I read an interesting post yesterday over at For the Faint Hearted.
What is interesting to me is that as far as I am aware, Ian is a non-smoker, yet here he is, making a stance on behalf of the [pipe] smoker.
As Ian points out, smoking is unhealthy, yet it is a victimless crime. The only person who suffers palpable risk is the smoker.
Modern society is a dangerous place. Suppose I drive into Dublin on a Saturday night. I run a high risk of an accident on the road, as the standard of driving is appalling. When I arrive in the city, I have an equally high risk of being attacked by some drunk for no reason other than random chance. Statistically, I have greatly increased odds of not surviving that trip. Yet the odds on dropping dead from the effects of a passenger smoking in that car are nil.
So why have smokers been targeted?
Society has always needed a scapegoat. We have always looked for an element in society to vent our spleen. We need to look down on some defined grouping and whip them into submission just to make ourselves feel good. In the past, it was the Negro, the Jew or the Pakistani who felt the wrath. This is now rightly seen as racism, so society needed a group that was non-race defined. Smokers filled the bill very neatly. They crossed the ethnic and religious divides, so no one can be accused of racism. They are defined merely by the fact that they have a cigarette, pipe or cigar on hand.
The arguments for heavy restrictions on driving or drinking are very strong. The levels of death and destruction from both are horrifying. When one takes into account the social misery, the domestic violence, the crime and the wanton destruction caused by people under the influence of drink it is a mystery as to why alcohol is allowed at all.
Yet when we look at the benefits to society of the smoking ban, there are very few. People say their clothes smell better after a night out. What? People say it is healthier for them. Is it? How many people really suffer from passive smoking? Very very few. Compare that to the number of spouses who are battered on a nightly basis or the number of people who are victims of crime or traffic accidents as a result of drink, and you can see where I am coming from. Also, those people who claim that a night out is now healthier also conveniently forget that the damage they have done to themselves from alcohol is far greater than the damage from passive smoking.
So why were smokers chosen to be the subject of a vitriolic campaign? God knows. A movement started somewhere amongst non-smokers, and it gathered momentum. It became a popular movement and ultimately became politically correct. People now espouse the non-smoking policy without thought, or examination of the facts.
As yourselves which would you prefer – to spend a day in the passenger seat of a souped up Golf driven by a boy racer; to spend a day in the company of a very drunk lout or to spend a day with a smoker? I know which I would chose.
In the meantime, I am going to write to Ian to ask his friend Richard to get in touch with me.
I need the company of a pipe smoker.
I don’t want to become extinct, just yet.