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Sunday, 19 May 2013

The Abject Failure of Tobacco Control in Wales

Right now, I suspect that quite a few tobacco controllers in Wales want to kill themselves. Why?  Because they're rubbish at their jobs of denormalising smoking, and because almost everybody despises them.  Actually, I have no idea if almost everybody despises them.  That was an embellishment -- I am allowed to do that.  But I despise them. So does Handyman Phil.  I'm sure there are plenty more people who despise the New Inquisition in Wales -- or at least what's left of it since some recent compulsory redundancies.

So the story is that the 2012 Health Survey reveals that there has been only a 1% drop in smoking prevalence in Wales since the smoking ban took effect in 2007.  That means, if we're to believe the figures, that 23% of people in Wales are smoking -- I believe the figure is likely higher, but whatever.  In this Wales Online article, the caption for the picture reads (emphasis added):

Almost a quarter of Welsh adults still smoke, despite the introduction of the smoking ban six years ago

OK, journos and editors of the world.  Pay attention: What's this "still smoke" bullshit?  Why do you need the word "still"?  Just write it as "Almost a quarter of Welsh adults smoke despite the introduction of the smoking ban six years ago."  Stop making the assumption that nobody should smoke. It's none of your business if people are smoking.

Anyway, the rest of the Wales Online article is a bunch of wibble from various figures in the New Inquisition with the blame on the government for not doing enough to meet arbitrary smoking prevalence targets.* It's interesting, yet unsurprising, that the article segues from smoking to obesity, with the usual shrill calls of "something must be done" to protect the chubby from themselves.  All of the smoky bloggers have been warning that this was going to happen for years and years. The day the programme of the denormalisation of fat, a hate campaign designed to make ordinary people stigmatise others based solely upon what other people look like through the rose-tinted lenses of the public health nutters, is nearly upon us. Expect it.

(*Never blame yourself for your own failure(s) is one of the most important tenets in the fanatical public health movement. Another is demanding more money from government so you can continue to fail spectacularly whilst also demanding more asinine legislation that doesn't work. And one last pro tip for the True Believers is never forget to blame capitalism and Big "Anything" (Tobacco, Alcohol, Sugar, Meat, Energy -- whatever) as the cause of the world's problems.)

What I find most interesting is not what's in all of the articles about the smoking prevalence in Wales; it is what isn't in those articles.  Allow me to explain by way of this handy chart produced in 2008 by NHS Wales.

click image to enlargify
So what do you see in that chart?  I know what I see. I see the total, abject failure of all tobacco control initiatives, legislations and hate campaigns in Wales since they began in earnest in roughly 2001, give or take a year or two. 

It's obvious. Before the display ban, before the vending machine ban, before the smoking ban, before graphic health warnings were mandated, before all of it, the adult smoking rate was dropping all on its own. And then from about 2000 when the hate campaigns were loosed onto the unsuspecting public, the rate has plateaued. It has barely changed a percentage point. There has been no significant statistical change to the smoking prevalence in Wales for 13 years.  None.  Everything the tobacco control industry has done in Wales (and by extension in England) has failed time and time again.

The message is most clear:  If you try to force people to conform to your beliefs, the people will reject it every time, either consciously or subconsciously. Prohibition doesn't work. Legislation doesn't work.  But if you leave people alone to make their own choices, they will by and large make the right choices for themselves.

You see, the problem with "tobacco control" is the word "control." It smacks of hatefulness.  You shouldn't even attempt to control people or their lifestyle -- this is what we expect from brutal dictatorships, not representative democracies. Few people like being told what to do and how to live their lives, and we certainly didn't ask anyone to save us from ourselves.

But the New Inquisition's tobacco control branch will never understand this; it is incapable of fathoming the most basic concept of "freedom to do something," instead replacing it with "freedom from something." They believe that the all people should be exactly as they are:  to think, eat, drink, dress, work, play, and hate exactly as they do. They call this "love."  It is not. The worst people in tobacco control believe the number of Twitter followers you have is important, as most cults of personality would do. It is not important. Tobacco control is a false religion with false gods and despicable leaders. The New Inquisition leaves only a miserable wake of destruction in its path, obliterating anyone and anything it deems unsuitable. The more they fail, and they always fail, the more despicable and oppressive they become.

The ordinary people of the world, however, are beginning to wake up and see the truth about public health's hate campaigns to force all of us to conform to some misguided belief of human perfection sold with the false promise of immortality.

Meanwhile the press and our governments still fail or refuse to recognise the will of the people. So they are desperately trying to maintain control -- sometimes it is through subtlety and other times it is through blatant propaganda or oppressive legislation.  Someday, although I know not when, they too will awaken from their dream of controlling every last one of us. They must. It is inevitable.  Perhaps it's time for all of us to begin prodding them from their slumber.