READING about the new Spanish blanket ban on smoking in enclosed public places got me thinking. It would have been so much easier for me to give up smoking last year if the ban had already been firmly in place.
Now, I’m not going to get into the rights and wrongs of the ban – it’s proved contentious enough already with plenty of Olive Press readers driven to comment on the news articles. I’m looking at this from a purely selfish angle as someone who has been an ex-smoker for just over one year.
The first Spanish attempt to ban smoking in 2006 didn’t really help. Certainly where I live, the ban started well and amid much excitement (and confusion), but sort of fizzled out after the first few weeks. Most bars and restaurants used the confusion to their advantage and found ways around enforcement. At the time, the only part of the ban that affected me as a smoker was that I couldn’t enjoy a crafty smoke prior to flying out of Malaga airport. And on arrival? I had to wait until I was “outside the terminal building”. What happened to the celebratory landing fag by the baggage carousel, usually inhaled under the totally ignored “no smoking” sign?
But now, if I was still smoking, I would have to find myself incarcerated in a prison or psychiatric unit to smoke in an indoor designated area. And I could risk getting into trouble by lighting up in some outdoor spaces. A bit like the time I nearly fell onto the tracks while standing on an outdoor train platform in London, when a guard came to tell me that smoking was prohibited within the station. My futile arguments that I was plainly outside and in the “fresh” air fell on deaf ears.
As I said, I’m now a self righteous ex-smoker – the worst kind. My subsequent addictions to small mints that rattle in a plastic box, and wine gums that make my tongue go numb are not frowned upon by passersby, and nobody is forced to passively experience my sugar fix.
There are days when all I want is a cigarette, especially when I’m sitting with a smoking friend in a coffee shop. With the smoking ban, that won’t be a problem anymore (unless we’re sat on a terrace) and I won’t be tempted to sidle up behind said friend and sneak a puff when no-one’s looking. Instead, she or he will be loitering somewhere outside when the craving hits and I’ll be sat within, talking to myself and looking like Norma No Mates.
And I won’t miss the eau de fagash that used to follow me around, lingering on my clothes and in my hair. These days, when a smoker comes into the office, I thank heavens that I don’t smell like that anymore.
But the man who smokes cigars right outside my office door will probably still get to hang around and blow his foul smelling acrid smoke into my personal space. He’ll presumably be joined by others who find that there’s nowhere else that they can go and smoke. I’ll send them down to the restaurant in Guadalmina that’s decided to actively defy the ban. At least they’ll get a welcome reception there.
And in the meantime, I will carry on with my petition to the European powers that be, asking them to ban the sweets that have become my mainstay since I gave up the smokes. At least the ciggies didn’t stick to my hips.