It goes on with the author debunking smoking bans as irrational and unnecessary and cites a few facts but does not go into detail.
Meantime, 199+ comments suddenly appear and it’s the smoke-haters spewing venom about their rights to clean air and that SHS kills – with some provocative back and forth from anti-smoking ban people.
I read a few of the comments, and the first one I came across was this one from Ellen Judson:
I think, to a large degree, that smokers are responsible for their own lack of acceptance. I used to work in an office (at least 40 years ago) that allowed smoking as most of them at the time did. I had a desk that was next to a woman’s who smoked. When she smoked she did absolutely NOTHING to prevent her smoke from drifting into my space and my face. I hated her guts. I was thrilled when she was moved to another office. If she had been the SLIGHTEST bit aware of how rude she was by blowing her smoke my way I probably wouldn’t have cared that she smoked as it was common everywhere anyway. This kind of thoughtless behavior was probably a main reason that policies, and then laws, against smoking in common areas were established. As far as I’m concerned smokers have nobody but themselves to blame for the anti-smoking laws. Unfortunately, too many of them cared for nobody but themselves when it came to smoking in public.
Was there anything the woman at the other desk could have done to prevent her smoke from drifting into other people’s space? Short of surrounding her desk with an airtight enclosure, I can’t see that there was. What the hell was she supposed to do? Use a fan to blow it away from Ellen Judson – and towards other less deserving people in the office?
And was she “blowing smoke” in Ellen Judson’s direction? Probably not. Smokers just blow smoke in whatever direction they happen to be facing. They very seldom deliberately blow it towards anyone. And even if they do blow it towards anyone, it never gets very far, because exhaled breath is slow-moving, and quickly comes to a stop. It’s not like a cigarette is some sort of blowgun. that can fire aimed projectiles at high speeds towards distant targets.
And was it “thoughtless behavior” on her part? Would thinking have helped in any way? I can’t see how thinking would have prevented the smoke dispersing throughout the room. The only thoughtless thing she’d done, maybe, was to light a cigarette. Maybe she was also thoughtlessly scribbling on a notepad, or thoughtlessly reading a report, or thoughtlessly talking on a telephone, or thoughtlessly wearing perfume, or thoughtlessly wearing a mini-skirt, or thoughtlessly eating a cheeseburger, or thoughtlessly varnishing her fingernails. Are we all supposed to be thinking the whole damn time what effects the things we’re doing might have on other people?
Then she says: “I probably wouldn’t have cared that she smoked as it was common everywhere anyway.” The crime of the woman smoking at the adjacent desk wasn’t that she was smoking: it was that she was blowing smoke in her direction. But this was an imaginary crime, because smokers have no control over smoke once it has escaped from their mouths or the burning tips of their cigarettes.
It’s in the nature of smoke to disperse and spread. It’s also in the nature of odours of every kind to do the same.
In fact it’s in the nature of absolutely everything to disperse and spread. It’s in the nature of heat to disperse and spread. It’s in the nature of light to disperse and spread. It’s in the nature of sound to disperse and spread.
If I sit in a restaurant, thoughtlessly eating fish and chips, and thoughtlessly shaking salt and tomato ketchup over it, and thoughtlessly putting forkfuls of it in my mouth, while thoughtlessly smoking a cigarette, and thoughtlessly drinking a beer, and thoughtlessly reading a newspaper, and thoughtlessly talking to someone else who’s sitting at the same table thoughtlessly doing the exact same things, then everything I’m doing is going affect everyone else in the restaurant. People are going to not only have to put up with clouds of tobacco smoke coming from my table, but also clouds of alcohol vapour from my beer, and a hail of salt and ketchup and fish and chips. And they’ll also have to put up with the din of my voice, and of my knife and fork clattering on my plate, and the loud chomping sounds I make when I eat, and the rustle of my newspaper, and the squeal of my chair legs when I get up to get some apple pie and custard. And they’ll have to avert their eyes if they don’t want to see me doing all those things as well.
And I think that if Ellen Judson was going to complain about her co-worker’s cigarette, then she probably was going to complain about one heck of a lot more. She would have complained about her cheap, cloying perfume. She would have complained about the garish bright pink twin set she wore. She would have complained about her blonde beehive hairstyle. She would have complained about her jingling earrings. She would have complained about her purple lipstick. She would have complained about the mascara dripping from her eyelashes. She would have complained about her silly habit of wrapping the phone cable round her fingers as she talked on the phone. She would have complained about how she always said, “Great! No problem,” every second sentence.
She would probably have complained about everything about her.
Ellen Judson’s real problem was that there was someone else in the room. And she couldn’t help noticing them in countless different ways. And she wished they weren’t there.
And probably the same was true whenever she went anywhere. She wished that the restaurants she went to were all empty. And the trains she rode on. And the hotels she stayed in. And the beaches she sunbathed on. She wished that everywhere she went was her own private space.
But there can be no privacy in public spaces. In public spaces everyone is always helplessly interacting with everyone else. In public life you get to helplessly see and hear and smell and touch everyone else. That’s just how it is. That’s life.
The best thing that people like Ellen Judson could do would be to stay at home in their own safe spaces, where they don’t get to see or hear or smell or touch anyone else, ever.
But instead the world is full of Ellen Judsons. And they’re all busily turning public spaces into their own private property, and imposing their values on everyone else, and driving them all back to their own homes.
And although they demand that everyone else thoughtfully keep them in mind, they never think of anyone else. They don’t give a damn about the smokers they exile to the outdoors: out of sight is out of mind. Although they loudly complain about what other people thoughtlessly do or say in their presence, they never think for one moment what effect they’re having on other people with their multiplying strictures and rules and bans.
And I don’t want to know the Ellen Judsons of the world. I’d always be worried about what they were going to complain about next. I’d never be able to relax in their company, because such people are never companionable. And they’re not companionable because they don’t like company.