Here's the thing about smoking: if you don't do it yourself, you tend to loathe it.
This thought kept running through my head this morning on my walk to work, while I was wedged in the middle of a crowd at the Harcourt Terrace pedestrian crossing, behind some smoker in a suit. His exhaled fumes seemed to be magnetically drawn to my face, and no amount of exaggerated coughing or shifting position could get me away – just vile.
Then, just after I'd moved up to his right, he turned his head in my direction to check on the oncoming traffic. Another billow was released. And this time, though I knew on a rational level that it wasn't intentional, it seemed to have been aimed right at me.
Ban smoking in public altogether, I thought, and let the bastards choke on their poison in private. See if I give a shit.
You could argue that a ban along these lines would be an incursion on civil liberties. But if you did, you'd be talking absolute bullshit – in what world is a ban on public urination okay, while this is not?
Of course, by now I've calmed down. Naturally. After all, nobody can stay that angry about any one topic all the time, and if they can, they're some class of skewed obsessive.
And that, I am not; but I do love the city, and I do love thinking of ways that it can be made more pleasant, more inclusive, more radiant and more 21st-century. So, despite my rage having subsided to a mild annoyance, banning smoking in public still seems like a very reasonable idea.
By some strange manner of coincidence, the Guardian just today published this piece about moves in Britain to introduce bans along these lines. A public smoke-free area is being trialled in Bristol, while the council in Brighton has launched a consultation about an outright ban on its famed beach.
We're generally proud of the fact that we were the first country in the world to ban smoking indoors in workplaces – something that was controversial at the time, but has become so widely accepted in just over a decade that it's hard to imagine things being any other way – so why don't we push forward and take the logical next step?
You could argue that a ban along these lines would be an incursion on civil liberties. But if you did, you'd be talking absolute bullshit – in what world is a ban on public urination okay, while this is not? After all, both create an unholy mess on the street, and at least one has the redeeming feature of being a natural biological function.
Sorry smokers, but I just don't see how you win this one. Smoking in public has got to go.