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Monday 15 September 2014

Yes, I know I shouldn't smoke - but PC police are just as bad

Published 30/08/2014 | 02:30

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UCD students Emmy Thompson, Smithfield and Natalia Paya-Gathercole, Rathmines pictured with their cigarettes , ahead of the UCD smoking ban.
UCD students Emmy Thompson, Smithfield and Natalia Paya-Gathercole, Rathmines pictured with their cigarettes , ahead of the UCD smoking ban.

"Keep sketch - I'm going behind the sheds."

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No, I'm not a secondary-school student clad in a horrible bottle-green uniform trying to sneak off for a cigarette.

Instead, I'm 34 and worried.

I smoke - a dirty and dangerous habit, I know.

But it's my choice.

I don't do it indoors, in my car or in places where there's young children.

If I choose to have a cigarette, I'll go outdoors. I'll smoke one in the rain in the courtyard of my apartment complex while holding a brolly. I'll smirt with the best of them when I'm on a night out.

I agreed with the workplace smoking ban when it was implemented a decade ago.

And I completely agree with the smoking ban on all hospital grounds.

Whenever I'm at a hospital, I'm too stressed to smoke in any case.

However, with the news this week that UCD are looking to enforce a complete smoking ban on their campus, I'm beginning to think is it a question of the nanny state going too far?

If UCD - the biggest university in this country with a large campus - does go ahead with their plans, I feel sorry for my fellow smokers there.

Most are above the age of 18 - adults who can make fully-informed decisions in all aspects of their lives.

If they want to smoke, they shouldn't have to walk a mile to get outside their campus in order to light up. And how will UCD enforce it?

Will the HSE help fund the anti-smoking police? Does the university have the funds to get an outfit together to hunt down rogue smokers? And if they do hunt them down, what will happen?

I can see smokers - staff and students alike - going behind the sheds once again. At least it will be a little bit of fun.

And what happens if Trinity follows suit?

Academics and students there will hit the pavement outside and College Green will be thronged with dirty smokers. Could this lead to a city centre ban?

When I was a child, smoking was everywhere. It was on the buses, restaurants, pubs, and at home.

In fact, I remember my grandmother smoking her cigarette and only having to tap the ash twice. She had it down to a fine art.

Maybe that's what put me on the path to being a smoker - and I'm honest when I say it's something I will always regret taking up.

I'm glad those days are gone - and I'm happy knowing my nine-year-old nephew grows up in a smoke-free environment and barely notices when his auntie has to step outside for a sneaky cigarette. He just thinks it's pathetic.

Where will it all end?

I don't think any government or agency has the right to tell me what I should or shouldn't do with my life.

It's my choice.

Lord only knows this state 'nannies' us enough in other areas - just leave us alone in this one.

Now keep an eye out - I don't want to be caught.

Irish Independent

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