Why, when I wasn't even a smoker, did I agree to having the room filled up with acrid fumes and students concentrating more on blowing perfect smoke rings than attending to the finer points of English grammar? I can't honestly remember. Perhaps I was more scared of students then than I am now. Perhaps I secretly wanted to be a smoker but never quite managed to get past the nausea. More probably, I had some warped idea about being accommodating and respecting their freedom even when it impinged on mine and I was definitely not keen on the idea of being labelled a puritan spoilsport.
I remembered all of this as I read this passage from Jenny Diski's Stranger on a Train
I didn't want to do as I was told, I didn't want to be more comfortable by conforming, giving in, as I saw it to the pressures of an anti-smoking policy that was reinforced by moral imperatives. Very childish. Yes, exactly. I also didn't want to become an ex-smoker, not if it meant that I became someone who tsked and sighed whenever I caught a whiff of smoke in the air. ... It was almost organic, my desire not to be a virtuous , self-righteous non-smoker.I can relate to this in a non-smoking sort of way. I really organically don't want to be that sanctimonious disapprover either.
But now, as the smokers in France wail about the looming ban on smoking in bars and restaurants without ever really believing that it will come to pass (smoking is already banned in all public places but, this being France, places selling food and drinks got a reprieve until January 2008), I can't help thinking about how much more pleasant it is to go out in Scotland where the smoking ban has been a great success and there's no need to worry about having to become the intolerant tsker that I never thought I would be, as vile smoke wafts up my nose.
So much then for being a right-on understanding non-smoker then. But if only someone would invent a smokeless cigarette, I promise I would be tolerance personified.