Since Spain introduced a partial smoking ban back in 2006, smokers and their enablers had clearly spent time finding their way round it. Since the last time I was over there, smoking had wormed its way back into bars and cafés, had rolled like phosgene into the breathing spaces of non-smokers, making hair and clothes stink of cancer. Most mornings we would have some clothes airing on the balcony, thanks to someone else’s hobby.
But we started to think that smokers were being more enthusiastic, as they happened to be living in the last few days of the old smokers’ regime. For the blanket ban on smoking in many public spaces was fast approaching, and came into force in the new year. Who knows? On Sunday 2 January, in the café of Benicarlo station (the café shut, of course, as this was Spain) we did see a single, solitary smoker (smoking, of course, as this was Spain), looking like he had just emerged from the boiler-room of a ship, or maybe a hedge or teapot. Left him to it, we did, though,more because of the language barrier than pity.
But the brief putsch that smoker culture seemed to carry out in Spain from 2006 to 2010 reminded me more than anything else what a mean, dominated, unequal world it was when smokers were free to keep their detrimental culture dominant over everyone else. A number of advocates of smoking in shared spaces that I’ve met are massively, pompously ignorant, and this would seem to be a defining characteristic of wanting to force your habits so detrimentally on others. It’s like demanding the right to piss in other people’s drinking water, while thinking it’s acceptable to then casually and unrepentingly suggest to them that why don’t they stop fucking whining and get a clean glass in another room, if they hate having piss in their water so much.
The only thing I miss about smoker culture is the hilariously self-deluding ballet that fake quitters are often seen to totteringly dance: certain that they’ve pulled the wool over the eyes of their spouses; who actually know all too well what their weak-willed other-half twits are up to. But even that’s not funny enough to be worth having my clothes, my hair and my lungs full of someone else’s oily tar of a morning. Good riddance to all that.