Tuesday, 7 August 2007

A Sincere "Thank You For Not Smoking"

At the risk of opening up an entire catering pack of worms, not just the one solitary can, I want to talk about the smoking ban. OK, OK, OK – don’t throw things at me, please - I know that over one month into it you’re probably sick and tired of the subject and so am I, but the heated debate seems to be smouldering on and on. The smoking population still think they’re being persecuted and anti-smokers are continuing to wave two non-nicotine stained fingers as if they were the victors at Agincourt. Both sides think they have rights, and neither can understand the other’s point of view, and it doesn’t surprise me at all that there has been the occasional punch-up between the two factions. As a person who can resort to violence if someone pinches my last Rolo, I know all about addiction and how difficult it is to live without something that gives you pleasure. However, I have noticed a lighter side to all of this.

Firstly, it makes me smile every time I go past a “Thank-you For Not Smoking” sign because it’s usually surrounded by a sea of fag-ends in an “up yours” kind of way. I’ve also noticed that there’s often far more frivolity going on inside those “designated smoking shelters” than there is inside the pub. Does this say something about smokers? Are they more fun? Or are they living fast and loose because they fear that their nicotine habit might eventually do for them, so time is short and they’d better make the most of it? There’s a kind of camaraderie developing among the shunned partakers of what non-smokers sanctimoniously call “the filthy weed” and a bit of bravado is definitely creeping in. Whereas at one time rebels without a cause needed a black leather jacket, white t-shirt and moody look to establish their chosen identity, now all you have to do is put a Silk Cut in your mouth and, hey presto, YOU ARE A DOWNRIGHT FILTHY RENEGADE. Job done. And you don’t even have to light it.

I know the very serious side-effects of smoking aren't a joking matter and cannot be ignored. You only have to look at the sad crowds of smokers cowering in the rain outside hospital entrances to realise how strong their dependence must be if it can force people to hang around outdoors in their nightwear, attached to drips or in wheelchairs. But whilst some of us are rejoicing because we can now spend an evening in the pub without our clothes, hair and skin stinking of fags and are victoriously going on about how thrilled we are that we’re not being forced to passively smoke other people’s cigarettes any more, I think it needs to be acknowledged that this has been achieved by denying the pleasure of another group of people, and I for one appreciate that.

For us non-smokers, there is just one unexpected downside though. Has anyone noticed that now smoking is banned, all the pubs and clubs smell of stale beer, drains and BO?

Maybe I’ll take my drink outside.


laurie said...

you are funny.

we were in ireland right after the smoking ban started there. in dublin airport there's a wee little pub near where we have to pass through customs. despite all the NO SMOKING INDOORS signs everywhere, the place was jam-packed with people watching the world cup, and all smoking like mad.

knifepainter said...

I gave up the lovely roll-up's fifteen months ago, after 25 years of fairly aggressive consumption.

The reason I started smoking was that all the cool interesting kids were smoking, and all the geeky bookish types were not.

That's how it looked to me at the time, and shamefully I can't shake off the feeling that I have sold out and joined the geeks !!

laurie said...

and we geeks are happy to have you, knife!

Mopsa said...

Have just found you and had a guffaw at the lime green flip flops incident. They look but they just don't see. Unless there is cleavage and leg on show. Will return.

Tina said...

The pubs in Birmingham sometimes smell of toilets now too, sooooo not nice! I've never been a smoker, so it doesn't make much of a difference.

Until that is, I go out with my best friend, who does smoke and I have to stand near the door so we can carry on our conversation, yelling at each other, while he smokes. If you are in Birmingham & see a yelling woman in a pub doorway, say hello, it will be me!

It's an unexpected side effect...

Manic Mother Of Five said...

Hi there. Been reading your blog for a while - its great. You've really managed to hit the nail on the head here. Its hard to ignore the devastating effects of smoking but a blanket ban does seem somewhat arbitrary...... Quit more than 10 years ago but still occasionally crave a drink and a fag. Oh well, there's another of life's little pleasure out of the window

Swearing Mother said...

Hi Laurie, that's so typical isn't it. Maybe it's OK to smoke indoors as long as you're watching an outdoor sport? Irish logic.

Knifepainter, hi. I know exactly what you mean. People who can make roll-ups have always impressed me. In fact, I want my son to teach me how to make a rollie single handed so I can look cool and interesting. I don't think it's so geeky not to smoke now, just a matter of self preservation.

Mopsa, how lovely of you to visit! I've been reading you for ages and enjoying your blog, fab photos make me want to live in the country.

So it was you Tina! Went into Brum on Saturday (must have been mad, it was HOT) and did indeed notice the WC smell in the pub. Never thought of that when they banned cigarettes, did they? Time for the breweries to get cleaning!


You are so right, despite not smoking for years there are times when I'd wrestle someone to the ground to nick their cigarette. And their drink (I gave that up too, in an effort to save calories). How sad am I?

merry weather said...

I like how you've looked at this both ways, because I see it both ways like you. I think the smokers do tend to be more fun, usually.

Yep, I miss smoking. What else is there to do? - Feel slightly less worried about dying, eat sweets, sniff yourself smugly, count your cash and think hey I feel soo good.

I gave up three years ago and I have this stupid little finish line in my head that I'm looking at sometimes - it says OK go on, have one, have a whole packet...

Then again, it's good not to be a slave to the habit. Plus, I couldn't afford it anymore - I'm sure.


Swearing Mother said...

Merry I know exactly how you feel, but at least as non-smokers we won't get frost-bite this winter when we go out for a drink.

It's usually when some crisis occurs that I want a cigarette most of all, but now I just rip open a bag of Maltesers instead.

At least we're still allowed to eat chocolate in the house!