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Up in smoke

Comments Off on Up in smoke 01 July 2017

Up in smoke

The old expression “time flies” was never more apt than when considering the ban on smoking in public. I was shocked to learn that the ban took place 10 years ago today. Hardly anyone I know smokes these days and many of those I knew who smoked are either dead or suffer from some ghastly smoking-related condition like COPD. As an ex and totally reformed smoker, I am probably the worst person to write about it, but here goes.

Not only did I used to smoke in public, I used to smoke cigars too. I used to inflict my cigar smoke on people who had no choice but to smoke my tobacco. I apologise to all concerned. I hope I didn’t damage your health too much. I just hope I didn’t damage mine too much.

Once I had given up smoking back in 1993, I begun to hate cigarettes. I knew they had already killed every single person on my mother’s side of the family and, obviously I didn’t know then, it would take my mother some six years later. My father, a smoker in his younger life, was always concerned that his habit would catch up with him in later life. Smoking is not good for you.

I heard various people interviewed today on telly who thought it might be a good idea to lift the ban because somehow it impinged on people’s freedom, which is to say that the freedom to inhale carcinogens and ensure that non smokers also inhaled them was that freedom. I cannot quite see the logic in that. The usual arguments were wheeled out by the hardline smokers. They paid huge amounts of taxes which more than covered the cancer treatment required by many smokers, not to mention heart disease and the COPD type conditions. I wish interviewers would simply point out that taxes on anything, whether cars, drink, fags, are just taxes and are not ear-marked for any particular cause.

As ever, the BBC tried hard to provide balance, which in this instance meant equal coverage for the small minority who still smoke, something that made no sense. I can see the argument for balance most of the time but come on: the evidence is there. Smoking will make you ill, it will probably make your life shorter. Are you going to ensure that smokers are given equal air time to medical evidence which is overwhelming? That’s just silly.

I am not sure many smokers would like to return to smoke-filled offices and pubs, never mind allowing people to smoke on aeroplanes. It wasn’t that long ago when a new airline, Paramount, flew out of Bristol and actually banned smoking. It seemed a massive shock at the time until it occurred to everyone that actually planes were flying petrol tanks. Rather than return to smoke-filled offices and pubs, I would take the ban a step further. I would expend the law to include areas near public places, too, and I’d include e-cigarettes too, given that the jury is still out as to whether they are harmful to health.

Not many people smoke these days. Hardly anyone in my village smokes, only a handful of people at work do. The message has finally got through that smoking is bad for you, it’s the most expensive and painfully slow way in which to commit suicide and it makes you smell.

I don’t think smoking needs to be banned although if it was invented today no government would allow the produce to be sold. Cigarettes, like the people who smoke them, are dying out. Future generations will wonder what the hell we were thinking about.

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