Why just smoking?

Jul 27th, 2011 | By | Category: Ireland

There is an intriguing report in today’s Irish Times, the Minister for Health is considering banning smoking in cars.  How such a ban would be enforced is unclear; perhaps cameras at regular intervals along roads to watch potential smokers, or perhaps tobacco wardens who would ride around on bicycles looking out for offenders? Who knows?

Not being a smoker, it is perhaps not an issue, but if someone alone wishes to smoke in the privacy of their own car, it seems an infringement of civil liberties to attempt to forbid such practices.  Three years ago to the day, there must have been a similar story, for the following appeared here:

‘Tobacco pipes and baggy cardigans were the mark of old Anglican clergy for decades.  Rectory studies would have a familiar smell; the pouch of tobacco being about the only luxury possible in straitened times.

Maybe it’s the association with avuncular old canons, who covered half a county on a Sunday morning to read seventeenth century prayers to a gathering of the faithful, but pipes always seemed benign.

Of course, tobacco smoke is dangerous, but so is driving at high speed and I see no banners at the bottom of advertisements for BMW or Jaguar saying “Speed kills”.  Obesity is dangerous and I see no legislation to regulate fast food outlets. Alcohol is dangerous, but there are no laws prohibiting drinks companies from sponsoring sporting events followed by young people.

Smokers seem to have attracted the particular ire of the nanny state and I fear my friend Richard who smokes a pipe is an endangered species.

Back in 1992 Garrison Keillor published a collection of essays called We Are Still Married. I bought it on cassette and used to think the piece on the last smokers was really a bit far fetched.  It first appeared in the New Yorker back in 1984 under the title End of the Trail. The New Yorker has an online abstract:

The last cigarette smokers in America were located in a box canyon south of Donner Pass in the High Sierra by 2 federal tobacco agents in a helicopter who spotted little smoke puffs just before noon. The district chief called in the ground team & 6 men, members of a crack anti-smoking joggers unit, moved across the terrain, surrounding & subduing them with tear gas. There were 5 people in their mid-40’s who’d been on the run since the adoption of the 28th Amendment. The chief snatched an empty pack of Marlboro’s & said “Look at this! This warning has been there for decades! What does it take to make you understand?” The smokers knew that the end was near. They’d lost radio contact with the only other band of smokers they knew; 5 writers holed up in an Oakland apartment. Among the personal effects were 4 empty packs, slit open, the blank insides covered with handwriting. They were letters to Lindsay & Matt from their mother. They read: “I never thot it wld come to this…those yrs as ashtrays vanished fr parties & old pals made sarc remarks & FAA crackd down… Down to 1 cart… In 50s it was diffrnt, we all smokd… Food, sex, then smoke…theyre closing in… Reminded me of when yr dad turnd me in… Knew he was nut but didnt know he was creep… Goodbye. Love, Mother. ” The 5 smokers were sentenced to write 20,000 words on the topic “Personal Integrity”. The mother was reunited with her children. One night, she saved them from death by pulling them back from the path of a speeding car. Her husband, who had just been telling her she could stand to lose some weight, was killed instantly, however.

Smokers may become as a rare as crusty old canons; both a voice of dissent in a society that has made political correctness an infallible dogma’.

Three years later, and Richard is under attack again.

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  1. Sadly the smoker has become the flavour of the day when in comes to a drop of State Bullying. Doubtless we are about to see images of young children barely visible through clouds of smoke, not to mention how we are to be further labelled as child killers if not child molesters.

    Unfortunately, Garrison Keillor’s piece is closer to the truth than many would suppose.

  2. A five minute visit to a hospital A & E unit any night of the week would reveal the damage done by alcohol, strangely drink never receives a treatment comparable with cigarettes. What is the Queen of England offered when she visits? A pint of Guinness – and not a word of a health warning of the damage it can cause.

  3. Don’t worry. The big guns are already being re-aimed at both alcohol and fast-food. They are even talking about such utter nonsense as “second-hand obesity”.

  4. There seems to be a culture of control in Ireland; the church being replaced by civil servants and agencies.

  5. No need for a ban – just concentrate on school children. I have speeding police, smoking police and music-turned-up-too-loud police in the back of my car. Their mother has the are-you-sure-you-should-be-drinking-that police to cope with. At least I’m in the clear on that one so far.

  6. Every time there is a desire to ban something, there is reference to children. Most people I see smoking while driving are men travelling by themselves (and I cover 50,000 kilometres a year!)

  7. On Thurs I noticed two young women in a car paused at the traffic lights, they were both smoking and I was just thinking how ‘unusual’ it seemed these days when I notice two v small children strapped in the back of the car. Shocking – I thought so and everyone I have mentioned it to since. What would it take to make that stop?

  8. But how would a blanket ban on smoking make much difference? They probably spend little time in the car anyway – to the shops or the granny’s house and back. Is there going to be a ban on people smoking in houses?

  9. the latest idea is a ban in parks.

  10. Who would enforce it?

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