The Associates for Research into the Science of Enjoyment, or more simply Arise, represents about 100 scientists who believe we are unnecessarily depriving ourselves of lives pleasures. Alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, sugar and chocolate are not poisons, so why not let ourselves enjoy them in moderation?
"Alcohol, caffeine, sugar and nicotine all act on the pleasure pathways, the nerve fibres, of the brain and increase the strength of the immune system against disease," explains Professor David Warburton. "If you're not having pleasure or are depressed, your immune system is weakened, and you are more susceptible to infection, even cancer."
Warburton goes so far as to claim that the health benefits of enjoying a cigarette may outweigh the damage. "It's interesting how few people die from smoking. Don't forget, the death rate for smokers and non-smokers is the same in the end -100%"
James McCormick, also Arise member and a retired professor of community health at Trinity College, Dublin, advocates "modified hedonism to enjoy the only life we have. Smoking is bad for you, but if you don't smoke, you'll die of something else. Should longevity be the only goal in life?""The nanny state giving out health education is one way of exerting political power by controlling people's pleasure," Warburton says. "Remember in 1984 how thaw Orwellian state specified the amount of chocolate you could eat?"Medicine has become a pseudo religion. "If we avoid bad habits, we believe we escape punishment. If we smoke or drink, we are sinning - and the wages of sin are death. But you're going to die anyway. The major predictor of our longevity is in our genes, not in our habits."
McCormicks beliefs even cover drugs. "The addictive properties of cocaine and heroin are overstated. Not everyone becomes dependent. A lot of people are stable addicts. It is the by-products of drug use which kill. Our mistake is to criminalise and isolate the drug culture as deviant".
Arise is however sponsored by tobacco, distilling, brewing and catering companies, so of course there exists a vested interest, but perhaps there is a case for modified hedonism?