It’is a matter of TRUST, is it not?… This piece by Joe Jackson is our recommended reading today, and it was written in occasion of the onset of the British smoking ban, a very sad day for England.

Aside from the passive smoke fraud, the fundamental point that Jackson makes is that of trust – trust in “public health” in general and in the doctor in particular. Can we trust those who lie to us once we know they lie? Can we trust them even if we don’t know that they lie? In something as important as lifestyle control – with the huge socio-economic, political and cultural repercussions – aren’t we obligated to go check for ourselves instead of blindly believing in medical “authority” on the grounds that it is not “political”?

“There’s an old saying: ‘trust me, I’m a doctor’. But I’m asking you to trust me because I’m not. Many people these days, including newspaper editors and politicians, are simply not willing to challenge or question medical authorities. They are assumed to be the only people on earth who are never wrong, biased, dishonest, or corrupt. But unquestioning faith in any authority is naïve and dangerous, and this is just as true in the case of ‘health’ as in the case of religion or politics (they all claim to know what’s best for us, after all).”

In his quiet and balanced way, what Jackson says is the most subversive and dangerous concept there is, as it questions the trust in the most powerful political control that there is: not that of the Prime Minister or politicians, but that of the medical class. Here is a link to Joe Jackson’s official website.


Dear Smokers,

You are the scum of the earth. Bad enough that you are intent on committing suicide, but with your noxious fumes you are committing nothing less than murder too.

The preceding statement should sound pretty familiar by now. If you believe it, don’t bother to read any further. But if you’re skeptical, consider this: you’re being made into scapegoats by people who are nowhere near as honest and noble as is commonly assumed. In fact a lot of them are downright nasty, and it’s about time you started standing up to them.

From July 1st, smoking is banned in every pub, restaurant and club in England – including private clubs, but then again a pub is private property too. I could bemoan the loss of property rights; I could also have a good rant about the loss of tolerance and free choice. But the real issue is that the only possible justification for this ban is blatantly, and provably, so phoney that it stinks to high heaven. I refer, of course, to the grotesquely-hyped but elusive phantom of ‘secondhand smoke’.

Some people seem to think smoking is being banned just because they don’t like it, or because it has in some circles become unfashionable. But these are no concerns of the government, and they can easily be addressed by good ventilation systems and/or separate spaces, according to market demand.

If, on the other hand, tobacco smoke in the air – even on well-ventilated premises, even in separate rooms, even, if the antismoking brigade has its way, outside – is putting innocent bystanders in mortal danger, then I’d say tobacco should be completely illegal, since it would clearly be worse than heroin. But first, I’d want to see at least one proven case of death caused by ETS (Environmental Tobacco Smoke). Because I, and many other people – scientists, academics, activists, and just plain skeptics – have been researching this issue for many years, and we haven’t come across one yet.

Take a look at Mr Hitt’s article ‘Name Three’ is a grimly hilarious account of how he went to just about every antismoking authority in the USA in a fruitless quest to find three real-life cases. I’ve been in debates myself in which I’ve asked antismokers to name one, and been repeatedly ignored. Once I was told this information could not be revealed because of ‘professional etiquette’.

Just last month, I had an article about smoking bans published in a German magazine. The editor removed the line ‘there is not one proven documented case of death caused by secondhand smoke’, claiming that there was one such case in Italy. I investigated. The case in question was the death of Monica Crema, whose husband succesfully sued her employer, Pariba Bank, claiming that she had been killed by smoke at work. SECONDHAND SMOKE KILLS! said the headlines. But the verdict was appealed. This time there was a proper trial, and it was found that Ms Crema had actually died from a food allergy. And the headlines said . . . well, nothing, actually.

I could say that even a few cases would still be pretty insignificant compared to all the deaths irrefutably caused by booze, or cars, or even prescription drugs. But the fact is that the antismokers’ case for ETS collapses when subjected to the slightest scrutiny. Unable to produce actual proof, they tell us that ETS kills because they say so, and we wouldn’t understand, so we must take their word for it. And at this point I need to ‘zoom out,’ so to speak, and briefly address the bigger picture.

There’s an old saying: ‘trust me, I’m a doctor’. But I’m asking you to trust me because I’m not. Many people these days, including newspaper editors and politicians, are simply not willing to challenge or question medical authorities. They are assumed to be the only people on earth who are never wrong, biased, dishonest, or corrupt. But unquestioning faith in any authority is naïve and dangerous, and this is just as true in the case of ‘health’ as in the case of religion or politics (they all claim to know what’s best for us, after all). If you don’t think I – or you – have the ‘credentials’ to question the Chief Medical Officer, then we can’t question the Prime Minister or the Pope either – in which case they are free to pursue all the phoney wars and Inquisitions they fancy. I don’t claim any special insight; the only thing that sets me apart from a lot of other people on the issue of smoking is that I’ve kept an open mind and really looked into the evidence. And I can promise you that on this issue (and frankly, quite a few others) the mainstream medical power structure is, not to put too fine a point on it, full of shit. Not to mention increasingly mean-spirited and dictatorial.

‘Public health’ was originally created to tackle big, tangible issues like communicable disease, malnutrition and industrial pollution. In recent years, though, it has shifted its attention to interfering in almost every facet of the private lives of people who aren’t sick: generally-comfortable Europeans and Americans, who, whether we smoke or not, are overwhelmingly likely to live longer and healthier lives than ever in history. Thus Public Health justifies its agenda by fearmongering and statistical junk science. The World Health Organisation, one of the biggest forces driving Antitobacco, is a case in point. While AIDS, typhoid and dysentery are rampant in the Third World, and two million children a year die because of lack of clean water, the WHO spends 76% of its budget on paying its staff and renting fancy offices in places like Geneva. In recent years it has turned to the pharmaceutical industry for funding, and funnily enough, has at the same time promoted the persecution of you, the smoker, to the top of its agenda. I say ‘funnily’ because these noble souls couldn’t possibly be biased, could they? I mean, what with the world’s 1.2 billion smokers being a target market for pharmaceutical nicotine products and antidepressants?

This is not a conspiracy theory. The antismoking movement has phenomenal momentum because (a) it is being given a free ride by politicians and media, and (b) it is stinking rich. Pharmaceutical money is a big reason, but there are others, including punitive taxation and a little thing called the Master Settlement Agreement, struck between the tobacco industry and US states in 1999, which gives American antismokers alone close to a $1 billion a year to play with. It’s not surprising that more and more interests have climbed on the antismoking bandwagon. What is surprising is that so many people persist in seeing it as a righteous crusade. I repeat: these people are nannies and bullies, and unelected and unaccountable bodies like the WHO should not be dictating policy to democratically-elected governments, especially when, in the case of smoking bans, their own research has proven that ‘secondhand smoke’ doesn’t hurt anyone.

That’s right: only a small minority of studies show any risk from ETS, and they’re not the best ones. The biggest and most scientifically credible studies so far are still the 10-year European one by the WHO and the 39-year Californian one by Profs. Enstrom and Kabat, neither of which were able to find any danger. Many other studies have shown that exposure to ETS actually reduces risk. This sounds absurd, but it’s what happens when your numbers are so tiny and unreliable that they can go either way. If you do enough studies and play around with the statistics enough, you can ‘prove’ just about anything.

That much-publicised ‘25% risk increase’ is actually an insignificant increase on an already insignificant risk. And that’s only if you accept, in the first place, a statistic cherry-picked from a small minority of flawed and biased studies. As for smoke containing arsenic, so does tap water. And benzene? So does coffee. In every case, the amount is too small to hurt you.To spin this kind of ‘evidence’ into a public health menace, and the basis for legislation to turn a quarter of the population into pariahs, is outrageous. It would make just as much sense to ban food in restaurants because cooking causes carcinogens, or ban music in nightclubs because someone’s hearing might be damaged.

Are you getting the picture yet?

I’ve heard antismokers say the ban is not a witch hunt against smokers, but all about health. But the ban will do nothing for the health of the nation, and a witch hunt against smokers is exactly what it is (why do you think they’re trying to ban smoking outside, too?) Antismokers are masters of double-talk. For instance they’re not forbidding smoking in the pub – that sounds, well, forbidding – they’re making the pub ‘smoke-free’! They’re giving you more freedom, not less! Isn’t that wonderful?

Okay. Go on. Say it: ‘smoking is bad, so isn’t anything that discourages it good?’ But it’s never good when authorities lie to us and then use those lies as justification for draconian laws. Besides, a lot of the ‘scientific’ fearmongering about ‘passive’ smoking is simply an extension of what has been done to exaggerate the dangers of ‘active’ smoking. There is a risk, for some people, in heavy long-term cigarette smoking, just as there are risks in heavy long-term drinking, or eating a lot of certain foods, or driving a car too fast too often . . . the currently fashionable desire for ‘zero risk’ is not only illusory but frankly childish. Even lung cancer – the one disease which can be convincingly linked, statistically, to smoking – only happens to a small minority of smokers, and even then, usually within the normal age-range of death. Antismokers never talk about what happens in real life, but about things like a ‘2,000% risk increase’. Well, maybe. If I buy 20 lottery tickets instead of one, I would have a 2,000% increased chance of winning. But I’m still very, very unlikely to win.

Anyway, all we hear about smoking nowadays is the potential danger, which builds the impression that danger is all there is. But tobacco is a natural antidepressant, improves memory and concentration, has a strong protective effect against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and several other diseases, helps in controlling weight, and, for God’s sake, it gives pleasure. Why is it so hard to get across the point that pleasure is essential to human life, and that pleasure is healthier than fear?

But, you say,120,000 deaths per year are caused by ‘smoking-related diseases’. Here we go again: firstly, it’s only an ‘estimate’; and secondly, a ‘smoking-related disease’ is not a disease proven to be caused by smoking. They’ve just added up all the deaths from any disease in which someone thinks smoking may be a factor. Thus the total includes thousands of nonsmokers who die from, say, bronchitis or strokes. It also includes people who quit smoking 20 years before, and smokers who die of heart attacks in their 80s. It’s not exactly a lie. But it sure as hell is misleading, and deliberately so, and it’s these people, not you, the smoker, who should be ashamed of themselves.

Are you getting the picture yet? If so, what are you going to do about it?

I have a few suggestions.

– Get educated. Smokers need to know the true facts; the more we know, the better we can fight back. For a more detailed exploration of the issues, you could start with my own essay Smoke, Lies and the Nanny State (downloadable from or if not the essay, then the long list of websites, books and articles which comes at the end. Check out and, two long-established campaigning groups who have, among other things, the full downloadable details of every ‘secondhand smoke’ study ever done. Other good places to go are and

– Join a campaigning group and donate money! FOREST gets support from tobacco companies, but it’s the only one that does, and they’re still poor compared to the ‘Antis’. FORCES and in the UK, Freedom 2 Choose (, who are mounting a legal challenge to the ban, need your support.

– Do not allow yourself to be bullied. Do not apologise to anyone; on the contrary, explain to people why you’re a victim of unjust discrimination. You are enjoying a legal pleasure with a long and honourable history, and you’re contributing £10 billion a year to your country in tax revenue. Be proud.

– Bad laws deserve to be defied, flouted, protested, or circumvented in any way possible. Carry a pocket ashtray so they can’t get you for littering. Start a petition. Lobby your MP. Otherwise, forget about being polite and not rocking the boat. No oppressed group ever changed things without calling attention to itself. This means civil disobedience and making the law as difficult as possible to enforce.

– Wherever possible, do not patronise places which forbid smoking. Do patronise places which make an effort to accommodate smokers, either legally outside or illegally inside.

– Socialise at home. Create your own pub. Invite your friends. Smoke, save money, drink what you like, close when you like, and generally do what you like without being spied on by CCTV cameras. The only way to turn the Hospitality Industry into a better ally is to withdraw your support.

The smoking ban will not last forever. But the less resistance there is, the longer it will last, the more the ‘Antis’ will crow about what a great success it is, and the more it will serve as a template for all kinds of other social engineering. Every witch hunt seems invincible until a few people have the nerve to stand up to it. Stop being so damn passive. And don’t despair; after all, we (not the likes of ASH) are the Party People. Don’t stop the party.



Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder