The long-awaited smoking ban goes into effect in England today, thank God. But all this talk about "civil liberties" by smokers angry at having to snuff out their cigarettes makes me burn. What part of civil liberties don't they understand? Mine, apparently.
Many pubs and restaurants in London, until today, didn't even have non-smoking sections. I remember walking around central London one evening, hungry, thirsty, and tired, with an hour or two to kill before a lecture, and there was nowhere for us to go that wasn't filled with smoke.
I don't think smokers realize what us non-smokers do: smoke is a noxious fume. If you're an asthmatic, an allergy sufferer, or like me, a contact wearer, cigarette smoke is not only annoying, it's very painful, possibly landing you in the hospital. And that's not even considering the well-documented effects of second-hand smoke in diseases like cancer.
Most non-smokers don't speak up when their companions light up, probably for the same reasons we never started to smoke in the first place. We're passive people, we obey the rules, and we don't like to make too big a fuss. We're, to put it bluntly, not cool. And smokers, almost by definition, are cool. That's what the ads told us for years, anyway. Lodging a protest would have only made our uncool status worse, so we suffered in silence.
I figure I've lived half my life putting up, silently, with noxious smoke. The rest of my life I won't have to.
Sounds pretty civil to me.