Thumbs up for laws to kick the habit

I HATE smokers. I won't be politically correct about it and say "I don't hate smokers but I hate what they do".

I HATE smokers. I won't be politically correct about it and say "I don't hate smokers but I hate what they do".

No, as far as I am concerned, our actions cannot be divorced from who we are.

Thank goodness the government is cracking down on these slaves of the little white stick. It's fine for them to fry their lungs and walk around with a mouth that smells like a tobacco factory, but why do the rest of us have to suffer?

Smokers are a defensive lot. As soon as someone points out the folly of their habits, they quickly argue that unlike drunk drivers they don't endanger other people's lives.

In their tiny minds a clampdown on public smoking is an endorsement of drinking and driving. What does the one have to do with the other?

Besides, experts say tobacco kills three times more people every year than vehicle accidents. I do not know why they bother with the comparison. It is irrelevant because the one is not a "better bad habit" than the other. Both are perpetrated by selfish people who have no consideration for others.

Have you heard smokers and their nonsense story about how they are not affecting anyone?

They obviously have no comprehension of the effects of passive smoking, the sheer discomfort of breathing in the polluted air, the unpleasant smell and bad breath.

Some even go as far as thinking they have a right to kill their own children. I am sure you have seen parents light up and puff in a car full of small children.

Even in restaurants - and I patronise a lot of these - they are more than happy to smoke in front of their children.

The irony of it fascinates me. You take your offspring to a restaurant and while they are partaking of a meal that is meant to provide nourishment and sustenance, you fill their little lungs with poison. It's absurd.

And why is it that while in conversation, smokers will always turn their cigarette towards the person behind them and not their companion - who is also puffing away? If the smoke is not good enough for your friend, why is it good enough for the rest of us?

Did I just hear you say "just go to the smoke-free zone"?

I would love to, except that that part of the restaurant is always dark, hot and away from the fresh air.

The smoking zones always have the nicest view and chairs yet we all pay the same amount for our food.

Why must I be deprived of enjoying South Africa's exquisite sunny weather and be holed up inside?

It's like being punished for choosing to be healthy.

When former health minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma first took steps to design legislation against public smoking, I could have kissed her, not once, but twice.

At last, here was someone who understood that smokers do not practise self-regulation and discipline.

They could not be bothered who is there when the urge hits them. They lose all sense of reason. Despite the initial legislation (Tobacco Products Control Act of 1993) it became increasingly clear that stricter regulations to make it harder for smokers to indulge their habit in the open air, at home and in their cars, was necessary.

Smokers found a way of circumventing the act but guess who's having the last laugh now?

Some smokers have benefited from the new laws. According to the National Council Against Smoking, prevalence of adult smoking in South Africa has fallen by a third in the past decade, from 34percent in 1995 to 22percent in 2007.

Do you think those who have managed to kick the habit would write to the minister to express gratitude?

With the new laws, even balconies are out of bounds because many of them have a covering at the top.

Even places that are partially enclosed, like current smoking zones at restaurants, are off limits.

I am a great believer in freedom of choice and, yes, that includes the right to make bad choices.

But when your bad choices mean that my health and comfort are compromised, then I have a huge problem.