I received an email the other day.
People write to me for all sorts of reasons but this one was looking for a drop of advice and reassurance.
The mail itself was private so I won't publish it here, but will instead give a general gist of its contents.
Basically a man is worried about his stepson. Because of a nasty car smash some time ago [involving fatalities] his fifteen year old stepson had developed a nervous tic which apparently was very bad. The stepson took up smoking a while back and my correspondent noticed that after a cigarette that the tic disappeared.
I'm not quite sure why he wrote to me. Was he looking for an expert opinion? Was he looking for reassurance? He posed his mail as a query – had I heard of smoking reducing tics, but I think there was more to it than that.
I am never quite sure what to say in these circumstances. I delayed in replying [and even considered not replying, though that would have been taking the easy way out] but wrote a reply today.
First of all I had to lay out my stall.
I hope you're not crediting me with more knowledge than I actually have. My attitude to smoking is based on logic and a lifetimes experience rather than any degrees in science. When I hear all this rubbish about "second hand smoke" I just think back a generation to a time where nearly everyone smoked and no one gave it a second thought, and certainly there were no heart attacks or cancers caused by a whiff of smoke.
Obviously I have redacted some of this –
Nicotine does have many benefits. Of course these are never mentioned nowadays because nicotine has become the Great Evil. The benefits are many but one is that nicotine has a calming effect, so […] seems to be feeling that effect. If he feels better after a cigarette then why not go along with that? If he feels a benefit, is it right to stop that benefit?
I thought I had better explain a bit further on the whole smoking business.
I neither condone nor condemn smoking. It is none of my business what other people do and this is my argument all along. If you […] are happy with […] smoking that that’s all that matters. The “dangers” are grossly exaggerated and there may [or may not] be a small risk attached. If the benefits outweigh the risks [and it sounds to me like they certainly do] then that's fine.
There was a bit more to the reply but that's the bare bones of it.
My feeling is one of sadness. A man has to write to an anonymous old codger looking for advice and information. He should have been able to chat with a doctor or physician but was obviously afraid to do so, which I find unutterably sad and ethically wrong. But this is the world that the Anti-smokers have created – one of fear and suppression of information and the truth.
Here is a lad who has found a real and substantial benefit from smoking but will any professional condone that? Not a chance in hell.
What has the world come to when a man cannot talk to a doctor about his stepson's wellbeing, and has to approach an old fart up the mountains?