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Friday, 3 September 2010

Nu Puritans plumb the depths in anti-smoking

I’ve not blogged since last Sunday as, quite frankly, I’ve got sick of everything in my life of late and just couldn’t face blogs or forums and instead spent my free time playing Spider Solitaire on my ‘puter’. Coupled with that I was coming out of a particularly long, boozy bank holiday weekend and many rollups were smoked in this small but lovely little flat of ours.

Sometimes you spend too much time cooped up at home that you go stir crazy and a drink and smoke eases the feeling of being trapped.

miners_1706643c Denied a smoke and a drink for ‘health’ reasons.

Now I happen to believe that health and safety at work, especially work that could be hazardous and injurious to humans, should be paramount. And copper mining is very hazardous indeed.  Below is about Mexico’s largest copper mine that has a blatant disregard for it’s workers health. It’s from a report from 2007 and I hope the owners of the mine, Grupo Mexico SAB, have cleaned up their act:
Employees at Mexico's largest copper mine are exposed to health and safety hazards that include dangerously high levels of mineral dust and acid mist, according to a report commissioned by the union whose strike has idled the mine since July…
…A U S pulmonary specialist, two Mexican doctors and three industrial hygienists compiled the report after visiting the mine and interviewing and examining the lungs of 68 workers between Oct. 5-8, said the coordinator of the all-volunteer group, Garrett Brown.
The report found "a serious lack of preventive maintenance, failure to repair equipment and correct visible safety hazards, and a conspicuous lack of basic housekeeping."
Because of that, it said, "workers have been exposed to high levels of toxic dusts and acid mists, operate malfunctioning and poorly maintained equipment and work in simply dangerous surroundings." [Editors link to acid mists and steel workers.]
The Chilean copper miners are going to be stuck 2,300ft (700 metres) down a mine in cramped conditions for months to come while the rest of the world prepares for Christmas (yes, people do think that far ahead) or going on that last holiday of the year before Autumn sets in. Yet the righteous Nu Puritans never sleep and want to deprive them of a smoke and a drink.

The miners had added wine and cigarettes to a wish list of items they wanted to help them cope, but were told they will have to forego the vices of drinking and smoking during what is expected to be several months underground… 

…But James Michael Duncan, Nasa’s deputy chief doctor, who has flown with a team of space agency medical experts to Chile, said: “From the alcohol standpoint, we need to first get their nutrition up before we make any considerations there.”
Instead of wine, the miners, who have lost about 22lb each in body weight, will have to make do with high protein, high-calorie foods delivered to them in narrow plastic tubes…
…Cigarettes were deemed to be bad for their health in such an enclosed space, but they have been given both patches and nicotine gum to help them counter withdrawal symptoms.
Like the puritans of old today’s nu puritans like to torture their victims until they take the pledge and wed their god on the alter of healthism according to their gospel of no smoking or drinking.
Dr Duncan said: “It’s an environment that’s pretty enclosed and we don’t want to contribute to any of the problems within the atmosphere of the mine.”
According to one Chilean health official some of the miners were “large consumers” of alcohol before they became trapped, and it was not advisable to cut off drinking immediately. But Jaime Manalich, Chile’s Health Minister, who had earlier been quoted as saying some of the men were big drinkers, denied any of them were alcoholics or were addicted to any other substance.

Javier Diaz, head of a medical team treating the miners, added: “Miners do not drink more or less alcohol than the average Chilean.”
He said vitamins being sent to the miners were to counter constipation, not withdrawal symptoms.

Lets hope that all the miners come out of this alive and well and go looking from their tormentor Dr. Duncan!

Dr James Michael Duncan Dr. James Michael Duncan deputy chief doctor of NASA.

Tip of the Glengarry Pavlov’s Cat.


Bucko said...

Not letting them miners have a fag has got to be as bad as it gets!

Paul Kearns said...

I read about this some days ago and (sorry John), the primary reason for the lack of fags is the danger of methane pockets being ignited.
The primary concern so far as alcohol is concerned is that the shaft that they will have to escape from is (from memory)only about 30 or so inches in diameter - so those who, shall we say are more "corpulent" have a choice of staying where they are or losing weight in order to fit into the escape capsules.
Put simply, the smoking issue is based on the potential danger of them simply blowing themselves up and the drink issue is to do with the fact that they need to be as slim as possible to actually escape. I read this before "anyone" got on the "band-wagon" of "health" issues.
In short - "if you're too fat - you're stuck there, if you smoke, there is a chance that you will kill everyone before we can get to you".
I don;t often disagree with you but, in this case it's "extraordinary circumstances demand extraordinary solutions". I would rather forgo a fag and a pint to have the change of being saved from 700 metre "tomb".

Pavlov's Cat said...


If it was risk of explosion, it's a fair point to which I agree with if that is the reason.

Then why not just say so. Everyone could understand that. So why the standard anti-smoking rhetoric about 'health' and 'air quality'

Or is it just because he's a Doctor and they are trained in medical school these days just to parrot out these phrases any time smoking is mentioned, that no other reason enters their minds.

Anonymous said...

John, Paul and Pavlovs

I fully understand the methane
gas "possibility" and the alcohol
issue but in this extreme case
the health freaks should have kicked down the mountain and the trapped miners allowed to have the final say, or their families in
the nearby tent town.
We must never give health freaks
and zealots a fraction of an inch
otherwise they will take a thousand miles,as we have seen here
in our God forsaken Gulag. The only way to influence a dedicated zealot is with either a five star kicking or at least a luxury
class happy slapping session

Bankrupt Elliot

TheBigYin said...

No need to be sorry Paul, the methane question came up over at PC's place. I searched to see which hazards are assocciated with copper mining and found no mention of methane, just acid mists and toxic dusts. I was wondering if copper mining did not have the same methane association that coal mining has and if it has then I could find no mention of it.


And indeed, copper mines do not produce methane gas:

Coal mines also produce methane gas, which is highly flammable and presents a risk of explosion. Copper and gold mines don't leak methane gas and thus don’t present this risk. Copper and gold mines also can have large pockets of oxygen, which allowed the trapper miners in Chile to survive.

As for the alcohol then you can read the area they are entombed in and see if that may cause a problem. I'f it was rationed then I can see no problem at all.

Lysistrata said...

Hmmm. I initially and instinctively thought this too: poor buggers, bloody righteous NASA, etc. Almost posted on it as well. I think I was wrong.

They are in an extreme situation. I honestly don't believe that they would be "denied" alcohol or cigarettes on righteous grounds. I really don't. Not in this situation. This is Chile, not the uk.

Bet they all get offered wine, whisky, cigars and wild wild women when they are eventually rescued, as well as being whisked off to hospital. Hope so.

And, they all have to become thin enough to escape through a narrow tube. I understand this all too well. Anyone read "The Girls of Slender Means"?

Extreme situation, extreme measures. Immense sympathy. We can't imagine what they are going through, nor know what is technically necessary. Not smoking for a bit is the least of their difficulties - even though I would myself be craving a ciggie because of the stress.
Hey! - maybe they could be offered e-cigarettes!! This is such a crap comment, sorry. There are lives at stake here.
Absolutely understand why you posted this though, John. Many of us no doubt thinking the same thing.

Michael J. McFadden said...

If fears of explosions were the reason behind not sending them at least a few cigarettes then it would obviously have been clearly stated from the start. It wasn't.

And if "corpulence" was the driving concern about alcohol then only a limited amount would have been allowed and there'd be extensive news stories about the scientific planning going into the diet that would reduce the miners' waist sizes. Again, neither has been the case.


Anonymous said...

If methane exists in copper mines
men should not be allowed to work there in any case..
Sounds like some freaks waving
the death banner again,when this
disater is over they will move on to another hoping to get the locals
on to some Pharma expensive sweety.

Inca smoker

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