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« CIU joins Save Our Pubs & Clubs campaign | Main | A teacher writes »

Postscript to passive smoking and the price of propaganda

A couple of months ago I published a poignant email from June, a 57-year-old mother of two who had devoted many years to bringing up her two children. June has smoked since her teens but now her daughter doesn’t want June's grandchild in a house where someone had been smoking.

I disguised some of the details because June (not her real name) was worried that her knowledge of her email might "rip my family apart". The basic story, however, was unaltered.

June had mixed feelings about Christmas. She was looking forward to having her daughter, her son-in-law and her grandchild to stay (for the first time in years) but the prospect of having to stand outside in the cold every time she wanted a cigarette was less appealing. Eventually it was agreed that June could smoke in an upstairs room, as long as the door was shut.

"I don’t know how I’m going to pull this off, with my sense of outrage running high," wrote June in November, "and still be a welcoming hostess to our guests."

I was curious to know what happened so on Saturday I emailed her and last night she replied as follows:

Christmas didn’t go exactly to schedule, as we received a phone call Christmas morning to say that my daughter, her husband and child couldn’t join us as planned. My grandson was suffering a mild case of flu, and was too poorly.

My daughter, her husband and child joined us on New Year’s Day instead. It was a small party of just five adults. I honoured my agreement.

I cooked a two-course meal, and disappeared upstairs periodically during the visit. Nobody commented on my disappearances. Nobody was inconvenienced by this except me. I have told none of my guests over the Christmas/New Year period of my daughter’s request.

I sent both my children extracts about passive smoking found on your site. My son informed me that he’d never believed everything said about passive smoking anyway. My daughter didn’t reply.

I’d like to thank all those who have left posts as they heartened me. Joyce in particular hit the nail on the head. I will tell my daughter that I will never refrain from smoking downstairs again when he visits. I would be prepared to go into another room, but not to shut myself away again.

Sadly, I fear that this will cause his visits to diminish, perhaps even cease, and I feel a great injustice here – as he had a privileged upbringing. I also feel bereaved in some way – crazy, I know.

Public and repeated debunking of the effects of passive smoking is a priority, I think. But what hope is there for tolerance when even our prime minister and his deputy are ashamed to admit they do or ever did smoke?

You can read the original post HERE.

Reader Comments (30)

If I was to go into the kitchen for a cigarette, my grandchildren would usually follow me, even though at one of them has been brainwashed by a teacher about smoking.

January 10, 2011 at 10:18 | Unregistered Commenterchas

The way this has divided families is the most appalling aspect of this propaganda and the fact that our leaders promote such division in families and wider society is why we must stop voting for them until they begin to show us some respect and tolerance. We are voters and tax payers too. I sincerely believe that unless they begin to lose voter support over this issue, the hate will continue and more families will b e broken.

Best wishes "June". I hope it all works out. Your daughter will be sorry at how she's treated you in the future I am sure.

January 10, 2011 at 10:29 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

It would seem that our wonderful schools - in this 'liberated' Post-Christian Age - have succeeded in inculcating a New Virtue in the young: Hate the Sin, Hate the Sinner. How's that for 'progressive' ?

January 10, 2011 at 11:01 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

They're also changing the definition of Sin or, at least adding to it. They've been trying it for 50 years I know of but used to be laughed at and ignored.

January 10, 2011 at 14:15 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Well she's made her choice. She's decided to be a smoker first and grandmother second. She's entitled to that choice. But her family is also entitled to theirs without her questioning their standards of tolerance. It's their responsibility to raise their child properly and if they protect their child more than she did hers, then that is their right. They may also find a smoky atmosphere deeply unpleasant - stinging eyes, streaming nose, etc. And if she relies on arguments because she happens to agree with them, rather than because they're probably right, then she shouldn't expect those arguments to win her family over.

January 11, 2011 at 9:42 | Unregistered CommenterRolli Tommasi

Absolutely Rolli. June's family have every right to decide they do not want to be around her when she smokes. It probably grieves them that their child isn't getting to see his grandmother. But what can they do when she's so intolerant of their views that she can't even moderate her behaviour for a day? Whether there's a real health problem or not isn't the issue - it's her inability to see that if she wants family contact she can't go on thinking she has a right to do something that offends other people. It's no different from not wanting a child to being around someone who drinks or swears or farts excessively.

But she's an addict. She'll blame anyone or anything other than the drug she's hooked on. Get real, grow up, and understand that family contact ought to be more important to you than getting an hourly 'fix'.

January 11, 2011 at 11:54 | Unregistered Commentersimon (nsc)

Such bigots - you really have no idea. You would tear families apart to support your own prejudicial ideology.

You people are so intensely selfish.

January 11, 2011 at 15:23 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

I would think as a Mother and Grandmother, June has every right to 'question' any standard whatsoever applied by her own daughter. It's the sort of thing that any Mother does. Just because it's about the nonsense of SHS, does not make it a taboo subject nor any more righteous than any other.

Of course they're intensely selfish and bigoted, Pat Nurse. It's what defines them. Not for them is any form of self analysis, like Parfaits, they cannot have a thought that is not correct. We're lucky to only get 'addicts'. Normally, there's 'filthy' 'dirty' and 'disgusting'.

January 11, 2011 at 16:21 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

rolli & simon - your language of emotional blackmail is truly sickening becaue it is such blackmail that has caused this lady so much distress. Unless you're both utterly gullible or prejudiced or paid employees of tobacco control, you know as well as we do that her grandson is in no danger from her smoking around him. How dare you cast aspertions on her character because she wishes to indulge in a legal habit, in her own home, a behaviour that only a few years ago would have been acceptable before tobacco control decided to perpetrate the idea that smokers are irresponsible scum. You have a great deal to answer for.

January 11, 2011 at 16:46 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

If they were not so dangerous, these people would be laughable. Note how Simon (nsc) (could that be something to do with "smoking cessation"?) even believes that the natural act of farting is wrong. I guess once they get their way on smokers, they'll go for farters next while wallowing in whatever their stench is - probably sanctimonious righteousness.

These are the people who should be criminalised not us. They haven't paid anything like the tax we have paid in our lifetime to provide health care for the likes of them as well, they don't visit the places we do and yet they would still prevent us from socialising as a group, and they would even take their own special brand of hatred into other people's private homes and family.

Thank God my children are tolerant and caring. I dread to think what sort of people the likes of Rollo and Simon would bring into the world. I guess they would teach them hate from birth.

Disgusting and despicable doesn't come near to describing this appalling type of excuse for human beings. Urrrghhh !

January 11, 2011 at 16:52 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Absolutely intrigued by these bizarrely blinkered and bigoted remarks. It's easy to see what freedom of choice means to these pro-smoking apologists. If you smoke, then you can do whatever you want, and everyone else must live their lives around you.

Pat, Frank and Joyce fail to notice that Simon and I both stated that “June” has a right to smoke if she wants. But she must also accept that other people have rights to choose too. In June, Pat, Joyce and Frank’s world, the daughter must kow-tow to June. Why is that exactly? Where is her freedom of choice? If she chooses not to spend time in a room where someone is smoking nearby, either because she is concerned for her child’s wellbeing or because she is sensitive to smoke or for whatever reason, she is as entitled to her choice as June is to hers.

Ideally of course they would try to reach a compromise. But if they can’t, then only bigots would automatically assume that it must all be the daughter’s fault. And only delusionists would argue that passive smoking is definitely safe and deny that cigarette smoke can be very irritating.

I'm delighted Pat's children are apparently so tolerant and caring. Given their mother’s absence of tolerance for the free choice of June's daughter and her lack of care for the wellbeing of June’s grandchild, it seems clear that the children did not acquire those qualities from Pat.

January 11, 2011 at 19:33 | Unregistered CommenterRollo Tommasi

No, you're not "intrigued", Rollo - you knew exactly the response which would be.engendered by your post.

Until tobacco control went full steam ahead with its denormalisation programme, the issue wouldn't have arisen for 'June'. Her daughter, if she disliked tobacco smoke, would have been contented to have a window opened, she certainly wouldn't have demanded that 'June' take herself away as if, in smoking, she's engaging in a shameful practice.

I don't know how you would behave, Rollo, but I wouldn't dream of going into someone else's house and demanding that they modify their behaviour.

January 11, 2011 at 19:53 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

I wouldn't dream of going into someone else's house and demanding that they change their behaviour either, Joyce. And neither did June's daughter. Even according to June's account, the daughter didn't enter June's house and demand she change her behaviour. She told her mother in advance that she didn't want the grandson in a house where someone had been smoking. The daughter was entitled to make that statement in fulfilling her responsibility to look after her child.

June had always had the choice. If she really values spending time me at her home with her grandchild, then she just needs to relent on the ciggies for a wee while, at least close to where the child is.

What she has now decided, of course, is that her cigarettes are so important to her that she's no longer going to compromise in the way she did. That's her choice. But she must take responsibility for choosing to risk time with her grandson for the sake of a few ciggies. It's not her daughter's fault.

January 11, 2011 at 20:16 | Unregistered CommenterRollo Tommasi

It doesn't matter a jot, Rollo, that June's daughter laid down the rules in advance - she still demanded tthat her mother modifiy her behaviour in her own home and agree to be banished to engage in a behaviour which is legal, normal and not something that she should be ashamed of doing. If it weren't for the scaremongering of tobacco control, June's daughter wouldn't have even thought of making such a demand.

I once thought that the tobacco control lobby was noble and had integrity. I now believe there are no depths to which it won't stoop. It's prepared to cause loneliness, discomfort, distress and disharmony in its quest to denormalise smokers - and all based on what is tantamount to a lie. It is utterly despicable and indefinsible.

January 11, 2011 at 20:33 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

Absolute nonsense Joyce. The daughter simply stated that she didn’t want smoking around her son. She behaved absolutely responsibly. June could either choose to move to another room to smoke, restrain her addiction for a few hours or decide not to invite the daughter and grandson. She chose the first option.

You have absolutely no clue what life as a non-smoker has been like, have you? If you seriously think that opening a window in the old days sorted out the problem of smoke, you are sadly mistaken. It was simply the most that non-smokers could ask for. People’s eyes would often still sting. Their noses would often stream or get blocked. They might sometimes feel nauseous. But they suffered in silence. And that’s before you get to the long-term health risks, including harm to young children – about which we know much more than we did 20 or 30 years ago. You may claim these risks are “tantamount to a lie”. The facts don’t agree with you.

I would say most grandparents would gladly put their grandchild’s wellbeing and the opportunity to spend time with their grandchild before their urge to smoke anywhere and everywhere. It’s just a shame June’s not like that.

January 11, 2011 at 21:01 | Unregistered CommenterRollo Tommasi

Yes Rollo - June moved to another room as she didn't want to inconvenience those around her, even though she didn't agree with having to do what she did.

June compromised.

Why can't anti-smokers compromise and allow smoking rooms for those who wish to frequent them in pubs and private members clubs?

As far as I can see, anti-smokers want it all their own way, and don't give two-hoots about anyone else.

It's the anti-smokers who are the selfish ones. June obliged - in her own private property- for the sake of her brainwashed grandson and daughter. Anti-smokers have a lot to answer for with regard to the breakdown of our families and society.

January 12, 2011 at 0:15 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Yes Mary. June compromised. Which is why she's complaining, because she resents her daughter having any freedom of choice in the matter.

According to her and you, June alone should have freedom to expect her grandson to visit and to choose how she smokes when he does. You're trying to deny the daughter any freedom of choice - even though it is the daughter who is responsible for the grandson's wellbeing.

What this affair shows is that pro-smoking zealots who are "selfish" and who "want it all their own way, and don't give two-hoots about anyone else."

And don't describe the daughter as "brainwashed". It was June who was trying to brainwash the daughter with FOREST's deeply flawed material. The daughter has every right and every reason to be concerned that tobacco smoke is actually or potentially harmful in the long-term. And she will be well aware of how irritating it can be in the short-term.

January 12, 2011 at 7:47 | Unregistered CommenterRollo Tommasi

You see, one of the problems with antis such as Tommasi, is that they assume we believe as religiously as they in all the nonsense spouted about active smoking and SHS. It seems impossible for them to grasp that, having looked at all of this, we don't accept it with the same fervour they do. In fact we feel most of it to be a pile of codswallop and even that we may accept, to have minimal risk. To their like, we appear a bunch of loonies, bent on killing ourselves and others or, at least, weak minded addicts who simply can't find it in themselves to give up. For my part, I regard them as a bunch of interfering, selfish, hypochondriacs, frightened of their own shadow.

It isn't a surprise that they would take the side of the daughter in this matter and no surprise that most of us would favour the Mother's view. I have a similar situation, with my eldest daughter (a smoker, brought up in a smoking household and a Teacher to boot) without it being as direct, i.e. the real reason is not given but we know. Answer, Don't come, then. It won't last.

January 12, 2011 at 10:17 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Rollo -

Re (in the context of 'June's high-minded daughter):

"then that is their right."

I don't believe anyone is arguing that the lady does not HAVE the 'right' to impose whatever demands she wishes upon those who wish to enter her home. In this sense, she would be equally entitled to demand that all her guests disrobe in the hall, and spend the rest of their visit stark naked. Or use an outside latrine - to save her precious water supply.

But - as G K Chestertion pointed out - Having A Right is quite a different propostion from Being Right in deciding to exercise it. THAT, I think is what most commentators here are contending: that her hurtful decision to play the Bigoted Dunderhead - at the expense of her Mother's feelings - is just plain WRONG. Just a matter of opinion, of course - as is so much of what constitutes Civilised Behaviour.

January 12, 2011 at 13:41 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Rollo - my mother's smoking while pregnant with all of her children never harmed us neither did her smoking around us. My children are the same. My daughter was told today by her doctor that she should start smoking to relieve the symptoms of a medical problem she has. She doesn't like smoking so she won't do that but agrees with me that there are beneficial qualities in the tobacco herb but anti-smoker hysteria means we will never have the chance to do proper studies to find out in what ways tobacco could be medically beneficial.

I ask my grandaughter who can speak if she minds if I smoke. I ask my other grandaughter's mother. Neither do. I know I cause them no harm and I resent your accusation that I don't care if I do.

One of my daughters hates smoking. I don't smoke at her home. She likes gum. I hate it. She doesn't chew in my house. She knows I smoke at home, as all of my children do, she accepts that is part of me.

Smokers are excluded from every public place because of the hatred that the likes of smoker phobics like Rollo promote about a minority group. The bottom line is we harm no one despite Rollo's acceptance of the lies and propaganda (does Rollo know what that means btw?) and the last place we have to call our own where we can socialise with both relatives and friends who either like to smoke or are not terrified of it, is our own homes and bigots like Rollo would have us kicked out from there too.

I've even seen anti sites that tell people how to pretend to be ill because of the phantom shs in apartment blocks to get smokers evicted and made homeless. These people really are disgusting.

As I said initially, the fact that people like that are causing such unnecessary divisions between families is one of the most despicable and inhumane aspects of this persecution for that is all it is backed up with Big Corporate cash. This is the side that Rollo et al are on even if they don't know it.

What people do in their own homes and what attitudes they have to their own blood when it comes to the fraud of SHS is between them. Antis really should hang their heads in shame at the inhumanity and misery they are causing to enforce their dream of a smoke free world at any price.

January 12, 2011 at 15:20 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Smokers a minority group? What are we, 12-15 million?, probably more if the truth were known. Hell of a 'minority' and increasing if Ireland is anything to go by. Smokers must be the largest 'minority' around and that's excluding the 'non smokers' who are forever cadging fags off us!

January 12, 2011 at 16:39 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Sounds like a minority to me - what's the population of Britain - 55 - 60 Million?

Shame those non-smokers are not shouting louder for us in the main although I know that some - including Simon and BG - are so concerned at the zealotry and bigotry of anti-smoker fraud that they are as outraged at our treatment as we are.

Rabid antis like Debs Arnott and Rollo are the real minority - my guess is that they shout loud but their number is lower than 2 million nationally and most of those are employed by the anti-smoker industry. Most people - smoker or non-smoker - really don't care about a wisp of smoke and never have.

Antis were never able to get away with this in the past because we were a majority - they had to whittle us down and hype up the fear factor to cause people like Rollo to shun and avoid us before they could move forward with social exclusion.

Don't kid yourself Frank. Criminality will be next. It is just a question of time - or when they feel the time is right. We have been far too complacent about this issue for far too long - another reason why in some ways we have scored an own goal. We should have been this active alongside the antis but we've let them get their way by ignoring them. The likes of Rollo have whined for years. We never fought back or complained until July 2007 because we were the ones always happy to share and give over space to them.

They are selfish ones who want it all to themselves and can't even back clubs and venues where smokers can socialise with other smokers and tolerant non-smokers.

If people had believed what they were up to and where they were going with this 40 years ago, we would not be at this point now.

Complacency is dangerous.

January 12, 2011 at 17:51 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

As I've said, Pat, 12-15 million is one hell of a sizeable minority. That was my point. Lets wait and see what happens. People are no longer what they were 5 years ago. The anti smoker bit is fizzing out. Cracks are appearing. More and more are beginning to lift their heads above the parapet and the antis are becoming more and more isolated and extreme. Only in their bubbles are they 'steaming ahead', which unfortunately for the moment includes the HoC.

I appreciate that the antis are after criminality. I just don't share your complete pessimism and never have.

January 12, 2011 at 19:36 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

These zealots are so obsessed with their tobacco that they don’t bother reading what I have actually said.

Apparently I’m trying to deny smokers their rights. Only I’ve said no such thing. But they’re too confused in their smoke-induced fug to notice. All I have done is stress that the daughter also has rights. Rights which the zealots want to remove from her, because she does not share their ill-based prejudices about the risks of tobacco smoke.

To be fair, Martin V does acknowledge at one point that the daughter has a right to choose. But then he goes and calls her a “Bigoted Dunderhead”, based on nothing more than his intolerance to her views and of course a one-sided account of this tale from June (no attempt to recognise that the daughter’s side of the story might be very different but, hey, but since when did balance matter to these ignorant pro-smoking bigots anyway?).

On this board, Simon (nsc) and I have been the only people to acknowledge that both June and her daughter have rights to make certain choices. If June doesn’t like her daughter’s requests about smoking, she doesn’t have to accept them. Likewise, the daughter can choose not to visit her mother if she is unhappy about the prospect smoke around her son.

Ultimately, of course, June is responsible for her own decisions. She has nobody else to blame. As I said earlier, she has now decided that her cigarettes are so important to her that she's no longer going to compromise in the way she did. That's her choice. But she must take responsibility for choosing to risk time with her grandson for the sake of a few ciggies.

January 12, 2011 at 20:01 | Unregistered CommenterRollo Tommasi

Frank - history of this issue is what makes me so pessimistic. I said years ago they were after a blanket ban - people laughed and said that would never happen in a million years. I also said before the ban they would take children from smoking parents - they do take them from foster parents. I can only see this zealotry marching ever onwards with nothing to balance it out. Complacency IS dangerous.

Rollo - you are a hypocrite as well. If you truly supported choice then you would be backing moves to allow smokers to socialise in public places that you wouldn't go either segregated or designated. You do not. For all you say about choice, you appear to want a smoke free world with no choice for smokers.

My problem with that is because it necessitates invading people's private homes by spreading fear and getting between families who never had an issue with smoking parents before the antis hyped up fears that simply do not exist for their own ideological ends.

When it comes to one's own home the choice is thiers. As I said, I am just pleased that my children - all but one non-smoking - are tolerant and intellectual and know there is nothing to fear from the people who love them most in the world. The antis would use them - like June's daughter - as pawns and weapons in the war they have declared upon law abiding consumers of a legal product.

In truth, only by using their children against them have they brought us to this horribly depressing point.

January 12, 2011 at 20:51 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Oh spare us the conspiracy theory nonsense!!!!!!!!!

The daughter's views are legitimate. They are well-founded, even if pro-smoking zealots don't agree.

And I have to say, if I was aware there was even a small prospect that an unnecessary habit of mine could harm my grandchild, I would go out of my way to avoid placing them in harm's way.

Pity the obsession with nicotine warps the perspectives of a few people......

January 12, 2011 at 22:22 | Unregistered CommenterRollo Tommasi

Rollo -

Re my 'Bigoted Dunderhead' remark: in making what you consider a presumptuous statement, I confess that my irritation at this sort of behaviour possibly got the getter of me there.

So, allow me to make amends - by re-phrasing my sentiments.

First, ANYONE who, having examined the available evidence, believes that SHS constitutes ANY kind of Health Hazard (leaving aside the question of personal distaste etc ) IS a Dunderhead.

Second, ANYONE who is 'obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices' IS - by definition - a Bigot.

And I must plead guilty to being a 'bigot' of sorts MYSELF (and thereby save YOU the bother of making the observation): I AM 'obstinately devoted' to Scientific Truth, Compassion, and Humanity.

If June Junior is in full possession of such qualities, then I unreservedly apologise to her.

If, however, June's account (and my interpretation of it) is an accurate one, then the charge stands.

In reality, I suspect, what we see here is nothing more morally elevated than the triumph of Fashion over Common Courtesy, and Timidity over Common Sense.

January 12, 2011 at 22:23 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

So the Daughter's views are 'well founded' even if we don't agree. 'Pity the obsession with nicotine warps the perspective'. I see. The Parfait has spoken!

Sums you people up, nicely, Mr. Tommasi, but no doubt you can't see it. How about a reverse 5.3, FCTC? anybody coming out with the above is acting in the interests of big Pharma and should be discounted? Just a thought.

January 13, 2011 at 6:47 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

I can't see what all the fuss is about. When a smoker wants a fag, the nonsmokers can go outside for ten minutes. When the smoke is cleared from inside the house the nonsmokers can return. Simple!

January 19, 2011 at 14:38 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Glancy

My club the Bexleyheath Working Mans Club is vastly in favour of the ban. No more stinking clothes or nagging cough. We have provided a small outside room open to atmosphere, our old barrel storage area. We have a hard core of about twenty who use this area on a regular basis.
An added bonus is that we do not have to paint the Main Hall ceiling every two or three years.
Please do not go back to the bad old days


January 21, 2011 at 17:59 | Unregistered CommenterBob Greenhead CMD

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