By Marcus Dysch
July 3, 2009
Non-smokers like me have benefitted from the many advantages of the smoking ban which began two years ago this week.
For one, you can have a night out at a pub or club and not come home smelling like a chimney sweeper.
Almost three years ago I suffered a lengthy bout of bronchitis. It wasn’t pleasant and during my recovery I was convinced that I felt worse on a Sunday morning, having more-often-than-not been in a smoke-filled club the night before.
But I’ve noticed that while restaurants and bars are now thoroughly more pleasant - thanks to the absence of smoke - other areas have become blighted by those having a quick puff.
Take the streets for example. It’s almost impossible to walk down a busy London pavement at lunchtime without thinking you are in the car with the windows open in the middle of a traffic jam. Plumes of thick smoke chug at you from every angle.
Likewise the entrance to almost every office block is littered with butt ends all over the pavement and groups of foul smelling people huddling in the doorway. Don't even get me started on the area around pubs.
Larry David had it spot on in Curb Your Enthusiasm when he got disparaging looks from workers as he made a point of coughing his way through their smoke clouds on the way in and out of his office.
Last week I was at a wedding in Jerusalem where things were even worse. Probably no surprise there in fairness. Practically everyone was having a fag. Even the groom managed a few just moments before the chuppah. Sexy.
The groom’s brothers and father also worked their way through a pack or two, regardless of the number of kids hanging around. Perhaps that’s the worst thing, the toddlers don’t even get a choice - they are surrounded by the smoke whether they want it or not (and presumably they don’t).
I appreciate it’s addictive, but how much longer will it take before people cotton on? It’s not big and it’s not clever. It won’t make you slim and it doesn’t make you attractive to members of the opposite sex.
Supposedly around half a million people in this country have quit since the ban took effect, preventing some 40,000 or more deaths over the next 10 years. But does forcing onto the street those who continue to ‘enjoy’ the habit really solve anything?
Maybe some people just won’t change come what may. If carrying a picture of a cancer-damaged lung round on a little box in your pocket doesn’t make you quit, what will?