I want to talk about a filthy habit here. It is smelly, it causes illness and the death of thousands every year. The industry that profits from it is known to cover up information about the detrimental effect it has and it means millions of pounds of taxpayers money has to be spent to pay for its after-effects. Yes, you've guessed it -it's driving a car.
Seriously, a smoking ban is going to take effect in Scotland this year. Smoking is banned in all bars, restaurants and even football (I refuse to say soccer) stadiums from 26th March onward and it has occurred to me that almost every argument you can make against smoking you can make against the car.
I should make clear that I am a smoker but I am not entirely against the ban. It's just the hypocrisy that surrounds the issue that irks me.
The main reasons given for the smoking ban are that
1. - It damages the health of those who do not wish to participate in it.
2. - It damages the health of those who do wish to participate in it.
3. - It costs the health service too much money to deal with cancer and other smoking related health problems
4. - It smells
This is all true with the possible exception of number 3 as the level of taxation on smoking means that smokers are paying for a decent chunk of the national health service. They also die young and therefore give everyone else the benefit of using it. 'National benefactors' as Sir Humphrey from 'Yes Minister' said.
So what about the car culture?
1. - It damages the health of those who do not wish to participate in it by either the effect from car fumes/smog, people being knocked down and most importantly being one of if not the biggest contributing factor to global warming.
2. - It damages the health of those who do wish to participate in it when they crash, when they don't walk anywhere and become unhealthy and also global warming.
3. - It costs the health services too much money to deal with road accidents and it will cost them a hell of a lot more when there is no ozone left and we are all regularly having melanomas the size of apples hacked off of us.
4. - It smells
Again, most of this is true with the possible exception of number 3 as drivers are, just like smokers, more highly taxed in the UK than anywhere else and pay for a whole number of things.
The horrible smell of bars full of smoke has to be weighed against another factor. Have you ever been in a non-smoking bar? The smoke is gone but the smell isn't. Instead of smoke you can smell 50 or so sweaty drunk people. Trust me, it isn't any more pleasant.
I am not wholly against the ban. It will mean that half the party will be outside the bar from now on and all the pubs will have to buy those little umbrella heater things (it gets damn cold in winter here). I just get fed up with people who have two cars sitting in the garage lecturing about the evils of smoking. If polluting and causing death to others by smoking is wrong then doing it by driving is too. You can't have it both ways. I can put up with a smoking ban. Are they going to put up with a driving ban?
People die from smoking related illnesses every day. A car kills someone more often than every 2 minutes. Smokers, due to their addictive habit often leave others or are themselves left unable to breath properly. Perhaps, when there is no air left to breathe anywhere and nowhere to go without getting skin cancer thanks to their filthy habit, maybe then drivers will understand why the rest of the world grumbles about their selfishness.