Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Bad Habits...

I was in Waitrose this evening when I was exposed to the worst piece of nanny-statism that I have seen for years and a sad indicator that times are changing as freedom of choice is once again restricted. I don't want to sound like an ungrateful fellow for there are plenty of fantastic freedoms in UK society yet every now and again the tyranny of the minority seems to triumph. Viz magazine runs a fantastic cartoon called 'Meddlesome Ratbag' every now and again and I think this very much encapsulates the antagonists of this tale. 

I am not a heavy smoker (although I do enjoy the occasional cigar) and I do not smoke cigarettes but I do appreciate people's rights to smoke them without being treated as social pariahs. It seems that in the last 10 years that there has been a systematic effort to make outcasts of the smoking population and pour scorn onto their habit.

Since the ban of smoking in public places more and more measures have been introduced to make it more inconvenient for people to enjoy a cheeky ciggie. The latest is a measure to keep cigarettes hidden from public view which strikes me as the most cynical, ludicrous and highly ineffective method of preventing people from smoking. It goes hand in hand with the misconception that young people are drawn to cigarettes because of the packet rather than the contents! Surely proper checks on ID should be enough to ensure that people underage do not smoke and if they do smoke then it is more than likely they will purchase their cigs from an underground source rather than from behind the counter. 

To make matters worse, the legislation to effectively banish smokers to the great outdoors has, to my mind, accounted for a rise in litter on the streets and in antisocial behaviour as more and more people take their drinks outside and seek to engage passing pedestrians in their woes or their desire for a bit of argy bargy. I can almost hear someone cry 'think of the children', but frankly I don't think a child should be in a licenced pub after 18:00! Of course people want to enjoy their pints but then again I feel that I enjoyed my pint much more when smokers both masked disgusting smell of stale, cheap alcohol and also managed to keep some of the more rowdy customers in the bar rather than out causing trouble on the pavement - however you might say the latter is still true now, I just rely on memory and a little nostalgia! 

I know that smoking is not good for people's health but then again neither is eating a bag of cheesy Wotsits or drinking a couple of Gin and Tonics, and I make very sure that I do not smoke in front of children or any other person who might have an aversion to it  - unless it is in a well ventilated area. But for me what makes this who meddling in smoker's affairs even worse is that  are large number of the legislators who make the rulings on this are smokers to a man/woman. I once saw a politician wolfing down a big mac and sucking away on a Marlboro Red as if their life depended on it…oh the hypocrisy! 

This piece is not trying to reverse any law because we all know that this will never happen, even if Nick Clegg did admit that he was partial to the odd smoke or two. I just get a little bit weary of the effectiveness of minority campaigns which seem to preach that, because they don't approve of something nobody else should be allowed to enjoy themselves doing it. This is not just confined to smoking, however it serves as a good example of a sad habit that seems to be gripping the nation! 

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