Thursday, 27 October 2005

“Smoke gets in your eyes” - no more

So, at last there is to be a smoking ban in public places in England. Not before time. It’s been a bit of a shambles in the last few days: at one point, it looked as if MPs wouldn’t be able to come to an agreement, but it should be finalized by now. It will probably allow smoking in private members’ clubs, and pubs that don’t serve food will be able to choose whether they allow smoking or not. A total ban would be much better, but this is not a bad compromise.

I was reminded today that I only smoked for about a year (when I was a student at the Sorbonne, in the 60s) and only “blondes” or menthol cigarettes. When I started getting migraines I stopped and never took it up again. Cigarette smoke still gives me a headache.

Who would have thought twenty years ago that smoking would be banned from restaurants? I remember an occasion when I dared to ask a couple of work colleagues not to smoke while we were having our meal (it was a birthday party; we were in a basement with a very low ceiling) and was berated for being a spoilsport. I had to endure having smoke blown in my face during the entire meal and, of course, ended up with a splitting headache. It made me very angry.

The consequences of smoking are now well known and there is no excuse for lighting up. I’m sure it’s quite difficult to quit if you’re a heavy smoker, i.e. an addict, but it can be done if you’re strongly motivated: my father stopped smoking overnight after having a heart attack at the age of 65, and that was before patches and other chewing gums.

And remember: “Kissing a smoker is like licking an ashtray”. Blech!
I’d like to slap those people who made me feel like a freak and a killjoy on that particular day (I think I deserve an apology from them, actually) and anyone who’s ever imposed their antisocial habit on those of us who wish to breathe clean-ish air. Slap!


  1. i quit again nearly three months ago. luckily i can stop at the drop of a hat and i'm determined not to start again this time.

    hurray for no more smoke-filled restaurants!

  2. my tolerance levels for people smoking in restaurants and pubs has taken a real dive in recent years, mainly because i don't go out as much

    so when i do, i make a point of spluttering loudly if sitting next to someone who is smoking

    and i never hesitate to snitch on smokers smoking in non-smoking sections to the staff

    yay for the ban!

  3. Even when I was a smoker, I thought smoking in restaurants was nasty. There you are paying quite a lot of money for food that someone has worked to make tasty, and some twit is funneling a miasma of cigarette at you.

    When I quit smoking, I had a revelation after about a week, when I went to do my laundry, picked up my smoker clothes, and realized with horror how horrible they smelled. I could not believe I had been walking around smelling like that for years. Bleh!

    I confess, even though I quit 5 years ago, I do occasionally take a drag off another person's cigarette, but all it ever does is remind me how nasty it is and how glad I am I quit.

    I'm even excited about going out to bars now that smoking is banned there. I thought it was ridiculous the first time I heard of it, since bars by nature are places where you imbibe things that are no good for you, but now I appreciate it. I can go out, have a beer with friends, and not come back home reeking in my hair and coat and wheezing from an asthma attack. It's lovely! And everyone can still smoke if they want to. They just have to step outside.

  4. Smoking in public places was banned in Sweden this summer.

    It's a new life, it's almost absurd - It's like I am in a movie or something, unreal and magic:

    I can go to a café without coming home smelling like an ashtrey.

    I can go out for a glass of wine without having to wash all my clothes the day after (including overcoat)

    I can actually have a meal in an establishment with No One Forcing Second Hand Smoking On Me!

    And I never, ever have to ask someone to put their cigarette out again and get yelled at for doing it.

    It's bliss... No headaches, no coughing.... Aaaaaaah!

  5. I hate smoke. Ugh.

    My husband never smoked in his life. He never lived with a smoker either.

    Yet six years ago he was diagnosed with lung cancer. And it was a type of cancer that smokers get. He always worked among smokers. After chemo and radiation, he's okay now, but he will never be the same. I'm pretty bitter about it actually.

  6. SG: I’m not sure quitting repeatedly qualifies as ‘quitting’. LOL! Hope you manage it in the end: you’ll feel so much better.

    UC: I cough and splutter a lot too. And point the finger. It feels great – after years of putting up and shutting up.

    T: Of course, you, as a gourmet, should be against smoking in restaurants.

    Don’t those poor people standing outside look ridiculous and pathetic, puffing away as fast as they can (or as slowly as they can, in the case of office workers – has anyone calculated how much more time off those people have in comparison with their non-smoking colleagues?)?

    J: I very often think I should like to live in Sweden: it sounds like a great place to be.

    I had that ‘unreal’ feeling when the Eurostar was launched: I’d always thought, “Not in my lifetime.” Nice.

    TLP: I’m so sorry about your husband. There are some who still refuse to believe passive smoking is noxious. Seems obvious to anyone with a bit of common sense. I’m glad he’s ok now. :-)

  7. I confess that's the one thing I really miss from my habit: the leisurely cigarette breaks. That's not a joke, either. Richard Klein put it very well in his quitter's breakup love letter to the cigarette, "Cigarettes Are Sublime." Smoking does alter the way you perceive time, and it gives you a few moments of quiet to do nothing but concentrate on your breathing, just like the yogis are always telling you to do. Alas, it's a few moments of breathing pure poison.

    Curiously, a recent study shows that the THC in marijuana, which is responsible for the high, helps neutralize the carcinogenic effects of the smoke. Smoking pot may in fact be healthier than smoking tobacco.

  8. I understand what you mean, T, but it's not worth the risk, is it? There's also the shape of the hand holding the cigarette, etc., but it should never have been glamourized the way it was. We'll have to find some other ways to relax and look elegant.

    Haven't they found that marijuana was fairly dangerous as well? Can induce anxiety and paranoia, I think.

  9. The elegant shape of the hand holding a cigarette up to red lips - which age 45 will be all lined and puckered from pursing them to suck, and from the free radicals constantly in front of the delicate facial skin - mmm, I wonder which wins out there.

  10. I'm short-sighted and hardly ever wear my glasses so all I can see is the shape. LOL!

    bizgb = the name of my future business venture (I'm registering it ®)

  11. Oh, I so agree! I had several meals in London ruined, absolutely ruined by people who chose to smoke. How can one smoke during dinner is beyond me.

  12. I couldn't agree more. I love smokers (they tend to be interesting people with interesting life stories) but I hate smoke and don't want to be forced to breathe it. And no-smoking "sections" don't help a bit. As I read once, "A no-smoking section in a restaurant is like a no-peeing section in a pool." Yep, that about sums it up.

  13. I'm so glad you both agree> :-)

    WW, I've never noticed what you say about smokers: they just "smell" foul, that's all. LOL! It's because we've romanticized smoking that we're in the pickle we're in now, I think.

  14. I've always hated smoke and I've never understood how people could smoke while eating for example... I tried to smoke though, to look chic, like other young people of my age. But I never succeeded in breathing that smoke, I thought I'd lose my throat. My brother who was a great smoker had fun of me the day he found me almost crying and getting a headhache just because I had tried to smoke.
    A few months ago, a friend of my boyfriends told us about her father's lung cancer. A nightmare. I've told my brother the story.
    He stopped smoking by himself.
    All smokers should be aware that not only do they give their money to companies that don't care about their health, but they also give their life (in suffering).
    Such a high price to pay for such a low pleasure !

  15. I've never understood how a small number of people could pollute the air for everyone with impunity for so long. It's high time we non-smokers insisted on having clean air to breathe.

    Is the ban more widely respected in France now? Most cafés ignored it to start with, didn't they?

    Thanks for visiting, C! :-)

  16. I haven't noticed any change in most French restaurants or cafés ! They indeed try to separate the smokers zone and the non smokers zone but you can easily imagine what it's like when the separation is a green plant ^___^ (or even nothing ! Like : you smokers go to the left and you non-smokers go to the right)

    I really like your blog, it's funnny (funnier than mine) I have to read everything ! I love to post comments, so I'll come back for sure, he he ;)

  17. As WW said, "A no-smoking section in a restaurant is like a no-peeing section in a pool."

    Thanks for the compliments. I'm glad I made you laugh. Do come back soon. :-)

    jfmpqvcp: Blogger, enough already! How many letters does it take to convince you I'm not a machine?