This article in the Irish Independent caught my attention. I applauded my countrymen for taking the leap and becoming the first country in the world to instigate a smoking ban in public places. This is something that has been replicated across the world, most notably across many countries in the EU (sadly the Dutch have made a half-assed attempt at it, resulting in flagrant flouting of the laws and nowhere near enough people out and about enforcing the laws) and will undoubtedly go a long way to improving the long-term health of the nation.
However, this latest twist, whereby the Government are contemplating implementing a law that would effectively make it illegal to smoke and drive, is in my humblest of opinions, unworkable.
Yes I understand the arguments being made in favour…..second-hand smoke lingers, and the environment of a car is just a smoking box by any other name…..that the simple act of fiddling with a cigarette in a car can, in some extreme cases, possibly lead to road traffic accidents.
But whilst I am not a smoker, and I certainly LOVE the fact that I can eat in a restaurant or drink in a pub without some stinky smoke floating in my direction (and yes, it ALWAYS floats towards the non-smoker in a group!!) I did in fact grow up in a house where my parents smoked. They still do. And going anywhere in the car then, as is now, is a fucking nightmare. I remember wanting to beat the shit out of my younger brother because he would whinge and moan about the “smell of smoke in the car” or “open a window” when it’s pissing rain outside or fecking freezing. Whilst I also didn’t enjoy the stink of smoke in the car, I knew it was a temporary thing and we’d be getting out soon.
But what exactly is the Department of Health thinking? Are they planning on putting a law on statute that would make it an offence to smoke and drive? And how would they enforce it….the Gardai driving down the road see a fag hanging from your mouth and turn on the “blues and twos” to pull you over and add a couple of points onto your licence? I understand drinking and driving and all the horrible things that result from that….but let’s face it….a car is the private property of a person, as is their house. As long as I abide by the laws of the land in my house or car and do not intentionally harm, hurt of kill someone, I can do whatever I like in my house, or in my car. Can’t I? And I have never heard nor seen anyone claiming that the cause of the accident was because they were lighting their “fag”.
It smacks a bit like the ever encroaching “Nanny State” that we’ve been warned of for years. And if it is ever implemented, this would make Ireland the first country to impose such a ban. Smoking in taxis, company cars and vans, which are classed as workplaces, is already prohibited. Whilst noble in concept and rationale, I just don’t see them pulling this off.