There's been a growing clamour lately about how the UK smoking bans are an assault on our democracy; on the very fabric of this great country of ours, on a Briton's right to choose the method of his or her own demise.
Love 'em or loathe 'em, the rules are here to stay. There are some who reckon they will be able to force a change in the law; to get smoking back into pubs. Feel free to disagree, but I reckon those banking on a ban reversal are boarding the fanciest of all possible flights.
Yes, rules and regulations can be a costly pain. Yes, there'll be economic consequences for some pubs. But over time businesses can and do cope with all sorts of things that get thrown at them.
My own view is that pubs will be far nicer places to frequent once there's no longer a pall of second-hand smoke lingering on one's clothes and in one's lungs.
I'm an ex-smoker, not an anti-smoking zealot. I don't believe people will stop going to the pub because they can't smoke inside it. And I don't believe the best thing a pub can offer its customers is the ability to smoke in one.
If I hadn't already quit smoking I might use the ban as an excuse to give up.
I'd then spend the cash I'd saved on something else. Like beer. In a pub.
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
I've previously listed my favourite rock bands. I've also done my all-time best punk bands. Now, as the English ban looms large, it's time for my Top Ten Cigarette Brands. In my youth I could be found puffing away on a variety of tobacco-based products, particularly when I hung out at music festivals. But I subsequently gave up the habit. Why? It was when my darling son was born. Plus I'd developed a smoker's cough to rival the hacking of the combined patient population at the local chest clinic…
1. Marlboro Lights. In my latter days as a smoker this was the King of Fags
2. Cleopatras. An insanely cheap and dog-rough cigarette which I discovered when travelling in Egypt in the Eighties
3. Consulate. My first ever cigarette. Cool as a mountain stream. Or, as a friend once put it, "like smoking a Polo mint"
4. Embassy Number Six. What my mates smoked on the way home from football practice after school
5. Silk Cut - Purple. What I smoked on the way home from football practice after school
6. Gauloise. Too strong to smoke more than one or two of these an hour, but the lack of a filter and the all-white stick added to the allure d'Alain Delon, considered essential for a young man out to impress impressionable girls
7. Embassy Regal. Tabs de rigueur when visiting my Scottish mates
8. West. A German brand, if I remember rightly. Good with sauerkraut
9. Benson & Hedges. Nice shiny gold pack, and back in the day the subject of a truly wonderful advertising campaign
10. Marlboro Red. Ten of these in a session and I needed an iron lung for a week