A habit of a lifetime

PUBLISHED: 12:49 10 May 2007 | UPDATED: 15:06 12 May 2010

I m expecting that dreaded knock on the door in the middle of the night. It may not be next week or next month, but, surely, sooner or later, someone from officialdom will be round. Imagine the scene. It s not quite dawn and a night s sleep is abruptly en

I'm expecting that dreaded knock on the door in the middle of the night.

It may not be next week or next month, but, surely, sooner or later, someone from officialdom will be round.

Imagine the scene. It's not quite dawn and a night's sleep is abruptly ended with the sound of sirens and shouting.

The house is surrounded and a burly environmental health operative is standing there.

He has a "warrant" to search the premises after being given a tip-off that I had broken the law.

And the crime? I had been seen smoking.

As we know legislation will come into being shortly which will ban smoking in public places.

It means that there will be groups of people huddled together hiding from the Smoking squad in some of the most obscure of places.

You will see cigarette smoke raising in great clouds from behind such hiding places - and we could all be captured on closed-circuit television.

Hence the call in the early hours from the environmental squad.

Perhaps they will be searching for discarded dog-ends and hidden packets of Benson & Hedges. Maybe they will begin digging over the garden.

It all begins to sound ridiculous.

What would George Orwell have said about our new laws. He was critical of the coming police state - and was a man who smoked, too.

I can imagine him unleashing one of his brilliant polemics about the new legislation.

All right, I agree, smoking does cause health problems and, obviously, we should all be giving up the deadly weed.

Smoking is not seen these days as being sociable.

And there is nothing worse than a reformed smoker to tell you about the evils.

But we all need a vice and a pleasure - and the fact is that I've been smoking from the days when we had Woodbines and Weights and still crave for the deadly nicotine.

All right, it may be wrong.

But let's be sensible about these new laws and allow us the members of the smoking public the chance to gather somewhere to be able to still indulge in our habit.

We're not really the outcasts of society and we need time to adjust.

But, obviously, we should encourage not to take up the habit. I know it's hypocritical but I'm probably one of those cases that it's too late to save - but don't tell the health service.

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