Friday, October 3, 2008

Answer is blowing in the wind

The ministry of health has shaken off its last vestige of lethargy and suddenly woken up to the plight of the millions killed slowly by passive smoking.

It has banned smoking in all public places with effect from Oct 2, 2008.

When you consider that worldwide more than five million people die of tobacco related illnesses, it's a prodigious move and I would be brimming with joy if Mr Ramadoss had not attempted to shove it down my throat.

The non-smokers are happy that they do not have to endure the tendrils of smoke wafting towards them at lunch breaks in the cafeteria. They are happier still that they will now not have to slink away sulking when colleagues snub them for protesting against blowing smoke in their faces.

I agree that smokers are an aggressive lot, especially when in pack. They are quick to seek out kindred souls at the workplace - skulkers who are forever looking for chances to sneak away for a quick puff. The best introductions are made over a smoke and nothing breaks the ice like a shared drag.

Even the office asshole holds you in grudging respect if you share your last fag with him, even more if the two of you are guffawing over the follies of some hapless colleague, oblivious to the world.

But I digress.

While I admire the government's extreme concern for our health and its heartfelt desire that we live longer, I must politely clear my throat and humbly ask it to let me choose my own habits, good or bad, make my own mistakes and die my own death today, tomorrow or 80 years hence.

In other words - stop being so supercilious and patronising. You do not know what's right for me and don't start now.

Despite a strict enforcement, the ministry of health is still struggling to contain female foeticide, provide nutritional well being to rural pregnant women, has an alarmingly low record of pre-natal examination and has not made stellar progress in preventing infant mortality.

The government looks like an idiot every time two-bit wanna be terrorists chuck crude bombs and kill, injure and maim scores of people almost every other month. It has so far even failed to crack the case of the murder of a 14-year-old girl even after handing it over to our premium intelligence agency.

So stop telling me what habits I should inculcate and what I should not. I agree that pregnant women, children and in general all non-smokers should not be forced to endure the harmful effects of nicotine just because a arrogant smoker blows toxic fumes into their faces.

But Mr Health Minister you cannot bully us into changing our habits just to pamper your inflated ego. If there is reprieve for non-smokers, there should be some for those who smoke. There should be smoking zones in the city and smoking rooms or open air spaces in buildings where the nicotine-deprived can go to let off steam.

At least get your facts right. You can smoke inside your car, pavements, parks and your homes but not at bus stops? Are you fucking kidding me? You cannot smoke at hotels which have less that 30 rooms and restaurants with seating capacity below 30?

I hear Ramadoss is moving with zeal now to even ban smoking at homes. I have to give him credit for enthusiasm if not for anything else. What does he plan to do? Surprise people at their homes by shouting "put that out!" from their windows?

I regret that the state is attempting to do my thinking for myself. That in a civilized society you have fixed the drinking age at 25, laughable actually when you consider the girls and boys of 12 who exchange sex clips on their phones.

I believe I have the right to choose how I live as long as I am not discomfiting anyone or encroaching their personal space. Give us credit for not being absolute vegetables that have to be hand guided through life's good or bad, on how you interpret them.

But the good news is the deviousness that characterizes India and its people is already at play. I hear colleagues, friends and relatives devising elaborate, cunning schemes to get their 5 min high at workplaces. It's only a matter of time before we buy the police and blatantly ignore diktats to go about our horribly unclean, unhealthy routine lives.



humanobserver said...

I welcome the goverment's decision....

but what if u r own habit could affect others lives?

aditisen said...

Reminds me of Aaron Eckhardt's movie 'Thank you for Smoking'. I don't smoke and I do get irritated when people. But it's amazing how much media has demonized smoking. I think you are right, somehow smoking got the bad rap. And I had no clue drinking age was so high up!

Cerebrations said...

"supercilious and patronising"?? Was that what it was called when in the merry seventies Grass was banned?? Probably. I'm sure people even then, thought the government was needlessly prudish and interfering.
Sorry, but I have to say that although smokers probably are angry at this curb and some find it very unreasonable that the government wants to push smokers into a corner in the hope they might give up a dangerous habit, but take a survey and you'll see that most smokers have already reduced the number of fag breaks courtesy the ban!! Smoking does have disastrous side affects - the effects unfortunately aren't quick, otherwise perhaps people would've understood that it is much more than just a habit.

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