The Denormalisation of Non-smokers

Twice a week, district nurses come round to our house to attend to herself who suffers from multiple sclerosis. Two of them attended today. Both of them were ‘regulars’ – they have attended many times.

Unpleasantly, they arrived earlier than they usually do, so I was still in bed. I jumped out of bed, in my pyjamas, and let them in. While they were organising themselves, I got partially dressed. By the time that I had partially dressed, they were more or less ready to proceed. They have been coming for years, and know what to do, so I was a bit surprised, as I made my way from the bedroom to the kitchen (we have a bungalow) to make a cup of tea, when one of the nurses spoke to me as I was about to enter the kitchen. She said, “Are we changing the dressings?” She is a very nice, friendly person, but not particularly bright. Erm… One of the main reasons for their attention is to change the dressings. So I stopped at the kitchen door and said, “Well, yes, but only the lower wound needs dressing”.

And then a strange thing happened. Her face took on a sort of disapproving aspect, and she sort of nodded in a strange way. I looked at her inquisitively, and she said, “The cigarette”. I replied, “Yes, it is a cigarette”.

A couple of years ago, the red mist would have descended and I would have exploded. But I am easy-going these days about such silliness. I went into the kitchen and made a cup of tea. But I was jolly annoyed.

But that nurse is a nice person. She is pretty harmless, jolly and friendly. She is a bit scatty and makes lots of silly mistakes, like leaving pieces of plastic on the bed, and dropping things on the floor for me to pick up. She tends to apply the dressings ‘not quite centrally’, and I need to reposition them. No big deal.

While I was in the kitchen, making a cup to tea, I was semi-seething. But I stayed 100% in control. When they left, I was nice and friendly and said, “See you next week”.

That particular nurse is not a youth (18 to 24). She is around 40 or so. She should know better.

But note in the first place that she stopped my progress into the kitchen by asking me that question: ‘Are we changing the dressings?’ Had she not stopped me, I would have proceeded from the bedroom to the kitchen without hesitation. But, even worse, is that MY HOUSE IS MY HOUSE! She has no rights in my house. If she does not like what I do in my house when she attends the patient, she can bugger off. My point is that she has a relationship with ‘the patient’ but not with me.

It did not take long for me to realise what has been happening. Non-smokers have been denormalised. That is quite a profound thought.

Prior to the smoking ban in England in 2007, pub goers did not worry about tobacco smoke any more than they worried about female fragrances. No one dissolved into fits of coughing or waved their hands about, and pubs were pretty full of people enjoying themselves. On the 1st July 2007, a catastrophe occurred.  Non-smokers became abnormal, and they have become more and more abnormal as time has passed. They still think that there is smoking in pubs and still think that their hair stinks and have to shower and wash all their clothes.

They have been denormalised.

So this nice, friendly, but scatty nurse stopped me from going straight into the kitchen to ask me what her job was, and then pulled her face from ten feet away because she was terrified by my cigarette.

I could be really nasty. The nurses are doing me no favours – they attend because it is their job. I could ‘audit’ what they do and complain about their misdemeanours. But I shall not. They cannot help being denormalised.

Gosh! I must admit to being so taken aback by the attitude of that nurse that I lost my natural sense of outrage. But she is a nice person. She cannot help the fact that she has been denormalised.

There is a reasonable conclusion. It is that the ‘denormalisation’ of smoking was always intended to denormalise non-smokers. To make them afraid. Why else would the Surgeon  General of the USA say that a whiff of tobacco smoke, in the open air of the street, causes a person to have a heart attack, collapse and die? The intention was to denormalise non-smokers: to make them act abnormally.

The same tactic is being used against plump people. There is nothing abnormal about being plump, as witnessed by the paintings of Rubens, and statues of Buddha.   Plump is healthy, skeletal is not.

It is hard to calculate the misunderstandings of “Public Health”. I say ‘calculate’ because the Zealots ensure that those misunderstandings are obscured. Anti-smoking obscures the real failings. Smoking is a convenient excuse to avoid the ‘the reality’. The reality is that everyone dies and no one knows what specific bodily organ will fail and cause death.

It is a terrible error to expect a person who is eighty years old to be physically sprightly. But that does not mean that they must be written off as useless. They can still add value, if they wish to.

Enough for tonight. Remember that smokers, and disinterested non-smokers, are the ones who are normal. It is the anti-smokers who are abnormal.

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13 Responses to “The Denormalisation of Non-smokers”

  1. Smoking Lamp Says:

    Brilliant essay! Hear! Hear!

  2. Some French bloke Says:

    Good point! Subjected to constant enticements to join the capnophobic cult, many non-smokers have been driven to act abnormally, at the same time that smokers have been enticed, and ultimately forced, to also act abnormally, refraining from just blowing innocuous puffs of aromatic smoke into the surrounding air here and there, now and then. Further, they don’t add to the ambient air pollution by a factor of 10, more likely by a factor of 0.0001 (with ref. to your previous post: If the normal air pollution is stated as level ‘one’, then tobacco smoke increases that level to ‘ten’)!
    What it comes down to is that the de-normalised non-smoker turned anti-smoker is pitted against the demoralised average smoker.
    Thankfully, bloggers such as yourself and Frank Davis haven’t been and certainly can’t be demoralised.

    • junican Says:

      The ten times increase was just and example of why ‘differences’ are not always very important. Ten times minuscule is still minuscule. You would have a problem trying to empty the Atlantic even if you had a bucket ten times bigger than a normal house bucket!
      The de-normalisation of non-smokers has bred ‘entitlement’, which is where such demands as ‘I don’t want to be forced to breath your smoke’ come from.

  3. Jane Says:

    One of the goals of the anti-smoking faction was to make smoking ‘socially unacceptable’. I have actually, and somewhat amusingly, had someone say to me ‘how can you continue to smoke when it’s socially unacceptable’. Socially unacceptable: so smoking is now akin to something like blowing your nose in the tablecloth in a restaurant. Funny!! But I do believe that one of the concepts of the anti-smoking laws is that there is no smoking ‘in the workplace’. While this is, your home, it is also conceivably, the ‘workplace’ of this nurse. Of course, we are now going beyond ‘second hand smoke’, and have been introduced to ‘third hand smoke’ – smoke that lingers in curtains and furniture. I wonder how it is that I was able to survive with parents, etc. who, between them, smoked 7 packs of cigarettes a day, plus cigars? The second and third hand smoke in that house must have been nothing short of horrific!!!

    • Rose Says:

      I wonder how it is that I was able to survive with parents, etc. who, between them, smoked 7 packs of cigarettes a day, plus cigars?

      Because, luckily for us, apparently some chemicals in the smoke cancel the nasty ones out.

      Environmental tobacco smoke.
      Rodgman A.
      1992

      “Finally, EPA overlooked the more than 100 tobacco smoke components known to inhibit the tumorigenic action of many of the listed “tumorigens.”
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1293640

      He knows what he’s talking about too.

      The Chemical Components of Tobacco and Tobacco Smoke, Second Edition Hardcover – 9 Apr 2013
      Alan Rodgman and Thomas A. Perfetti

      “The book examines the isolation and characterization of each component. It explores developments in pertinent analytical technology and results of experimental studies on biological activity, toxicity, and tumorigenicity, including the inhibition of adverse biological activity of one specific tobacco smoke component by another tobacco smoke component.”

      Unfortunately it costs £175 minimum to find out what they are.

    • junican Says:

      “Blowing your nose in the tablecloth in a restaurant”. I like that. It’s not unlike ‘pissing in a swimming pool’, is it? Hang on….. Lots of people piss in swimming pools, especially children. I can remember pissing in the sea once. No one blows their nose in a table cloth, to the best of my knowledge. But what about sneezing in a restaurant? Is that OK, especially when the sneeze comes before you can get hour hankie out? Can you then wipe your conk on the serviette?

      Rose, What I find most interesting about your link is the date – 2013. I doubt that TC could claim that it is a tobacco company shill.

  4. margo Says:

    Very good – we must all remember who are the abnormal ones and hold firm.

    • junican Says:

      That’s precisely my point. We are the same as we were pre-2007. It is non-smokers who have become abhorrent and judgemental.

  5. Timothy Goodacre Says:

    Yes i am very normal like you Junican. I enjoy a George Karelias cigarette and have discovered a wonderful new tobacco by Auld Kendal called Gold Turkish to replace my beloved Tor Turkish discontinued by the antics of the EU TPD2. I consider myself normal and happy !

    • junican Says:

      Whenever I go on holiday to a Greek island, I smoke Karelias. They are OK.
      Like you, I regard myself as normal and more or less content, but I would be a damned sight more content if TC would get the f*ck our of my life.

  6. smokingscot Says:

    I believe the nurse may have been slightly miffed.

    At some point you should have received a missive form the hospital that you shouldn’t smoke while they’re doing their job in your house – and the room in which they’re required to work should be smoke-free for at least one hour before they arrive.

    Or if the room in which the patient resides is where s/he smokes that the window should be open when they’re attending.

    It’s laid out in the part headed “What about workers not covered by the ban?”

    https://www.unison.org.uk/get-help/knowledge/health-and-safety/smoking-in-the-workplace/

    (None of this business of shooting the messenger svp).

    • junican Says:

      I wonder if I gave a slightly wrong impression?
      We have had the nurses visiting for some years now. They have become quasi-friends. We get along fine. So when I said that I was quietly seething, it was not aimed at the nurse – it was aimed at those who de-normalised her.
      I know about the crap about not smoking for an hour before a visit, but there is no set appointment time. Perhaps there should be, if they want my house to be ‘smoke-free’ when they come. I deny that my house is a ‘work-place’. That is an invention – just a trick with words. My point is that it may be a ‘work-place’ as far as the relationship between the nurses and herself is concerned, but it is not so for me. But I am not so bloody minded as to deliberately pick a fight with the nurses. But did not the nurse deliberately pick a fight with me? That’s my point. She has been de-normalised to the extent that she thinks that she has authority over me. I deny that.
      But is not my experience a perfect example of how smoking bans have driven wedges between ordinary people just getting along?

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