“I smoke. If this bothers anyone, I recommend you look around the world in which we live…and shut your fucking mouth.”
Bill, of course, died of pancreatic cancer in 1994 at the tender age of 32. And oh, how he is still missed.
But now there’s another kind of smoking bill for us to process and, this time, it’s not celebrating the joys of inhaling tobacco fumes. Rather, this one wants to ban smoking in all working environments in England. Although it’s currently in chaos as opinion is divided as to what extent this should be enforced. Total, outright ban? Banned wherever food is sold? Special rooms just for smokers?
Personally, I say let’s go for the total ban. Let’s get it over and done with and spare us the ambiguity. And I’m speaking here as a regular smoker. I’ve tried to quit on several occasions but, like everyone else, I fail once I’ve had a few drinks. My first proper drinking experiences were intertwined with smoking to the extent that having a beer is almost unimaginable without having a cigarette too. So on this occasion, and increasingly mindful of my own mortality, I’m happy for someone else to intervene and say “No! Sorry! You’re not allowed to smoke here!” Because when I can’t, I don’t, and I cope with it. More importantly, none of my peers will be smoking around me either, so all temptation is removed. Unless we want to go outside of course which, in a British winter, is not a very tantalising prospect.
Yes, it will be difficult for a while and I suppose there will be a few frayed tempers while we adjust. But hopefully by the time the ban is introduced, the government will have stopped flapping over the licensing laws debacle so we can at least stay out past 11pm without being rushed home by the long arm of the nanny state. So we trade one pleasure for another. This will also cushion the blow for pubs worried about losing custom from pariah smokers.
So it’s a perfect compromise then. The government promises to allow bars to open later, and I’ll promise not to smoke inside them. Deal?