The Pariah In Your Midst

Agreed. It’s not healthy. It’s smelly. It’s addictive. But it’s legally available to anyone over eighteen. It’s a cash cow for lots of governments and a few huge industries. It has a tradition going back hundreds of years. And it generates waves for politicians to ride upon and give us a totally warped sense of what is really important in our lives. It’s tobacco.

Today in the Netherlands, a total smoking ban has gone into effect in all bars, clubs, dancings, restaurants and hotels. Even if you want to as an entrepreneur, you cannot open a smokers’ bar because the law is there to protect your employees from smoke. Even if these employees agree to work in smoke-filled rooms because they themselves smoke like so many bartenders do. You may create some sort of cabin for smokers which your staff is not allowed to enter. And that’s that. Non-smokers apparently did not have the guts to open enough non-smoking bars and the result is that now smokers are denied the possibility to have smoking establishments. That’s how it works – you do not take action yourself, but demand of your government to do it for you. Ask not what you can do for your country, but demand that your country does it for you. Welcome to the post-Kennedy era.

Of course the people who’ve bought into the incessant government campaign against smoking do not wish to see this – but they are next. Already the buzz is about fat children and unhealthy diets (note how in that last article that all-time favourite cash cow, the car, gets it as well), and pretty soon someone is going to pull that fake ‘healthcare cost’ argument out of their back pocket – fake because the cost of tens of thousands of people living to be ninety or more while chewing lettuce and drinking carrot juice may well be the death of complete healthcare– and pension systems. And if it’s not fat, it will be alcohol, already taxed heavily, labeled with government warnings and in some Western, supposedly free-trade countries sold only by a state monopoly.

I should feel shame because I smoke. I am one of those people who do not care about the smell and the unhealthy fumes I spread amongst others. Never mind that I smoke on the balcony of our house, never mind that I always ask people around me, never mind that I refuse to smoke in a non-smokers’ house even if they tell me it’s OK, never mind how god damned careful I am with my cigarettes: I am still the pariah in your midst, and all these self-proclaimed champions of social behaviour are free to take whatever potshots at me as they want. And they do.

At least I have the decency to croak at a normal age, you idiots. And I will have enjoyed life, even if it means rowing against the current. Maybe even because it means rowing against the current. Tell that to your grandchildren when they stop by to talk about the old days.Old Rob, God rest his soul, enjoyed life. And punctuate that remark with a bite off of your delicious, refreshing, smooth tasting, finest Virginia carrot.



  1. Wait. I thought prostitution, pot, and shooting up in the park is legal in Amsterdam. Am I the misinformed American?

  2. Well.. a bit. Shooting up is illegal. But here’s the funny bit. In “coffee shops” (marijuana selling points, to give it a neutral term) you are allowed to smoke only marijuana products and no joints mixed with tobacco as is the custom.
    That’s what happens when local law clashes with European law. It’s insanity to the max.

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