Smoking is getting banned from Victoria’s outdoor eateries — and it’s selfish why I’m happy


I’m thrilled Victoria’s Labor government is pushing to ban smoking from outdoor dining areas. Beyond thrilled — ecstatic. The hills are alive with the sound of my joy. I’m doing my happy dance as I write this.

And while it’ll be great that we could soon (2017!) enjoy eating our meals without having to schedule our mouthfuls between a fellow diners’ puffing; while it’ll be a relief that we could soon take our kids out in public without them having to breathe in smoke that’s already been inside a complete stranger; while it’ll be less frustrating knowing that other diners won’t ruin our great view of life passing us by with their hazy, cancerous smoke; while these realisations are truly wonderful, I don’t care much about any of them. I’m not too concerned with the dangers of breathing second-hand smoke. I don’t really care that our kids are being exposed to what is, let’s face it, a disgusting habit. The real reason I’m glad smoking will be banned from eateries is because it’s one less place I’ll be tempted to light up.

Yes, I’m an ex-smoker. And a bloody righteous one.

I can’t tell you how much of a hit my willpower takes when I’m out eating good food, drinking great beer, enjoying superb company, and a stranger takes out a death stick and begins slowly reducing their lifespan. It’s like I suddenly realise there’s this hole in my social outing that needs filling with nicotine. At that moment, I cease caring what my friends or family think of me. All I want is a cigarette. I instantly become Gollum; I wants a cigarette, I needs a cigarette. If I had a brother, I’d kill him for a dart.

Don’t they know how fragile I am? Don’t they realise that through their thoughtless act, I’m now disengaged from my conversation and am letting my food go cold and my drink go warm, all because I’m too busy thinking about how much I want to join the ridiculous killing-ourselves-slowly brigade. Suddenly I’m Don Draper or James Dean or John Constantine. I immediately don’t give two hoots about the idea of my kids growing up without a father. Give me a ticket so I can line up for some emphysema or lung cancer. I already have degenerative disc disease, and one way to encourage my spine to crumble just that bit quicker is to smoke a pack a day. But who cares? I’ll look cool and it’ll make me feel good. That’s all I care about.

“Suddenly I’m Don Draper or James Dean or John Constantine.”

I think about how I’ll go home and fish out my old zippo, and that it’ll be just like old times; back when I was a single bartender and I’d whip out the flame whenever a lighter-less damsel or potential new best-friend lodged a cold cancer stick between their lips. I’d ignore the person whose beer I was about to pour or even risk breaking my or someone else’s leg, just so I could look like that friendly guy we all used to know. The fella who would bend over backwards to give you a seamless and uninterrupted social experience. The guy who once wore a bowtie and braces and always had a teatowel over his shoulder. You know him. He’s a good guy.

But, it’s not like that. Really, my fingers and beard immediately stink of yuck. My friends look at me differently and my family become disgusted. I’m that guy who would rather indulge in a filthy habit than be sociable. The guy who still expects a good, up close D+M after a few beers, who gets annoyed when no one wants to talk to him. I’m the guy who suddenly feels he has every right to do this because he doesn’t care what you or his wife thinks of him or even that his friends no longer respect him. And, I could make all of this up, but that doesn’t matter because it’s what my head tells me will happen whenever I think about smoking. I’ve enough pent-up anxiety to make having a cigarette a stupid, stupid idea.

So, yeah. I’m thrilled that the idea of ridding our outdoor eateries of smoke is on the table. If not for everyone else, but for me. I need this. Make it happen, people.

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