The New Seedlings: ‘Subliminal’ Spreading of Anti-Smoker Propaganda: How to Respond to Anti-Smoker Propaganda

Readers will remember my recent attempt to germinate baccy plant seeds which failed (due to the wrong compost, I think). Anyway, I started again with seeding compost from John Innes and can report success to date:

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The seedlings look healthy enough. As you can see, they are leaning slightly to the left. That is because the window is in that direction. They are seeking the Sun. There are obviously far, far too many, so I’ll have to start thinning them out soon. I don’t want to let them get too big before I do so.

I started them off in my usual way, by putting the (unheated) small, damaged propagator on the shelf in the kitchen which is over a radiator. The seeds started to germinate, but I decided to put that propagator into my big heated propagator. The reason is that, now that the weather is warming up, the radiator in the kitchen is off more than it is on.

I put some seeds in the same compost in another container. The container is one of those boxes that you get Chinese take-aways in. I sealed it and put it into the heated propagator. The seeds mostly germinated but flopped over and died. But I noticed that the seeding compost had become very warm – it was sealed and inside the heated prop and also exposed to the Sun. I can only suppose that this was the reason that the seedlings died. I’ve decided to try again with that box, but this time, I’m just going to leave them on the shelf in the kitchen. I’m trying to work out what ‘the parameters’ are. Will the seeds germinate OK and will they survive? Also, I’ve used seeds from the other batch which were not ‘star’ plant seeds. Here’s a pic:

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You can see the lid. I haven’t actually sealed the box this time. I’ve just placed the lid on the top.

It is turning out to be interesting that it seems to be more difficult to germinate seeds in March than in January!


‘Subliminal’ Spreading if Anti-Smoker Propaganda

You will notice that I have put the word ‘subliminal’ in inverted commas. That is because what I am referring to is not actually ‘subliminal’.

There was a comment on Frank Davis’s site about the constant repetition of anti-smoker propaganda in the press whenever the opportunity arises. That is not ‘subliminal’ but is the nearest thing to it. I have seen a couple of examples today in the Sun newspaper. The first is this:

From today’s Sun, a report that Northerners tend to get sick 18 years before Southerners, at around the age 52.
Tory MP Andrew Percy said:”Some of our most deprived communities have the highest rates of smoking and obesity. We have to break the link.

Note the inference. A Tory MP, Andrew Percy avoids the true reasons for the health situation in these places and opts for the easy answer – blame smoking and eating. Not a word about poverty and deprivation. They have no effect. Cold, damp and poor living conditions have nothing to do with it. Smoking and obesity are the thing, and “the link (between what and what?) needs to be broken”. That, from a conservative MP.

There is something very odd about these reports. For example, in the same edition today, there is another story. It is only a couple of column inches but it is headed up: “Killed by Cig Blast”. It seems that this woman lit a cig by using her gas cooker. (I have done the same many times myself when in the kitchen and have forgotten my lighter and my cig has gone out) Somehow, her clothes caught fire. She rushed to the shower to put the flames out, but it did not work. She died from 90% burns. The verdict was ‘accidental death’. There was nothing wrong with the cooker. But what, in this sad event, was worthy of a report in a national newspaper? Perhaps the answer lies in the heading: “Killed by Cig Blast”. One wonders how the Sun came by this report. Did their journalist discover it, or were they fed it?

Thus is the insidious propaganda (almost ‘subliminal’ in its repetition) spread: little digs here and there, repeated and repeated, over and over, like TV adverts.

How to Respond to Anti-Smoker Propaganda.

I sometimes think that we should not respond to temptations to comment on articles in newspapers. The temptations are to to try to correct the lies and propaganda in newspaper articles and newspaper plants by ASH ET AL. I doubt that newspapers would print ASH ET AL propaganda if it were not thought to be ‘controversial’ and thus news-worthy. Personally, I feel that it would be better not to rise to the bait, but, instead, communicate in every instance with the decision makers. Do we ever see a Tobacco Company rise to the bait when its products are criticised?

There is a lot to be said for another attitude. That attitude is to ignore any ‘ad homs’. Stick strictly to the subject. For example, this was an exchange between Simon Chapman and myself in the BMJ:

First, Chapman said that he had evidence that ecigs were not much use and that cutting down on smoking was also not much use. Here is what I said:

The simple answer to Mr Chapman’s cogitations is, “So what?” If people believe that vaping reduces their risk, then they have every right vape. His cogitations are not justification for banning the use of e-cigarettes. 
Further, according to Doll’s 50 year Doctors Study, the evidence from that study shows a definite and clear relationship between the amount smoked and ‘premature’ death. Is Mr Chapman denying the findings of that study? Also, that study showed the benefit of reducing consumption. Is Mr Chapman denying that finding also?

Strangely, Chapman replied as follows:

Where have i advocated the “banning” of e-cigarettes? Have you actually read the Doll study? There is nothing in Doll et al’s 50 year follow-up about the “amount smoked” or “reducing consumption”. They considered cessation vs continuing to smoke. My piece summarised what we know about harm reduction from reduced smoking (the reduction is very little). Stopping smoking completely is where harm is seriously reduced.

To which I replied:

May I draw your attention to the chart below taken from Doll’s study. It shows the relative mortality rates for heavy smokers, moderate smokers, light smokers and non-smokers. If that chart is not related to “amount smoked”, then my understanding of the English language is inadequate. I would have to dig deeper to find references to moving from heavy to moderate or light smoking, but it is there somewhere. I have read and have copies of all the Doll reports starting from the first report after about two and half years.

Perhaps I used the wrong word when I said “banning”, but the effect of your piece seems to suggest that ecigs are not much use, which is discouraging. You don’y say that patches and gum are not much use either.

Chapman responded:

Those data are about the dose-response of how much you smoke to how much disease is seen in smokers across those levels. It is understandable that people would think that it follows from that, that by lowering one’s consumption that you could reduce your risk. I agree that it is counter-intuitive that the data from cohorts who have done just that do not show significant reduction of risk. But that’s what those studies show. The Korean one showed a reduction in lung cancer, but nothing else. The others didn’t. 
In my third piece I made the point that NRT is not very good at all at helping quitting. I have made that point strongly often in my work eg:…

I responded again, saying that there was a chart in the Doll Doctors Study which showed that people who stopped smoking by about the age of 30 outlived non smokers, but my response has not appeared. It looks as though the BMJ has closed comments although they have not said so. Funny that.


So my idea is to attack the facts. Do not respond to ‘ad homs’ other than to point out that they are ‘ad homs’. For example, someone on the Derbyshire newspaper said that MJM and Harley were American, but that same person did not say where he/she came from! It complained about MJM and Harley not being from Derbyshire but hid itself behind a pseudonym! So the answer to the ‘ad hom’ attack should be contained in one sentence. EG. “No matter where I come from, I know persecution when I see it. This article is full of lies and exaggerations” etc, etc. That is, drag the discussion back to the facts. Well, that is the way that I see it.


I must to bed.



7 Responses to “The New Seedlings: ‘Subliminal’ Spreading of Anti-Smoker Propaganda: How to Respond to Anti-Smoker Propaganda”

  1. smokingscot Says:

    Plants need soil, moisture, warmth, (preferably sunshine) and OXYGEN. They breathe… lots.

    If your room remains above 15 degrees at night I’d suggest you do not cover the takeaway box, even lightly. And always remove it during daylight hours.

    And their roots don’t much like going down into daylight, so perhaps cover the sides of the container, which I see is transparent.

  2. smokingscot Says:

    And you did cut holes in the base to allow surplus water to drain. Of course you did. Silly me!

    • Junican Says:

      Thanks for the tips, SS.
      Erm ……..

      The seeds have always germinated with a lid on, even if only clingfilm. In the case of the take-away box, there is little room between the surface of the compost and the lid. Once I have germination, I’ll take your tip and leave the box uncovered.

      As regards drainage, my old prop has channels in the bottom of the tray beneath the insert. The instructions that came with my heated prop said just to put the compost directly into the tray. No drainage. I suppose that the heat evaporates surplus water. But I am keeping an eye on things to ensure that the compost is not waterlogged.

      As regards my germinated seeds in the heated prop, there is a big lid so they have plenty of air. Even so, I have taken to removing the lid and switching the heat off during the day.

      I thinned out the seedlings somewhat today (many were crowded together). The roots are very tiny – no more than a couple of millimetres long. I think that it is important therefore to ensure that the compost is damp on the surface, but not, of course, saturated.

  3. beobrigitte Says:

    I sometimes think that we should not respond to temptations to comment on articles in newspapers. The temptations are to to try to correct the lies and propaganda in newspaper articles and newspaper plants by ASH ET AL.

    These days I have a better approach. Of course the commenters are ASH et al plants; making a little cash whilst getting rid of some of their own frustrations by ladeling out insults must be tempting.
    We can do better by taking a leaf out of ASH’s instruction manual and repeat the same things over and over again and also planting seeds for “new” ideas.
    ASH’s little helpers pass on these “new” answers immediately and ASH et al immediately looks into these new claims and works out a way to combat them. There are so many different angles to one problem…… Just NEVER waste the best shots, though!!! Make a list of these and keep them/pass them on in private.

    One does what one can!

    I believe ASH et al has started to dig it’s own grave by going for e-cigs and vapers in the same manner they went for the smokers. If anyone reads comments they often read derogatory ones of smokers to vapers and vice versa.
    They are plants.

    • Junican Says:

      Sometimes you can recognise ‘the plants’. For example, I think that the “Have to shower and wash all my clothes” gang are obvious. Sometimes, they try that on with ecigs “They really stink”. Funny how these people always seem to be in the right place at just the right time!
      I take your point about repetition.

  4. Stephen Brown Says:

    If Summer arrives this year go outside and choose a spot in your garden which is exposed to sunlight for the greatest part of the day. Dig a small hole and feel the temperature of the earth immediately below the surface. It’s cool. Roots like ‘cool’. The soil in your make-do propagator was too warm for the roots to function.
    Many potted plants fail for the same reason, the earth gets too warm. Commercial nurseries keep their potted plants grouped together to keep the majority of the pots from being exposed to direct sunlight for this reason (amongst others, such as saving space!).

    • Junican Says:

      Thanks for that. I see your point, especially about the small box which I am experimenting with. I’ve been switching the heated prop off during the day and leaving the seedlings uncovered, then switching on again at night and putting the cover back on. They seem to be quite ok with this regime.
      I found a research paper from many years ago which did experiments about the optimum SOIL temperature at which tobacco plants grow best. 25 to 30 C turned out to be best, but 40C killed the plants off. So I’m a bit confused. I have little doubt that the small box got too hot when it was sealed AND in the covered propagator AND in direct sunlight! It felt very warm.
      I’ll keep an eye on them.

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