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Two pictures and a confession

A week ago I hosted a meeting at my home, and took photos, a couple of which are, I now think on looking through them again, rather good.

This one, of Samizdatista Philip Chaston, shows him in full put-that-bloody-camera-away mode:


But I carried on snapping, and also got this rather nice pic, of the speaker that night, Patrick Crozier (left as we look) and of occasional Samizdata commenter on behalf of the Total Libertarian Correctness tendency, Paul Coulam (right – as always):


This photograph is my response to this, which, alas, was then getting into its evil stride.

Although, I recently, in a moment of disgusted introspection, found myself understanding where the mania to ban smoking comes from. A friend had asked, yet again, if I minded him smoking in my home. In truth I do mind, but tolerate it from friends. (Non-friends who smoke in my home disgust me.) So the answer is usually, as it was last Friday, okay go ahead. After all, if they want to smoke, I can either cross them off my friend list, or put up with it and stop moaning. Easy.

Well, no. What I would like would be some magic procedure which would stop them smoking, so that they could remain on my friend list without any reservations or difficulties or embarrassments or resentments.

The thing about laws is that they have little impact on criminals, but they can change the habits of the law abiding. So, if you want some of your friends to behave differently, the law can magically achieve what you alone cannot. I cannot make my smoking friends stop smoking. But the law can!

To which my answer, to myself, is: Get thee behind me Satan. I will not support legal coercion merely because it will solve a tricky little problem in my personal life. But to which, alas, the answer of many others is: We want our friends to stop smoking, but we cannot merely say that, and pass the law. So instead we must dress our tastes up in the language of care and concern, and jabber on about health hazards, and best of all about passive smoking.

The simple truth is that lots of non-smokers simply do not like it when smokers smoke in their vicinity, or worse, in their homes and workplaces. They do not like it. They want it stopped. Health, for many people is, if you will pardon the metaphor, a mere smokescreen. Personally, I do not give a damn what my friends are doing to their health. That really is their business and not mine at all. The smell of smoking in my flat, for several days afterwards, that is what I wish would go away.

No doubt there is some kind of spray on stuff that would help me, but you know how it is. That is just one more stupid thing to have to worry about. How much easier would it be if the law could just put a stop to it! (No! Satan! Go away I say.)

The serious point is: if I were to get my smoking ban, what would be next?

Digital photography perhaps? Such a ban would surely attract widespread support.

22 comments to Two pictures and a confession

  • Mike Borgelt

    Why Sir, digital photography has already been restricted in Australia. Fear of camera equipped mobile phones in changerooms etc . A ban on photography at public swimming pools is being mooted for fear pedophiles will use them. Official accredited photographers only! So you won’t be allowed to take a photo of your own child after he or she wins a swimming race.

    The world gone mad.

    Add in the 4 times now I’m required in a few months to prove who I am(with passport photos, statements by “approved” classes of people etc) to hold a gun licence, a pilot’s licence, an Aviation Security ID card(required in addition to pilots licence so I can actually get to and from my aircraft at most airports) and to prove who I am to be allowed to hold a registration certificate for an aircraft(might have to do this twice as I own 2).

    The world gone mad.


  • Interesting points, Brian, but sadly nothing I can disagree with. So I’ll tell you a story.

    Years ago working in the Gatling gun factory, I shared an office with 3 smokers. So I kept the window open by my desk. It can get extremely cold in Vermont and this met with frequent appeals to close the window. My response: You control the air quality and I control the air temperature. After a brief training period, we reached an accommodation.

    Also, you would be stunned to see how convincing an off-the-shelf water pistol can be for the uncooperative types.

  • I simply tell my friends that if they wish to smoke they are welcome to use the garden.

    If they are real friends they can put up with it.

    My local leisure centre in Yorkshire has banned any use of mobile phones on the viewing gallery due to pederast paranoia.

  • Robert

    Pics…and no women?


    Oh, and my city is considering a smoking ban. That’s fine, I’m considering getting the fark out of here anyway.

  • Smoking is fine… but cigarettes?! Gentlemen, cigars please.

  • Gazaridis

    No doubt there is some kind of spray on stuff that would help me, but you know how it is. That is just one more stupid thing to have to worry about. How much easier would it be if the law could just put a stop to it! (No! Satan! Go away I say.)

    I’ve heard Fabreze works wonders.

  • Milo Thurston

    HelenW’s solution is appealing.
    I ban smoking in my house, as it is my property, but friends may smoke outside. A friend of a friend once disregarded these instructions because, as he told me, he had a “right to smoke wherever he pleased”. Taking some scissors to his cigarette and threatening to eject him did not convince him of the error of his assertion, but he did as least refrain from further smoking.
    If you can tolerate another anecdote – I once had to attend a weekly meeting with about 8 others, all of whom smoked. As I could not beat them I joined them and obtained a pipe which I filled with “Honeyrose herbal tobacco”. I smoked this, taking care not to inhale. The smell was so bad that they complained about it.

  • janet ward

    HelenW’s method works.

    In the 1970s, a group used to hold parties requiring no smoking on their property – it kept the more unpleasant types out.

    In the 1980s, they held the first non-smoking chess congress – attended by decent players. This was when chess congresses were poisonous-gas-filled dens, an obvious tactic to beat better players by devious means.
    Now pretty well all chess congresses are filth-free, as well as are most enclosed publicly owned spaces.

    No one in their right mind cares whether filth-addicts practise their vile habits in their own private spaces. What is objectionable is their continued invasions of other people’s spaces and lungs.

    All that is needed is the courage to say not in my lungs, and enforce it.

  • Julian Taylor

    As I recall, from that BBC2 series of tips from professional decorators, the best way of removing the smell of cigarette smoke from a room is to simply leave a saucer of vinegar in the room overnight.

  • Julian Taylor

    Oh and HelenW, I dread to think what an “off-the-shelf water pistol” at the Gatling Gun Company would look like …

  • Janet: Does your demand to keep filth out of your lungs extend to obligating owners of private property which you voluntarily visit to not smoke/invite smokers?

    Clearly not–you can’t force someone to not smoke in their own home because you’re present.

    So why is it that when it’s someone’s pub instead of someone’s home you have the right to dictate the rules of behavior?

  • Brian

    Do you really think a smoking ban is going to help you? As you noted, laws only change the habits of the law abiding…

  • I don’t smoke, and I don’t like the effect of smoking in my house (smelly furniture, etc).

    However, my friends are always welcome to smoke here, simply because as a host, I think it churlish not to accommodate their comfort, even at the expense of my own. I just open the windows afterwards to clean out the air.

    (An interesting aside: I don’t ask my friends to smoke outside the house, but many do anyway, out of courtesy. Strange how that happens, isn’t it?)

    The Mrs. smokes, and she always sits next to the fireplace with the little gas fire going — that way, the convection draws most of the smoke up the chimney.

  • Freefire

    But Brian, since any smoking ban is likely to be a ban on smoking in so-called public places then wouldn’t that be likely to increase your own personal problem – all your friends who can’t smoke on the street or in pubs? Wouldn’t you then have to lobby for your flat to be designated a public place?

    But of course a private remedy is much better and quicker – and to prove it: I for one now promise to be more considerate 🙂

  • I agree with duToit. An old Bulgarian proverb says, “To make a friend, close one eye. To keep a friend, close both eyes.” A good host tries to accommodate his friends’ habits, even vices, to the extent they won’t get him in trouble with the law. A good friend, true, does also try to accommodate his friends’ wishes. But friendship is paramount. And hospitality trumps a momentary and slight discomfort. A host who invites friends to his home and then treats them like naughty children doesn’t have friends. Ian, Milo and Janet, when you go to the home of a smoking friend, do you insist he not smoke? Or maybe you just don’t go. Sad.

  • Robert,

    I am quite happy to visit the homes of friends who smoke & it doesn’t bother me at all, it is entirely their choice. The worst that happens to me is that my eyes may water, although that happens at barbeques! I generally notice how bad my clothes smell when returning home though.

    I haven’t smoked for more than two decades but I’m not rabid about it, I’d just prefer not to have a ciggy smelling house. I was less worried about it when I was single but Wifey has never smoked.

  • Machine Ghost

    It’s my experience that people who smoke really don’t want to quit, no matter how easy it is using Sulfonil:

    “The thioglycerols in this reacted sulfur compound bind to andrenergic receptors in the brain more readily than nicotine, thus blocking the receptors’ ability to bind with nicotine, and mediating the resultant desire for more nicotine. Thorne Research is the exclusive manufacture of Sulfonil, licensed under U.S. Patent No. 4,596,706.”

    I suspect there is much more at play than mere physical addiction.

    Machine Ghost

  • Liz

    Okay, forget all this smoking talk – is Paul Coulam as yummy as he looks?!

  • Bugger off, Liz, he is mine!!!:-O Oh, but he smokes…bummer.

  • Amelia

    Personally, I like that “Father Knows Best” look that Philip has going on.

  • Richard Easbey

    Liz and Alisa:

    you two go ahead and fight over Paul; Phillip is MINE! (he’s gorgeous, and I don’t care if he’s straight. A boy can dream, can’t he?) LOL

  • Richard Thomas

    I wonder if Robert would be so quick to suggest that certain (acquired) relatives of mine who chew tobacco not go outside to spit, to the slight discomfort of his carpet.

    Though at that, at least chewers can usually get by confining their emissions to a jar or other receptacle. Smoke from cigarettes stinks (and stains) up a whole room, causes discomfort to others present and is damaging to electrical goods (not to mention the fire hazard/damage from cigarettes left burning unattended).

    To accomodate friends is important but if you don’t respect my property enough to hold your ‘habit’ in abeyance for a little while, perhaps you’re not a friend worth having anyway.