A couple of years ago (or less), I reported here a most extraordinary thing – I stayed at an hotel in Mallorca which had an ashtray on the balcony table, an ashtray in the table inside the room and a small ashtray in the bathroom. To put that in perspective, at about the same time, I stayed in an hotel in Benidorm which had a ‘no smoking’ sign stuck to the mirror in the room. Needless to say, I ignored that admonishion, but I allowed myself to be made to feel guilty since I sat by the open patio door when I smoked a cig. Also, I hid my filter tips.
I said ‘a couple of years ago’. Time tends to telescope. Thus, it might well be that there were ashtrays in the room when I visited that hotel in 2015, or it may have been 2014.
Whatever… the simple fact is that someone in the hotel, or in the senior management of the Group, decided to remove those ashtrays.
I cannot emphasise enough how welcome the sight of those ashtrays in my hotel room was. It is almost mystical.
They were a symbol of freedom. They spoke. They said, “You are welcome!”
But we can see also the opposite. The absence of ashtrays says, “You are NOT welcome”. There is no need for a ‘no smoking’ sign in the room. The absence of ashtrays says it all.
That absence is like to absence of windows or towels. “You want to look out? Go downstairs!” “You want a shower? Drip dry!”
I wonder what would happen if I went to reception and complained about the lack of ashtrays in my room? They would undoubtedly protest that there is an ashtray on the table on the balcony. But there is a problem. It is not ‘politically correct’ to make such protests. You would be regarded as some sort of imbecile if you protested in those terms. But, weird though it might seem, you could possibly get away with asking for an extra ashtray. I have never tried it, so I do not know.
What I do is take an ashtray with me. Just an ordinary steel ashtray. As a result, if there ever appeared a situation where there were no ashtrays AT ALL in the room, then I would be independent of strictures.
That independence is ‘Freedom’. Without such independence, there is no freedom. Of what value is a holiday without Freedom?
Ashtrays are a symbol of Freedom. When the Zealots forced the removal of ashtrays in the UK (on the grounds that the presence of ashtrays ‘prove’ that ‘smoking is permitted’), a measure of ‘Freedom’ disappeared. An important measure of Freedom. There was never a law against having ashtrays, but having ashtrays was ‘proof’ of wrongdoing. It is most certainly akin to witch hunting. There is no doubt. Thus, it is reasonable to describe Tobacco Control as medieval. And, what is worse, is that politicians must know that.
Why do politicians subscribe to medieval practices? Frankly, I must admit that I regard the whole blather about the US Presidency as medieval. That can only be true if the population at large – the voters – are superstitious.
Symbols of Freedom are in short supply. But there are many symbols of Persecution.