Thursday, 28 November 2013

Jane's Merrick's Thinly Veiled Callousness and Bigotry

An article by Jane Merrick in The Independent caught my eye for the fact its content amounts to little more than, "I hate the sight of smokers." Devoid of any thought or logic, it essentially reads like a spittle-flecked outburst of bigotry that would be unacceptable against any other group of people, and it's grotesquely evident the lack of empathy she has for smokers as people - everything is about her, her her, and smokers are just grotesque entities without feelings.

Some of them are in wheelchairs, dressed in their pastel green hospital gowns, others looking so frail you wonder whether they should be out of bed at all and outside in the cold. All of them are smoking.
As you walk into the hospital, with the stress and worry of your own illness or that of a member of your family uppermost in your mind, it is a truly depressing sight.
Yes, fuck these bastards depressing me with their wheelchairs and frailness, SMOKING! Don't they know that I'm having a mole removed today and that I'm worried about how big the scar will be. These people look disgusting. They shouldn't be outside, they should be in the morgue. Now what time's my yoga class tomorrow again?

As a former smoker, and as someone instinctively wary about the state becoming too much of a nanny, I should be in favour of allowing patients to do what they want, as long as it doesn’t affect others.
Aaaaaaaand here it comes, as predictably as racist comments tumble out of the mouth succeeding, "I'm not racist, but..."

But when Professor Mike Kelly, public health chief of Nice, says the NHS needs a “culture shift” to end “the terrible spectacle of people on drips in hospital gowns smoking outside hospital entrances”, I am afraid he is right.  
Why is it a "terrible spectacle"? And why should people be protected by things they see as being "terrible spectacles"? People used to find unmarried mothers/very young mothers with their babies a "terrible spectacle". To save the faint of heart from seeing a choice of which they disapprove, should teen mothers be sent to the convent? Some people find gay couples a "terrible spectacle", should they be locked up in prison? Quite clearly no. Basically, if you find people engaging in a legal activity to be a "terrible spectacle", don't look.

It is one thing to not stop a smoker satisfying his or her addiction – if they are fit enough to walk off site, then let them do that. But if the patient is not able to walk that far, the last thing they should be doing is smoking. The NHS should not act as an enabler for their addictions, either by permitting nurses or healthcare assistants to help the patient down the stairs, or by providing the shelter in the first place.
"The last thing they should be doing is smoking." Hmm, is that right?  What should they be doing then, crying with frustration that they're stuck in hospital stressed out of their mind that they're somewhere horrible that they don't want to be and unable to engage in one of the few pleasures that can break up one's day? Where one can contemplate things and have a few minutes to themselves? Should a patient with days to live be spending their last days craving a cigarette, some respite from their horrible situation, wanting to engage in one of the few activities that can help them feel normal again and as if they're back in the real world rather than the hell of hospital? Should they be smoking in the toilet, only to then be restrained and held down like a criminal as they emerge from the bathroom, a crew of security screaming at them?
What should terminally ill smokers be doing, Jane? Not to mention the number of ill people who will check themselves out without having full treatment because they cannot smoke. I know, I am one of these people who have done this, and with this there will be millions more.

From my smoking days, I know there is nothing like seeing a group of people puffing away on cigarettes to make you also want a fag. Like banning smoking in pubs (instrumental in helping me quit several years ago), removing it from the NHS will indeed encourage an out-of-sight-out-of-mind cultural shift – and improve patients’ lives.
So because you're an intolerant ex-smoker who is apparently mentally thrown into disarray at the sight of a cigarette, you want smokers to suffer more in their worst times. Should all sight of alcohol be removed from society for the sake of alcoholics? I assume you drink, Jane. Don't you know that you with your glass of rosé could trigger off a recovering alcoholic to go on a binge that loses him his job and the life he'd tried to piece back together? Better not drink in front of anyone, ever again. You can't tell who's a recovering alcoholic and who isn't, after all. Your lip-service to "improve patients' lives" at the end of this paragraph fools no one. You don't give a shit about the patients, you KNOW it will make their lives considerably more uncomfortable, you're just selfish and despise smokers.

For nurses, doctors and other staff who want to smoke in their breaks, trusts should be even tougher: don’t smoke when you’re on duty. I will never forget the moment a midwife, on a home visit to my week-old baby, put her finger in my daughter’s mouth to demonstrate latching-on. As my baby clamped her lips around the midwife’s finger, the smell of fresh cigarette smoke wafted around her hands, and I recoiled in horror. Any who comes into contact with patients – nurses who have hands-on contact - should not be doing their jobs smelling of smoke. Staff will say they need a cigarette to relieve stress, but the long-term effects of smoking do more harm.

Staff are constantly washing their hands with sanitiser gel etc, the chances of her not having done are negligible, and even so, there are far worse things you could be "recoiling in horror" about such as the superbugs and deadly infections which plague NHS wards on a regular basis being on her hands. But again at the end you let slip that it's the smell of smoke that so terrifies you, not the thought that she'd rubbed her fingers in tobacco and not washed them. I think you have a phobia to be honest - get a therapist for it, you can beat it. Staff "will say they need a cigarette to relieve stress" probably because they do need a cigarette to relieve stress. I have spoken to numerous members of staff who say after the horrendous things they see, a cigarette helps bring them back to composure. "The long term effects of smoking do more harm"? Than what? A mental breakdown? Medical blunders that kill patients because the nurses can't concentrate due to being forced not to smoke? Again, Jane, you know you are lying but you don't care because you're consumed by your hatred of smokers and smoking.

Nice’s new advice underlines the mixed messages we are given on public health. The Government, after the election, promised to introduce plain packaging on cigarettes, acknowledging the evidence that it would curb smoking, but then caved into pressure from the tobacco industry by shelving the plans. Ministers should back Nice on smoking in hospitals – but they should also look again at plain packaging to wean us off this habit altogether.
They didn't "acknowledge the evidence" because there was not and is still not any evidence. In fact the entirety of this paragraph is ill-informed nonsense, but that doesn't matter. You just want anything to be done to punish smokers. It doesn't matter whether or not it will work, as long as they are being punished until they agree to stop being human filth and agree to join civilised society by stopping smoking.