Monday, May 30, 2011

a smokers right to life !!

Please, I am tired of 'non smoking' zones. Bloody hell, it seems every  place other than my home, I should resist the itch of my lips to find solace curling around a cigarette.  At least here in Hyderabad the law enforcement being so very much nil, I could light up a cigarette everyplace. When I am back home, cops and cigarettes is a deadly combo and it definitely means you are a minimum of two bills with the Father of Nation imprinted less in your wallet, after the experience. The experience is worth paying though. I meant, witnessing the bigheartedness of the majority of cops, helping you, accepting  two instead of  five, without the charges wrote or a paper receipt of course !!

I have lost it more than a couple of times, but then my ego had his juice to drink when I made two cops watch me finish a whole cigarette, with the jitter of the rail in the background, standing near the door of  a train bound to Cochin. Nothing in the law says, what is to be done when the person just keeps smoking all the time, until he hands over the money and the ones who caught me just knew that much. Charges admitted, fines paid, but then that was all they thought they could do. Lady luck do ride with me during hard times!! Charge me once and then could begin with a number of charges starting with "obstructing a public servant in doing the duty of his office.."

A public interest litigation in the High Court of Kerala, was what actually started the onslaught. Then as always, some one living higher up in the National Capital felt, he could get his share of lime light or maybe his share of good for the world (one never knows these days) and came up the big dictum, putting an end to smoking in public places. The pun is, the tobacco giants are so bloody huge, some nations are sponsored with their Green Bills and even India did have her fair share of tobacco, giving out the musk smell and loads of bills as well, to almost all the higher ups in all levels and forms of the Government.

All this on smoking, because Indian Constitution says, 'none shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty, except through a procedure established by law'. My smoking hurts your life and so I shouldn't do it in public. Sounds nice, I admit. But then what about me, the poor smoker? Don't I have the liberty to smoke a cigarette sitting at a beach, watching the sunset and blow the smoke circles I learned to make finally? Is your life so very much dearer than my liberty. For me the narcissist, NOT AT ALL. But the tolerant inside me reasons, "come on please, be just to me, what harm does my smoking do, if I am alone in the beach or standing a respectful distance away from people or even am standing in a group and none has a problem with it."

A non-smoker will never know the happiness a smoker finds when his lips curl around the tobacco and slowly inhales the smoke in. I wouldn't say smoking or tobacco is man's best friend. But then adorning the wall in the family home, next to some older folks never kept me away from trying things or even making them a habit.

In the world I visualizes or rather I fantasizes, there is no greater respect to 'human life' than 'human liberty'. The essence of 'human life' is not just breathing and going about business, but to live it with liberty. The man knows, when he is not supposed to do a thing and he knows, when it is an acceptable mode of conduct (the noble savage and not the beast). So a law which forbids him from doing an act which gives him pleasure, not at the risk of imminent threat to anyone else, is just another way of showing that man is not the noble creature, but only a beast.

I don't light up my cigarette when I am surrounded by strangers, not because the law says so, but because I know someone might be there in the group who might not be a fan of the tobacco smoke. I don't smoke when I am next to kids or a pregnant woman and similarly, almost all scenarios, I know when it is acceptable to smoke and when it is not. And my reason and logic tells me, please a carta blanc ban on smoking at all public places is not what is required, but something much more liberal, giving the man the option to smoke, if the other beings with him are not troubled. If they have a problem, sure they could ask him to throw the butt out and he has to oblige. That is how the law should be and it shouldn't ever have been the end of a smoker's liberty.

NB: The lawyer inside me did a very conscious  effort to keep out the law and the judgments, but rather write it up from my heart, capturing the disgusted feeling and the thoughts that comes rushing, every time I see a non-smoking sign.


  1. Empathise with you and your plight.You have earnestly and passionately pleaded your case.But Oshu is it not so that your right ( liberty) does not extend beyond your nose?

  2. As a comrade-in-smoke, I fully endorse what you said. I lost a 100 bucks a few years ago for smoking, like you did, leaning my head out of a moving train! As one who tasted cigarette first in his early teens, I know; but smoke as I do, enjoy it as I do, I am ashamed of my DEPENDENCY on the cigarette. Nary a day, a new year day, a birthday, a death anniversary, a wedding anniversary, pass by without me making new resolution - to stop smoking! Tomorrow is the beginning of the anti-tobacco week - yet another opportunity for a resolution! :-)

    Remember what Mark Twain said? Stop smoking? That's easy - I have done it several times!

  3. Anil@ it is true that ones liberty ends at the tip of the nose.. then, speaking jurisprudential, the person against whom liberty is held has a no-right concerning the activity.. But here with the legal sanction guaranteeing a right against smoking, it is true that I don't have the liberty to smoke, coz then I will be violating another person's right..

    Mr B @ I am not a proud smoker either nor am I proud of the habit just like you.. Thankfully I haven't taken huge resolutions like "i will not be smoking ever", rather ma resolutions have always been "i wont be smoking for the next 30 days or 6 months". That always gives me the option to start back once the time is over and also make true the Mark Twain saying all the more :)

  4. I did click on that link :)

    I get the idea that you are considerate smoker. A passionate smoker you may be nevertheless you do do think about what happens to the passive smoker when you enjoy that tobacco. You speak for the smokers yet don't smoke around kids and preganant women(which must be almost everywhere, alle? :) That's quite a noble smoker. You're not quite the narcissist you think yourself to be. Now if only all smokers were that considerate atleast.

    You say you are able to go without smoking for 30 days/6 months. So you are not the addict, right? And if at some point of time, you want to kick the habit, you actually can, right?

    In my post -- the one that you visited -- I was speaking about the lot who want to quit the habit but it seems like a never ending struggle. It's a fight against the craving and when you do fight it and finally quit, it is quite a victory, no?

  5. Coming back to your post, from the point of view of one who is loves his cigarettes, it is a loss of some kind of liberty. Now if your right to smoke did not violate somebody's right to live(with out the effects of it), I'm sure society would let you smoke all you want. Alas! :)

    1. D - haa thank you for the label of a considerate smoker.

      the kids and pregnant woman are not everywhere and you might be surprised by the number of people who don't care about me smoking by their side..i aint saying the majority, but sure a healthy minority..don't you agree?

      i do agree not every smoker thinks about using his liberty without violating anothers life..but then that is what the law should be curb the advantage of ones right over anothers liberty or the other way round..not to say the entire thing be banned.. (haa haa now i guess i should apologize for the lawyer in me..he couldnt help try impress you with his little know-how of rights and wrongs)

  6. Actually on coming here, I'm impressed. I see that you have a balanced view, in the sense that you know the affects, yet your love for tobacco means that you should speak for the smoker too. Understandable. (I always defend my coffee ;))

    I impressed because because I'm tired of hearing people defend the habit in a very lopsided way, but they're usually the ones who don't want to accept the truth/ill-effects of tobacco.

    1. What I don't agree with is the title. I'd probably call it a smoker's right to a liberty, maybe. :D
      When you smoke, aren't you taking away your right to life?


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