Thanks for not smoking

No smoking

Years ago when Miss 11 was a new entrant, she learned that smoking is bad, and made it her personal mission to name and shame everyone we came across who smoked. One day we were sitting at a traffic light, windows down, breeze blowing, when she noticed a smoker in the car next to us. “MUM!” she hollered. “That man is SMOKING! In his CAR!”

I looked over at the same time the smoking man looked at me. We made awkward eye contact. The light changed. He took off. In the back seat, my daughter was still spluttering indignantly. “Smoking is DISGUSTING!”

Fast-forward to last week, when Master Five had to accompany me to the hospital for an appointment. As we turned into the front entrance, the huddle of smokers congregated on the footpath next to the traffic light, in various stages of dress (and undress). Hospital gowns flapping in the breeze, IV bags hanging from wheelchairs, slippers slapping on the concrete, there were at least 10 people taking a smoke break literally next to a sign saying “No Smoking”.

“MUM!” he shouted. “Look at all those people SMOKING! GROSS!” Of course, the queue to get into the parking building was backed up so we were stuck practically parked next to these desperate souls puffing frantically away, while my son harangued them from his booster seat.

You’d think people would refrain from smoking at a hospital, of all places, but apparently not. They must know they can use an alternative like those available here if they need a nicotine fix, right?

I can only hope that when temptation comes for my two big kids, as it inevitably will, in the form of a “cool” friend offering a cigarette on the walk home from school, or a joint passed at a party, or a pack sneakily filched from the handbag of someone’s mum. And if I ever catch them smoking, you can be sure I’m going to yell at the top of my lungs, “SMOKING IS GROSS! WHY ARE YOU SMOKING? YUCK!” Preferably in front of their friends.

Katherine Granich

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