Smoking is a pretty miserable occupation.
It’s a habit that kills you, costs an absolute fortune and leaves you smelling like an ashtray.
Future historians will surely look back at the 20th Century and wonder how we, as a civilisation, managed to convince ourselves that smoking wasn’t just acceptable but a sign of sophistication and cool.
Takes James Bond for instance. In Ian Fleming’s books he smokes three packs a day, which means he would smell like the aftermath of a house fire and struggle to get up a flight of stairs without pausing for breath rather than be the suave man of action we imagine him to be.
But while smoking is undoubtedly A Bad Thing, the immediate reaction to Dundee City Council’s new smoking policy – which bans workers from smoking or vaping during hte working day expect on unpaid lunch breaks – is that the local authority has overstepped the mark in its anti-smoking zeal.
Certainly, as a former smoker, my first thought was that it is a ridiculous way to treat their staff. They’re not children and as unpleasant a habit as smoking may be, it’s not exactly an impediment to many people carrying out their jobs effectively.
But while it may appear Draconian, there may actually be some method in the apparent nanny-state madness.
For starters, the new policy is almost entirely unenforceable, unless the council is going to track the movements of known smokers, or employ snoops to sniff people for the stench of smoke, or an overabundance of mints, on their return to the office.
The rules are almost entirely a psychological rather than practical measure.
When the smoking ban was introduced in Scotland in 2006, smoking went from being a normal part of a night out to a bit of a hassle.
Whereas before the ban you could quite happily spend a night in the pubic surrounded by a thick fug of smoke, after the ban it quickly became apparent how tiresome a habit smoking actually is.
Quitting smoking is not easy – after a decade off the tabs I still get the occasional craving. Penalising or harassing smokers will not make them quit, nor will bashing them over the head with dire warnings about health.
Everyone – from the person having their first puff to someone smoking 20 a day – know how harmful it is.
The new guidelines may seem petty and intolerant.
But if it helps smokers realise they do not have to be controlled by their addiction and can function without their usual cigarette breaks, then it will be a success.