My disdain (that borders on a hatred) of smokers has nothing to do with my desire for a nanny state or for social controls to stop smokers from smoking. I really do not mind if people wish to smoke and harm themselves, but the problem is that smokers do not just harm or affect themselves.
There are massive social costs reflected in increased healthcare costs that drain healthcare schemes as well as put a strain on public resources paid for by taxpayers. But all activities do, the act of living puts strain on these resources and one can easily point a finger at obese people, speeders etc that also put extra strains on healthcare systems.
My real disdain starts to kick in when I see pregnant women smoking, people smoking with children in their cars or homes as well as the incessant littering smokers seem obliged to do. I do not wish to share your smoking with you and I do not wish to “enjoy” your cigarette butts presence in the park or at the beach.
Pregnant women that smoke subject their unborn offspring to some real nasty health problems later. These can range from increased asthma, allergies, ADHD, developmental delays and small birth weight. Women that argue “it’s a drug” or “it’s difficult to quit” forget that it’s not about them — it’s about the unborn child who has no choice. The same goes for little children in smoggy cars and homes. Who still does this? Yet, I see it on the roads all the time. An act of abuse and neglect that deserves our scorn and anger.
I also detest the smokers who crowd entrances forming a gauntlet of smog that non-smokers must navigate through to get inside. Would it be too much to ask for smokers to move a few metres away from the doorway? I went to a letting agent yesterday that had an ashtray and table beside their doorway for staff to smoke at. It almost made me want to gag, the smell and cloud of smoke lent an air of cheap tawdriness to the setting.
I also hate the walking down the busy pavement or through a busy market smoker. They emit a trail of exhaust that a diesel truck would be proud of. Could you not stop somewhere out of the way and have a smoke before resuming shopping?
The other big issue is the incessant littering. Cigarette butts are not biodegradable. They plague beaches, parks, sidewalks (pavements here) and every entrance to a building. Why do smokers always just throw them out of their car windows. Cars are still made with ashtrays and smokers never seem to use them.
Throwing butts out the window is selfish and stupid as anyone from Cape Town knows all too well with the fires a few years ago caused by such a selfish act. Yet every day I see smokers throw the butts out of the window. One smoker once remarked to me that she did so because they stink the car up. She was right but missed the fact that she smelled, well, like an old butt.
And that is the real problem for me. Smoking at heart is a selfish activity. Smokers want their fix, but they do not want to respect non-smokers spaces and lives. If you wish to smoke go right ahead, but do so away from the entrance, not in a crowd, not in your car with children and not while pregnant. Every time you light up have a look around and think: who else am I affecting? And if you are pregnant, look down to see whom you are affecting.