As a non-smoker I am very protective of my personal space. I grew up in a non-smoking household, with parents who were intolerant of smokers and were not afraid to voice it. This attitude inevitably rubbed off, and the older I get, I realise I am turning more and more into my parents as far as smoking intolerance is concerned.

Don’t worry, I am not about to launch into a long dissertation about the health hazards of smoking. At the end of the day, how each individual chooses to harm their body is their business. But I will launch into a tirade about smokers who light up cigarettes at pedestrian crossroads waiting for the light to turn green. It is bad enough having to wait in the cold and inhale all the fumes from the cars, but to stand behind a smoker who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the people around them simply infuriates me. This increasing absence of mindfulness and awareness of the surroundings is disappointing. Much as I would love to blame the earphones or Bluetooth earpieces, the problem goes deeper than that, and begins at home. 

I take my sweet time in the mornings to do my ablutions, and resent it deeply when my work of being clean and fresh is ruined by an inconsiderate nincompoop puffing smoke my direction. I did not ask to walk around smelling like an ashtray, and will do whatever I can to avoid it. Coming home from restaurants or a pub is the absolute nightmare for me, and I will throw everything into the washing machine as soon as possible. Call me rabid or obsessed, but I protect my personal space at all costs. 

Naturally, a great conflict arises within me when friends or family members smoke in my presence. I make only one exception in the world, and only one, and that only because I meet this person so seldom that I don’t care what it takes to spend every precious minute with them. But the rest of the world, especially pedestrians on the road, can go choke on their own smoke. There should be designated pedestrian crossings for smokers… and a special underground tunnel for cyclists who insist on smoking while peddling.

I sit in the bus or metro every day, and am horrified at the passengers who are itching to reach their destination and have a puff. Three stops before they have taken out the packet of tobacco and are rolling their cigarette already, lighter in hand. And they keep getting younger and younger.