I can remember when the idea of introducing smoking bans was first touted, around the world. There was much debate from the smoking brigade about the nanny state and it was a bone of contention for a long time in the run-up to it being introduced.
I went to New York just after the ban had been brought in, on one of my annual ‘rack-up-the-credit-card-and-spend-the-rest-of-the-year-paying-it-off’ jaunts – ah heady happy days! After a delicious dinner in Pastis, we headed off to Café Waah (Jimmy Hendrix’s old club, fact fans) and it took about half an hour for us to realise what the difference in atmosphere was. Then it hit us – or didn’t depending on which way you look at it.
No-one was smoking.
The air was clear, and best of all – when we got home – we didn’t stink of cigs. No vile smell on our clothes, and my personal pet-hate, none in my hair – I always hated the way it seemed to re-appear when I got into the shower.
So, after this pleasant smoke-free existence – imagine my horror when I arrived in Dubai to discover that not only does 99% of the population appear to smoke (well, cigarettes are only 90p a pack) but you can smoke in most public places. This means when you’re trying to eat, or even just having a coffee, it is very likely someone will be chuffing away next to you. I had forgotten how much I truly hated this until now.
I find it interesting that a city which is trying so hard to be advanced in so many ways, which has very stringent laws on drug use – even hundreds of medications are banned from being brought into the country (any cold remedy with codeine in it, for example) and yet they happily let people smoke in public. Insane