Now, I’m not so foolish that I’m unaware of the dangers connected to smoking. A mere glance at certain packaging will scare the knowledge into even the most hardened smoking defender. But that is not what this about… and neither is it about the dangers of passive smoking to those forced to breathe in the noxious fumes. What it’s about is this: since the new smoking laws were implemented and smokers, rightly or not, took their habit to the streets as it were, there seems to be a growing social feeling that those people huddled in shelters or close to building entrances are somehow lesser people. Not so.
Without getting into the debate – or a legal mire – that smoking is addictive, some people do choose to smoke, and their reasons are their own. People choose to. Choose. In this world of human and equal rights and freedom and liberty, if someone chooses to do something that, for the moment at least, is still legal, surely their right to choose has to be respected and honored?
It will probably come as no surprise (I am a little partisan to say the least) that I am a smoker, and to be perfectly honest, when the law came into being in the UK in 2007 (where I was living at the time), I was fully supportive. Not only had I, like many of my fellow smokers (and quite rightly) been complained to, at and about, by non-smokers for ruining atmospheres, causing a stink (literally) and fouling the air, but I also found the thick stale air in offices and old-fashioned, badly air-conditioned bars and clubs quite disgusting. Sure I knew the launch of the law coincided with summer in order to ease us into it, and the climate in Britain perhaps is not completely conducive for an outdoor smoking society, but I believe in fair play. If I want to smoke at work or in a bar where there are non smokers, I think it is fair and right to take it outside. It is a fairly horrible habit for anyone involved anyway.
That being said though, fair is fair… if I help you out, I can at least expect respect back. Now me and my inhaling brothers and sisters have taken it curbside, is it still fair for those passing our humble bus shelter to regale us with their exaggerated coughing and tsking and tutting? We are already outside; if it still bothers you that much, would it be too much to ask you to avoid the smoking area? Walk on the other side of the street for a few meters perhaps? Or perhaps you’d prefer us to be completely out of sight? It has been suggested. Maybe a contaminated island somewhere where we can all be banished to would be more desirable?
Of course this is a sarcastic reaction, but those smokers among you know the reactions I am talking about. Non smokers, can you honestly say you have never once said or even thought ‘It’s not enough,’ even though those fellow humans have already (and mostly all willingly) gone outside and retreated a safe distance from the building.
You haven’t? Well good for you, but in my experience you are the minority. The rest should stop taking liberties.