26 Mar 2010
It appears that I have become the scourge of society. Not me personally - I'm not currently living in a hollowed out volcano planning to unleash my super-mega death ray on an incredulous and totally deserving society. Not until I get that bank loan at any rate.
No, what makes me the social equivalent to a Pol Pot memorial awards dinner is that I'm a smoker.
The current societal view of a smoker is that we are nefarious outcasts bent on polluting the whole of society with our tobacco based addictions. Scuttling around in hastily constructed 'smoking areas' outside of pubs planning the overthrow of the Government. If there is a child in the surrounding area we will no doubt chain said child to the ground before forcing them to name every county in the country and laughing when they forget Rutland.
We are the new hate figures. Wreathed in the gray-blue smoke of pure, unadulterated evil.
This is clearly absurd. Yet smokers are increasingly penalised through this country's obsession with criminalising every possible sector of population.
This has come to a head this week with the proposal that smoking should be banned in every car. I could understand if this was for safety reasons. Using a mobile is rightly banned due to the distraction it creates. Eating is a bit of a gray area but I assume popping a sweet into your mouth when behind the wheel is kind of okay whereas consuming a roasted boar in the style of Astrix the Gaul would most likely end up in a humorous yet ultimately punitive court case. Likewise, playing squash, performing major heart surgery on a stoat, receiving oral sex, fishing, whittling, constructing Airfix models, dancing the Gay Gordon, watching cheap Dutch porn, and reading Dr Faustus are all banned when driving.
The thing is safety isn't the cited reason. No, it's to protect children from breathing in smoke.
Now this I don't really get. If this proposal ever becomes law (which I admit is unlikely) I will be banned from smoking in my car because I may cause a child to breath in second hand smoke. Ignoring for the moment the fact that I never drive children in my car, don't have children and don't plan on ever having any children I would be barred from making a personal choice in my own private space.
The justification for this was that police may not be able to see if there was a child in the car so it's best to just ban it all together.
Now I respect the police. They do a tough job and get a lot of stick. But what utter cretins must they be employing if they can't see a person in a car. I mean, are there only boss-eyed coppers on patrol now? Do they struggle to differentiate between a child and, oh I don't know, a seat with no one sat in it? Do they have to actually be certified blind to get called up to the force?
That's not to say that I don't think that children should be protected from the smoke of an adult. I do - I smoke as a choice, I don't have the right to inflict potential illness on another person, especially a child.
Likewise, I shouldn't be told where and when I can and can't consume a perfectly legal substance. It's just not cricket.
To this end I propose a radical rethink on this issue. Don't ban smoking in cars, ban children in cars.
Lets look at the pros and cons.
Pro - children are sticky and will infect your plush new car seats with a cocktail of snot, sweets, saliva, Farley's Rusks, milk, juice and extreme cases excrement.
Con - children have to get places to do children stuff.
Pro - children are really noisy and can distract even the best of drivers.
Con - people get funny about leaving their children by the side of the road.
Pro - you won't have to listen to 'are we there yet', 'I'm bored' or that fucking 'wheels on the bus' song again.
Con - no longer will you have an excuse for playing DVDs in the car.
Pro - fat children will be forced to walk their pudgy arses to school thereby loosing weight.
Con - car seat manufacturers will go bankrupt.
Pro - we will never have to see one of those self-indulgent 'Baby on Board' stickers again (yeah, well fucking done - you managed to procreate).
Con - ...nope, can't think of any more cons.
Pro - less inner city mums will feel compelled to drive what can only be described a scale version of the Challenger 2 main battle tank the 0.5 of a mile from their house to the school that their insufferable offspring attend.
Pro - I don't have to change my behaviour to conform to a frankly ridiculous and unenforceable law.
If smoking is this much of an issue just ban it. Totally. Make it a class A substance. Really. Force the whole of the nation to go cold turkey.
Can you imagine the consequences...
A whole nation shaking with withdrawal symptoms, licking the shelves in Boots for the trace remains of the nicotine replacement therapy patches. Perhaps we'll all make illicit trips to Amsterdam to smoke in cafes. Soon HM Revenue and Customs will be uncovering a Marlboro Mule trafficking system where large quantities of tobacco is smuggled into the country wrapped in condoms in an Eastern European's stomach.
Of course this is never going to happen. The Government makes far too much money on the duty from the sale of tobacco products.
But if they did bring in a total ban, everyone would know where they stand.
At the very least it won't be outside in the rain.