Tag Archives: NHS

Smoking is not illegal

Let’s get one thing perfectly straight.  Smoking cigarettes is not illegal in the UK.  No matter how much the government tries to make smokers feel like criminals, smoking is not actually a crime.  Just so you know, I smoke about ten ‘light’ cigarettes a month (on average) and I would break those ten into two batches of five, which are invariably smoked in the company of Irish Alice, who is, by all accounts, a devoted smoker and a bad influence (for which read ‘good egg’).

One of the joys of going to the pub, was to be in a grown up place, drinking alcohol and having a couple of fags if I wanted to.  I understand that many people don’t like being in a smoky place which is why pubs always used to have Smoke Rooms so that people who didn’t smoke need not be troubled.  Absolutely as it should be.

Last week there was a lot of publicity about whether the government was going to stop cigarette manufacturers producing attractive packets for their products, so as not to entice the young and impressionable.  Apparently 60% of people who take up smoking stick with the brand they first tried.  The manufacture of cigarettes is not illegal so they should be allowed to produce any pack design they like.  As it is the packs are covered in public health warnings, and I think that as far as interfering with a legal product goes, that should be enough.

Did you know, that when people were allowed to smoke on aeroplanes, the air was much cleaner than it is now?  The air in planes was completely renewed every three minutes.  The air is now recycled causing a 6% increase in fuel consumption.  The incidence of nausea and dizziness has increased since the air has been recycled and air rage incidents have also increased since smoking has been banned.  I’m not suggesting smoking should be re-introduced, I’m just telling you.

There isn’t a person in the country who doesn’t know that smoking is bad for you.  It causes or exacerbates cancer, lung disease, heart disease, circulation problems, strokes, diabetes, foetal abnormalities.  No-one should be smoking around children, in cars with other people in them, on public transport or in enclosed spaces because it’s not fair to non-smokers and is extremely discourteous.  Smoking should not be allowed in restaurants.  Smoking makes your hair, breath and clothes smell.  But it is not illegal.

What I find so enraging is that the government goes on and on and on about how people with smoking related illnesses are a burden on the NHS, are antisocial, selfish and nihilistic.  They prevent cigarettes from being advertised and increasingly limit the places in which people can smoke but they know full well that they can’t manage without the revenue, so they don’t ban them. 

It has been suggested that the revenue from tobacco products far outstrips the money spent on treating smoking related diseases in hospitals.  This may or may not be true and no-one is suggesting that smoking isn’t bad for you.  But where does government intervention and hypocrisy stop? 

I put it to you that people who allow their children to become obese are guilty of neglect, ergo, abuse.  People who stuff themselves with junk food day in and day out, never move and grow to be clinically obese are burdening the NHS with their own set of dietary-related illnesses.  Alcohol causes more problems than you can possibly imagine but I don’t see the Famous Grouse being put in a plain bottle and sent back to its pen.  And what about Alcopops? I mean, bloody hell, if ever there was a product aimed at children.  To me, it’s only a short step from that to having Clifford the Big Red Dog advertising Marlboro full strength, but it would seem that Advertising Standards disagrees with me.

If someone is smoking twenty cigarettes a day, it’s going to have a detrimental effect on their health.  If someone drinks a couple of bottles of wine every day, it’s going to have a detrimental effect on their health.  If someone eats shit all day every day and never moves, it’s going to have a detrimental effect on their health.  If someone is burdened down with stress and worries and isn’t sleeping, it’s going to have a detrimental effect on their health.

It’s the hypocrisy that I can’t stand.  Having the odd fag, the odd drink, the odd MacDonalds (other fast food is available) isn’t going to kill you.  Having lots of any of them just might.  Until junk food and alcohol manufacturers are told to put their products into plain packets, the government should lay off the cigarette industry.  If the government thinks it’s that much of a problem, ban it.  But if they still want the revenue, then people must have the freedom to smoke or not.  Pubs and clubs should be at liberty to have a smoke room, fag packets could have dandelions nailed to them if they want. 

I say to this and any future government, make up your minds.  Ban smoking or don’t ban smoking but stop being such appalling hypocrites.

Photographs courtesy of Peter Ashley from his forthcoming book ‘The Cigarette Papers’.


Filed under Health and Fitness, Life in general

Natural Home Remedies – Part 2: Colds, coughs, flu, indigestion and thrush

In which I discuss digestive, throat problems, phlegm, colds, coughs and thrush in both men and women.

Plants on windowsil 08.09.09Natural medicines seem  to be very much in demand, judging by your visits to the Wartime Housewife recently, so I will tell you about a few more. But before I do, I want to have a little chat about alternative and complementary treatments. 

I am a qualified Massage Therapist and Aromatherapist (oh how I loathe that term) and I have a special interest in nutrition.  I tend to see people with chronic illnesses such as Parkinsons, arthritis, shingles, depression, but occasionally people come to me with acute conditions such as back pain, muscle spasms or because they feel run down.   I take a full medical history, listen to their heart rate, take their blood pressure and, most importantly, listen and observe very carefully while they tell me about their condition.  Sometimes alarm bells ring and I refer them straight to their GP.  If they have an acute condition such as a muscle strain I can generally make them better, providing they do as they’re told.   With chronic illness, I can support circulation, immune system, nervous system, muscle tone, digestion and promote relaxation.  This ‘me time’  helps people to feel better able to cope, so that although I can’t make them better, I can help them to feel better.

But what I always tell people with more long term health problems is this.  It has taken a long time for you to become unwell and if you really want to get better it will take a while for your body to right itself. And it will only do this if you change your behaviour, your diet and how much you move about.  This can be very hard these days as we put ourselves under enormous pressure at home and at work, but part of the ethos of The Wartime Housewife is to re-examine how we live our lives.  Food is our fuel and if we don’t nourish our bodies properly we will break down.  Exercise keeps us fit, speeds up our metabolism and releases endorphins which lift our spirits.  Our families and friends provide us with love, support, entertainment and physical and intellectual stimulus so we must nurture them and make time for them and for ourselves.  We must learn to understand how our bodies work and look after them appropriately.

I am not anti doctors, but we have to give them a fighting chance.  The NHS is massively burdened with people who become ill  because they eat rubbish, don’t move about enough, and generally abuse themselves.  GP’s are asked to work longer and longer hours in the interests of accessibility, when I can’t help feeling that if people genuinely need medical advice, they should make the time to visit the doctor during reasonable surgery hours. 

The whole issue of work, illness, trust and personal responsibility will have to wait for another article.  In the meantime, The Wartime Housewife says ‘Eat proper food and not too much of it, move about more, get regular fresh air and have a decent night’s sleep’.  In case of malfunction , here are a few remedies to help you out.  (Remember if symptoms persist, consult your GP – at a respectable time!)

Indigestion, acid reflux, bloating, wind

Get a large handful of fresh mint leaves or a flat tablespoon of dried mint and put into a jug or teapot.
Pour about ¾ pint of boiling water
Leave to infuse for about 10 minutes.
Strain and sip gently and slowly until it is all gone
Repeat when necessary.

You can also use peppermint essential oil if you have it.  2 drops to 1 pint of very hot water, stir well and pour out the required amount into a glass.  Sip gently until completely gone.


As above but use an equivalent amount of thyme instead of the mint.  Thyme is a very effective anti-mucolytic – if you really don’t like the taste add a tablespoon of honey which has the added advantage of being an anti-inflammatory.


Chop 1 medium onion very finely and place in a small bowl
Pour 2 tablespoons of honey over the top
Cover and leave overnight.
Strain off the juice and take a dessertspoonful every hour or two until the cough is easing


Obviously, I only recommend putting the whisky in for teenagers and adults.  And use your common sense and use a painkiller that suits you, don’t exceed the stated dose etc etc. 

Put into a tall glass:
1 bulging tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of whisky
Top up the glass with very hot water and stir well until the honey has dissolved
Drink it all before it goes cold.
Take 2 paracetamol or ibuprofen. 

If there is any fever lurking around, this will bring it out and usually guarantees a good night’s sleep at the end of it.


Firstly, make sure that you keep your bits and pieces very clean indeed and wash with a non-fragranced soap.  Wear cotton underwear.  Then thoroughly mix:

1 tablespoon of zinc and castor oil cream with
1 drop tea tree oil

For women, apply gently to the external area.  Put some of the cream (1/4 teaspoon) onto the end of a tampon, pop it in as usual and leave for a couple of hours, then do it again.

For men, apply gently to the whole end of your willy, making sure you get it under your foreskin where micro-organisms roam free.

Both:  Keep treating until symptoms subside.  If it doesn’t clear up within about 48 hours, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.


Filed under Family and Friends, Natural Home Medicines, Nutrition & Sensible Eating