Thursday 10 March 2011

Cigarette, anyone?

So the government in its wisdom has decided that cigarettes must now be hidden in shops and supermarkets to put them out of the way of temptation.

Does anyone really think this will make the slightest difference? And as for children, if anyone thinks it will deter them from buying cigarettes (they're not allowed to, are they?) then they don't know much about teenagers.

I am not a smoker. I dislike cigarette smoke. Since experimenting at the age of ten (to impress my mother, who wisely took no notice at all), I've never really bothered with it. But if people choose to smoke, then that is their right, as is mountain climbing, riding motorbikes, extreme ironing, or whatever. As a nurse, I have even helped terminally ill patient to light up the cigarettes that have killed them, because they were too weak to do it for themselves. They had a right to smoke that last cigarette.

When will successive governments STOP TELLING US WHAT TO DO? We know the dangers of smoking; most of know that too many chips will make us fat, and that we should eat up our greens. But we have a right to pig out on burgers and ignore the broccoli if that's what we want to do. The medical profession has a duty to inform and advise, and to support those who wish to improve their lifestyles, but not to run our lives for us. And if we die early because of our lifestyle, then that will save the state money on all kinds of things, from pensions and healthcare in later life, to bus passes.


  1. I'll play devil's advocate here -

    Why should people have the right to smoke? It's not just bad for them but for everyone else who has to breath in their smoke, put up with the smell and dropped cigarette ends. It's their friends and family who have to listen to them coughing, watch their health deteriorate, bury them too soon. It's taxpayers who foot the bill for their medical care and people with illnesses they didn't bring on themselves who have to wait longer for a hospital bed.

    I do agree that the current proposals seem a bit daft though. Lots of health professionals smoke and I'm sure that many members of the government do too. Seems to be a case of 'don't do what we do, do what we say'.

    Wouldn't it be better if people were set a good example and encouraged to be healthy rather than set bad examples which they're vitimised for following?

  2. Oh dear! Patsy, I certainly don't want to be with people when they smoke, anad agree they should do it away from non-smokers. I have watched a relative die a painful death from lung cancer (he was in total denial). I just don't think being told what to do has any effect. I have advised countless smokers, and helped those I can.

    What I'm saying is that once equipped with the facts (aren't we all?) it is up to us what we do about it. And I'm all for good examples where possible. I'm not in favour of smoking, but on the right to decide for oursleves.

    As to cost, as I said, I think there may be savings in the long run.

    Can we call a truce now??

  3. Yes to the truce - be daft for two non smokers to fall out over this!

    I agree that, once people know the facts, continued official nagging is unlikely to do any good.

  4. I totally agree. I abhor cigarette smoke but, as long as it's not blown in my face, people should be allowed to do what they want. Whenever I'm told not to do something I still get a childish urge to go right ahead and do it.

  5. I have an aversion to cigarette smoke as well. As a retired GP I found it quite difficult to cope with visiting people in their homes who are heavy smokers. But I never believed in bullying or criticising my smoker patients. I do, however,have concerns for children in the families of smokers. The are passive smokers and are given no choice in the matter. I saw too many babies in my surgery who stank of their parents' cigarette smoke. Don't try to convince me that that isn't damaging. I might not be so critical as to say it was child abuse, but I know many who would.
    No, my problems is not so much with the nanny state (which ours definitely is) but with the cynical way in which smoking is still glamourised by the tobacco manufacturers who have made their fortunes selling death.
    Kids, unfortunately, will pay far more attention to ensuring that they look cool in the eyes of their peers than they will to mum and dad or the school nurse.
    By the way, Frances, you asked me in a comment on my own blog if I lived in Devizes by any chance. Well, while Devizes is one of my most favourite places (super brewery, dray horses, Caen locks etc.etc.) I actually live in Chippenham. Well, at least we have the River Avon and a good rail service to London, Bath and Bristol.
    Look forward to reading some more of your excellent blogging.

  6. Oh dear! I seem to have come across as (almost) a supporter of smoking, which is very far from the case. One of the most sobering things I ever saw was the new-born baby of a 60-a-day smoker - a tiny, wizened thing, and it was overdue, too. But what I do feel is that (a) there is far too much state nannying and interference, and (b) hiding cigarettes (for exmaple) will do nothing to deter children from taking up the habit. Rather the reverse. My (late) husband was a headmaster, and he often said that nothing he (or anyone else) could say or do would prevent the kids from experimenting with tobacco. Warnings, advice, pickled lungs - none of these had any effect whatsoever.

    I brought up my four chidren with the (very firm) advice that they should never smoke, but they all did (for a while). So strong was the message I gave them that one, when about five, once whispered to me, "that man over there is smoking. Shall I tell him he's going to die?" That child (now a hospital consultant, who mercifully knows better) smoked for quite a while. But I had done my bit. I had given the advice. The smoking had been his choice.

    What I am in favour of is the individual's right to choose what s/he does, provided of course that it doesn't interfere with others (as in your example of parents smoking in the presence of their children).

  7. I hate cigarette smoke. I smoked for twenty years or more, and woke up every morning coughing. When my daughter said "Mum, you stink, and you're also killing yourself", I stopped.

    Nobody has the right to pollute the air for others (I am not a new convert, I haven't smoked for twenty years), besides, the diseases smoking causes cost a lot of money.

    I am not quite as generous as you dishing out rights, I feel obligations quite as keenly, and if you fall off a mountain dressed in shorts and trainers in the middle of winter, then I want you to pay for the rescue operation.

    Okay, I know what is good for me and I wouldn't be nearly as stupid and irresponsible as the rest of mankind and I most certainly know what's good for you better than you do yourself. But will they give me a job in government? Will they, heck.

    Thanks for calling at Friko's World.You seem to like Fridge Soup, would you like to be a member? You see the sort of rubbish we post, that's all there is to it.
    Send me an email at Friko's World if you want to.

  8. Smoking aside for a while - we are slowly being denied our civil liberties and we accept it almost without a fight.

    The nanny state continues to dictate what we (should) do or not do - food (one council considering charging take-aways with a fat tax), drink, smoking, what we can and cannot say, cctv invading our very freedon and so on and so forth.

    I despair!

    I smoke. I like it. I consider non-smokers and wonder why they do not consider me?

    Anna :o]

    PS I did a post in December re smokers being denied surgery. Perhaps it might interest you?

  9. Hi, Friko. I as much against the pollution of air for others as you are. I'm just in favour of people being allowed to pollute their own air if they wish! and thank you veyr much for your invitation to join Fridge Soup. May I think about it, please? I waste (spend?) far too much time blgging as it is!

    Hi Anna - some support at last! Thank you! I'll look up your post on surgery. Not sure about the cctv, though. It seems to have helped catch quite a few criminals, and it identified the 7/7 bombers.

    Hi, S&S. Fags in a plain box is a brilliant idea! With perhaps (in small print) the advice: "these will greatly improve your health, and it isn't at all cool to smoke them"?

  10. My libertarian heart is happy with this post. :)