Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Day The Government Made My Life Better.

There was a time when going out to bars or restaurants caused me problems. Even going to the cinema would result in a sleepless night. Get togethers in friends homes, staff rooms at work, public transport, planes and anywhere else where people gathered were a nightmare for me.
 That was until my daughter's 22nd  birthday on 26th March 2006 when it all changed for me and many other people just like me.
On that day smoking was prohibited in all public places in Scotland. The following year Wales and Northern Ireland joined in and on my birthday 1st July 2007 it was also prohibited in England.

Until then, secondary smoking was my Achilles heel. I have battled all my life with a chronic chest condition, trying to keep my lungs as healthy as I can. Nights out in smoke filled environments only made things worse, tea breaks at work in a small room with four smokers was horrible.
I would go home and cough all night as if I myself had smoked twenty cigarettes and actually I probably had. My clothes had to be left outside the bedroom door as I couldn't stand the smell of smoke from them. I  worked with young children and could tell which children had parents who smoked from the smell from their clothes and hair.

I was brought up as a child of the sixties when nearly every adult smoked. My mum had a large family who were always visiting our house and every one of them smoked. I hated the smell, the ashtrays full of ash and stubs, the haze of smoke that always hung in the living room.
No one knew then that I had Cystic Fibrosis and none of them knew that their smoke was further damaging my lungs. Of course as I got older I had worked this out for myself and nagged at everyone when I saw them light up but in those days it wasn't socially acceptable to complain about people smoking.

My aunt smoked from she was 14yrs, she died from cancer.
My dad smoked from 14 yrs, he died from cancer.
My mum smoked from 14 yrs, she died of cancer.
My father in law smoked from a young age, he died from cancer.
 If you live with a smoker there is a 20-30% greater risk of you having cancer.

In my twenties and thirties I became a wife and a mother, I now had my own home and it was a no smoking house, if someone wanted to smoke it had to be done outside. This wasn't easy to say to friends or family as they thought you were being a killjoy and some felt insulted by the request but I could no longer live in a house filled with smoke.
 When my  friend had  a party she would use me and my bad chest as an excuse to ask people not to smoke, "Poor Anne and her bad lungs" the reason? She was too embarrassed to say that she didn't want cigarettes to be smoked in her house.
In these enlightened times we now live in I don't think anyone would dream of lighting a cigarette in someone's house as now the tables have turned and its not socially acceptable to smoke anymore.

On Saturday I attended a twenty first birthday party in a local pub. Two of the women at my table put their coats on and I wondered why they were leaving so soon, they weren't leaving, just going outside to smoke in the freezing cold and I thanked god that I didn't have to breathe in their smoke too. Funnily none of the men at the table smoked.

At least 63 countries now have a smoking ban in public places ban and many have a ban on smoking in bus shelters, parks, children's playgrounds, telephone boxes and cars with children. It's only a matter of time until smoking will be illegal,anywhere. Future generations will wonder why people ever smoked when they knew it would kill them.
Smoking, in Scotland is responsible for 1 in 4 deaths, more than alcohol which is 1 in 20.
The year of the no smoking ban 400,000 people in the UK gave it up and 2 billion less cigarettes were sold.
There may be people reading this who smoke and while I realise that it is addictive I still can't understand why when we now know smoking kills, you still keep on smoking.
The no smoking ban has certainly enhanced the quality of my life. It has made it easier and more pleasant to go out for a meal, go to the cinema or travel on buses knowing that there's no chance of someone near me lighting up. No more smelly clothes and hair and no more smoked filled lungs.


  1. First I had no idea you had CF! And I totally agree with you on smoking. I was raised around smokers too. Every year, right around this time, I ended up so sick w/ bronchitus or pneumonia. I worked with smokers when I got older, and I married one. Every time I went to the dr he'd say, 'tell your husband he's killing you'. Brian finally quit and over the years, my respiratory problems got better. CA outlawed smoking in buildings in the 90s. Unfortunately that meant when I went out for my lunch break or on the walk to get my bus, the air outside was full of smoke!!!

  2. "The day the government made my life better" - now THAT's not a title you see everyday! I wholeheartedly agree with you on the smoking issue; it's disgusting and filthy and makes everything reek. It's also very addictive and very hard to give up, as I found out when I finally stopped almost four years ago. It's just one of many, MANY irrational things we human beings do. Why do people drink when they know they'll end up with their head in a toilet later on? Why pour that glass of wine when you know it'll give you a headache the next morning? Why does she eat that tub of ice cream when she's been moaning about how fat she is all day? People are crazy! :)

  3. I'm glad you stopped Catherine. I know it is very addictive and so are food and alcohol but the only person you make feel bad is yourself with smoking it is everyone who breathes in the smoke.

  4. I wasn't diagnosed until I was 21 but had lung problem from I was born. Shows you that passive smoking affected you. It will soon be banned outdoors too. When I go to the clinic at the hospital I have to run through the entrance holding my breath with all the smokers standing at the doorway.

  5. Looking back - all those meetings I say through, peering at people through cigarette smoke. I smoked, in the late 60s - like so many of us did. And I've tried not to be irritating - as some who manage to give up are - but the worlds smells so much better.

    And I, too, didn't realise you had CF - great that you don't let it define you.

  6. Has it been that long? I've never smoked, and I can't even remember what pubs were like before smoking was banned. Which is a very good thing.

  7. We went to see a friend singing at a pub last week, not our usual type of evening out. Half way through the evening I realised what was different from when we used to go there - no smoke. It was brilliant.

  8. Other than a few cousins I don't even know anyone who smokes. Glad things are better for you Anne.

  9. There are still many many people who smoke in this country and I know quite a few.

  10. Yes Ros I think we forget what it was really like especially for people who work in bars it has changed their lives too. Remember Roy Castles? He never smoked but played music in clubs and it was passive smoking that caused his lung cancer.

  11. It's funny how you get so used to something,imagine going back to smoke filled bars.

  12. Jo back then you couldn't express concern as it was no smokers who were in the wrong. The staff room at my work change the wallpaper once and it was dark brown with nicotine stains,yuk!

  13. Ozlem's Turkish Table10 December 2012 at 12:54

    So glad to find your blog and I can't agree with you more, losing a few dear family members with smoking. Great to hear the ban is in effect, what a better quality life for all!:)

  14. Thanks for visiting,yes it has made a big difference. I have lots of posts on Turkey maybe you would like them too.


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