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Smoke and Ash - mag 149

©Shers Gallagher 2013
Smoke and ash

It wasn't until my teaching year at Moscow State in Russia that I came down with borderline asthma. Since then I've been unable to tolerate even the slightest whiff of acrid smoke, which permeates and freezes my lungs like a poison. I stopped singing in pubs for the lack of being able to catch my breath before the smoking ban became effective in Holland, it being one of the last of the European holdouts due to the vehement protesting of our strong caterers' union in the Netherlands.

People like me were the sufferers all along, not the smokers who never seemed to give a care when others were choking around them. ‘What? You can't breathe? Well, then get the f#@! out of the pub.’ 

I'm hardened by the smoke and ash – the smokescreens of uncaring - having had too much of it blowing non-filtered rings in my direction, occupying my space. So, no. I don't give a care myself about smokers' rights. As far as I'm concerned, when they pollute the air with second-hand smoke only their companions who are haplessly inhaling it should be pitied. 

Aisling Books - Magpie Tales


  1. I quit smoking in 1981, but this one still stings. I have hated and still hate the smoking bans. I don't believe that legislating this sort of thing works, and when it does it is because of emotional fascism and scapegoating.

    And yet.

    I can hardly argue with the experience of those who choke to death and otherwise die of secondhand smoke. I have no solution. I am certain we are diminished spiritually by the emotions that surround the whole issue.

    I grew up with smokers. I also grew up asthmatic. My keystone problem was not smoke but food allergies. The smokers quit. I started. Then I quit too. I never had colds and flus when I smoked like I do now. Even with these ailments I am happier not smoking but it is no perfect solution.

  2. Always interesting to see what the prompt inspires...

  3. Very controversial.

    I think the non-smokers far outweigh the smokers. Not taking sides but the smokers have rights, too.

  4. I never smoked, Gott sei dank!

  5. I would guess Russia would be a difficult place to be if one can't tolerate cig smoke.

  6. Pretty much all of Asia still smokes, but men more than women until you get out in the countryside and away from the modern cigarette. The women smoke and chew traditional blends, especially in India. Betel nut is quite common among women of the countryside.

  7. I didn't see many smokers at university, though. It's more of a trend these days, and in this type of environment, not to. In China it was mostly the merchant classes I saw with ciggies hanging from their mouths. The Chinese, on the whole, and if they can, try to stay healthy. In fact, they're very concerned with health and exercise.

    1. The Chinese are already poisoning their lungs enough when they breathe the local air. As for the rights of the is a tough balance. I am all in favor of all over indoors smoking bans, but where do we draw the line? For instance how do we balance the needs of the child with a peanut allergy with the need of a poor parent to access the cheapest protein for their child? I did a smoke blog here:

  8. The smoker is owmed..just to watch one dragging on a butt, outside an office building, in winter, usually coatless, in NY..not allowed inside..this is pleasure? With you all the way!

  9. Nicely unapologetic. I know some of the last smokers in my area, but I've always despised it.

  10. Beautifully written ... there are several pubs close to my home. I never ceased to be amazed at the men and women who congregate outside no matter the weather. Just to inhale poison!

    Happy New Year

  11. Lots of views on this topic, to be sure. Yours is strong and well stated.

  12. You evoked an image of yourself fleeing before the clouds of ash buried you at Pompeii, Catfish. I went there once, gotta be one of the eeriest places on earth . Vesuvius

  13. well said- totally agree- I gave up listening to live music til the non-smoking rules came into effect.

  14. It is my experience that ex smokers, on the whole, are far less tolerant than those who have never smoked. As an ex smoker, I go out of my way to accommodate a smoker but never inside my home. The patio is no problem.

    I once worked with two non smoking doctors - a very well known, husband and wife team and they both told me that when they were travelling by train/aircraft, they always sat in a smoking compartment/section for the simple reason that they found smokers to be far friendlier, far more willing to talk and less uptight than non smokers. Interesting observation that no doubt will go down like a lead balloon in some quarters! I know quite a few doctors who still smoke.


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