FROM TIME to time I puff a cigarette. My choice. But for some reason the Government seem to have it in for me.
I’m a devotee of nicotine even though I am aware that it’s not good for me. In other words, I don’t need a couldn’t-hold-down-a-real-job bureaucrat to tell me the facts – my mother does a good enough job of that.
However, I do not rob, cheat or steal from senior citizens to fund my habit. I don’t nick cars and race around the city streets at the speed of light endangering other drivers and pedestrians. I don’t carry a knife and delight in starting a brawl just so I can use it. I don’t sell drugs in some inner-city estate and I don’t cost the taxpayer a banker’s pension by being kept in the comfort of an open prison. (Where, incidentally, despite the smoking ban I could have a fag if I wanted to!)
So why is the Government coming after little old me? Don’t they have better things to do?
It started with the bold, printed warnings on a cigarette packets. This has now been followed by wacky photographs on every pack of twenty that are designed, so they think, to alarm me into chucking my fags away. I mean, have you seen these photographs? (I know, you don’t smoke, so you haven’t seen the latest nonsense.)
The pictures are impressively arty, I have to say. There is a cigarette that’s been digitally altered to look like a syringe. There’s a fella’ with a cloth over his face. There is another of a mouthful of rotten teeth, and there is a “flaccid” cigarette. Oh, yes, and there are some little transparent tadpoles.
Beautifully shot advertising images… Two more to acquire, and my collection is complete.
There is also the smoking ban, of course. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s unreasonable that diners are subjected to cigarette smoke in restaurants. But I’m sure you’ll also agree that it’s neither right nor proper that our war veterans and conquerors who sacrificed life and limb so that we could all be free have to stand in the driving rain outside their own British Legion hall just so they can puff their pipes. Nobody minded them doing that when they were up to their waists in mud, blood and entrails in the trenches.
Meanwhile, there was the rule demanding that government-approved no smoking signs are displayed in every shop, pub, office, church, nursery and company vehicle in the country. You can bet that the accompanying package of legislation and paperwork had the bureaucrats rubbing their hands with glee; enforcement is littler more than another way of passing the days until they can collect their inflated pensions.
To top it all, shopkeepers are now to be banned from displaying cigarettes in their own shops! What, pray tell me, does THAT have to do with administrative clerks and their running of the country? Additionally, vending machines are to be outlawed… So that will be the end of an ancient piece of hotel furniture – and the companies that supply them. Will any of this stop me from finding my nicotine fix? Unlikely.
Meanwhile, “Smoking Cessation Officers” are costing you – the taxpayer – £55 million. These people consider it a job well done, adding their success to the statistics, if the participant stays off fags for four weeks. Yes, weeks, not months. Or years.
So here we are with crime spiralling out of control, the pound hitting parity with the Euro, murder and mayhem, a vicious terrorist threat, financial institutions collapsing into a black hole and our squaddies ducking bullets in numerous corners of the globe… You would think the Government had more to concern themselves with than arty photographs, vending machines and shop displays, would you not?
It would be easy to take the simple view that all this is just one more layer of interference from faceless autocrats who regard us as less able to make our own life-decisions than a rabble of drunken penguins. To some it might suggest that it’s another attempt to formulate an ill-conceived project with accompanying legislation so that they might guarantee themselves a cushy job.
However, I prefer to think that despite all the things they could – and should – be concentrating on, they are spending time, effort and money because they are concerned about me, my health and my wellbeing! What lovely, lovely people.
But, of course, I could be wrong.