My father gave up smoking when I was about eight years old. As far as I know, my mother never smoked. I had an aunt who smoked, and entertained us by creating smoke rings with exhaled cigarette smoke. Visitors to our home smoked, so I was not completely isolated from cigarettes and so on during my earliest years.
I was about 13 or 14 when I went on a field trip with other boys from my class. On that outing, I was shocked to see many of my fellow pupils lighting up cigarettes when we were out of sight of our teachers. I did not realise until that moment thay young children smoked.
In those early years, and possibly still today, I was a contrarian. Being that sort of person and seeing my peers smoking made me decide never to even try smoking, and this situation remains unchanged tosay, so many decades later. It was not for health reasons nor because of economic problems that I have never taken up smoking. I simply did not want to be one of the crowd.
I often wonder if the situation had been reversed whether I would have become a smoker. If no one else had been smoking, would I have lit up just to be different? I doubt it because as a child I was far from adventurous.
A few years ago, it became illegal to smoke in any public place in the UK, be it a place of work or a place of leisure. Other countries have the same prohibitions on smoking.
We spent a holiday in Istanbul in 2010 and noticed that all bars, cafés, and restaurants were places where smoking was forbidden. Yet in one tea house on the Asian side of the Bosphorous, we saw everyone was puffing away on cigarettes, even those who were sitting close to the ‘no smoking’ signs. The picture attached to this blog article was taken in Bangalore, India. It shows how much notice is taken of a ‘no smoking’ sign.
A couple of years ago, we were staying in Goa’s capital Panjim. Our host told us that smoking is forbidden in all public places including on the streets. How seriously this is policed, I do not know.
One of the objects of anti-smoking policies is to reduce the chances of secondary smoking, which is inhalation of exhaled cigarette smoke by people near to a smoker but not smoking themselves. This is a worthy and sensible reason for banning smoking in public places.
The prohibition of smoking makes pubs far more pleasant, but I have a reservation about restaurants. Having been brought up eating in restaurants where some diners are smoking, I feel that the current absencse of smoking in these places detracts from their ambience ever so slightly.