It's lights out for lighting up

Do you ever feel that life is passing you by at a rate of knots?

Well, join the club, an organisation where the only requirement for entry is crow’s feet. The membership still struggles to get its head around the fact that 1996 happened more than two decades ago. But it is the landmark celebrated at the weekend which will have had people scratching their heads in disbelief, as it is now 10 years since smoking was banned from public 
buildings in England.

When the Labour Government introduced the ban on sparking up indoors, there were cries that this was the nanny state at its worst. But the nation hasn’t looked back since. There will be those who argue the smoke-free legislation has led to the closure of pubs but I would counter that if a business was so reliant on smokers that it went out of business, then it probably wasn’t worth visiting in the first place. Pubs are more pleasant places to visit. My children don’t know what it is like to enter a smoky room, but I think we can go further.

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I have now come to the opinion that people should no longer be allowed to light up in public parks and open spaces. Forest, the pro-smoking lobby group, has described such suggestions as outrageous, saying that anybody who objected could simply walk away. But why should we? Smoking is a bad habit. It would help their case if most of those addicted to nicotine could be bothered to pick up their fag ends.

Some will regard me as a anti-smoking zealot, but I believe I reflect the view of a large majority, who can’t understand why 7.5 million Brits still want to do that to their body, especially now we have the medical evidence. I packed in the fags 16 years ago and, while I have plenty of vices such as real ale and pies, I have never been tempted to take it up again.

I am a believer in freedom of choice but when those choices impact on others – such as what it costs to treat smoking related illness – then we need to think of other ways to stub out fags altogether. I believe future generations will look back and ask how anybody thought lighting up was a good idea. That would be a development which won’t come soon enough.