Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Holy Smoke

Humans like smoke, there’s no denying it. From the production of food to the performance of ceremony, smoke pervades nearly every aspect of our lives. Carbon is produced on a daily basis, that serves no other purpose than to smell good or taste good. In fact, I’m burning incense as I type. Not because it helps me type, but because I like the smell. It’s amazing that we still allow it, what with all the hue and cry about carbon emissions. But carbon based carcinogens are tasty, so don’t expect us to give them up anytime soon.

But given the relationship that humans have had with smoke over the millennia, especially when you consider the flavoursome aspects smoke can bring to a meal, I ask you, is it any wonder that Raleigh decided to roll up a leaf, stick it in his gob, light it and puff on it? I think not! And kudos to the man for doing so!

Yes, I smoke and I enjoy it. The funny thing about smoking though, is that although I enjoy a product that’s perfectly legal and sold in every milk bar and convenience store across this country, I’ve become a pariah in my own society, the modern day equivalent of a leper. I’m relegated to the back alley where I must join my fellow lepers to puff away in blissful denial of the dangers of our actions while we complain vociferously about new legislation that ostracises us even further.

Oh for the halcyon days. You know, there was a time that I could smoke inside a moving train, not just on the uncovered section of the station platform. We even had “smoking” and “non-smoking” carriages. On the old “W” class trams, the bit in the middle that was open to the weather was the smoking section, restaurants had ashtrays on the tables and every bar in every pub had a foot rail and ashtray that ran the full length of the bar and I could smoke with impunity. Bliss…

We had ads too. Who could forget “Join the Escort club” or “Marlborough Country” or “Anyhow, ‘ave a Winfield”, classics all of them. The cricket was sponsored by Benson and Hedges, the sailing by Rothmans while Marlborough took care of the cars. It was a smokers paradise that knew no bounds.

But no longer… Over time, the companies have been legislated out of advertising spaces, the smokers into the dark and uncomfortable places that society sees fit to provide, rather than just make the product itself illegal and be done with it. But that won’t happen because about 70% of the price of a packet of cigarettes is tax. Consequently, the government (any government) wants for me to smoke and for you, dear non-smoker, to suffer mercilessly because of it.

So if you are a non-smoker and happen to be languishing in a “smoking” area (say the uncovered part of a station platform) when I light up, don’t complain. Instead, remember who’s idea it was that I should only be allowed to smoke where you’re waiting for your train and suck it up like a good little princess.


Dikkii said...

You know, I've often maintained that the biggest nicotine addicts in the country are the 9 state, territory and federal governments.

Gambling also.

But yeah. If the government was serious about getting people to stop smoking, it would make cigarettes unavailable through banning them outright. Obviously, they haven't, so we can assume that they're not serious.

Romulus Crowe said...

In the UK, you can't smoke on the uncovered section of a platform. You have to leave the station premises completely. Even in the North of Scotland, where you can stand at the end of a platform in a gale, nobody in sight, no possibility of even a whiff of smoke going anywhere near anyone can't smoke there.

Airports no longer have smoking areas. You have to go outside. Once you're in departures, that's it. If your plane is five hours late, tough. There's nowhere to smoke.

I work from a little office in my house. Technically, it's my place of work and therefore illegal for me to smoke there. Yes, I'm a criminal without even leaving my home.

Pubs tried setting up enclosed areas outside, but as soon as they did that, the area became an 'enclosed public space' and nobody could smoke in it. You can have a roof, but no sides. Not much fun this far north.

The worst is the bus stops. One panel up, one flat roof. You can't smoke in them. Even if it's raining, and there's nobody in sight, you have to step out into the rain to smoke. One step is the difference between illegal and legal.

Here, too, at least 70% of the price of any tobacco product is tax.

Not only are our government treating us like lepers, they're charging us for it.

There is one enclosed public space where smoking is allowed. Just one.

It's the MP's bar in the House of Commons. There are words I shouldn't type...

Oh yes, and prisons. I forgot prisons. If you want to smoke indoors, do something illegal. Like smoking indoors, for example.

And people wonder why we Brits are all such miserable sods. It's not just the weather.

Plonka said...

Dikkii: the biggest nicotine addicts in the country are the 9 state, territory and federal governments.

Oh yeah. They rant and cry about the dangers of tar and nicotine, wax lyrical about the medical costs then allow us to enjoy it whilst charging to the hilt for the privilege.

Romulous: Thanks for stopping by...:)

You have to leave the station premises completely.

We only have to do that at the two major interchanges and although we don't quite have the same calibre of wind, I still say it's a travesty.

You can have a roof, but no sides. Not much fun this far north.

Luckily I live in warmer climbs. This far south that isn't a problem and is even preferred. The humble Aussie "beer garden" does a roaring trade these days, even in winter.

Here, too, at least 70% of the price of any tobacco product is tax.

Which is why nicotine will never be the controlled substance that it should be...

It's the MP's bar in the House of Commons.

Lol. Why does that not surprise me...:)

Plonka said...

Romulus: Sorry about the previous spelling...

Romulus Crowe said...

Never mind, I might make it into a medical dictionary with that spelling.

Patient: 'Doctor, I have the urge to snatch cellphones from loud people and force them into orifices where they wouldn't be reasonably expected to fit.'

Doctor: 'Right, so you're feeling a litle romulous, eh?'

Plonka said...

Hehehe...:) I can't help it. It's the American's I speak with. You know how they always drop the "U"...;)

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