The Western Standard – The Dangers of Not Smoking<br/> As with other strains of puritanism through the ages, the stop-smoking inquisition may well be connected to the crisis of our times, by David Warren

I wrote “Prohibition,” and “puritanism,” still emotive terms, and it is necessary to add that North Americans have never had a corner on whited sepulchralism. The Islamic world long anticipated the Calvinist propensity to “tee-totalitarianism.” Verily, while I have never found a historian who has run with it, I have noticed that every major reform of the Protestant Reformation moved Christianity in the direction of Islam, including scriptural literalism, legalism and the deconsecration of clergy. …

It follows that anti-smoking regulations can travel, and they have, far beyond the reach that was achieved by our anti-drinking crusade after the Great War. I am, for instance, reliably informed that the formerly hermit Kingdom of Bhutan has recently introduced a ban on the sale of smoking tobacco as part of a national purification drive. This was fairly easy to enforce, since most Bhutanese prefer to chew tobacco. Neighbouring and more populous India has also introduced regulations to match those of Canada and the West. But there people actually smoke, and India is still blessedly India; everyone ignores the regulations.

Formerly Protestant Europe has bought into anti-smoking with enthusiasm; formerly Catholic Europe (and Latin America) with some reserve.

But I am more interested in the fate of South Korea and Japan, where only a decade ago smoking seemed so universal as to be mandatory among men, and advisable among women. These were also, incidentally, the two countries at the very top of the world’s life expectancy tables. While the death rates are now increasing in both countries, I’m not sure this can be attributed to anti-smoking activism, but rather to the other postmodern phenomenon of demographic collapse.

While a glance at comparative national mortality statistics might make a compelling argument for the more general health benefits of smoking (Africa has had for decades the lowest rates for both smoking and life expectancy), I am more concerned with the specific area of mental health. In first-hand observations among smokers, non-smokers and ex-smokers, I have noticed that smoking is the only reliable cure for neurosis, and that people who give it up quickly become strident, interfering and unhappy.

Indeed, I think much of the crisis of postmodernism is caused, directly and indirectly, by non-smoking. Political decisions that were once made in smoke-filled committee rooms are now made in sterile, well-ventilated, televised environments. Think of the consequences of that.

There, you see? The enlightened world needs you!

Update:

Hmm, alternate theory? Of anyone in the world, Japanese and South Koreans kiss their wives the least.