This Greek girl I met in the pub last week told me that she was staying in England to make a short film. I asked her how long for. "Until they ban smoking," she said. I laughed, but she was dead serious.
Although the ban of smoking in public places in England is now on its way, it's not just the politicians who are down on cigs; they're becoming pretty demonised all round. Last night, one of my friends was telling me how he'd recently been freebasing cocaine (it's a short step from crack apparently). Shortly afterwards, he politely asked me if I'd hold my cigarette in my other hand to keep the smoke away from him.
If we're scared of cigarettes now, imagine what we'll be like in 15 years. The days of smoking on planes are long long gone. Series 12 of 24 will probably feature Jack Bauer desperately trying to stop terrorists who are holding 20 Mayfair Lights and a box of matches. "Yes Mr President: and they plan to smoke them today."
The ban will be good for me - I usually only smoke in pubs and clubs, so I'll probably be forced into quitting, although I'll still whinge on about the infringement of civil liberties, they start with the little things, and before you know it you're Winston Smith/Bernard Marx etc. Really I'll be benefitting, but I do feel I've been slightly brainwashed into coming to this conclusion; the problem with the whole debate is that the pro-smoking arguments have been lost in the melee. So, here are two which I like, both articulated by people who are cleverer than I am.
The first is about as pretentious as this blog will get, as it's a quote from philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre: "Smoking is the symbolic equivalent of destructively appropriating the entire world." What does this mean? I may be wrong, but I think it's akin to saying, "You smoke because you don't give a fuck."
The second comes from Alexander Chancellor's Guardian column from Saturday: "There is something attractive about people who don't regard their own health and longevity as the most important things in the world."