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.
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.