Its rare that NSW is left behind by Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania on matters of social policy. But those three states banned smoking in pubs on July 1, while NSW has merely reduced the floor space available to smokers from 50 per cent of the venue to 25 per cent.
Nonsmokers here will have to wait another year for a complete ban.
As an asthmatic, Ive got a medical excuse for my whingeing, but Ive always hated smokers for polluting my air, stinking up my clothes and making me feel less cool. We passive smokers get neither the benefit of a filter nor the opportunity of striking James Dean-like poses on bar stools.
I cant wait until smokers are forced to shiver outside while those of us without addictions sit in the warmth, composing the eulogies well deliver at their premature funerals.
A pub ban isnt just sensible because cigarette smoke is unpleasant and dangerous for patrons and bar staff. Most addicts I know began as social smokers an ironic term given how antisocial it is to include others in your decision to contract lung cancer.
Many of lifes foolish decisions ordering a Budweiser or doubling up on Queen of the Nile are made in pubs. Starting smoking is but another. Smokers are gradually, and rightly, becoming a lower class of citizens who are forced to huddle in doorways and view photos of gangrene. But I think we should make the choice to smoke a constant irritation, the same way smoking has inconvenienced the rest of us for decades.
Cigarette vending machines should be banned and smokers instead forced
to sign lengthy contracts whenever they buy a packet, writing their initials next to every single known health risk. Also, more effective warning slogans, such as SMOKING MAKES YOU LOOK LIKE WARNEY should be introduced. Why not print them on the actual cigarettes?
But the best way of discouraging smoking would be to raise taxes to $20 a pack, and then print a picture of that $20 note on the pack.
Theres nothing the public hates more than forking out money to the Government. Imagine the disincentive if they printed Peter Costellos grinning face on the box as well. Better yet, the State Government could impose an additional $3.50 cigarette tax that went straight to the Cross City Tunnel operators.
Its time Aussie drinkers treated smokers the same way they treat teetotallers and blokes who order drinks that come with little paper umbrellas as pariahs.
Photo: Angela Wylie; digital mischief: Kate Oliver