And then they came for the drinkers…

Yes, drinkers, they’re coming for you now. You really should be aware of this by now, but then you really should have been aware of it long ago when the intolerance was directed at tobacco and the sound of marching boots wasn’t something for you to fear. Ah, those were the days, eh? And you helped, didn’t you?

Yes, you did.

Yes, you did – you’re just kidding yourself. You said you’d enjoy the pub more if it was smoke free, though of course not that much more because you didn’t spend enough to make up for what the smokers used to spend before they stopped going and now it’s shut. You said it would be lovely to be able to go out and enjoy a glass of wine without some filthy smoker’s pollution wafting over you, possibly inhaling the carcinogens from a roaring fire in the corner or even a candle on your table instead.* Oh, not all of you said so but quite a lot did, and many more of you just stayed silent and raised no objection, happy that it was someone else getting it and not you.

Remember when they weren’t allowed to advertise on TV, and then not in print media either, and finally weren’t even allowed to sponsor sport? Did you all object? Did you say it was unfair? Did you stand by the smokers then?

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist

Remember when they weren’t allowed to put cigarette cards and other collectibles in the packets? What did you say? Did you oppose it? Did argue that it was unnecessary?

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist

Remember when tax on tobacco went up and up and up and up, and carried on going up ever since? Did you say that it was excessive? Did you point out that it would hurt British retailers as people bought abroad? Did you add that it would increase smuggling? Or did you go on your way, happy once again that it wasn’t your vice that was being hammered?

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew

Remember when the health warnings came in? How they began as information about tar and nicotine content? How they then became larger and included phrases like “Smoking can damage your health”? How they grew larger still to make room for a variety of longer warnings, and then moved from the sides to the front of the packets? Remember how once on the front they grew rapidly so as to include nasty pictures of various illnesses and conditions that were implied to have been caused by that person smoking? And how the people selling tobacco were then made to hide the stock in drawers and behind closed doors, as if it was somehow possible to become addicted to smoking by looking at the packets? And how they’re now saying that even that’s not enough and these hidden packets must be absolutely plain? Except for the health warnings and horror pictures, of course, which are to grow even bigger than ever. Did you say “Stop”? Did you say “Enough”? Did you say “You’ve done enough, now leave the smokers alone”? Did you raise even a peep of complaint?

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak out.

No, you did not. By and large, at best you drinkers kept your silence, which was of course taken for acquiescence, and at worst you joined in the intolerance and marginalising of smokers. Many of you still do, and more fool them. Collectively you did nothing or nearly nothing to help the smokers, and as you reaped so you are beginning to sow.

Red wine’s reputation for preventing heart attacks has come under fire from health experts who have declared every drink of alcohol can do you damage.

This should come as no surprise since it’s by no means the first time recently that the temperance crowd, the latest gaggle of nannying, neo-puritan wowsers (employing many of the same techniques and occasionally even some of the same people as the tobacco control mob), have pushed the idea that there is no safe level of alcohol.

The coalition cites other studies from around the world finding that the harms from alcohol are likely to outweigh any benefits. ”Every drinking occasion contributes to the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol,” the report says. Any reduction in alcohol consumption would reduce the lifetime risk of alcohol-related harm.

Does this sound at all familiar to you, drinkers? Does it sound at all like “Every cigarette is doing you harm”? It certainly should do as the message is identical – only the target has changed, drinkers, and the target now is you.

Actually you’ve been the new target for some years. Did you realise? Were you even aware that the nannies and wowsers were so confident of their victory that they swung the sights around to point your way even as they were still bullying smokers with your assent, if not your vociferous and active support? Did you know?

The smokers knew. You might think it somewhat surprising for people who sit all day in clouds of smoke emitted from something out of a packet covered in health warnings about it sending them blind, but the smokers saw it with crystal clarity. Mind you, it had been done to them so they were sure to recognise it, but I think they’re puzzled, drinkers. They’ve been shouting warnings at you and you’ve been just sitting there. “They’re doing to you what they have done to us”, the smokers are shouting, and have been shouting for quite some time. Yet you don’t seem to have heard. Is it because the nannies and wowsers persuaded you to push the smokers away out of earshot, or does alcohol damage your hearing?

Oh, I’m so sorry, there’ll probably be a health warning to that effect now. Oh yes, there probably will. Tax on alcohol has been going up and up, and will continue to go up and up, and of course there have been labels on the bottles with the alcohol content for quite a while. And you sucked it up and accepted it, possibly in part because you could see that the smokers were getting a worse time of it. But all those other things I mentioned before are happening to you as well now, drinkers. Look at the examples. Look at the dates. This has been going on around you for years.

Seven years ago.
Two and a half years ago
Already in use today

Do you see it? The calls for restrictions on advertising and minimum pricing, the health warnings that have already begun to appear on the labels and the proposals to make them bigger, and not least this new message that it’s bad for you even in the smallest quantities and any positive benefit you thought it may have had… well you were wrong, d’you hear? Wrong! It was all a big fat lie, probably invented by a man with a vineyard or a brewery or something.

Is any of this ringing bells with you, drinkers? Can you see the pattern being repeated? “De-normalising alcohol”? Oh, yes, that particular chicken came home to roost earlier this year. Even the concept of passive drinking has been put forward (about five years ago – did you notice, drinkers?), to a large burst of bitter laughter from the smokers, I have to tell you. It dealt them a nasty blow and it’s going to do the same to you, drinkers.

Now I hope this has served to get your attention, drinkers, because now I come to the point where I tell you some bad news, some good news and some bad news. The first bad news should be obvious: the same process that has been used with such success on the smokers is now well under way on you, and if you are persist in blinding yourselves to this fact then your liberty to enjoy an alcoholic drink in peace may be beyond saving, at least in the near future. The good news is that there are rather more of you than there are smokers and so you can put up more of a united front. But the other bad news is that this might well be insufficient since the wowsers have the ear of government and government really doesn’t care much about you either. If it can do the same thing it did to the smokers, tax the hell out of them at the same time as making their lives miserable, then you can be certain it will. You need reinforcements, other voices to stand up for you. People who are not primarily drinkers. People who can see and understand what is being done to you and what is going to happen next.

People like the smokers, you might be thinking.

But I’m afraid I also have to tell you that some of the smokers think you fucking deserve it. You stood by and did nothing, not a damned thing, to help them when they were getting it in the neck, and now it’s your turn some smokers are less than sympathetic. Many of them enjoy a glass or two and can be counted on to fight against the booze wowsers just as they did the smoke wowsers, but of course some smokers don’t drink and can’t see why they should lift a goddamn finger. Even now you can browse the comments sections of many an online article about smoking and find such bile and venom directed at smokers that Dick Puddlecote has begun to collect it (coincidentally, as I write this he’s also got another piece up about passive drinking, just in case anybody thought that one from 2006 was a one off) and you can be certain that the overwhelming majority of the people who’ve spat such hate are fellow drinkers. Why, many smokers will ask, should they care when you still hate them? Even some who drink will ask why, when they’re now making their own arrangements with Leg-ironian smoky-drinkies and soon home brewed drink and home grown baccy as well, they should give the remotest shit?

So who are you going to ask instead? What voice is going to speak up and object to the de-normalisation of alcohol? Me? Not my problem, fellas – I don’t drink. But good luck with it, even though I might add that it really annoys me when some bloody drunk yaks all over the pavement or some slightly tipsy yahoo gets a bit loud in a restaurant. Nah, I think I’ll let you get on with it while I finish my cheeseburger. Eh? What do you mean it’ll be my turn next if I don’t stand with you and help now?

Which is true, of course, and has been my point all along. But did you ever think of that when you were watching the smokers get a shoeing? Did you ever consider that they occupied the buffer zone between you and the nannying wowsers? No, you didn’t, and many of you still don’t. But now you’re occupying the buffer zone between me and the wowsers, so of course I’ll speak out for drinkers even though I don’t drink.

But if you want the best chance of being able to drink in peace I’d mend some fences with the smokers if I were you, and I’d do it pretty damn sharpish.

* H/T Narco Polo (refs 1 and 3)

34 comments for “And then they came for the drinkers…

  1. LFB_uk
    September 20, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Excellent !!

  2. September 20, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    To be honest the pubs killed themselves. When I started drinking you had a choice of public and saloon bars and often a smoking room. Then the pubs knocked them altogether into one large, smoky, bar.

    I don’t like smoke so I gradually used the pubs less. When I moved to my current home I tried the local pub once and said YUK, never to return. So if asked I would have said smoking deterred me from going to the pub. Have I gone back? No I’m now in the habit of drinking at home.

    As far as pubs closing is concerned it is self inflicted.

    • George Speller
      September 25, 2011 at 7:38 pm

      The alterations to pubs were forced on them by planning regulations. If any building work took place it had to be consistent with the necessity to see all parts of the pub from the bar. At the time these alterations happened the smoking ban was just a wet dream in the sick minds of the bansturbaters – nobody could possibly have foreseen the vindictive and insane ban that’s currently in place. I think, “Disenfrachised” that you have forgotten that all rooms were used for smoking over the last 50 years, like it or not. The complaints against smokers only started because Nanny told people they didn’t like. You’ve been Nannied.

    • 6079SmithW
      September 26, 2011 at 10:00 pm

      And if you didn’t vote for Nigel Farage at the last election, you disenfranchised yourself.


      • September 27, 2011 at 12:21 am

        It wasn’t Farage at the last election but Lord Pearson of Rannoch, and he cost UKIP my vote. Lacking anyone from the now defunct LPUK I was going to vote for UKIP as the next best option, but Lord Pearson was entertaining some rather illiberal ideas about liberty at the time so I felt just as disenfranchised as Disenfranchised of Buckingham. Hopefully Farage won’t do anything similar between now and the next one.

  3. Patrick Harris
    September 20, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    May I add that all you non-smoking, non-drinking dog walkers – your next.
    Putting cows in fields that used to be used solely for recreational purposes including dog walking. Don’t take any notice of the stories you hear about dog walkers being attacked and killed by cows.
    Leads to be limited in lenth to 1m.
    Not much, I hear you say, it’s only the start.

    • ivan
      September 20, 2011 at 7:07 pm

      And who in their right mind uses a lead longer than 1 metre when walking the dog?

      • September 20, 2011 at 9:56 pm

        A very tall man with a chihuahua?

    • September 20, 2011 at 10:25 pm

      Ah, and don’t I know it. And this is why I support smokers and drinkers even though I’ve stopped doing both. I’m a meat eating recreational shooter with a dog and two cats, I like the occasional violent computer game and could stand to lose a few kilos – each of which attracts the disapproval of various sections of the Ban Everything Brigade, and one or two of which already have very strict and illiberal laws surrounding them. Hell, as a shooter my kind were losing liberties long before even the smokers. For me it’s about trying to keep what’s left and hopefully claw back some of those that have been lost, and for that I’ll stand alongside anyone no matter what I think of their particular vice (providing it’s not a vice that affects anyone else, of course).

      • September 21, 2011 at 5:56 am

        Don’t look to the politicians to ‘claw some back’ despite their election promises… 👿

        • September 21, 2011 at 6:37 am

          Oh, no, that’s up to us, not them.

    • 6079SmithW
      September 26, 2011 at 10:02 pm

      A lead of 1 mile is plenty, don’t you think?


  4. David A. Evans
    September 20, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Been screaming this message for years, anywhere I could bend an ear.
    Over at the Morning Advertiser, (now the Publican Morning Advertiser,) so many of us were telling the non-smoking drinkers that there were NO new non-smokers to replace the smoking drinkers, that the non-smokers would leave to drink in private with their smoking friends, which is what happened.
    We warned that the units farce had already been admitted to have been made up because they couldn’t say nothing.
    What studies there have been indicate that up to about 6 times the safe limit, alcohol is beneficial.
    I could go on but you’ve said it all much better than I can.

    • September 20, 2011 at 10:26 pm

      Damn, forgot about the units myth. I could have worked that into it, easy. 😳

      • David A. Evans
        September 21, 2011 at 12:16 am

        We’re all human mate & everything else was said so eloquently, I’m not sure it would have added much.

  5. Steve W
    September 20, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Beautifully written.
    Nowt to add, but the article deserved a comment at least.
    Any attack on anyone’s liberty is an attack on everyone’s liberty, such a shame that most people don’t see it until it’s an attack on them (smokers included).

    • David
      September 20, 2011 at 6:53 pm

      Great comment and great article.

    • September 20, 2011 at 10:01 pm

      “Any attack on anyone’s liberty is an attack on everyone’s liberty…”

      Very neat summary. I shall certainly quote than in the future, and I’ll apologise in advance because I’ll forget who said it and won’t attribute it to you. But outstanding all the same. The statists, authoritarians, nannies, control freaks and bansturbators have a cupboard full of soundbites to throw at us. We have relatively few and need more to lob back at them, and that one’s a bloody gem.

      • 6079SmithW
        September 26, 2011 at 10:25 pm

        The same applies to freedom of speech – if you can’t say ‘nigger’, you can’t say anything.


        PS Guy Gibson’s dog’s name was not ‘Digger’.

      • harleyrider1978
        September 27, 2011 at 2:22 pm

        Individual freedom is the most cherished as it defines the rights and freedoms of the whole!

  6. meltemian
    September 21, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Coming soon – the new ‘Temperance Society’?
    Get the children into the ‘Band of Hope’?
    Come on now “My drink is water bright from the silver stream”…..

    • September 22, 2011 at 2:10 pm

      I’m teetotal anyway, but the thought of that is enough to drive me to drink.

  7. DaveP
    September 22, 2011 at 1:06 am

    Here are more reasons that will be used against drinking in any form.

    Alcohol no matter how small, leads to alcoholism which results in the break up of families, fatherless families, moral breakdown, and then riots.

    Alcohol is responsible for many car accidents and deaths – far more then smoking.

    Alcohol related health problems are a great burden on the NHS. In these cash strapped times, doctors will have the right to refuse treatment to anyone who has any alcohol in his blood.
    Smokers are by and large, a tolerant bunch of people. We know we are weak, and thus we respect the weakness and foibles of others.

    By the same token, the people who are forever telling other people how to live, are intolerant and deluded knowalls , smug in their sense of self-righteousness – exactly the sort of people you wouldn’t like to meet in a pub. Fortunately for us, these people are not to be found in a pub.

    For pub landlords – you have got rid of a tolerant group of people to appease the sort who would never visit a pub, unless it was to find something to report to the police or the H&S.

    • September 22, 2011 at 2:11 pm

      Have you been reading Alcohol Concern’s master plan?

      • DaveP
        September 24, 2011 at 1:42 am

        No. Didn’t even know of its existence.

        I suppose there must be hundreds of organisations, whose sole purpose is to ruin everyone’s day and life.

        Why cant we play this game. Let us consider an activity, like cycling, which everyone tells us is good for the health, is carbon free, saves the environment, and reduces dependency on foreign oil.

        There must be all sorts of disadvantages to cycling.

        1. Harms the health of the cyclist

        2. Places great strain on the NHS

        3. Uses up valuable resources of human energy for just moving around, which could have been achieved with far greater efficiency and far less expensive fuels – petrol.

        4. Damages roads built by money from motorists, but do not contribute to its upkeep.

        Frankly, cyclists should be taxed for road usage, environmental degradation, and waste of the most valuable resource in the universe – human energy.

        • Twenty_Rothmans
          September 25, 2011 at 12:23 pm

          Excellent, vituperative post, Angry.

          Helmets are compulsory in Australia. I wonder when it will happen here.

          • September 25, 2011 at 4:36 pm

            TR, it may restore a little of your faith in your fellow Aussies to learn that that’s a rule I see ignored almost daily.

    • September 24, 2011 at 1:09 pm

      Remember to think of the children :mrgreen:

  8. September 25, 2011 at 12:46 am

    The anti-smoking zealots prompted me to write the Helium article “Reflections: Pipe & Cigar Smoking” at or

  9. Lyn
    September 25, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Excellent article, bloody brilliant, in fact.

    Regarding cyclists; of course there is the added danger of inhaling exhaust fumes – same for pedestrians, particularly in towns and cities!

    Whoops! Should be careful what I say, may give some other bansturbator the idea of convincing government (not difficult) to ban all motorised vehicles! 😳

  10. Matt
    September 26, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Thank fuck alcohol is cheap and easy to make yourself. The nannies can stuff off.

  11. harleyrider1978
    September 27, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Then they came for the drinkers, but alas I was a smoker so I did nothing but watch the drinkers cringe! Meanwhile back at the whiskey still in Kentucky,we makin’ again!

  12. harleyrider1978
    September 27, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    This should be of help to the drinkers and the connection of the bloody smoking bans in America!

    Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Financier of Temperance
    by David J. Hanson, Ph.D.
    The temperance-oriented Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) “seeks to drive adult beverage consumption underground, away from mainstream culture and public places.” 1 It attempts to stigmatize alcohol, de-legitimize drinking, marginalize drinkers, and create a de facto quasi-prohibition of the legal product.

    The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation spent over a quarter of a billion (that’s billion, not million) dollars ($265,000,000.00) in just four years alone further developing and funding a nation-wide network of anti-alcohol organizations, centers, activist leaders, and opinion writers to promote its long-term goal.

    An in-depth report, Behind the Neo-Prohibition Campaign: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, demonstrates that “nearly every study disparaging adult beverages in the mass media, every legislative push to limit alcohol marketing or increase taxes, and every supposedly ‘grassroots’ anti-alcohol organization” is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 2 The foundation supports numerous temperance-oriented activists and groups including:

    Guess who is behind the smoking bans big pharma and the RWJF is the ones who began TOBACCO FREE KIDS they also funded the ACS,ALA,AHA etc with a 99 million dollar grant to go out and lobby for smoking bans across america,then the federal govmnt under obama has been buying smoking bans at the local level with CDC and NIH,HHS grants from stimulus money! Now we find the RWJF folks tied directly to ANTI-ALCOHOL.

  13. harleyrider1978
    September 27, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    I just came across this from south africa:

    South Africa: AD and Media Industries Need to Prove Relevence

    Rolling bans

    At the time I warned that more ad bans would follow simply because its was politically safe to do so. Right now, liquor advertising is about to be banned – perhaps just starting with partial bans but there is no doubt in my mind that eventually all liquor advertising and promotion will be banned outright.

    The Minister of Health has also announced his intention to impose bans on fast foods. So, where will it stop? Simple answer? It won’t stop unless it becomes politically dangerous to impose bans.

    Boyz its just really beginning! PROHIBITION IS COMMING ON EVERYTHING

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