Saturday, May 13, 2017

Give Smokers Some Leeway!

My parents, The World Health Organisation (WHO) and The Ministry of Health, have issues with smoking and for obvious reasons because WHO reckons that....
  • ·         Six million people die from tobacco related diseases every year which, averages out at one death every six seconds.
  • ·         22% of the world’s population aged 15+ are smokers. 78% do not smoke. Non smoking is becoming the norm.
  • ·         10% of the world’s population live in countries that have sufficiently high tax rates on cigarettes.

Meanwhile in the UK, The British Lung Foundation led a campaign to outlaw smoking in cars that have children in it.  They claim more than 430,000 children are exposed to second hand smoke in the family car each week. The campaign was successful that effective October 2015, legislation was passed make it an offence to smoke in a car with children in it.

Although I have been known to smoke, I do feel it was a good idea to ban smoking inside buildings such as bars and restaurants. Those who want to smoke can always make to with going outside. In England for example, pubs used to have a Smokers Lounge until legislation outlawed smoking in all public buildings.

I was in transit in Dubai recently and after a 7-hour flight, I desperately craved for a cigarette. Dubai International, unlike Entebbe or Heathrow and Gatwick airports in the UK, does provide a smokers lounge which, was a relief. With two hours to kill, I figured I could smoke enough cigarettes to get me through the next leg of my journey – another 7-hour flight at that.

Anybody who has been through Dubai International, will be in agreement with me that it is a first rate airport. Walking though the terminal, one is in awe at the design and attention to detail that went into it. Another thing, just about everything you could possibly want to buy is sold in the airport – right from the usual duty free shopping to cars and apartments.

With that, I expected to find a plush smoker lounge complete with all the amenities - plus a couple of Lebanese belly dancers for me to gawp at while a scantily clad petite lady with an average bust massaged my feet. Sitting by my side, would be the prettiest girl from Arabia and whose job would be to light my cigarettes, hold the ashtray out for me and to spray my mouth with mouth wash to get rid of the smell.

Alas, when I got to the lounge, there was none of that. As soon as I opened the door, there was a haze of smoke that is was next to impossible to see anything in front of me. Let me put it this way. Imagine being in a small room that has no ventilation while watching the sigiri light up or having your nose pressed inside exhaust pipe of a truck carrying charcoal from Bushenyi to Kampala.

That was the smoker lounge. The heat was stifling and after my first puff, I had a thought. Why am smoking? Why don’t I simply make do with inhaling the second hand smoke? In the end, I barely managed three puffs. It was too much. When I got outside, the smell of fresh air was such a relief. It took some time to get my breath back and as I sat looking at the lounge, there was a need to ask myself a question. Is that what non smokers go through whenever they are next to a smoker?

As I pondered on that, Non Smoker who sat next to me had this to say: “Jeez, you smell like a smoke factory” and relocated herself as far away from me as possible.                           

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