Monday, July 15, 2024
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Smoking in the Cab

Individual autonomy gradually being replaced by collective authoritarianism

Before you read further, I recommend you read these books:

For Your Own Good: The Anti-Smoking Crusade and the Tyranny of Public Health, Jacob Sullum

Slow Burn: The Great American Antismoking Scam (And Why It Will Fail), Don Oakely

Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains, Michael J. McFadden

TobakkoNacht – The Antismoking Endgame, Michael J. McFadden

Or, if reading entire books is not your thing, then take a ride through some of Dave Hitt’s astute analysis of the Second-Hand-Smoke scam: Statistics 101, and Statistics 102.


Before I read any of these books, my own skill at bullshit detection had led me to the same conclusions. They said Mark Twain was an “Enormous Noticer.”

Well, so am I.

One of the things I noticed was this: If second-hand smoke is such a deadly threat, why is it that so many of my Baby Boom cohort have been able to live such long and relatively healthy lives despite growing up at a time when about 50 per cent of the adult population were smokers and just about every child born during that era was absolutely marinated in second-hand smoke?

I knew it was bullshit from Day 1.

Day 1

An intimate of mine came out as a radical anti-smoker back in the 1970s. We had many arguments about smoking in those days, but it always came down to how smokers were only hurting themselves and costing the taxpayers money for premature (socialized) medical care. In those days, though, personal choices were considered to be basic individual human rights.

Times were changing though. Individual autonomy was gradually being replaced by collective authoritarianism. In theory, a 51 per cent vote was all that was needed to force everyone into the same boat.

Even so, there remained a lingering respect for people to choose their own risk tolerances and to bear the consequences should their choices lead to bad results.

It wasn’t enough to really get tough with recalcitrant smokers.

Then one day, my intimate approached me with a triumphant expression.

“I saw a news report the other day that said even if you are a non-smoker, you are still smoking if you are around other people who smoke.”


That would be their Ace in the Hole. Smokers were not only hurting themselves. They were hurting the people around them. The doors to total anti-tobacco authoritarianism had been thrown wide open.

From that instant, I knew exactly how the confluence of collective decision-making and increasingly lucrative anti-tobacco activism would play out over the next few decades.

“Just wait,” I used to say, “eventually, they will ban smoking in bars.”

People would laugh. They told me I was nuts. In the end, though, I was 100 per cent, bang-on correct. I am an enormous noticer.

As the 1990s wore on, and the anti-smoking activists became increasingly powerful I studied the process. I saw the patterns that later made it easy to spot what was going on with the #ClimateScam. When the COVID-19 scam hit, it only took me a couple of weeks to figure it out. The patterns were by then all too familiar.

When I returned to the taxi business in 1989 it was pretty much the same Wild West scenario it had always been. But, when the 1990s rolled around, the control freaks in the local government had come to focus more on the taxi business – with a stronger commitment toward “fixing” it. And the tobacco issue was not going to escape their attention.

Prior to this period, the only mention of smoking in the taxi bylaw conformed to traditional, individualistic Western values.

It said so right on the tariff card that was supposed to be on display in every taxi,

“Smoking by mutual agreement.”

As collectivization continued its assent, smoking by mutual agreement was replaced by “No Smoking” by dictate, supposedly based on the will of the majority. Mutual agreements were gradually being relegated to the collective memory hole. Subsequently, they would be replaced by political dynamics.

You are already familiar with my opinion of the second-hand smoke scam, so my response to this new taxi edict ought not to surprise anyone. It was basically a middle finger and an enthusiastic “FUCK YOU!”

I didn’t change a thing. I continued to smoke at will. Without doing anything differently, the state was gradually turning me into an inveterate lawbreaker. I am stubborn. When “they” start to tell me how to live my life, I have a tendency to resist for no other reason than principle. EVEN IF DOCILE COMPLIANCE MIGHT EARN ME A FEW MORE YEARS OF LIFE IN A NURSING HOME.

Before the edict, if someone requested a non-smoking cab, the dispatchers would inquire as to the smoking status of the first cab in line for the trip. If the first driver was a smoker, the dispatcher would go to the next car, and the next, until he found a non-smoking cab.

The customers were happy.

The drivers were happy.

The Liberal, socialist, woke, control freaks were God damned miserable.

After the smoking ban, the question would still come up from time to time but now, if a driver reported being a smoking cab, he could end up in a world of shit. Not only from the brokers, who would suck any amount of schlong from City Hall as long as it wasn’t them who had to swallow the cost, but from the City’s enforcement apparatus.

So one night I was making one in 22 office when a call came out. It was for a woman who lived in a retirement complex up on Twenty Road. She was a regular caller and everyone knew she always requested a non-smoking cab.

Before the ban, the process was seamless. After the ban, it became complicated. Pattern-wise, it was typical of what happens when governments attempt to impose uniform opinions, expressions, and behavior on the population.

When the dispatcher asked me if I was a non-smoking cab, I lied. What choice had the government left me with? There was no out.

Despite having already consumed several packs of Camels prior to that call, I was sent to pick the lady up. Of course, I opened all the windows for the trip to her address. And the car had just been through an inspection, so it was very clean.

I had driven this woman before and she was the stereotypical domineering, anal retentive woke leftoid personality. I braced myself as she approached my cab. She got in.

Some obnoxious anti-smokers claim to have a clairvoyant ability to detect the sinful behavior.

Imagine my surprise when she opined, “This is one of the cleanest cabs I’ve seen!”

Then there was the day I was working a day shift. I was sent to a high school up around Quigley and Albright. I forget the name of the place.

I usually drive with my window open, especially since they stopped putting ashtrays in new cars. But it was a miserable, cold, windy, rainy fall day and I had been driving around with my windows closed. Of course, there was a cloud of tobacco smoke in my cab.

So, I did the usual thing. Tried to air out the car with the windows open, wind and rain notwithstanding, and I had some coconut air freshener which I sprayed around.

When the students got into my cab, one of them commented on how nice it smelled. The rest expressed enthusiastic agreement.

I took them to the Hamilton Convention Center on Summers Lane. As we approached the front door I noticed (noticed) the posters that were strewn about the place. It was some kind of government-funded student “education” convention aimed at stamping out tobacco use.

I didn’t laugh out loud.

Finally, the psychopath.

Another night, I was dispatched from the same sub as for the Twenty Road lady. This was for a different pick-up address.

As soon as the lady got into my cab she started going nuts.

She smelled smoke. Not only was it nuts, it was hysterical. She was obviously an avid CHCH TV “News” consumer. She started coughing and gagging. She opened the window and stuck her head out. She was so terrified of a whiff of smoke that she was willing to risk being decapitated. And she was fucking angry.

“I decide to treat myself to a taxi ride once in a blue moon and I have to put up with this!”

I wasn’t going to argue with her. I would just as soon get into an argument with someone about Israel vs. the Palestinians. Plus! I WAS breaking the law by smoking. Any honest response on my part would have just made her even angrier. I wanted to avoid it getting to the point where she might actually call the company, or the City, to complain.

Even when she opined that she should not have to pay for the cab, I kept my mouth shut. She paid me.

And she said one other thing which I found highly significant. “I thought all cabs were supposed to be smoke-free!”

After that fiasco, I asked myself how this scenario might have played out under the old bylaw – smoking by mutual consent?

Rather than assuming all cabs were smoke-free, she would have explicitly requested a smoke-free cab.

And gotten one.

Finally, about ten years ago, I got nabbed. A smiley-faced, sociopathic taxi enforcement officer snuck up on me as I had just lit up a flavored cigar. “I am just protecting the public,” he said with a straight face. I had to go to fucking court for my crime. And I was fined about $350.

In the habit of annualizing costs, I did a quick, back-of-the-envelope calculation. I figured it cost me about $15 for every year I ignored their obnoxious mandate.

At that price, I would have happily paid $15 annually for a license to smoke.

A final note.

One stormy night, a woman flagged me down. After she got in, she asked me if she could smoke.

“Go ahead,” I said, “I don’t mind if you smoke, just keep it down so as not to draw the attention of the taxi Gestapo.”

She nodded and said, “I know what you mean. I would rather stoop than bend over.”

And people wonder why this once prosperous and happy nation is now soaked in misery and splitting apart at the seams.


Retired Hamilton cab driver and Professional Bullshit Detective Hans Wienhold

This story is an addendum to Hans Wienhold’s book “Confessions of a Hamilton Cab Driver,” available on Amazon in hardcover or paperback.

Wienhold identifies as a Welfare Recipient at Senior’s Welfare; Self-Employed; and also, a Climate Scientist at BS Detective Services.