DANGER! ‘Here and now’ or ‘some time, perhaps, in the far distant future’?

A couple of things have turned up in the last 24 hours or so.  First, there was the statement from Stephen Williams, who is Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health and Lib Dem MP for Bristol West. We must immediately note that the name of the group is a bit of a con-trick since it is not ‘an official’ Parliamentary Committee. It is simply a group of like-minded MPs and Peers. In this case, it is a group of anti-tobacco zealots, pulled together by ASH ET AL to give a semblance of authority to their demands.

In his statement, he claims that plain packaging is absolutely essential for the protection of children. When confronted by the question of what is the point of messing with the colours etc of the packet, for the protection of children, when the packets are hidden behind closed doors, he claims that he is talking about what might happen when the packets come from behind the closed doors and become visible again. Oh, come on! Such thinking is pathetically simplistic! How would fag packets become visible? The only significant place would be in the home. Let’s imagine a little scenario:

Child: Dad, what’s in that packet?

Dad: Cigarettes.

Child: Ugh! Those pictures are horrible! And the packet is a horrible drab green colour!

Dad: They are, aren’t they?

Child: So why do you buy them?

Dad: Well…I enjoy smoking. But you mustn’t. It’s only for grown-ups.

Child: But the pictures are horrible and the colour of the packet is drab green!

Dad: Well….that’s just propaganda.

Child: What’s propaganda, Dad?

Dad: Erm…..Well…….if somebody told you not to go into a room because there are ghosts inside (when there are no ghosts), that would be propaganda. It’s stories made up to frighten people. The pictures are just made up pictures and the colour is……Well, the colour……I don’t know about that. It doesn’t matter to me.

Child: Oh….Right…….Dad, can I have a biscuit?

Dad: Absolutely certainly not! Have you not seen the pictures of grossly fat kids? Don’t dare ask again!

The reality is that the objective of the display ban and the plain packing is to make the sale of tobacco unprofitable and troublesome for small shopkeepers and ‘persuade’ them to stop selling them. The zealots care not one iota how many small shopkeepers go to the wall in their crusade of persecution.


Secondly, there is the incident in South Korea. Apparently, an ASH-type zealot there and eight others have petitioned the Constitutional Court to have the production and sale of tobacco banned altogether on the grounds that the State has the duty to protect the health of the people.  It may be that this is just another propaganda stunt similar to the Australian one where the guy was complaining about ‘smokedrift’ from a neighbouring apartment causing him to get lung cancer (although he does not actually say so – far too cunning for that – just suggested). It’s probably just propaganda, if the objective is simply to get the story into the papers. My guess is that, if the Constitutional Court came anywhere near actually discussing the matter, the petition would be promptly withdrawn.


We can put these two stories together. We can ask why the MP and his tame All Party Group are net likewise petitioning Parliament to ban tobacco immediately throughout the UK to protect children now and in the future. Why are the zealots practicing salami slicing to pursue their goals rather than going for the jugular immediately? We know that ASH ET AL would not want that since they need tobacco smoking to continue ‘ad inf’ to protect their jobs. What they are targeted to achieve is a 2% plus-a-bit reduction in smoking prevalence per annum, and I’ll bet that the 2% is something like ‘depreciation’, so that the 2% plus-a-bit is a reduction of the previous year’s figure, so that the process will never end. ASH ET AL could, therefore, go on drawing their salaries ‘ad inf’ until, in about thirty years time, they could finally ‘write off’ the remaining 3% or so of the population who smoke by a final complete ban.  


This idea gave me to think.


If nine individual South Koreans can petition their Constitutional Court, why should not a couple of hundred of us not petition our Constitutional Court (which is the House of Lords) in a similar manner? We could demand that the Peers should instruct the House of Commons to draw up legislation immediately to ban tobacco, alcohol, big-macs, crisps, salt, etc immediately to protect children now. This could concentrate attention upon the duty of the State. For it is my contention that the only duty of the State, for the most part, is to protect the people from present dangers. Since Tobacco Control insist that the health effects of smoking appear 20, 30, 40 years down the line (apart from the daffy Surgeon General of the USA who thinks that passive smoke can cause immediate heart attacks), they would have to prove that this is so. That is, they would have to prove cause and effect. As I see it, the claim that smoking causes lung cancer to appear 30, 40 years down the line is a circular argument. The proof that smoking causes lung cancer to appear 30, 40 years down the line is that the people who contract lung cancer smoked 30, 40 years ago.  therefore smoking 30, 40 years ago causes lung cancer 30, 40 year later. I know of no actual scientific, physical proof that the delayed effects are true. There would have to be a proper, independent, public enquiry.

The important thing is to stop the salami slicing. God! If only I was a multi-millionaire!




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