Alright, as a hard core, wish I'd never taken up the filthy habit, give up every morning smoker, I accepted, nay welcomed, the smoking ban without a qualm. I didn't even mind becoming an impromptu cloakroom attendant to my smoking mates during the period I gave up when the ban was first introduced. But the grand panjandrums of ASH Ireland, the anti-smoking campaign, have gone one step too far even for one of my liberal leanings when it comes to the demon weed.
In a run up to National Anti-Smoking day which this year, ironically enough falls on Ash Wednesday, they have called for a ban on smoking in private cars. According to Professor Luke Clancy, the chair of this crypto-fascist health quango:
"Smokers must light up, hold the cigarette, deposit the ash and dispose of the cigarette - all whilst driving," he said. "If it is not safe to hold a mobile phone while driving, it's difficult to see how it can be safe to smoke."
Clearly our Luke should have stuck to croaking the Auld Triangle above in Donoghue's because whatever he's a professor of, it clearly isn't ergonomics. While driving along, or more accurately sitting in traffic waiting for the rare opportunity to engage in some forward motion, I, for one, rarely if ever engage my cigarette in ennervated discussion about what Orla said to Carmel at the photocopier this afternoon. I do not use it to text frantic messages about picking little Fionn up from under-8s rugby.
My in-car cigarette habit has never caused me to fail to indicate a turn before braking, cruise through a red light, or pulverise a cyclist at a major junction because I was too busy giving my secretary my current geographical location, a discourse on the state of Irish roads and ETA at the photocopier warehouse.
In fact, the capacity to partake in a smouldering tube of finest virginia makes me a safer driver. Without its calming effects, there is more than one road-user around this city who would have experienced the salutory experience of a trip to A&E to have a Toyota wheel brace removed from his or her jacksy. When confronted by road craft that suggests that the driver obtained his/her licence in a brown envelope deal with a Fianna Fail TD, the swift inhalation of an auld Sweet Afton facilitates a zen-like transcendance of mere human emotions like rage and the desire to remove body parts with an oily mole-grip.
If Clancy had bothered to learn correlation when he was studying whatever he's professor of, he might have noticed that air-rage incidents increased exponentially once smoking was banned on airlines. I am of the sincere view that if flight attendants firmly adhered nicotine patches onto passengers as part of the pre-flight safety protocols there'd be a few less Irish passengers bringing the nation into disgrace every year after being booted off a 737 at Luton Airport on the way to Ballyponza.