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Saturday, January 08, 2005

Bringing the smoking ban home....

Speaking of smoking issues (see friend Ciarán's comments), I admit to having developed a completely unsympathetic position to the problems of smokers. In fact, I'd describe myself as actually hostile in my attitude to smokers -- although friendship too often trumps those feelings. But even among friends I will engage in some serious tweaking and unsolicited counseling about their nasty and unhealthy habit. On this point I am truly an old curmudgeon.... (And having quit more than 34 years ago, I have a right to be!)

[Pic from CNN]

I was ecstatic when Ireland implemented its smoking ban, and I wish I had more opportunities to visit the south to take advantage of it. North of the border, a trip to a pub is a tough choice. On the one hand, Northern Ireland (like the rest of Ireland and the UK) is a "pub culture" -- that is where people gather, that is where some of the most interesting and enjoyable conversations and socializing takes place, and that is where you want to be on any particular evening after a day of suffering the "dull" weather of the emerald isle. On the other hand, the prospect of having to inhale the smoke of several dozen other folks, and then going home with clothes that wreak frm the smell of smoke, makes me pass up the pleasures of the nightly pub scene on most nights.


In the US, the smoking laws for pubs and restaurants varies from place to place, but generally you will find the non-smoking options are many and rarely will you have difficulty keeping a good distance from smokers in public places.

One of the more interesting developments, however, is evident as you wander through housing areas. My daughter recently moved into an apartment complex, and during several visits I noticed folks standing outside on the front porches, sitting in their cars, or walking along the streets puffing away on their cigarettes. The temperature is generally below freezing, and there are considerable amounts of snow on the ground (and still falling), so it is obvious that these folks are not outside just enjoying a pleasant bit a fresh air. In fact, most are obviously shivering between their 'drags', and one or two have a noticable (and often rather loud) cough that indicates that this is not a pleasant experience at all . It is clear that somewhere inside their apartments sits a spouse, parent, friend, or some "significant other" who has laid down the "law": there will be no smoking on these premises!

Good for them!

Give it up folks. It is unpleasant, unnecessary, unhealthy, expensive, annoying to all, and makes no sense whatsoever.

And while I am generally a friendly sort of bloke, don't expect pleasantries from me when you ask if it is "okay if I light up?" Hell no!
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