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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Travelling With Snus

So, I'm back home now.  My travelling experience this time around was OK, mainly because I had snus with me.  Smoking is banned pretty much everywhere, but you can freely use snus (for now at least) and nobody will complain or even know that you are using it.  I love snus, and I suspect that if it were available in the UK I would use it more regularly and smoke less.  Since snus unavailable here, I only use it when I travel and I keep a supply of it in my refrigerator for just this purpose.  The ban on the sale of snus in the EU is incomprehensible.  If tobacco control were really interested in "saving lives" they would endorse snus as an alternative to smoking, but no we cannot have that because it is a tobacco product and therefore it is evil to them.  My supply of snus made my time in the airport terminal and on the flight bearable. One little pouch lasts hours and these are vastly preferable to Big Pharma's nicotine gums and inhalers, which taste like complete shite. Now that I'm home, the snus is back in the fridge, ready for the next trip.

I flew with Virgin Atlantic in premium economy class, which is worth every additional penny it costs.  Much bigger seats, and lots and lots of leg room in comparison to peasant class (I'm 5' 11" and I don't even need to recline my seat -- I can stretch out completely).  I will no longer fly with BA because they have really pissed me off in the past because their flight staff was rude and inattentive.  That BA story is long and not worth getting into, but I've now flown with Virgin several times and it has been 5000 times better than my journeys with British Airways.  I am not exaggerating at all.  Think what you like about Branson, but his airline is all right by me and I'm happy to give them my money to fly when I have to travel.  Thank you, Virgin Atlantic for not treating us like criminals. 

I expected some grief when I arrived at my destination, but I cleared passport control in under three minutes (take that, Heathrow, you bastards!).  Customs did search my bags, but that might have been my fault because I was standing in the queue looking at this very cute young woman working for customs and then perhaps because we made eye contact she called me over.  No, madam, I don't mind you rummaging through my underwear.  She was polite, asked a few perfunctory questions, and didn't mess up my packing job at all, and hardly even inspected the contents of my bags.

The reason for my travels doesn't matter, but a curious thing happened in respect of smoking.  Most of the people I was with were smokers -- I'd say about out of the 35 to 40 people there 85% of us smoked.  We found ourselves in the function room of a private club where you could smoke indoors; it was a very big room and had good ventilation. It has become a strange thing to see ashtrays on tables, let me tell you. One of our number had had heart surgery recently (he was a non-smoker, a little over 60, and his surgery had nothing to do with smoking) and it was difficult for him to get around.  No one had said anything at all, and no one needed to say anything, but all of us, every last one of us who smoked went outside to smoke out of consideration for him. 

Take whatever you'd like from that, regardless of whether there is any risk from second-hand smoke, but anti-smokers and some non-smokers will say almost relentlessly that smokers are the most inconsiderate breed of people on the planet and this is simply untrue. The truth is the vast majority of smokers are considerate and will actively seek out areas where they can smoke without offending anyone, and will ask before lighting up in someone's car or home if someone minds even if they also smoke. I have always asked, and so does every smoker that I know.  It has been this way my entire life, even when smoking indoors was prevalent. People will self-regulate their behaviour given the opportunity to do so.  We do not need laws to control and enforce behaviour.  Tobacco control is about control. That's why the world control is there.  But it really should be called "people control" because that is all it is.  If you can control people to do one thing, you can control them to do anything you want. This is one of the reasons why government is so keen to enforce tobacco control. It's a test-bed for everything to come. 

So, anyway, it's good to be home again.  Heathrow was a disaster of course.  I had meant to take a photo of the enormous hour-long queue at passport control, but I was tired and forgot and I had a taxi waiting for me.  Now I need to catch up on what has been happening and write the second part of the Taxes blog post. Stand by to stand by.