Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ban on smoking!!!

OK, first of all I should declare here that I am a smoker and that does, of course, dictate to a certain degree, my attitude in this matter. However, I believe that I am able to stand outside my own preferences and imagine what stance I might take if I was not a smoker, but merely a liberal person, mostly left of centre, who supports human rights and civil liberties. I am absolutely incensed by the City of Frankston's decision to ban smoking in public places just to keep certain factions of the community happy. It is, I believe, a violation imposed on smokers, who on the whole form part of a group of people who are already considered less worthy and who are only expressing their right to engage in an activity that they enjoy. Individuals 'self medicate' in various ways and for numerous reasons. Perhaps smokers can only tolerate engaging with the public by employing this mode of self medication. Smokers are already used as scapegoats, one being that they fill up hospitals because of the diseases they ultimately suffer. Sorry, but there are many people who take up hospital beds who have gravely damaged their own bodies and the bodies of others because they drive too fast, drink and drive, take drugs and drive, are involved in street fights, have liver and kidney cancer, etc. etc. I don't doubt that smoking is not good for your health, but excess food, alcohol, lying out in the sun, and any number of activities may threaten our health and well being, and people who engage in these activities are not continually targeted! No, I think this campaign is primarily about eroding the pleasures of others; much like the media's obsession with people who over-eat or who are obese. Many of us would rather starve ourselves than look even slightly over-weight and so we attack those who look like they are having a real good feed! It's a matter of 'if I'm not eating, then you should bloody-well not being eating either'. Or perhaps the campaigners for smoke-free zones and quit smoking are just trying to free up hospital beds for those who've had so much alcohol that they need a liver transplant or the aging population who requires hip replacements, I don't know, but it's certainly turning into a vendetta of sorts. I am reminded of Slavok Zizek's piece of writing, which states: "A close look demonstrates that we truly enjoy smoking and drinking only in public, as part of a public “carnival,” the sacred suspension of ordinary rules. The same goes even for swearing and sex: none of them is at its most radical an activity in which we “explode” in spontaneous passion against the stifled public conventions – they are, on the contrary, both practiced “against the pleasure principle,” for the gaze of the Other. (A personal note: I like to swear only in public, never in private, where I find doing it stupid and inappropriate, indecent even.) Violating the public rules is thus not done by the private ego, but is enjoined by the same public rules which are in themselves redoubled, divided". http://www.lacan.com/essays/?page_id=397. The issue of whether or not smoke from someone who is smoking in the open air affects the health of others, is not, I believe the issue here ~ what about all the fumes that we must inhale from car exhaust and industry? I believe that the rationale is that smoking stinks and that that the shopping centre will attract more people if there is a no smoking rule. So, is the rule just all about shop keepers making more money? Why is the god-almighty dollar ruling our lives? Ok, if they really want to ban something and impose fines, what about those who openly drink alcohol in public and make a nuisance of themselves with their loud and unruly behavior. What about people who wear copious amounts of perfume and after-shave lotion on public transport, which is a real inconvenience to people like me, who are allergic to it! And what about passing wind? Should those who fart in public be fined? I'm attempting humor here, because otherwise I might get too serious. Perhaps we should ban those who wear t/shirts with slogans that we find offensive, or those who wear the color green. It's all totally ridiculous. Perhaps we should demand that those who smoke should wear a special tag as identification so they can be excluded from certain areas before they attempt to light up. Mmmm, didn't the Jews have to wear a yellow patch so they could be identified - thus creating possibilities for their persecution? Wasn't there a time when blacks could only sit at the back of buses and were segregated from the white community? When will all of this stop? Why do the orthodox always have to be involved in attempting to destroy the pleasure of others. Are their pleasures the only ones worth preserving?


  1. Sheridan was in Frankston today and was not allowed to 'light up'

    She is coming on Sunday to my house for our lunch, it is a smoker friendly environment

  2. Smoking, especially women smoking, has always been a moral rather than medical concern. Its just that nowadays the moralisers can appeal to authorities of specification in medicine to endorse their disempowerment of the other.

    I wonder if a human rights argument would work to void any legal proceedings against Frankston smokers? In Victoria the government is not allowed to oppress citizens.

    Just as well, because that it looks more and more likely that everything not illegal will become compulsory, if the sermonisers get their way.

  3. Anonymous ~ we live in a society where those who stand outside the mainstream must rely on the generosity of those who become 'friendly', ie. smoker friendly, gay friendly, etc.
    Steve ~ The problem stands that non-smokers have rights and that smoker also have rights ~ my gripe is that non-smokers invariably win out. Prohibition only causes undesirable activity to go underground.

  4. I'm an on again off again smoker, so badly addicted to nicotine that when i'm not smoking I'm chewing nicotine gum.

    Smoking does stink, it's disgusting if you're not smoking yourself, and oh the sweetest thing when you are. It's horrible having to walk through a cloud of cigarette smoke to enter and exit public buildings. Why should anyone have to do that? Few smokers care where their butts end up so these spaces are more often than not littered with butts. It makes me, a smoker, sick.

    I don't know what the solution is. I can say that I rarely smoke in public anymore.

    Also, no notification is required to identify smokers, non-smokers can smell us a mile away, for a long, long time after the last drag.

  5. I take your point Ailey and admire that you can obstain from smoking in public (I generally attempt to find a quite place where I can't offend people when I light up) but I disagree on some points. Smokers are acutely aware of where their butts end up - they have become so consciously aware that they generally butt out on rubbish bins.
    Sure, smoke stints, but have you been on public transport during the Summer months - personal body odor can be rank, especially mixed with after-shave and perfume!? Also, have you stood waiting for public transport and had to breathe in car and truck exhaust? I have!
    Yes, we are a smelly society and we have to put up with each other's odorous emissions.

  6. Of course! I never said it was the only stink out there, but it is a stink I am responsible for and the one we were discussing - "Ban on Smoking!!!".
    No, the sad truth is the majority of smokers DO NOT CARE where their butts end up Julie. The evidence is everywhere…floating into creeks and rivers, then out into the ocean. You can find butts all over the city streets (before the street cleaning machines come around), outside public buildings (even when ashtrays are provided) all through the sands of our beaches, in our parks, in the sand of children's playgrounds, witness them being tossed out of moving cars (at the peak of summer no less)…the numbers of butts found in the wrong places FAR outnumber those in the bins. A sad fact.

  7. Aliey - I will take what you say as evidence, since I've not visited a creek or river for ages, nor have I been travelling in a car and seen people toss cigarettes out of windows.
    I'm obviously one of the consciously aware smokers. Indeed, for a while there I was butting out in a little container handed out to smokers in a campaign carried out by the City of Melbourne a few months ago (I seem to have mislaid it in my recent house move).
    On this note though, I believe that people dump all kinds of rubbish in our waterways ~ car tyres, plastic bags, plastic bottles, beer cans. The one thing that was in abundance in North Melbourne (more noticeable than cigarette butts) and prevalent in other suburbs as well is disgarded syringes on footpaths and nature-strips (really dangerous!). Travel on a tram and you will have to move the empty McDonald's wrappers, coke cans and other drink containers out of the way before you sit down and check where you place your feet because there's invariably spillage on the floor under your feet. Walk anywhere and you will notice the amount of travel cards that have been tossed aside without any thought for the environment (again, I keep mine and have rather a large collection). If you are looking for stench, check out the little laneways in Melbourne where retailers dump their rubbish in over-full bins and it trails where you walk. I've witnessed used plastic baby nappies and lost sun-screen tubes on beaches, the list goes on. I'm certainly not supporting the behavor of unthinking smokers who toss their butts aside, but I am pointing out that they are not the only people who create rubbish that adversly affects our environment.

  8. I have asthma because I grew up with smoking parents and I smoked for a period of time. At this point I feel like I could cough up a lung if I am around smoking. So I truly appreciate no public smoking,it hurts to be around smoke. Plus the good side effect is that I don't go home smelling of smoke.