A Letter To The Editor

Dear Editor,

As was to be expected, there has been much written in recent weeks concerning the recently imposed ban on smoking in public places, and I would like to take the opportunity through your excellent, unbiased and campaigning newspaper, to say how much my life, and the the lives of my friends and family have changed since it’s overdue inception.

Firstly, I no longer need to worry about dying of cancer, and have naturally cancelled my monthly donation to Cancer Research, as it is quite plainly no longer required. Hooray! I will live to be 100 years old and will receive my birthday card from King Billy, or maybe even King Harold (ooh, doesn’t he look like his father, bless him)! Who’d have even considered such a thing before this excellent act of parliament came into force?

Also, I no longer need to put up with secondhand smoke when I visit my local pub. Come to think of it, I no longer have to put up with anyone, as there is nobody left in the pub. Those with whom I would once hold a lively debate on politics, religion or royal paternity are now to be found out in the street, pulling on those awful cancer sticks and forming a bond with fellow addicts. What a relief!

As with all new laws however, there have of course been unforeseen drawbacks. My sister Lillian, who is sadly also addicted to the dreaded weed, now has to smoke at home, rather than in the pub or in her workplace, and this has resulted in her children developing rather nasty coughs. Her youngest, Tarquin is now the proud owner of a shiny new Ventolin inhaler for his newly acquired asthma condition, but the doctor says that he’ll probably grow out of it when he’s old enough to go to the pub.

I should also mention the small matter of my teenage neice, Beyonce, who left her drink on the bar on Saturday night to go outside to indulge her tobacco craving, only to return and find it tasting of the “date-rape drug”, Rohypnol. But I supposed she was asking for it really – just another junkie loser who should have known better (sorry Lillian, but you know my views on this).

And then of course there is young Saskia, my Polish penfriend who came to Britain to seek a better life, but has now sadly returned to her homeland as there is no longer a job for her in the Nags Head. Apparently the management foresee them having to shed up to 35% of staff soon due to poor takings. Some have even suggested that the pub will close and become a hostel for workers from Eastern Europe, but if poor Saskia is anything to go by, they’d better be getting that University degree before setting sail for Blighty.

However, all in all I think that the ban has been a resounding success, and I’d like to congratulate the British Government on their efforts to encourage smokers to quit. After all, they must be losing a fortune in revenue. I can’t remember the last time I was queueing in my local newsagent for my monthly “Naturist Trainspotting” magazine and found anyone buying cigarettes or tobacco. I have however seen several cigarette packets recently which apparently warn against the dangers of smoking, including one which I later found out meant that smoking might affect a man’s ability to father children!

I can’t tell you what fun I had “Googling” for that translation on the Internet. Anyone now requiring the translation for “sperm” in any language from Polish to Portuguese should contact me forthwith, as I’d be more than happy to assist. If I’m unavailable for any reason, just ask a Customs officer at any U.K port, as they’ll probably know.

This just leaves me to raise a toast to a healthier, more prosperous England, and of course to Freedom & Democracy For All in this green and pleasant smoke-free land.

Yours sincerely

Paul Alford

(Shortlisted for publication in the Sunday Times – July 2007)


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