Fuming I ever started smoking
Whenever he sees me lighting up a cigarette in the back garden, our grandson Liam always loudly declares that cigarettes are “yucky”.
His reaction to smoking delights me; let’s hope that it endures, despite the awful example I’m setting him. I have some reason to hope that this might be the case. Our elder son – to whom Liam is strikingly similar – also detested smoking when he was a child, and his attitude has never changed. If anything, it has hardened.
It appals me to recall how selfish and careless I was in the past with the health of my loved ones. When my eldest was Liam’s age, daily I ran the risk of doing him more damage than just setting a bad example. Then, there was no such thing as retreating to the back garden for a cigarette; I smoked when and wherever I liked. Most often in the comfort of our living room, forcing my children and their mother, and whoever else happened to be present, to share in the poisonous fumes of my addiction. My behaviour didn’t change throughout the childhood years of our three youngsters.
Thankfully, attitudes to smoking have changed over the past, relatively few years. When I was growing up, and long into my adulthood, virtually every grown-up male smoked. And there was not the slightest allowance made for those who might not.
Indeed, such was our sense of entitlement, we didn’t even allow for others to determine how we behaved on their property. For instance, as soon as the smoker had plonked himself down on a friend’s or neighbour’s settee, he would light up a cigarette and look around for an ashtray. The notion of asking if it was permissible to smoke never crossed our minds.
It was the same if someone was kind enough to offer the smoker a lift in their car. The vehicle would have hardly begun to move before the addict was puffing away, regardless of whether the driver shared his addiction, or of who else was in the vehicle.
I remember a neighbour of ours putting a “No Smoking” sticker on the dashboard of his car – the first I ever saw. On this evidence alone, he was henceforth considered to be a bit odd.
Smokers ruled in those days: with untrammelled freedom to indulge on buses, trains, planes and in the cinema and pub.
When common sense eventually began to prevail and some restrictions were placed on smoking in public, like virtually every other nicotine addict, I railed against them. What nonsense we spouted in our opposition, declaring that the smoking bans were undemocratic as they clearly restricted freedom of choice, and therefore impinged upon a basic human right.