Sorry, this is a smoking related post so may I humbly suggest any Timidadians should leave now before they get tainted. Thank you. Careful; mind the ‘Q’ key!! There you go; yes, over that way. Thank you.
Right, I’ve been pondering a couple of words oft used by the public health people in their quest to stop the whole wide world from smoking and those words would be, ‘normalizing’ and ‘de-normalising. Thus may I present a pretend tale showing that those two words can be very confusing dependant on which way you’re looking at the time. Ready? Sitting comfy?
There’s a big city and in this big city is a jolly big pub close to a subway station. Lots of people, upon finishing work at 17:00, stop at this pub for a quick drink prior to catching the train at 22:00. Pardon? An earlier train you say? I’ll get to that.
Let’s pretend that, of the pubs total clientele, 100 like a smoke. Let’s further pretend that these 100 smokers are always outside on the pavement together.
A none smoking or drinking fellow has to pass by the pub on his way to the station to catch the earlier train at 17:30. Let’s call this person ‘Boring’. Boring reflects, every evening, how disgustingly normalising it was to see so many smokers, looks like a hundred of ‘em, outside the pub but he’s heard that the wahoos at the WHO are campaigning vigorously to de-normalise smoking. Boring, being a non-smoker, is unaware that the WHO’s de-normalising intent was to drive smokers outside where it unintentionally became normal for Boring and passers-by of all ages to see large groups of de-normalised smokers innocently normalising smoking.
Of the 100 smoky drinkers 75 really want to quit so they could sit inside on rainy or windy or rainy and windy evenings so they glued nicotine patches to themselves. Of these folk, going on the documented poor success rate of these patches, three finally manage to quit thus leaving just 97 smokers in the wild.
Boring passes by and notices not a jot of difference and still longs for the WHO to do that de-normalised thingy quickly as he’s concerned to see so many children pass by the smokers and fears they’ll become normalised smokers.
Then, as if by magic, along comes a bit o’ kit that’s quite possibly the most successful aid yet in helping people wean away from tobacco - vaping appliances – herein after called e-cigs.
The 97 remaining smokers decide to give it a go and of these, and a reasonable figure to use for a success rate would appear to be 23%, a further 22, okay 22 and a little bit of one, are now inside with the added help of the pub owner, a reasonable chap with a good grasp of common sense and business, who’s re-designated the old, long unused Smoking Room as a No Children Allowed Vaping Area.
When Boring now passes by he’s delighted to see a dramatic depletion of smokers outside the pub and comments to his friends that it was fast approaching the point where crossing the road to avoid allegedly deadly second-hand smoke and that horrible nicotine saturated brickwork was becoming unnecessary and further remarks to his chums, “Wow!! That WHO de-normalising smokers seems like it’s really hitting home now then!! It looks like day by day there are fewer and fewer smokers normalisedly smoking in full public view and tempting kiddies to smoke. Well done ’ol de-normalising wahoos!”
A moderately happy outcome you’d assume, with the pub full, Boring and other passers-by, and let’s not forget the kids, only having their delicate senses assailed occasionally by a slack hand-full of hard-core smokers and the WHO fellows absolutely delighted at the prospect of the totally unexpected success of their primary reason for existence; improving health.
Sadly but unsurprisingly, the ‘health’ zealots, rather than being happy with the outcome, became apoplectic with rage as they saw the alarming trend of people thinking and acting outwith their strict control parameters and using those fancy, cheap e-cig lookin’ dealy-bobs and, horror of horrors, using ‘em indoors, enjoying themselves and ‘normalising’, as they say, smoking again. After tightening their titanium head-bands to prevent explosions, an emergency meeting of the Wahoos was convened to sort the situation out and to ensure they regained total control of everything. And quickly!!
After lots of hand wringing and further tightening of head-bands, several ideas where put forward such as demonizing second-hand vapour as it had worked so well with smoke. This was dropped after it was pointed out that vapour, unlike smoke, was just the act of exhaling made visible and everyone expels air occasionally. Visible or not. “Nobody’s going to fall for that one.” Said a soon to be fired doubter.
”You sure? You seen some of the crazy stuff we’ve made ‘em believe?”
Then the craziest of the crazy people at the assemblage of craziness announced he had a cunningly crazy plan and recounted it roughly thus: “As these new toys could contain that stuff found in tomatoes, potatoes, cauliflowers and, fortunately for us, tobacco – nicotine – let’s get ‘em classified as tobacco products then we can jolly well get control back and carry on controlling any stuff we want to control!!”
This idea was greeted with wild excitement, the casting off of head-bands and a self congratulatory back-slapping bean and yogurt-fest planned, at the tax payers expense, at a luxuriously appointed tropical resort.
However, while the WHO-are-you where enjoying their further de-normalising and wresting back of control ‘victory’, back in our dimension, that ol’ ‘not thinking it through’ thingy kicked in.
E-cigs became a tobacco product so vapers where back outside the pub with the remaining smokers. And the guys still struggling with patches? Also outside with the smokers and vapers as nicotine patches had to be called a ‘tobacco product’ or the classification wouldn’t hold water for e-cigs, right? This also entailed more work for the poor Landlord as he now had to ensure nobody entered his premises patched up and diners, who’ve ordered certain vegetables, discover they can only eat them outside.
Thus several unintended consequences' calamitously kicked in:
“You still vaping now they’re taxed into tomorrow?”
”Nah. You seen the price of ‘em now? Why pretend when the proper thing’s are a tad cheaper!”
”How about your pal? Still patched up?”
”Your kidding, right? He ditched the nicotine patches when that tobacco tax got slapped on ‘em in spades and a pack o’ smokes and a patch became prohibitively pricy!”
Our good friend Boring, upon passing by the pub now notes, with sadness, that the de-normalising stuff must’ve been rubbish ‘couse it seems to be back to normal as, for sure, there’s a hundred smoking fools outside the pub again in full, tempting, normalising smoky view of all the passers-by; both young and old alike………
Later in the week, during a brief visit from their own perfect dimension, and noting that all their wild ideas had resulted in nothing more than the completing of a really, really big circle, the boss of the WHO had to admit to his committed, sorry, committee, “You know all that nasty stuff they’ve been saying about us? Well, you know what? It’s true. We really haven’t got a WHO-be-do.”
Quote; Elizabeth Chandler.
“People fear anyone who differs from what is considered normal, and in a small town the idea of normal can be as narrow as the streets.”