Thursday 22 February 2018

Legal drug addiction and the law.

I have a very addictive tendency and am extremely lucky that all of the drugs I've been addicted to in my life have been legal, the worst of which used to be my habit of chain smoking 80 or more cigarettes a day.

When I was a young person it was de rigueur to smoke, everybody smoked, it would have been virtually impossible to avoid smoke, either your own or what is now called passive smoking, by breathing in the smoke from someone else. It was fashionable to smoke, film stars made it glamorous, we even used to smoke when we went to the theatre.

Should any young person read this I know they will be astounded to know that we smoked absolutely everywhere, the pubs were crowded with all types of smokers from pipe to cigar and to cigarette, the fug created was considered part of the atmosphere of the pub experience.

I seem to remember the buses were smoking upstairs and the underground had one carriage either end for non smoking which was invariably empty as all the smokers were crammed into the smoking carriages, eyes watering from the thick smoke. Everyone must have stunk of tobacco but I have no recollection of it being so, we must have been so conditioned to it we didn't notice.

Which brings me back to the pub and my other addiction alcohol, both I hasten to mention quite legal, although in the old days not available twenty four hours a day. I rather enjoyed the days when the pub used to shut in the afternoon and not stay open late, one had to pay one's dues by becoming a regular and eventually being able to join the metaphorical club which entitled you to drink after hours.

When closing time came the publican would call time and the first ones to leave were the passing trade, then the locals who wanted to join the club but hadn't been around long enough for membership, then finally the coast was clear for the publican to draw the curtains and serve all the hardened drinkers who remained, often until the early hours of the morning.

My how times have changed from those heady times smoking and drinking oneself to death in a smoke filled pub with a nicotine stained ceiling, waiting for "afters" and driving home in the early hours of the morning, slightly the worst for drink.

Hard to believe the breathalyser came into use in 1967 but from my recollection was widely ignored until the 1980's when the police suddenly seemed to be taking things much more seriously, likewise the smoking ban in public places in 2007, both of which we take for granted nowadays.

Personally I'm delighted to say I gave up smoking in 2001 and tend to drink at home now or get my wife to drive if I drink when we go out, we have become accustomed to laws prohibiting us from smoking in public and drinking and driving.

Just as eventually in America there will come a time when there are laws prohibiting people from having guns and school shootings where large numbers of people are murdered will become a thing of the past. People will look back in amazement rather as I do with chain smoking, which was a fairly anti social thing to do and realise that gun laws which permitted people to mow down large numbers of their local community were also fairly anti social.

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