Another counterblast to tobacco

As I enter Grumpy Old Man territory (a tad over 30, and I’m sticking to that) I find myself less and less tolerant of people who smoke around me.

James I of England, portrait by Daniel Myrtens, 1621. Public domain, via Wikipedia.
James I of England, portrait by Daniel Myrtens, 1621. Public domain, via Wikipedia.

I’ve never smoked. it’s a horrible habit. What’s more, it inflicts itself on other people whether they like it or not, and I don’t see why I need to put up with it. If people want to succumb to their nicotine addiction and kill themselves slowly with some really nasty carcinogens, that’s up to them – but I’d rather they didn’t spew those carcinogens out around me.

I’m not alone. Back in the early 1600s, King James I of England penned a tirade about the latest import from the Americas – tobacco. Smoking had become all the rage in his court, and he hated it. Smoking, he insisted, was a ‘stinking suffumigation’. And this, what’s more, came at a time when attitudes to personal hygiene were split. Everybody said you needed baths. King James said you didn’t. The real question in his court was who might be suffumigated first. But he was King. His ‘Counterblaste to Tobacco’ was one of the first anti-smoking tracts. And it wasn’t the last.

The New Zealand government passed laws forbidding smoking in public places in 2003. A lot of offices have followed suit, with the result that central city shop doorways are usually filled with people loitering in choking clouds of cigarette smoke. Or they light up and wander off down the street, leaving non-smokers behind them to choke in the trail. Certainly in central Wellington, the foot traffic is dense enough to make it very difficult to get past them.

It’s pretty inconsiderate as far as I am concerned. I don’t spit in their faces. Why are they spitting smoke into mine? Grrrr…

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013


13 thoughts on “Another counterblast to tobacco

  1. Preach it, brother! In SA we’ve had anti-smoking laws for a bit longer and they work reasonably well (you’re not even allowed to smoke in the car if there are children with you, though I’ve never heard of that particular law being enforced), though places like car-repair shops (which basically operate in a warehouse) and pubs tend to ignore the legislation. My neighbour smokes and the airflow in our building is such that, if she smokes outside on the landing (unenclosed) her smoke drifts directly into my flat. As you say, grrrr.

    1. That’s pretty thoughtless of your neighbour. Here in NZ, hospitals solved the problem of visitors (and patients) wandering down to the entrance and lighting up by forbidding smoking on any of their grounds. Pubs here are allowed to have outdoor smoking areas – the problem being that the smoke then drifts in to the non-smoking interior. Hard to get away from although the number of smokers here has dropped in recent years…slowly…

      1. Here restaurants and pubs must have enclosed smoking areas with air extractors that are not allowed to take up more than 20% of the floor space. Outside dining areas are supposed to be non-smoking as it is considered a public space (you’re not even allowed to smoke in covered parking areas), but they don’t enforce it unless you complain, and who wants to be that guy?

  2. I’m with you 100%, Matthew. It’s way past time to banish all those IDIOTS who deliberately decided to start smoking knowing it was dangerous to themselves and everyone around them. How stupid must you be to become a smoker? Let’s push back and get rid of it asap!

    1. I figure carrying an air freshener spray can & giving the miscreants a quick squirt as they mosey up with their stinking cloud of smoke – can’t be ruder to them than what they’re doing to us non-smokers.

  3. I agree with you Matthew! I hate smoke and what it can do to you. Both of my parents smoked but I never did. We non-smokers should not be objected to second hand smoke. Live free or not without smoke. I am from New Hampshire USA and our state motto is Live Free or Die. Our state is smoke free in most restaurants.

    1. Good thing too – glad this is a world trend. They went smoke free in the Netherlands, too, much to the relief of the Dutch half of my family, who don’t smoke either. The Health Department, here in New Zealand, seems to be targeting 2060 as the year when New Zealand becomes a nation of non-smokers. Probably unrealistic but a worthy goal. It’s only taken 400 years since James I first complained about it!

  4. My husband and I are ex-smokers and we agree 100%
    My theory is that businesses should provide smoking rooms for staff. That should keep them off the streets and out of our way of non-smokers.
    When I think of what I used to be so foolish to do!!!!!!
    Even at hospitals, although there are signs, few, if any, pay attention so visitors have to ‘run the gauntlet’ around entrance doors.
    Filthy habit.

    1. It is – and the sooner it’s stopped the better. I find it incredible that it was viewed as normal for so long – to the point, even when I was a teenager in the 1970s, where picking up smoking was viewed as one of the rites of passage to adulthood. Even then it was known as health hazard, and the news since has been all bad. But teens who didn’t, certainly in New Zealand, were ridiculed by their peers for being wimps. I put up with that – I’d made the decision never to smoke, and I stuck with that. Never regretted it.

  5. Ah-ha. Finally a hot button. 😉
    First, let me say you are barely a pre-geezer at something over 30. 😐
    Having started smoking at 10, jumped to a pack a day at 18, and quitting at 40 and also having used chewing tobacco for a number of years, I feel well qualified to comment on your rant! 🙂


    Besides playing American football, which destroyed my body through physical abuse, smoking has done more damage to me than anything else I’ve ever done. I remember getting on an airplane and could not see the last rows of seats because of the smoke. It was like being in a gas chamber.

    1. That aircraft sounds horrendous! It was the ‘gas chamber’ issue that caused me to decide – aged less than eight – never to smoke. My father and both grandfathers, if they were visiting, used to enjoy an after-dinner pipe. The eye-stinging fug that filled the room after a couple of pipe-fuls each had to be experienced to be believed, it really put me off the whole idea. I stuck to that later, despite immense peer pressure to take up smoking while a teenager in the 1970s. Never regretted it.

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