OPINION

The right to smoke?

… A new reality is already upon us: strict new regulations, designated areas, «no smoking» signs with the ominous red slash, fines for violators – overall, the cigarette has been marginalized at the State’s will. Of course it «seriously damages your health.» Years of scientific evidence linking smoking to lung disease, cardiovascular problems, strokes and cancer can hardly be wrong. But don’t expect anyone to defend the rights of smokers who categorically refuse to give up their tobacco pouches or our countless fellow beings who, mindful of its distressing consequences, abhor smoking and do everything they can to ensure the air around them is clean, regardless of the pollution and exhaust fumes slowly destroying our atmosphere. At the end of the day, it’s really a matter of personal choice. Everyone is responsible for their own actions and how these affect their health. Beyond that, all that is needed is a bit of social sensitivity, not excessive measures that facilitate a patronizing stance and create problems in daily life. But wherever there are laws, there are interpretations. On that note, allow me to recount an old but timely joke: Two monks are praying in a monastery when the younger produces a cigarette and lighter. «You can’t smoke here,» the elder says, «I asked the abbot if we can smoke while praying and he said no.» «Well, I asked him if I can pray whenever I’m having a cigarette and he said yes,» the younger monk retorted…