Disclaimer: I have smoked a few times in my life, usually when socialising, and even more so when drunk. The last cigarette was at least five years ago and only once in my life have I ever bought a packet. A packet of Menthols to be more precise, so do they really count? They lasted a day before I gave them to a friend because I just couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. My brain was hardwired to resist any addictive force, but really, I think a lot of it was that I just could not grasp how to correctly inhale and so found them to be a horrendous waste of money.
Of course, with my Dad having lived and died with a progressive lung disease (edit: not due to smoking as everyone in this godly world presumes). I have seen the damage and horror that can manifest from dealing with dodgy lungs struggling to function in a basic manner and this was enough to put me off smoking for life, particularly considering I’m potentially at high risk for developing IPF due to that little niggly issue; genetics. If my risk is initially already elevated, then the thought of smoking or being anywhere near smoking is enough to make me sick to my stomach at the prospect of how I’m endangering myself at having to deal with a progressive lung disease. Selfish, I know, but what can I say? I’ve walked the hard road, and I don’t really want to have to go down it myself.
At the end of January, my Mum broke her leg and for the first week was admitted to Hospital whilst now attending regular checkups. This was a Hospital that had spent an unfortunate amount of money in displaying and marketing that they were “Proud to be Smoke Free!” with a hashtag thrown in the front to make it trendy for Twitter. However, in the few times I’ve visited the hospital since my Mum’s accident, there wasn’t one time I didn’t come across someone smoking, whether it be outside back entrances or worst of all, gathered under the main entrance area. Today we went for a check-up and I snapped.
As we waited outside the main entrance, not far from two signs proclaiming their Proud to be Smoke Free! stance and with a car park littered with marketing tools to pull at your heart strings not to smoke, five people exited the building, stood five feet from me, and all lit up a cigarette. Right in the entrance way to the building and about six feet from said signs telling them not to.
Being the passive aggressive wuss that I am, I didn’t confront them but merely threw some “resting bitch” expressions of my disapproval and then eventually approached the Security Desk to inform them and also to ask who bothers enforcing these supposed new rules. They did. But they also didn’t bother because more often than not, they usually ended up having to deal with a bad attitude and some swear words attached along the way. This Proud to be Smoke Free! stance is clearly a farce and a huge waste of money if no one is willing to enforce it.
Why does this aggravate me so much? Well, did you know that smoke from a cigarette lingers for up to two and a half hours? Those chemicals just sit waiting for you to walk through them and fill your lungs with a concoction of crap that they weren’t designed to inhale. Now, imagine you’re in a Hospital. People are walking in and out with a wealth of illnesses; cancers, heart disease, etc. etc. And yet, these people willingly refuse to ignore basic signage and insist in lighting up as vulnerable people pass by them. You might as well light one up yourself for all its worth.
I can only say there is one person in my lifetime I’ve come across who was smoking and moved, and that was because my Father was sat in a wheelchair with oxygen cannulas running through his nose and he was very clearly poorly. My brother politely asked them to sit elsewhere in the outside café space if they wanted to smoke, and they obliged moving a few tables down. Personally, I would have asked them to jump off a cliff if they thought it was acceptable to sit so close to someone with liquid oxygen not just because of the passive smoking, but also because of the flammable issue, but that’s just me.
I have to be brutal in my opinion, but I find nothing more selfish than this sort of behaviour. Being able to have the balls to stand five feet from a stand that proudly proclaims a hospital to be smoke free, and then to light up in the direct pathway of hundreds of patients and relatives entering and leaving the establishment. You’re not only signing your own death sentence, but you are counter signing the forms for each and every person who walks past you as you blithely ignore how much you are damaging their health as well as your own.
If you want to make the choice to fill your lungs with rubbish, I’m not stopping you. But maybe consider your conscience and your surroundings and think about where might be more appropriate.
Even better than that, go do it in the basement of your own home so the only person who has to live in that torrid cloud of filth is yourself and the rest of us can strive to fight for clean air without having to deal with such insensitive creatures as yourselves.
Oh, and FYI I’m copying this post to the said Hospital so that they are not only aware of my opinion, but also in the hope that if they were so bothered about adhering to being Proud to be Smoke Free!, they might actually grow a pair and figure out how to properly enforce it for the sake of their patients, visitors and staff.