Anti-smoking as a dying flame

‘I’m not defending smoking, I’m attacking tobacco control, which is totally inhuman’


Question: Dmitry, you are internationally known as an expert on the global anti-smoking campaign. What do you think about the Malaysian ordinance on non-smoking, even in the open air?

Answer: I’m not commenting on decisions of the Malaysian government. No foreigner should do it. This is your country, only you can decide on how your smokers and non-smokers are going to co-exist.

Q: But you are aware of the general situation here.

A: Of course I am, since people are talking to me. So, this self-interview is in fact a kind of recording of some parts of these conversations.

But, to repeat — I won’t talk about Malaysia, I’ll talk about the general state of the global anti-smoking campaign, which has not been born in Malaysia. That campaign has a lot of secrets that are not so hard to learn. Like, have you ever heard that “nobody is smoking today anywhere in the world, the habit is going to be obliterated soon”?

Q: Such is the general impression.

A: Impressions do not emerge by themselves, somebody spends a lot of money to produce them. These “somebodies” are the top guns around the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. We are talking about a multibillion-dollar tobacco control (TC) industry, which is not used to be argued with, or to their “facts” being checked. In fact, they habitually are saying that anyone who even questions them is a moral freak.

Q: And, by the way, it has to be hard defending smoking…

A: But I’m not defending smoking. I’m attacking TC, which, in my opinion, is totally inhuman. Try to look at the reasons for all these endless bans that TC is inventing on and on. What’s the logic behind the bans? Simple — smokers’ lives should be made unbearable, to make them run to a doctor and spend money on giving it up. And then the next generation, seeing all these humiliations, won’t start smoking.

Now, try to make life unbearable for one, two, or three people — you’ll get yourself to jail.

But here we have hundreds of millions of smokers worldwide, and harassing them is okay.

To repeat — these were not Malaysians who invented that idea. Asia in general, as far as I know, is about compromise and respect to all kinds of people. Fear and hatred are a very un-Asian thing, but it’s the main instrument of TC.

Q: Hatred is an exaggeration, surely?

A: You are lucky not to know too much — yet — about the life of a smoker in a small group of nations far from here. The idea was — and I’ve read the transcripts of speeches of
certain TC ideologues — to somehow convince people that tobacco smoke may harm non-smokers, so they teach people to fear even a whiff of smoke, driving them mad.

Now, try to read medical research papers, dozens of them, like I did, and see if that idea of “the harms of passive smoking” has been proven by science. Read the discussions about it. You’ll like it.

Q: The tobacco industry previously paid for reports saying the smoke is safe?

A: Try to see who paid for research on the harms of passive smoking.

By the way, if you are interested, I’m not getting a cent from any tobacco company, in fact I blast them for being weaklings and cowards when attacked…but they knew that TC would denormalise itself and fail, just like bans on alcohol failed in the US in the last century. And TC is failing right now.

Q: But smoking is down globally?

A: It was going down before the bans. Now, we see that bans don’t work. Look at statistics from Spain, or parts of Australia, or even parts of the US. And that’s not to mention vaping, that has caused a huge split in the ranks of TC.

The number of smokers globally has exceeded one billion for the first time in history. Do you know what it means? There’ll be no non-smoking world and non-smoking generation.

Worse, TC has created — in that handful of nations — an explosive situation. A non-smoking world is totally unacceptable for smokers, and the smoking world is supposed to be totally unacceptable for non-smokers. In the end, we have what I’ve mentioned — divided societies full of fear and hatred. And the people in TC know it all by now.

Q: So, they get more active?

A: What else can they do? Look, I lived through the demise of another totalitarian project, the communist Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I know all the tell-tale signs of a total defeat of an inhuman project.

What did these people do, seeing that their Communism was a dying flame? Right, they were tightening the screws, shouting that victory was near. And then they crumbled down fast. A spectacular failure on a global scale.

  • Dmitry Kosyrev is an author of 8 novels and a book of short stories, as well as a columnist for 2 Moscow publications. Orientalist by education (Moscow University), he has a special love for Malaysia. The views expressed are of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the stand of the newspaper’s owners and editorial board.