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…