They were segregated, then banished, from all their favourite haunts. The bars, the restaurants and cafés, the bingo halls that used to welcome them now spurned them in keeping with tougher smoking laws. Smokers were booted outside, first to the entranceways and then further, to designated areas across the street. In winter, huddling in alcoves and looking pained, smokers are among the angriest people around.
They are forced to look at ghastly, graphic images of diseased organs, bad teeth or penile dysfunction with every smoke. They are targets for a bombardment of anti-smoking messages and campaigns from the public health community and disease associations.
With the ever-rising price of tobacco, smokers add mightily to the public purse in taxes and receive neither credit nor respect for their contribution. In their eyes, the economy runs on their fumes. As active daily consumers, they are avid supporters of small retail merchants and they keep the health care sector employed.
When anthropologists look back on the human’s long Tobacco Age they too will conclude that smokers were an angry people.
They’re angry that they have this cruel habit overtaking them and over which they feel powerless. Their nicotine addiction claws away at them and makes them antsy. Maybe angry that they tried to quit again recently and failed.
Shunned, scorned, isolated and targeted, is it any wonder smokers present a particular challenge when asked to play nice with their cigarette butts and keep them off the ground? If only we could appeal to the smoker’s better nature.
In the end, litter law enforcement and fines might be the only way to stop smokers from littering, but that will just make them angrier.