On Monday night I spent a pleasant evening in a bar in northern France. When I returned home and removed my clothes the smell of cigarette smoke on me was quite disgusting. I'd forgotten quite how unpleasant life was before the smoking ban.
Let me put things into perspective. I smoked 40 fags a day for thirty years. Proper ones. None of that lightweight low-tar nonsense. I gave it up when I buried two friends in two days ~ both died from smoking related illnesses.
But I'm not a born-again non-smoker. I've never really minded others smoking and, with the exception of thoughtless smokers who exhale into your face, generally didn't notice it. And I wasn't particularly in favour of the idea of a smoking ban in public places.
But six months down the line ~ and it really is that long ~ my pub feels, and is, cleaner, the staff and myself prefer it, there is no noticeable loss of trade here (although I fully accept that isn't the same in all pubs) and the whole smoky pub thing is just a distant memory. So we prefer it.
But the unexpected by-product of the ban is how we are now so sensitised to the smell of smoke.
Smokers, fresh back in from their cigarette outside, are immediately noticeable. They stink. How a non-smoker could possibly kiss a smoker bewilders me. How my wife (a non-smoker) could have kissed me (a, then, heavy smoker) I cannot understand. But maybe this helps explain her distant treatment of me these past years...
The French, despite the claims of some, will completely capitulate with the smoking ban and there will be scarcely a murmur. Every week I read the list of blog comments by those, in the UK, opposed to the smoking ban, bleating about the loss of civil liberties and the freedom to choose. It is pitiful. The legislation isn't going to be retracted and, according to the evidence in Europe, will continue to roll out into other countries. Any idiot preparing themselves for martyrdom on the issue of smoking is being ridiculous. It will not, and cannot, go away.
There is evidence that occasionally people are smoking in our hotel bedrooms. I can sometimes smell it in the hallways when I go to bed. I wander around like the child-catcher from Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang trying to identify which room the offender is in. The problem is that the room now smells of smoke, it is almost impossible to get the smell out of the curtains/carpets and therefore the room cannot reasonably be let until the smell has gone. My tolerance of smokers is not being helped by such activity.
I never thought I'd be in this position but, six months after the ban, I am pleased it is here. And, increasingly, I am coming to believe it will never go away. Good.