10 February 2010

Smoke gets in my hair

Last week from the second-language newspaper I exclusively read (I leave the job of screening Apple Daily to Henry already), I was shocked to know a government advisory body is proposing bans on people lighting up in the street and on the depiction of smoking in films.

I don’t smoke so I don’t enjoy conflict of interests in writing this post. However, as an empathetic human being, I couldn’t imagine what life would be if the government choose to ban my addictions (namely, the Hong Kong-styled milk tea, chocolates, flirting with bad boys) in the manner it bans smoking.

Whenever I need a caffeine boost at work, I would need to leave the work I’m doing, go outside the office building and hide like a naughty dog.

On every cup of milk tea I buy, there would be a huge sticker on the cup featuring a cranky premature aging lady, warning me milk tea is bad for my heart and skin.

I could only taste my La Maison du Chocolat truffles in the street, the heavenly aroma and silky texture mixed with the fume of vehicles.

Before I hang out in the clubs, I would need to research for the few which allow flirting and hook-ups, or embarrassingly ask the bartender if it’s okay to do so.

In a word, my life, alongside the society, would be extremely bitter. The Law, undeniably, serves the purpose of protecting citizens from harm, like requiring us to wear a seatbelt even it creases my ruffled dress. However, at the same time, it also serves the principle of preserving individual rights and freedom. In cases where both principles conflict, the Law should balance out the harm and the importance of the freedom. When it comes to smoking, if the government decides that it is as harmful as throwing a child down the shopping mall balcony, why can’t it just ban smoking completely?

It can’t let go of the tax revenue from smokers of course.

As for the proposal to ban the depiction of smoking in films, the chairwoman from the Council on Smoking and Health cited the example of Avatar, claiming that it builds an image that smart people smoke and thus tempts quitters to resume their old habit.

It is as absurd as suggesting Avatar tempts women to dye themselves blue because Neytiri, the heroine in the film, is hot and fierce.

I watched Trainspotting when I was a teenage girl. Did I surrender to the allure of heroine because Ewan McGregor looks so cool in it? No.

I also watched the film Coco Before Chanel. Did I follow Coco’s puffing habit because she’s such a trailblazer in women fashion? Another no.

The reason for someone to pick up an addiction is so complicated and diversified that the government and its advisors have no clue but to find a handy explanation to blame on. Then they propose a simpleton solution.

Truth is, since the smoking ban, no one, at least the smokers in my circle, has given up the tabs. When I need some chit-chat after a dinner or a film, I still need to go outdoors with them, inhaling their wit and second-hand smoke. I still need to compromise on the places for drinks so that we are surrounded by air conditioner exhaust to negate my companions’ guilt of polluting fresh air. I still keep mum to what they’re doing to their lungs just to keep them from rolling eyes on me. When the smoking ban doesn’t work in the first place, extending the ban is like giving the kiss of life to a blow-up doll: totally hopeless.

Just like smudged eye makeup, ending up with smoke in my hair after a night out means I was having fun. Who loves to be flawless and clean anyway?


  1. I have to disagree, ending up with smoke in my hair after a night out just mean I still have to suffer through other people's bad habit, and that almost always put a damper on the fun night out. There are no comparison between your addiction and smoking as yours don't really affect the health of people around you. I got frustrated and had to change venue in more than a few occasions because the second hand smoke was choking me and my friends, and just imagine people who suffers from asthma or other respiratory disease! I do agree that while the ban isn't working in the first place, extending it is just a joke, but I do believe more should be done to ensue that the ban is being enforced.

  2. What about banning tobacco once and for all?

    That's the puzzling thing I found, though I personally smoke. Why not banning tobacco if it's harmful, when "saver" shits like cannabis is banned? Need the tax money maybe?

  3. my defintion of fun is, i can hang out in a big group of diversified but not divisive ppl, having an escape, doing some harmless harm to ourselves.

    What I'm truly concerned about is the attitude of the smokers. I really hate that when they blew the smoke right in my face. But most of them are guilty enough to stand aside or hide in a corner.


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