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Posts Tagged ‘tobacco

The Malevolent Stigma Towards Tobacco Users

with 4 comments

In July of this year, my post on overcoming smoker’s guilt got picked up by people on reddit. The reddit thread can be viewed here. I thought I’d revisit the subject, as it apparently gathered some attention in that dark corner of cyberspace.

In the original post, I detailed how social engineering, fostered through public policy, has created a secondary class of people who are addicted to tobacco, victimized through mental torture, and I explain how the gang of anti-smoking activists feel justified in destroying the lives and mental health of people through social stigmatization, because they don’t like smoking and find it a flaw of character so repulsive that it deserves public ridicule. There is a deep disrespect for fellow human beings and an anti-humanistic world view that enables people to treat others with such contempt. It reveals itself in a total disrespect for differing values and sources of happiness in life. It is anti-individualistic and evil. That was the basis for my argument. This obviously flew way over the head of these reddit debaters, as is blatantly apparent from the thread title “Proud Smoker: How Dare You Try to Guilt Me Out of Giving Myself Cancer!?” An argument out of compassion is hence portrayed as whines from an insecure smoker. Little do they know.

This becomes apparent in the way the they conjur up personal attacks and attempts to portray the author as a person who is nothing but a chain smoker trying to rationalize his addiction; a person who is careless about his health; an insecure person who yearns for sympathy; a person who ignores the deaths and misery that tobacco has caused many users and their family members, and by doing so they must unsurprisingly distort the argument that is made. The OP starts it all off by picking out quotes from my original post and commenting on them, true to the mission of upholding the stigma:

Am I simply a counter-cultural social contrarian? No, not at all. Being so would be irrational. None of my motivations for smoking tobacco came from this wish to simply do the opposite of what the wise overlords are telling me to do.

“I’m not just doing this to be a contrarian” – said every contrarian ever. But later:

As a result, tobacco smoking in itself has many more potential positive effects than negative ones… The stigmatizing propaganda by the nanny statists is something you should rise above, as overcoming such stigmatization is imperative to a healthy individualistic life.

So acting contrary isn’t just one of the benefits of smoking; it’s essential for a healthy life! But this isn’t one of his motivations for smoking – oh no – it’s just a happy coincidence that it makes him feel superior to everyone else.

It begins with a cheap gag that is undressed by its blatant ignorance. Delving into the history of humanity, by learning how a recreational substance has been cultivated and enjoyed for hundreds of years, and to enjoy the flavors and notes of a product that has attracted millions of people to its fruits, in order to proudly enjoy and become a part of something that has shaped humanity and modern society – for better or for worse – is not to be a contrarian. If it were, then we are all contrarians at all times, always. It renders the word meaningless. A contrarian has a counter-cultural ideal at hand, in order to do simply what is opposite of what is the authority of the times. These are not the same. For anyone interested in the underlying argument, this distinction could be meaningful and appreciated. For someone who is lead on by an irrational anger over dissenting views, it obviously falls on deaf ears.

Continuing, what is essential for a healthy, individualistic human life is to overcome stigmatization, discrimination and anti-humanistic bickering from people who possess a world-view that entails a complete disrespect for fellow individuals – simply because these individuals find a different source of happiness in life. Acting contrary is simply not the point. If a tobacco smoker finds joy and meaning in his recreational activity, it is imperative for his happiness to not be affected by the anti-humanistic and anti-individualistic sentiments of others. To not suffer from their hatred, you will have to strengthen your own identity and purposes in life. For a smoker suffering from smoker’s guilt, that means to either stop smoking or to overcome said smoker’s guilt. Believe it or not, someone enjoys their tobacco, and for them I offered a solution to said problem, based on my personal experiences and gathered testimonials.

I can imagine their chantings: “Oh, to believe that someone would have compassion for people who enjoy tobacco!? How obscene! How ignorant!” No, not obscene at all. And neither is it about shutting yourself away from the knowledge available. There is nothing in overcoming smoker’s guilt that entails a complete disregard of medical research. On the contrary, the issue is to ensure the well being of fellow individuals. To take the position that smokers are inherently too stupid to factor medical advice into their lives is, if anything, self-glorifying and cynical. It’s a better-than-thou snobbery that reveals a dark and cold view on humanity. Stigmatization is an evil force in social life – one which fuels the ruination of the mental health and happiness of others, thus it can have detrimental effects on the lives of its victims. Those who feed and uphold this stigma will never care for the souls they break. In their ignorance, they claim to worry about passive smoking, yet could not give a flying toss over the negative consequences of their dehumanization of smokers. How ironic. I find such hypocrisy distasteful at best.

The comment ends by speaking of “superiority”. Who is the one guilty of possessing thoughts of superiority over others: The person who wishes that people can seek out different sources of happiness in their lives without being ridiculed, hated or dehumanized for their choices, or the person who glorifies himself to a moral high ground, from where he feels compelled to stigmatize and push people over the cliff, belittling their choices with his megalomaniac authority on what is decent or indecent, in order to socially force them into his own behavioral patterns?

The same user goes on in another comment:

I noticed that this guy brags about using cigars and pipes, as if this makes smoking more organic and wholesome. But isn’t it actually way worse because of no filtration?

Of course an anti-smoker wouldn’t understand why anyone would choose to smoke. There’s not even an attempt at understanding what smoking means for people. No compassion, no empathy. Organic? Wholesome? Worse because of no filtration? Obviously, the person doesn’t know how different tobacco products differ in their uses and contents, and neither does the person have any clue about how people enjoy and cultivate their different recreational tobacco uses. Needless to say, the lack of such insight leads one to see differing behaviors as mere bragging and identity issues.

This is the heart and soul of the typical anti-smoking nincompoops. It reveals a narcissistic, anti-humanistic and anti-individualistic world view. It’s just another evil to overcome for those who suffer from all the rampant social stigmatization in the world, as if the world didn’t have enough. This applies for smokers as non-smokers alike, because here comes the big surprise for the reddit users in that thread: Smoking was never the main issue. The main issue was the evils of stigmatization. This is the message that flew way over their heads. The reddit thread is a micro-cosmos of these evils. Behold as they foster and mold.

An ending message to smokers and other victims of stigmatization: Seek out happiness in your life. Stay informed in your life-decisions, but let your decisions be your own and be proud of them. Cultivate them! Enjoy them! Let them be a source of happiness! Do not let the evils of others bring you down. After all, it’s your life, not theirs, and it’s a beautiful life worth enjoying.

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Written by Morten Rolland

December 6, 2013 at 4:08 am

Getting Over Smoker’s Guilt: Overcoming the Stigmatizing Propaganda Against Tobacco Users

with 5 comments

It’s now more than a year ago since I actively took up the hobby of pipe smoking, after having had much fun and pleasure from smoking cigars for quite some time. It might seem like a counter-cultural act to bring back what some regard as outdated, or just socially contrarian. Today, the majority opinion is that tobacco is a bane of society that has to be purged, by force if need be. Political forces work like ants behind the dark facade of government and bureaucracy to enact regulations, programs and laws that will throw tobacco smokers out on the streets and squeeze tobacco companies and tobacconists out of business.

Daily, we hear campaigns against tobacco smoking, where politicians and activists are actively putting a stigma on the back of everyone who abuses “cancer sticks”. The commercials are many – either you see lungs filled with tar, skin that is gray and weathered, fingers that are yellow and stubby, or rampant warnings lights while the word “cancer” is screaming in your face. The result from all of this is a social engineering of stigma against tobacco users; a government creation of discrimination and hatred. In the view of anti-smoking activists, smoking is an evil that people have every right to call you out on. Public schools will teach kids about the “dangers of tobacco” and urge kids to spread the word to their friends and family members. The victims of this stigma develop smoker’s guilt. They will try to keep their habit hidden, shying away from social settings in order to fulfill their need for some nicotine. They start to hate themselves for doing something thought of as disgusting, yet it’s hard for them to stop it, because they secretly enjoy it.

It’s very disturbing to see just how many who will admit to being a smoker, while doing so with a hint of shame and guilt in their voice. Not all have ambivalent feelings towards their habit, but many do. It seems like mentioning the topic of smoking will depress them, as it reminds them of every time someone has stigmatized them for their habit. One can only imagine how the words chanting in their head from all the anti-smoking activists, politicians, journalists, doctors and scientists makes them hate themselves for being voluntary “slaves” to something they grow to regard as inherently bad – as if being a smoker is a sign of poor character and immorality.

…And the worst thing is, most people think this is okay.

This angers me intensely. Not only is it immoral to impose your own preferences through the power of government, but stigmatization is also a very destructive tool to use in order to force through a political cause. While you may end up with some smokers who quit smoking (although these numbers are anything but impressive after decades of expensive tax-funded anti-smoking campaigns), many of the remaining smokers will develop guilt and depression because of their habit. This will arguably have a much more devastating and immediate effect on the individual than any of the possible health risks from smoking will have, leading to a range of other social problems that aren’t as easy to observe. If anything, it only stands to reason that if “good public health” was the main goal of anti-smoking activists, then active stigmatization is an extremely poor choice of strategy. The reality is that anti-smoking activists are only putting you and your habit down, because they themselves have made the choice of not smoking, and through a collectivist world view find it in their right to force others to make the same choice as well.

There exists, however, an individualistic remedy to overcome this stigmatization and remain proud and happy about what in essence should be a very positive and enjoyable hobby.

I mentioned to begin with that I myself have just over the last few years taken up smoking more and more, despite the ever increasing stigma against tobacco users. Am I simply a counter-cultural social contrarian? No, not at all. Being so would be irrational. None of my motivations for smoking tobacco came from this wish to simply do the opposite of what the wise overlords are telling me to do. My choice came from a complete disregard of any propaganda of the pros and cons of tobacco smoking. It was a completely individual, rational and personal choice, fueled by a lust to enrich my daily life with a joy and hobby that I could experience and enjoy both physically and mentally. For instance, the collection of pipes is a long lasting project, where purchases are made not only for short-term enjoyment, but also long-term fun and interest. As such it has a deeper meaning to it, rather than it just being a meaningless anti-trend statement. There is a great excitement in trying new tobaccos with new flavors, going through the meditating routine of packing your pipe, checking the draw, doing a false light, then a proper light, puff it a few times to get the flavors going, and feel the gentle taste of the smoke roll across the tip of your tongue and through your entire mouth, before attempting to blow smoke rings.

It’s much more than just feeling the buzz from the nicotine. It’s a source for great joy and relaxation. You are able to collect yourself from all the pressure that life put on your shoulders, and just take a little bit of time to experience something different and develop a skill and taste that is completely your own. There is a sense of beauty to all of this, and that beauty is something that can never be brought down by any means of stigma or hatred.

(Image by Pipesmagazine.com)

As such, the stigma that is actively being put on smokers does not affect me.

The overarching goal in anyone’s life should always be to achieve happiness. You only have this one life to experience happiness, so you’d do well in making use of all the tools at your disposal. If you are a smoker suffering from smoker’s guilt, then you are left with two choices: Quit smoking immediately, or changing your mindset and cultivating tobacco smoking as a source for something good in your life, embracing it with pride and conviction. Most tobacco users suffering from smoker’s guilt are likely cigarette smoker. I would like to suggest the following to you:

Rather than trying to quit smoking, how about delving deeper into the world of tobacco and try to make it a fun hobby? Tobacco is very much like beer, wine and spirits – yes, you can abuse it, but you also have a vast source of enjoyment to find inspiration from. It’s all about having the right mindset. You could for instance try a new brand of cigarettes/tobacco each time you buy some more, in order to explore the flavors the tobacco gives. There is no point in being brand loyal in what should be regarded as fun experimentation. Also, the price difference between cheaper brands and more exquisite brands are limited. And even if you’re on a strict budget, there are more than enough possibilities to get you started with, without having to blow away all your money.

I would also suggest you explore the world of tobaccos beyond cigarettes, like cigars and pipe tobacco. These ways of enjoying tobacco have had the pleasure of being cultivated as a part of finer culture for hundreds of years, where purity and taste have been in the main seat all along. Here you will find a whole new range of tastes and experiences, and there are also lots of fascinating things to learn. Pipe smoking, for instance, also adds the fun activity of pipe collecting and caring for your pipes. If you would like to combine tobacco smoking with a relative health benefit, then proper cigar- and pipe smoking is also a fairly good compromise. Regardless what your preferences are, you will certainly find inspirations at your local tobacconist, or at a tobacco store online.

By trying some of these things for yourself, smoking will always be something fresh and interesting. You will learn how different types of tobaccos give you different experiences, and you will find tobaccos and brands that better suit your taste, reshaping your habit into making it about cultivating something good. Most importantly, you will find many like minded individuals on your way. You will feel better about yourself and stand proud and steadfast in the face of those who wish only to bring you down.

As a result, tobacco smoking in itself has many more potential positive effects than negative ones, and perhaps even some unexpected ones, as noted by Bertrand Russel, himself an avid pipe smoker his whole life. The stigmatizing propaganda by the nanny statists is something you should rise above, as overcoming such stigmatization is imperative to a healthy individualistic life. Remember, you only have one life to achieve happiness. There is no time to lose.

As an ending remark, I would like to quote Jeffrey Tucker, who echoes this sentiment in his essay “Bring Back the Breakfast Drink”:

Everyone knows the rule: drink no liquor before noon. How insufferable such advice is! It has caused morning drinkers to hide their habits, deny them when confronted, and otherwise feel like they are doing something wrong or immoral or socially intolerable, a combination which leads to other forms of pathology.

It is time for them to stand up and proclaim themselves and their habit as the noble act it is. All over the world, there exists a grand tradition of including a bit of spirits with one’s breakfast, or at least a bit of beer or wine. How tragic that those who struggle mightily to uphold this practice are reduced to doing so alone, enjoying their pleasure only in the privacy of their own kitchen for fear of inviting public humiliation.