Today, Leicester experienced the full power of the Pfizer propaganda machine as New Parks had been designated the most deserving area, the most depraved, the most smokey lung busting area in the country with a smoker rate of 40.5%! Hence the commencement of the 'quit smoking' caravan which included free water (water? yes water) and pedometers for all those who attended the aid to quitting smoking jamboree. Due to start at 10pm, all was duly prepared by the QS team.
By 9.55am 10,000 fanatical, screaming New Parkians clamoured for the doors of the caravan to open so as to gain the much needed gems from the team-and of course get free water and pedometers. The car park was full to bursting point as thousands more strode purposely up Aikman Avenue to be availaled of this new Pfizer backed streetwise quitting programme.
Never before had this normally quiet, mainly council housed estate seen such a furore-it really makes one wonder how this estate ever managed to keep the smoker numbers down to only 40.5%!
Louise Ross, NHS LeicesterCity's stop smokingmanager put forward New Parks initially, she said, "it seemed the perfect place." She was expecting to 'convert' 5,500 of the areas smokers into non smokers but after todays immeasurable success and massive turnout she is now "extremely confident that the number will be 55,000!" She further commented, " our frontman walking the streets with our placard has been inundated with requests for information and freebies, it has been a tremendous day all round. Incidentally, I wrote the press report out last night as I knew it would be so busy today-but that doesn't really matter."
So there we have it folks. Pfizer has pulled a trump card out of their bag of tricks and we can now look forward to seeing these one-day quit smoking events springing up all over the country as more and more estates suddenly find they inundated with 40.5% of smokers. This allows of course, for the smoker rate being only 25% nationwide-but nevermind eh!
Simple Simon was also in attendance in the afternoon for a couple of boring hours, here is his view:-
Went over to New Parks to see what all the hullabaloo was about to find 5 women sat in one of these openable sided caravan trailer things under nice big signs saying "bring out the smoker in you". The whole thing looked shabbily done and it was mostly hidden behind the 'sally army' building on Aikman Avenue.
I wandered up and down New Parks Boulevard shopping precinct and spoke to many people who thought that 'this was a step too far' and most were genuinely surprised that my T-shirt was of an organisation against all this prohibition! I actually bumped into a gentleman who had been sporting a banner proclaiming "bring out the smoker in YOU". We chatted and got on very well. He informed me that he had suffered plenty of abuse since 10am and would be glad when 4pm arrived. Apparently he was the only unpaid operative of the day (poor fool).
I dished out plenty of hastily arranged leaflets & business cards and met a poor lady suffering from MS-who's Dr had told her to give up smoking! FFS! She was one feisty lady I can tell you.
Bannerman disappeared on a phone call only to reappear and inform me I was duly invited to the 'inner sanctum'-said shabby caravan thingy-to meet with the apostles of health & vitality. Now this was interesting indeed.
Apparently (believe this if you will) none of the quintet had actually read last nights article!
None of the quintet knew anything about 'knocking on doors'.
Four of the five expressed actual fear at knocking on doors-the fifth refused point blank!
They declared they were not forcing people to quit smoking but were merely 'there for people to come and talk to them'.
One lady, a nurse, told me that smoking was a filthy habit and she didn't see why she should have to care for patients with lung cancer, bowel cancer & emphacaema (?) because they smoked and therefore caused self harm. I asked her why she was a nurse then?
I chucked my wifes family cancerous trait at them (5 aunts & 4 of the husbands-all non smokers) which flummoxed them completely and the subject was changed rapidly.
On to NRT. They totally disbelieved the NRT FAILURE rate and said I was making it up-I left them to check the D of H website for confirmation.
They wouldn't have it that smokers self funded their own treatments and were generous enough to help all other parts of societies medical bills.When I mentioned freedom of choice they agreed there should be freedom of choice (yes! I nearly got lost there too ) but their idea of it was that people should have freedom of choice to quit.
Now who the hell is forcibly making people smoke?
When I asked why New Parks had been selected the answer came out like a bullet- "because 40.5% of the population smoke". "But that is their choice", said I, "why are you interfering in peoples lifestyles? will you be on the highly paid alcohol bandwagon next?" I think that comment narked a couple of them.They couldn't tell me how much Pfizer had invested but did say it wasn't much.
They were gobsmacked when, after declaring Champx was a wonder drug, I told them of the hundreds of law suits stacking up in America because of champix related suicides. One commented that 200 people die per annum because of aspirins ???? - pass!
All in all my question would be this-just what sort of propaganda shite are these people fed before 'going out on the road' because my brief foray, at their behest, has shown me that they know very little of what lays behind these bans. They can only spout that which has been force fed to them. It was also interesting to know that 'they' thought doorstep counselling was not a viable option, interesting because it was 'they' that would have been doing it and not the desk jockeys who come up with these idiotic notions.
It was not quite so interesting to observe small packets being exchanged for money in a most furtive manner on a street corner which really makes me wonder which 'evil' this government should really be concentrating on?
It was also highly interesting to find out the level of anger on the street at the notion that New Parks was a 'deprived area'-Debbie Arnott take note girl. You start denegrating ordinary people and you start a war! If they wanted to 'hit' a deprived area then they should have attacked the St Mathews Estate but then they would have been taking on approximately 23 different nationalities and probably cast as racist!
A short walk to the New Parks Club revealed the usual suspects outside having a fag. I will not print some of their anatomical comments on the roadshow some 400 yards away-and what they could do with it! The smoke ban has slaughtered the clubs turnover, the club wants choice for smokers & non smokers alike. The club wants to survive.
The jury is out folks, I leave you to judge which is fact and which is fiction.