many confessed under torture to having met with the Devil in the church at night, and devoted themselves to doing evil, including poisoning the King and other members of his household, and attempting to sink the King’s ship.[1] One of the accused in particular, Agnes Sampson was examined by James VI at his palace of Holyrood House. She was fastened to the wall of her cell by a witch’s bridle, an iron instrument with 4 sharp prongs forced into the mouth, so that two prongs pressed against the tongue, and the two others against the cheeks. She was kept without sleep, thrown with a rope around her head, and only after these ordeals did Agnes Sampson confess to the fifty-three indictments against her. She was finally strangled and burned as a witch.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Berwick_witch_trials

    He also wrote a book on the subject called Daemonology

  • 18
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Wow, and I thought the anti-helmet brigade was full on. They’re nothing on the anti-anti-smokers.

    Blackening your lungs or letting your skull get crushed; the commenters here will fight for your rights!

  • 19
    beetwo77
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    John A,

    you forgot the part in the study on the health website that said the total social cost of smoking was estimated at $31 billion. That was the whole point of the study. That drug abuse costs society far more than the headline numbers of income and expenditure and that in fact is why the vast majority of people are happy to see efforts to reduce smoking. Not because they want to control peoples lives. But nice rant anyway.

  • 20
    John Anders
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    “Blackening your lungs…..”

    Stephen, I think you’re one of the brainwashed brigade. Are you referring to the “black lung” lie?

    Here’s some background:
    http://cfrankdavis.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/the-black-lung-lie/

    Here’s an article from 2001 where the person using a lung display for “educating” children into antismoking admits that pig lungs are used that have been injected with carcinogens to produce the blackened, diseased effect. He doesn’t tell the children that they’re pig lungs that have been “doctored”. He tells them that they are the lungs of a human that had been smoking for 15 years. The impression given is that all smokers’ lungs are black. It’s a lie – agenda-driven, inflammatory propaganda.
    http://www.data-yard.net/10b/actualie.htm

    Here’s another one where pig lungs are used:
    http://www.healthcaresouth.com/pages/lungarticle.htm

    Rather than being “black”, smokers’ lungs are used in transplants:
    http://edition.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/12/28/shortage.organ.transplant/index.html
    http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/28/16741714-lungs-from-pack-a-day-smokers-safe-for-transplant-study-finds?lite

  • 21
    John Anders
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    “you forgot the part in the study on the health website that said the total social cost of smoking was estimated at $31 billion…”

    No, beetwo77, I didn’t forget. You seem to have a problem with comprehension, missing the entire point of my comment.

    Since you mention “social cost”, what is the social cost of messing with people’s minds on a mass scale? Of fear and hate mongering? Of denormailzation/stigmatization? Of promoting a neurosis/bigotry bandwagon? Why do such matters never figure in estimates of cost in contemporary Public Health?

    And while you’re thinking – I’m an optimist – consider “iatrogenesis” which refers to any detrimental outcome produced by medical conduct (e.g., adverse drug reactions, medical errors, poor care of the bed-ridden resulting in infected bed sores). In America, from the very few studies that have been done, iatrogenic deaths are estimated at 750,000-1,000,000 per annum. It dwarfs the so-called tobacco “death toll” (400,000) and is approaching half of the total annual death toll in America (2,500,000). The medical establishment is by far the leading cause of preventable death and disability and associated costs.

    Further, the iatrogenic toll is far more plausible, causally, than the tobacco “toll”. The tobacco “toll” is based on lifetime use that also brings into play a veritable plethora of other factors over a lifetime. It is also argued from the population level that has very poor extrapolation to the individual level, i.e., it is a “statistical death toll”. Conversely, the iatrogenic toll is argued from the individual level and then estimated for the population level. For iatrogenesis, causation is typically demonstrable at the individual level. For example, with adverse drug reactions (these are properly prescribed, FDA approved drugs), it may take just one or a few pills to produce cardiac arrest in some patients that can be fatal or leave permanent injury. The patient is stable and within an hour of taking a pill goes into atypical catastrophic failure. The temporality of many of these associations is not over a lifetime, but involves hours or days. Of the two – the iatrogenic or tobacco tolls – it is the former that should attract very serious scrutiny. But, as will be seen, it has been the other way around, or upside-down, indicating who is running the show.

    Concerning smoking, there have been thousands upon thousands of antismoking “studies” conducted/funded. Many do not break new ground but simply reinforce the agenda. World Conferences on Smoking and Health have been occurring since the 1960s – usually “five-star” events. In the last few decades there are National Conferences on Smoking and Health. There are now even Conferences for Nonsmokers. Then there are Smoking Cessation Conferences run by the Pharma cartel peddling its useless/dangerous “smoking-cessation” wares. Additionally there are numerous antismoking lectures and colloquia and speeches and committees and campaigns. Specific institutes for the study of tobacco have been created as sub-centres of university Public Health Departments (which in turn are sub-centres of the medical faculty). There is a plethora of taxpayer-funded antismoking organizations – referred to as “charities” – lobbying government for antismoking policies. There has been a frenzy of antismoking activity over the last three decades. A formidable, lucrative industry has been created that did not exist 30 years ago. And the bulk of it is all under medical direction. The medical establishment has wreaked social havoc, again, to tackle the tobacco “death toll”, and peddled essentially on the basis of the far smaller so-called tobacco “toll” in nonsmokers (SHS).

    So we could then ask that if this has been the reaction to the tobacco “death toll”, then there must be an even greater industry addressing/correcting institution-wide iatrogenesis? In fact, there’s not. Compared with the many thousands of antismoking studies, there are but a handful concerning institution-wide iatrogenesis, damning as they are. There are no conferences on iatrogenesis whatsoever. There are no specifically-created institutes addressing the issue. In fact, it attracts almost zero attention within the medical establishment itself. The medical administration doesn’t like talking about it or the public knowing about it. This is the same medical establishment that now wants to “fix-up” the world. Scrutinizing the medical establishment would reveal how unstable its framework is. It would mean a [reasonable] loss of profits and trust. While it tenaciously maintains the spotlight on its favorite social targets, it avoids scrutiny like the plague. The contemporary medical establishment has been reduced to a production line, a medical industrial complex, where the tenets of the Hippocratic Oath play little or no part. The medical establishment was out of control 30 years ago. It has since entered a sinister phase. And smokers are one of the first to notice the ugly side of the medical establishment in its world-fixing (eugenics) and financially-compromised aspirations.

    References for iatrogenesis:
    “We estimated that in 1994 overall 2216000 (1721000-2711000) hospitalized patients had serious ADRs [adverse drug reactions] and 106000 (76000-137000) had fatal ADRs, making these reactions between the fourth and sixth leading cause of death”.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9555760?dopt=Abstract

    Including more sources of iatrogenesis:
    Doctors Are the Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.
    Cause 250,000 Deaths Every Year
    From Starfield, B. (2000) Is US Health Really The Best In The World? Journal of the American Medical Association, 284 (4), 483-485.
    http://www.naturodoc.com/library/public_health/doctors_cause_death.htm

    Including even more sources of iatrogenesis:
    Null et al. (2003)
    DOCTORS ARE THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH IN THE USA.
    Cause 780,000-1,000,000 Deaths Every Year
    http://www.webdc.com/pdfs/deathbymedicine.pdf

    “Global Trigger Tool” Shows That Adverse Events In Hospitals May Be Ten Times Greater Than Previously Measured
    http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/30/4/581.abstract

  • 22
    John Anders
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    Steve777: “You should not be forced to smoke because someone else in the same room chooses to do so.”

    Simply being in a room where smoking is occurring is not “being forced to smoke”.

    The idea of “passive smokING” (which originated with the Nazi eugenicists, by the way – passivrauchen) is just another baseless inflammatory term. There have even been jokes and comments made in films, for example, that a nonsmoker has “passive smoked” a pack a day.

    The term “secondhand smoke” (highly diluted) is OK, but SH smokING or passive smokING are not. There are some nonsmokers who believe that when they are exposed to SHS they are being forced to smoke, that they are effectively smokING. Being exposed to SHS, which is breathing air with highly dilute remnants of smoke, is nothing like smoking. Those who believe they are passively “smoking” have obviously never smoked a cigarette. Having never smoked, and therefore unable to tell the difference, they have been manipulated into the deranged belief that SHS exposure is equivalent to smoking. The quickest way to resolve the issue is to borrow a cigarette, light it, take a drag and inhale (drawback) the concentrated “packet” of smoke. That’s smoking. It should be noticed immediately the incredible difference between smoking and simply being exposed to ETS which cannot be equated in any way with smokING. There is no active and passive smoking. There is only smoking which involves inhaling (drawback) a concentrated packet of smoke.

    For those not prepared to test the hypothesis, it should dawn that if smoking was simply being exposed to SHS, then why don’t smokers just leave their cigarette lit and breathe the ambient air? No. They actually take a drag on the cigarette – a concentrated packet of smoke – and inhale. That’s smokING.

    For gullible nonsmokers, when you are sitting by an open fire, do you believe you’re “smoking” then? If you’re close-by to lit candles, do you believe you’re “smoking” then? If you’re close to cooking or BBQ smoke, are you “smoking” then? Etc. See the point?

    The only term that has a modicum of meaning with little/no application is “involuntary smoking”. This would refer to the situation where a person is forced (e.g., at gunpoint) to take a drag on a cigarette and inhale the concentrated packet of smoke.

    Referring to SHS exposure as a “fraction” or a “degree” of smoking for statistical/causal extrapolation has no meaning. SHS exposure and smoking are two entirely different phenomena.

    This clarification is important because the idea of secondhand “smoking” is still being pushed. For example, consider Bill Gates’ latest antismoking venture:

    Focusing on the harmful effects of exposure to others’ smoke, the initiative will aim to help smokers quit and encourage nonsmokers to ask people not to smoke around them. At a news briefing the two billionaires donned green T-shirts reading “Say no to forced smoking” in Chinese. The Microsoft founder won a burst of applause by slowly reciting the slogan, repeating the words after Mr. Li, who is chief executive of the Chinese online search company.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304259304576379222269824188.html?KEYWORDS=bill+gates+smoking

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iERLYAeUGVCPtBUROZgk0jiJIoxg?docId=a533ba0fc90b4eab82867c408a71e765

    Not only is the inflammatory myth of “forced smoking” perverse, but so too is how one (or a few) billionaire can enter a foreign land and toss their money/deranged beliefs about in order to alter its socio/cultural/economic structure. Gates and Bloomberg have recently also ploughed over $300million into third-world countries (e.g., Africa) for anti-tobacco measures.

  • 23
    Bill Bunting
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    The next step in elimination of the hazardous properties of smoking might address the toxicity of cigarettes. There is nothing wrong with smoking if it is perfectly safe. If the cigarette industry cannot make its product safe in a reasonable period of time then it should become illegal as a product.

  • 24
    fakeheadlines
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    ‘It’s not a good idea to make laws that can’t be enforced easily or cost-effectively and are likely to be ignored.’

    War on Drugs anybody?

  • 25
    Rodney Blythe
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    It may be an addiction but there is no reason why the non-smoking community should support or enable the addiction. Smoking is extremely harmful and those of us who don’t smoke should not have to put up with walking through clouds of other peoples second hand smoke. Where cigarette smokers huddle there is always a litter of butts, these litter bugs have no regard for the community. Yes nicotine is an addiction but there are alternatives to smoking to feed that addiction; put on a patch, stop littering and let us all breath fresh air.

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