Cold Gets in Your Bones

Author: Pat Nurse
Article Published: 4 April 2008

Living with the British smoker ban forces people unnecessarily out into the cold and wet. Could indignation over this inhumane treatment of smokers get right to the core of Government? Only if you use your vote to send them a message they'll never forget.

Watching the smoke disappear into a trail, I shuddered in the cold and wet outside of King’s Cross railway station with almost an hour to go until my train was due.

Other smokers huddled as close as possible to the dry area underneath the plastic portico hanging overhead even though the signs screamed DO NOT SMOKE PAST THIS POINT.

It seemed a spiteful move designed to make smokers feel both unwelcome and uncomfortable — despite the fact that my train ticket cost an arm and a leg and I expect at least a bit of respect and tolerance in return for my money as well as good service.

The ban outside railway stations and open air bus stations was probably thought up by some anti-smoker pen-pusher in the British Government who thinks that this kind of cruelty will force smokers to stop lighting up.

Those of us acquainted with the pleasure that smoking gives will know that there is no better way to spend a spare hour — even if we have to spend some of it in the cold. They know we are doing no harm despite the fear mongering "They" spread. This kind of approach only serves to make us more determined not to let the bureaucrats get us down.

The British anti-smoker law bans people from lighting up in public enclosed spaces and so I fail to understand why smoking under an overhead cover, without sides, outside of a railway station, in mostly open air, is breaking the law.

Legislation passed by parliament might define the law but if organisations decide to set their own agenda, such as railways introducing "byelaws" preventing you from smoking in the open air, then all that really matters is doing what you are told by whoever tells you do it ... or else.

As I exhale my last drag, carefully put out the cigarette end in my own pocket ashtray, which is then emptied into a bin, I notice a poster of two cartoon characters stuck on a nearby bus shelter.

One signifies a young man, the other an elderly woman. The catch line is aimed at making the young man think about giving up his seat on a crowded bus to the pensioner.

Politeness and good manners are what we Brits are known for — or used to be. What the poster doesn’t say is if the old woman lights up, forget manners, take back your seat and throw her into the street.

Does this promote respect and tolerance for the elderly among today’s youth which is criticised as out of control? Certainly a bag of mixed messages there.

Half an hour later, after grabbing a sandwich and a cup of tea, I’m back outside for another smoke and soon realise that along with the other smokers hanging around, I’m a target.

A young man approaches me with an unlit cigarette in his mouth which I light for him.

"Do you smoke?" he asks.

"Erm … of course," I say as I drag on my cig.

"No … I mean ... puff ... " he says.

I understand and politely turn down what I assume is an offer of marijuana.

"Ok ... So how about some coke ... ?" he asks.

I assume he doesn’t mean the fizzy drink variety and again I turn him down. He moves off to another smoker. I move away in search of another dry spot, and while there, I’m approached by two aggressive beggars and some dodgy-looking types who claim to be from a charity, but all they want are my personal details which if given, could lead to identity theft.

I move again, a little closer to the dry portico, about 20 feet away from the King’s Cross underground entrance.

A gaggle of middle-aged American tourists suddenly emerges from the railway station entrance and they go towards the underground.

I doubt they smell my smoke, but a woman spots me, and then suddenly embarks on a vicious round of coughing and sputtering while choking out the words : "God, it’s SOOOO smoky here. I can’t breathe …"

I roll my eyes heavenward and move again. I’m getting the message — I’m not welcome anywhere.

This is reality in the UK since the imposition of the smoker ban and only the beginning of a wider campaign of hatred against us.

I have always been against it, not because I smoke or because I can‘t do without a cigarette, but because I always thought that a ban would justify discrimination against smokers. It does, but it also goes further. We now have a law that encourages prejudice, ill-treatment, and bullying of smokers, many of whom already feel ashamed because they enjoy that which they are told they shouldn’t.

It’s time for us all — whether we smoke, eat large, drink too much or like big cars — to stand together and say, "Enough is enough."

It is time to fight for freedom of choice which should never be a privilege in a free and democratic society

Those of us with half a brain, or at least a good dose of common sense, have looked behind the health propaganda that "smoking kills," and harms others around us, and found it wanting, misleading and downright untrue.

Some might say that smoking is just a petty issue so why waste energy on fighting a lost and unimportant cause. After all, children are dying in Iraq, Darfur, and Somalia, lives are oppressed in Tibet, and people are dying of starvation across the third world, and so in comparison, being able to choose to smoke seems of little significance.

But smokers are not the ones who have made such a huge issue out of what they do. They have just been forced into the position of defending themselves against slanderous allegations that they murder millions every week.

Put into the wider issue of freedom, smoking is not petty at all. It’s an issue of utmost importance for anyone who values a free society more than anything else.

Britain will be voting in a few weeks' time. Show your anger at the erosion of your civil liberties and send a clear message to this Government by voting for their opponents — preferably one of the two smaller parties which will look at amending this spiteful law. Show ministers that we are the masters and they are our servants — not the other way around. Fight for a free Britain now before it’s too late and we sleepwalk further into a dictatorial and Nazi state with no possibility of return.

It's time to put your mouth where your money and fags are.

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