Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Smoking Ban

Just the other day I was explaining to Cee and Dottie how I don’t like the idea of strapping kids into car seats being a law and not just a guideline. I do think kids ought to be in seats and there is a lot to be said for a child safely strapped in the backseat while you enjoy a peaceful drive in the front. And I’m not even going into the safety aspect. But I do feel that it should be something you are taught to do and left to practice as you’ve been taught. I really don’t like the law being a shotgun pointed at me for something as basic as enjoying a drive cuddling my baby.

Similarly, I don’t know that I’m so much in favour of the smoking ban. It’s been a month and so far it’s been fairly effective in places like pubs and discs. It’s nice to go out with my hair loose and not come home reeking of stale cigarette smoke. On the other hand, I don’t know that I like smokers being hunted down like this. My prejudice against smoking is a personal one and I try to stand up for it but what I really want is better smoking etiquette taught in homes and schools and peer circles. Yes, I’m all for smoking and non-smoking zones in eating and recreational spaces and most air-conditioned offices anyway have separate zones for smoking, usually near stairwells or outdoors. But let’s not make lepers out of our smokers.

I will even admit that I don’t encourage people to smoke in my house, but that is entirely because a baby lives in it. Until things came to that I did have a flat to myself for almost five years, and I wasn’t a smoker myself for a good year of that. But I didn’t mind people smoking in my home before a baby entered the picture.

All I ask is that you request your hosts for permission before you light up. Move to an open window or a balcony if there are children present. Not carry your cigarette into public transport with you. Don’t throw lighted cigarettes onto the roads for them to burn holes in my saree. Check with your fellow passengers in the office shuttle before you light up – a courtesy markedly lacking my last place of work. It didn’t matter in the bigger vehicles, but it did in the smaller cars, especially when the windows were rolled up because it was raining. Why can’t these be taught in school? People will have their vices and the bigger fuss you make over them, the more they will be tempted. It makes more sense to me to teach young kids that while smoking is a stupid sort of thing to do. you might as well try not to add being obnoxious to it by following the rules of etiquette. It’s like sex ed. Nobody wants kids to have sex, but hey, since you can’t stop them, at least you can teach them what they are getting into.

On the other hand, this Big Brother approach makes me sympathise. To the extent of wanting to have a smoke just to thumb my nose at, er, Big Brother.

14 comments:

Monika,Ansh said...

@Sue -
Smoking etiquette in school. No, I do not think that can ever happen or is such a good idea.
Is the car seat rule coming here ? Haven't heard of it yet.

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Amen sister, amen. With smoking being banned like this, why not just close down the tobacco units altogether! I mean sheesh! Get smart already.

(I'm sure you can tell that this vehemence comes from a smoker ;p)

The Marauder's Map said...

There's this outdoor cafe near my place where I recently saw the no-smoking notice put up and felt quite indignant about the whole thing. But hasn't this been coming for a while? Even when I was a regular smoker and worker, I felt there was this increasing inclination to push us poor smokers to the fringes of society. Why can't they let us live in peace?

Mama - Mia said...

:)

i guess Sue, like you said, its about etiquette!

and i dont think a smoker should be offended if the courtesy is expected of him / her to ask before lighting up.

in small enclosed spaces it is indeed very bothersome. but demarcated zones are i think only fair.

but yes, the govt trying to play moral police to EVERYTHING we do, not done!

cheers!

abha

Sue said...

Monika -- Why not? You don't want your kids doing a lot of things but they may as well learn the rules. Whether a person smokes or not he is she ought to know what is expected from a smoker.

I don't think the car seat rule can come to India any time soon because car seats are so expensive. My friend is from the US where it is mandatory.

M4 -- They can't afford to shut down the baccy companies, na. And I must tell you, I frown upon smokers in general. :)

Shrabonti -- That makes no sense at all. Designate a corner or something at least. Weird. I can understand the uproar against smokers because frankly, how many considerate smokers do you find amongst strangers? But I think it makes more sense to spend that money to teach people manners rather than marginalise smokers.

Abha -- I've had colleagues who know perfectly well that I do mind the smoke in a closed car, so they light up without asking. I'm tired of such behaviour. But I can't see how banning smoking in offices will ameliorate this mindset in the slightest.

Sue said...

Monika -- Why not? You don't want your kids doing a lot of things but they may as well learn the rules. Whether a person smokes or not he or she ought to know what is expected from a smoker.

I don't think the car seat rule can come to India any time soon because car seats are so expensive. My friend is from the US where it is mandatory.

M4 -- They can't afford to shut down the baccy companies, na. And I must tell you, I frown upon smokers in general. :)

Shrabonti -- That makes no sense at all. Designate a corner or something at least. Weird. I can understand the uproar against smokers because frankly, how many considerate smokers do you find amongst strangers? But I think it makes more sense to spend that money to teach people manners rather than marginalise smokers.

Abha -- I've had colleagues who know perfectly well that I do mind the smoke in a closed car, so they light up without asking. I'm tired of such behaviour. But I can't see how banning smoking in offices will ameliorate this mindset in the slightest.

Ritu said...

I am a smoker - and my home is smoke free. My sons have quit and the DIL hates the smell. I have stopped going to pubs or drinking at restaurants, because I need a cigarette with my drink. I feel hounded. I stopped smoking when I was pregnant and resumed only after the kids went to school - and that too in the terrace.

I feel hounded by this ban

http://www.phoenixritu.com/

Ron said...

I agree. I don't smoke myself but have friends who do. This blanket ban on smoking is unfair on them. Restaurants,pubs etc should at least have smoking and non smoking areas. So far I've have been to only one restaurant in Bangalore which does.

Rohini said...

Sue, I am a (now occasional) smoker but I don't agree with you.

I think in the case of the baby and car seat is that you are putting no one else at harm except your own family so it might still be acceptable to allow people choice. However, if we were to go by that logic, helmets and seat belts for adults shouldn't be mandated either.

Smoking is more like drunk driving though and you could potentially harm people with your secondary smoke. And unfortunately if people had the basic courtesy to do all that you suggested, there would be no need for this law. The fact of the matter is that this law has made things better. You go to a pub and you can breathe clean air instead of the heavy haze of stale and fresh smoke that earlier hung over these places. And I think non-smokers deserve to be able to hang out at restaurants and pubs without inhaling noxious substances...

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Dear Sue,

Thanks for telling me. I'll make sure I don't light up in your presence :), but I would have asked...I normally do.

My point is that I oppose the blanket ban. I think that is unfair. There should be designated areas fro smokers.

Casuarina said...

The problem may inhere in the fact that most people don't seem to want to choose the non-smoking/smoking with permsission option unless it's dead imposed upon them. Education/a liberal upbringing may or may not have much to do with making smokers in general realise that there is a certain etiquette attached to the whole thing. But the 'Big Brother' attitude is worthy of concern indeed.

Sue said...

Ritu, Ron -- Exactly. I think demarcated zones would have solved the problem. A very little smoke wouldn't hurt a non-smoker and smokers need not be entirely cast out. :)

Ro -- I'm suggesting that if the basic courtesies were taught and expected as a matter of course (a long-term period of reform instead of a blanket ban) that would be more effective in phasing out smoking than a ban that's more likely to make people feel rebellious.

M4 -- See? We agree on both counts. If you ask me I appreciate it. And neither of us likes being told what to do. :)

Casuarina -- I think parents and teachers need to put greater stress on common decency and manners. When they were children they did not smoke in front of elders so how come they don't object to their children carrying their cigarettes into autos bearing elderly people? What I know and practice I learnt mostly from my parents and teachers and to some extent from my peers. If they shamed me into not smoking amongst children you bet that lesson would last a lifetime...

DotThoughts said...

my lil republican.

Sue said...

Dottie -- :P