Thursday, 1 August 2013

I am apparently supposed to sympathise

with those poor smokers who are about to be hit with a "hike" in the tax on cigarettes.
Oh yes, the government is desperately trying to find ways of bringing that deficit back into surplus. One easy way of raising a bit of extra cash is, they say, to add a few more cents to a packet of coffin sticks.
Well, it might work - but only if it causes more people to give up smoking and others never to start.
I have ingested more second-hand cigarette smoke than I care to think about. I have been forced to sit with running eyes and nose, barely able to breathe in rooms where people have been smoking. As someone who has never as much as tried to smoke a cigarette I find the habit abhorrent. I regard cigarette smoke in my personal space as a physical assault on me and my health. I will say, "Yes, I do mind if you smoke."
There are of course few places where people can smoke these days. It is no longer possible to smoke in cinemas and restaurants - places I avoided for so long that it is now habit to avoid them anyway. There are moves to make it illegal to smoke in bus and train shelters - and even without that anyone who has the temerity to light a cigarette is likely to be, at very least, subjected to glares. If there are children around they will be asked to move.
It is no longer possible to smoke inside the shopping centre either. That means people smoke outside instead. Not all the staff smoke but some do. You see them sneaking a cigarette in the area they call "the back drop" or sitting on one of the outside benches. Far too many of them drop their butts instead of putting them into the bin. The handyman does not smoke and he is, rightly, infuriated by those who do and leave their rubbish lying around. As he does an outstandingly good job of keeping the place clean, tidy and in good repair he is frustrated by this sort of behaviour.
I normally park my tricycle near an entrance to the shopping centre where few people smoke. There is no seat there. It leads directly to an outdoor section of the car park. There is a slope and a railing and bicycles can be locked to the railing.
Yesterday I found a smoker there. He was standing very close to my tricycle. There was no need to do so. I held my breath and he smirked.
"You don't like me smoking do you?"
"I don't like having to ingest the second hand smoke," I told him - although it would have been wiser to keep quiet.
"It's legal to smoke," he told me.
"Yes, I am aware of that."
He dropped the butt.
"You dropped something," I told him.
He looked around. He obviously believed he had dropped something else. I pointed and said,
      "That goes in there."
I indicated the bin about four metres away.
He shrugged and pulled out his cigarettes again. I had loaded up and unlocked by then but he stood in the way of my leaving. I was wondering whether to force my way past when the handyman appeared from behind the sliding doors.
       "Hello Cat," he said to me. He nodded to the smoker and said,
"There's a fine for littering. I am sure these two policemen will be happy to speak to you about it."
And, coming up the little ramp were two policemen. No doubt they were heading in to get coffee but I left them talking to the smoker.

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