Saturday, 13 March 2010 00:00

Velvet Glove, Iron Fist - A Book Review

Written by Mick Hellwig
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This is a real departure for me. I don’t even like to do snus reviews, and a book review is something I haven’t written since high school, many, many years ago.

As many of you know I have a recent fascination with the anti-tobacco events in the United Kingdom. One of the first blogs I found was Velvet Glove, Iron Fist. Among the many places that blog led me to, was an Amazon page where I could purchase Velvet Glove, Iron Fist: the history of anti-smoking.

Written by Christopher Snowdon, the book is somewhat different than I expected. It is not a defense of smoking. It is much more a connecting of the dots from the earliest failed attempts to eradicate smoking shortly after a couple of sailors on Columbus’s journeys brought tobacco to Spain, to the modern incarnation of today’s rabid anti tobacco activists.

Velvet-Glove-Iron-FistAt no point in this book does Mr. Snowdon say smoking is not bad for you. The closest he gets is pointing out that not nearly as many smokers die from Lung Cancer than most people believe. The actual number is less than 5%.

Velvet Glove, Iron Fist does provide an in-depth look at the “science” surrounding Environmental Tobacco Smoke. How the numbers have been exaggerated, over reported and just plain lied about.

For me, the best parts were the historical perspectives. How Kings and other policy makers tried to rid the world of the “Evil Weed” almost from the day it was delivered to Europe, and how closely anti-tobacco activists were related to the Temperance movements of the US and Europe.

Carrie Nation, one of the loudest voices of the Temperance movement was also a fervent anti smoker, and she also campaigned against the Freemasons. Two facts I didn’t know.
Another fact I didn’t know is that her first husband was a smoker, drinker and Freemason. I wonder if this has anything to do with her views.

Mr. Snowdon also shows how the anti-tobacco groups of today are truly growths out of the Temperance movement of the 1920’s. After Prohibition was enacted and repealed many of these activists groups were almost out of work. So they adapted, switched to fighting the next “evil”, tobacco.

They were pretty much ignored, especially after World War 2. During WW1 and WW2 packs of cigarettes were sent to troops on the frontlines, at least to the Allies. Germany’s troops were all but banned from smoking. Hitler was a militant (if I may be redundant) anti smoker. Ironically Herman Goering and Eva Braun, the two closest to Hitler, were smokers until their deaths.

As offensive as some find it, “anti-tobacco Nazi” is a term firmly rooted in history, since the Hitler’s government was both National Socialist and anti tobacco. To be fair, the German government circa 1935 was also against caffeine, meat, fatty foods, alcohol and drugs.

Two of Hitler’s allies, Mussolini and Franco were non smokers. Churchill, Stalin and Eisenhower were all smokers, a fact that the anti smoking groups of today try to cover up partly by airbrushing cigarettes and cigars out of the pictures of these great leaders.

Anti smoking hit a dry patch until the early 1960’s when the US government started to pay attention culminating with the Surgeon General’s 1964 report linking smoking to lung cancer. The anti-tobacco groups really got wound up after that and grew into what we see today.

This book does not address our favorite topic of smokeless tobacco or Tobacco Harm Reduction. Personally I’ve never believed all the hype surrounding Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS), so it really didn’t affect my beliefs in this area.

What this book did for me is give me great insight into the mindset and tactics of those arrayed against us. Any good military commander will tell you the best way to defeat an enemy is to use their weaknesses against them. Velvet Glove Iron Fist exposes a few of those weaknesses.

Velvet Glove Iron Fist is not available from your local library. (I wonder why not?) You can buy it from the author directly on his website, or on one of the big online booksellers.

I recommend anyone interested in this topic to buy a copy. Mine is already dog-eared and well used looking. It’s a great reference tool/resource to have handy when debating anti-tobacco forces.

Recent developments; the underhanded, dead of the night passage of the PACT Act in the Senate without a roll call vote and the passage of the FDA Tobacco Act, show that having this information may be more important than ever before.

I don’t for a minute believe any of this has anything to do with the nation’s health, but more to do with legislating approved morality, and tax money. With Velvet Glove Iron Fist in hand we have a leg up in proving it. I for one will not go quietly into that tobacco free night.


Believer in the America the Fouunding Fathers envisioned
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Read 2904 times Last modified on Thursday, 14 November 2013 10:02

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