Is it just my imagination, or is the campaign against nicotine taking on an increasingly sinister twist? There’s an ongoing barrage of propaganda in the press, with selected snippets of research demonising everything to do with tobacco. Government (i.e. taxpayer) funded research pours out poisonous and often nonsensical facts and figures on smoking. Television and film show negative and inflammatory imagery of smokers. Segregation of smokers from non-smokers is enforced by law. Stringent restrictions on advertising (i.e. censorship) are in place. Secretive, unknown bodies enact new regulations daily, and put them in place without consultation, and brook no opposition – and all for the public good, we are told, ad nauseam.
I find it frightening. It reminds me too much of the system employed by German authorities under the National Socialist ideology in the 1920s, '30s and 40's. The target then, of course, was the Jewish community, whom Adolf Hitler blamed, one way or another, for most of the world’s ills. It was, of course, a ridiculous indictment, but one to which Hitler’s cohorts devoted much attention to ‘proving’. And the very same methodology is now at work on ‘proving’ the case against nicotine.
I am not defending tobacco. I accept that smoking it can do great harm to the smoker. However, I defend his or her right to smoke, if that’s what he or she wants to do. I accept, too, the argument that smoking releases toxins into the air, which may harm bystanders, although I believe that the danger from so-called ‘passive smoking’ has been grossly over-exaggerated. Where I diverge from the establishment view is when I see the demonisation of nicotine, a very minor constituent of tobacco, using inaccurate, misleading, false and inflammatory ‘facts’, simply to reinforce the war on tobacco – for the public good, of course.
Nicotine exists naturally in many fruits and vegetables that are part of our everyday diet; potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines, red and green peppers, cauliflower et cetera. It does us no harm. It also occurs in tobacco, and many researchers have declared that it is the one component of tobacco that smokers seek, the whole reason for smoking. This totally ignores the fact that there are many hundreds of compounds in tobacco smoke, but it is nicotine, and nicotine alone, that is claimed to give smokers a ‘buzz’, and make them want to continue smoking. Because of this, nicotine has been declared to be addictive, by some authorities as highly addictive, by some as being as addictive as heroin, and therefore a dangerous drug. A moment’s thought will surely beg the question, “If nicotine is so highly addictive, why is no-one addicted to tomatoes or potatoes?” Nicotine has also been described as a deadly poison, with antagonists pointing out that it is found in poisonous berries, such as Deadly Nightshade. As we have seen, it also exists in common foods, but the anti-tobacco literature commonly omits this point. Nicotine is a natural insecticide, as are many alkaloids secreted in plants. That does not mean it is toxic to humans in small doses. Large doses can cause vomiting and headaches, exactly like caffeine in coffee. Very large doses can cause death, as can very large doses of caffeine, salt, aspirin, paracetamol, alcohol, even water and oxygen! In fact, the only true reason for considering nicotine a dangerous substance, is its link to the tobacco plant and hence to the harm caused by the other constituents of tobacco smoke.
Anti-smoking activists continue to attack nicotine even when faced with clear evidence of its innocence. Yet they are happy to see smokers ‘treated’ with nicotine in order to help them quit the tobacco habit. As if giving an alcoholic a beer will cure his drinking addiction! As if giving a heroin addict a ‘fix’ will cure his drug addiction! As if a trip to the local shops will ‘cure’ a serial shoplifter! In their thinking, a prescription from a doctor for nicotine will be far more effective than any amount of propaganda from any number of doctors on the dangers of smoking. The fact is, of course, that humans like some substances more than others, and sometimes more than is good for them. That does not mean that they must be ‘cured’ of their tastes. We can mostly live with the fact that people drink alcohol, even though some would rather it were prohibited. We live with those who gamble, who have a sexual preference different to our own, who take part in sports or pastimes with which we cannot identify, but we have become conditioned to view smokers as pariahs, who befoul our air, who damage our genes, our children, our society – in exactly the same way that Jews were viewed in the hideous Nazi ideology – for the public good.
So it has come about that smokers have become alienated from mainstream society, segregated in their ‘ghetto’ at the back of pubs and restaurants, on the pavement outside the cinema, on the steps of their place of work, where they can be further vilified by the ‘pure’ population as they pass by. A smoker near to a school is likely to be attacked as a kind of child molester. Having previously been permitted to smoke in designated places, in special railway carriages, in segregated parts of aircraft and ships, these places have gradually been withdrawn from him. Employment has been denied to him by some organisations. Even his wealth has been sequestered by special taxation in exactly the same way that Jews were stripped of their assets in the past.
Not surprisingly, many smokers have bowed to the intense pressure, and have decided to quit; exactly as the anti-smoking bodies wanted, but many still seek their ‘buzz’. This is hardly surprising, if they have smoked for many years. This is not due to ‘addiction’, but to custom. Someone who had a taste for bananas would continue to yearn for them if his source was denied him. So it is that former smokers have sought a source of nicotine that does not involve smoking tobacco. In recent years they have had recourse to electric cigarettes, which do not contain tobacco, do not produce noxious smoke, have no identified side effects, and present no danger to the wider population. So they are not, in any sense, smokers; they are ex-smokers, former smokers, but they do not smoke. They have become exactly what the anti-smoking brigade wanted, for the public good, of course, – non-smokers.
But this seems to be insufficient victory for the zealots. Just as Hitler wanted to rid not just his land of Jews, but the whole world, and not just of Jews but of Judaism itself, the crusade continues apace. In the brave new world of the World Heath Organisation, aided by its puppet organisations like ASH, funded by industrialists, pharmaceutical companies, and anyone else who sees an opportunity for profit or power, the fight against tobacco has become a fight against nicotine. The target now is the ‘final solution’; not the eradication of smoking, nor the eradication of tobacco, but the eradication of every aspect of nicotine usage – except, of course, under strict licensing and taxation regimes as have been applied with such good effect in the case of alcohol. For the public good, of course.
So it is that, in a campaign that Josef Goebbels would have applauded, e-cigarettes are vilified as the “new smoking”, as ‘normalising’ the act of smoking tobacco, of seeking to attract young people into nicotine addiction, and hence lifelong servitude to tobacco. Every single one of these is a specious argument, with no validity at all. Can anyone really believe that our young people are incapable of telling the difference between a cigarette and a plastic or metal tube? Are sweet flavourings only attractive to children? Does NOT doing something ‘normalise’ doing the same thing? In what area of the justice system can ‘looking guilty’ be proof of guilt? Yet legislators are at this very moment considering banning electronic cigarettes because they emit harmless water vapour that vaguely resembles toxic smoke.
Decisions regarding electronic cigarettes, as well as further regulations against tobacco, are now made by nameless and faceless bureaucrats, in closed sessions, with no representation of those who will be affected. The ’verdict’ has invariably been decided before the ‘trial’ begins. Prosecution evidence is the evidence gathered by and approved by the legislature. Witness for the defence is prohibited by regulations that prohibit criticism of the legislature. It is a travesty of justice from beginning to end. But it is all said to be for the public good, just as such crazy laws were allowed to be passed by legislators in the Third Reich.
There is much more here than simply a search to improve public health. There is a concerted attack on the right of citizens to make their own decisions on their own health and safety. If this is allowed to continue, there will soon come a time when there will be no freedom whatever for the common man; whatever he wants to do will be controlled by the killjoys who sit in judgement over him – for the public good? Or for the self-satisfaction of the ideological dictators that now hold more power than is good for them – or the public good?