As pubs go, my local is fairly smoker-friendly: there’s a nice outside area with an awning to keep off the rain (when they remember to put it up), halogen heaters to stop you freezing, and a bunch of benches and tables you can park your arse on while you puff. Plenty of ashtrays, too: a bunch of permanent wall-mounted ones, and ones on each bench.
The area is fenced off, and beyond the fence is some nice landscaping. Last time I was outside there – a few weeks back – it was grass. Tonight, it’s a solid carpet of cigarette butts. Hundreds, maybe thousands of the things.
OK, it’s a pub, so people are going to be there, a bit pissed, a bit clumsy. But the sheer number suggests that it’s more than that; it means that lots of people are going out there for a smoke and deliberately ignoring every single ashtray. Maybe I’m out of the loop and ashtrays are uncool, but whatever the reason the end result is that when non-smokers go out there – which they do, it’s a beer garden – they’re going to think that smokers are a bunch of inconsiderate wankers.
So when the Scottish Executive announces a new anti-smoking drive such as, I dunno, making us wear bells in public while we’re pelted with rotten tomatoes, or when pubs make their beer gardens non-smoking and effectively ban people from having a cig in the open air, the non-smokers will go “bloody right! Wankers, the lot of ’em!” Considerate smokers can argue till they’re hoarse (which won’t take long, thanks to the cigs) that the mess is caused by an inconsiderate minority, and they’re right. But nobody will listen.
So thanks a lot, folks. Once again a minority of wankers makes life that little bit more shitty for everybody else.