The fire is going out?

A few weeks ago I visited someone in their home, and as I entered I was met by what, to me, was an almost overpowering smell of cigarette smoke. It is a very rare thing nowadays to find anyone smoking indoors, so encountering it now is rather striking. My friend is a chain smoker, and at home he continues to light up constantly.

Some years ago that would not have been unusual at all. When I was a boy both my parents smoked, my father about 40 a day (and occasional pipes and cigars), my mother maybe 20. I am sure that our house smelled strongly of cigarette smoke. As, probably, did most public buildings that I might have entered. I have never been a smoker, but for years I was a gifted passive smoker.

Now, I gather that the number of smokers is going down rapidly, and of course we have smoking bans in public spaces. So can smoking die out completely? I suspect that even if it could, it won’t happen for some time. But social expectations and requirements have changed, and so the various bans that have been introduced in a number of countries have been accepted and have started to change behaviour. This is so even in France (which banned smoking in most public spaces in 2007), where it was always thought that French smokers would refuse to obey anti-smoking laws. I remember a delegation of French public officials visiting Dublin in 2005 and absolutely refusing to believe that a smoking ban was either just or enforceable.

And what does one say to the person who occasionally will suggest that smoking is a civil liberty, and that it is no part of the government’s role to make people stop? Smoking can impose significant costs on society, and so the taxpayer has an interest in ensuring there is decreased consumption. And as for me, I am delighted that whenever I enter s bar or a hotel my eyes do not begin to water, as they once did.

PS. But whatever happened to pipes? I used to love the smell of pipe smoke…

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5 Comments on “The fire is going out?”

  1. Vincent Says:

    Your Civil Liberty ends at the tip of my nose. And for my tuppenceworth, the same should apply the cars, factories, incinerators and whatever else you can think of that emit in smoke worse than what’s going in the frontdoor.
    Also there is the technology for the smoker to blow through a scrubber to remove any shit before it hit the air.
    If you have Aphids in a glasshouse there is nothing like pipe tobacco to rid yourself of them.

  2. kevin denny Says:

    In much of the developing world smoking is thriving and I think tobacco companies have targeted this part of the world realizing that, to some extent, the game is up in the developed world.

  3. cormac Says:

    Smoking is almos non-existent here in Boston, even outdoors – it’s extraordinary. The only people I have seen smoking are the dropouts who hang around Harvard Sq and the homeless. Almost no students smoke,or anyone else that I can see (except at parties on saturday night).
    One reason might be several hih-profile tv docuentaries tha exposed the deliberate lies of the tobacco companies – it seems to have caused a seismic anti-smoking reaction.

  4. anna notaro Says:

    @PS. But whatever happened to pipes? I used to love the smell of pipe smoke…

    They have become collectors’ items – like books will in the not so distant future…

  5. Jessica Says:

    I was against the smoking bans when they were first enforced here in Colorado. I quit going anywhere because I could just stay home and still smoke. I only agreed with the bans in public places, especially where there would be children. I quit smoking last week and am on my sixth day of being cigarette free. I have banned smoking in my house and my car now because it stinks and I don’t want to smell it. This only affects two people in my house. I know how I felt being forced to go outside when I went places. Now I am doing the same thing. Is it fair? No. I am hoping to make the others in my house quit too. Stop smoking drugs work, although they are very expensive and it also takes a lot of willpower.

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