Smoking is quickly becoming the most elaborate past time. What was once a simple exercise in getting your death sticks out, setting fire to them and then puffing away wherever the hell you pleased, has now turned into a tedious, and now with it being winter, incredibly cold event as you stand outside of the pub that you were warm and socialising in a few short minutes ago, but have now decided to replace that friendship and comfort with burning lungs, shivering and an increasing chance of certain death. Not that you are able to even care about any of this since you're also getting your delicious injection of nicotine that is clouding your brain into thinking happy thoughts in what is clearly a not so happy situation.
You wouldn't put yourself through this for most other things. If I offered people a delicious pie or simply to watch me play the Playstation 6 (if I was a time traveller), but on the condition that they had to come outside into the freezing night air to receive their prize, most if not all people would tell me to either bring it inside or simply shrug me off as a jackass for putting myself through such a struggle. But offer someone a little drag of sweet nicotine and they'll accept the same tedium without a care in the world.
The worst part of this is, that I'm not even a smoker. I smoke once a year maybe when drunk, but that's less for the actual smoking and simply because drunkenness allows me to bypass the annoying, but necessary part of my brain that reminds me that I am not, nor ever will resemble Clint Eastwood from the Dollars Trilogy when I'm smoking. But once the liquor starts following, I awkwardly ask someone for a cigarette, fail to light that mother up due to the retardedness of those flickey lighter things, ask someone else to do it for me, before smoking down on that bitter smoky stick that leaves me coughing and reeling in sickness the next day.
I do have to hang out with smokers though, since apparently most people seem to take up smoking during their University years, before finally managing to give it up several years later after may failed attempts. My life is currently taking place during the period just after University where everyone constantly talks about how they should give up smoking, whilst smoking, but won't for the next year or so. They will then relapse again because they tell themselves that they're young and so should live the way they want to, instead of accepting the obvious fact that they're just addicted and the fear of declining health isn't a big enough motivator at the moment.
So every time we go to the pub, or an asthmatic friend's house, the smokers will inevitably force me to stand outside with them since we're talking and in order to carry on the conversation and not be left by myself, I have to bear the brunt of it. I have started to develop a pretty backwards hatred of people who don't like people smoking in their houses now, since it brings about these situations. Although they're perfectly right to refuse people from smoking in their house, I found it easier very quickly to just let people puff away in my house just to avoid having to sit outside in the freezing cold. I do however shake the smoke away and cough to make them feel bad about themselves so that I may have the smallest ounce of false victory that I can drain from a situation where I am undoubtedly the biggest loser.
As if being a non smoker wasn't already annoying enough though, with the already tedious non interior smoking laws, the process of buying cigarettes with a friend has now been made extremely annoying. Here in England, the newest method of smoking prevention is a shutter that obscures the product from the buyer's view, since apparently it's the only thing that the government won't happily outright ban but will instead just make it more of a pain in the arse to get hold of.
Manhunt 2 was banned. The possession of the vague category of “hardcore” pornography has also been banned in the UK in recent years. I'm not entirely sure what the UK government would class as acceptable softcoreness of porn to have possession of, but I imagine that my definition and their definition will be wildly different since they have to appease to the unimaginative opinion of retired middle England voters, whilst all I have to satisfy is my own depraved tastes. In fact making currently legal things more annoying to get hold of is a continuing trend in the government's law making as very soon a nationwide protect the children initiative will be put into practise as all adult websites and websites containing unpleasant extremist opinion will be made inaccessible by default by every citizen's internet provider. I'm happy it's not a ban but it really is a ball ache to have to phone up my service provider and have to reiterate that of course I want to look at that all that stuff since there wouldn't be much point in owning the internet if I couldn't jack off and read stupid people's opinions on things.
Smack this on the front of the carton and I assure you sales would drop almost immediately
But back to the shutters. The shutters are as I said before, basically just a giant game of peek a boo between you and your desired tobacco product. Me and a friend, a friend who wanted some cigarettes; quickly stopped in a Sainsbury's to buy some and asked the clerk if we could see the selection since they didn't have his regular brand. The guy told us that he couldn't open the shutter to let us see the product, even though we knew that cigarettes were behind there and that he wasn't fooling anyone. He told us that we would have to select from the menu across the store, from which my friend picked a random product and when the clerk got it out for him, he realised it wasn't what he thought it was and asked if he could have something else instead. The clerk quickly closed the shutter and told us again that we would have to look at the menu.
In the end my friend randomly picked a whole selection of stuff and had to have the guy bring out each one and even then he just took a peek whilst the guy had the shutter open anyway to pick something.
You know people say the world is an evil place, ruled by greedy and ruthless corporations who are only out to make a quick buck but I came to find that it was much more annoying than that. They won't even take your damn money anymore and instead you have to spend a pointless amount of time pissing around literally trying to give your money away while some poor guy is forced under threat of losing his job to keep up the façade that the cigarettes behind him must be shielded from view because in doing so he will prevent another sale of this sickly, evil product and won't instead just waste a lot of time and effort and if anything just cause more arguments and hostility than there already is between strangers.
The idea that the shutter will make you forget cigarettes exist is also a stupid premise because it actually does the exact opposite. Now my friend is actually forced to remember the numerous brands of cigarettes so that he knows what to ask for. He's sampled more different types than he ever would and is more aware of the varieties available than ever. The shutter sits there behind the counter like a burning Gomorrah, hidden from view and now made more tempting and memorable because we're not allowed to see it.
People argue that the shutter creates a social attitude that smoking is dangerous and bad and that it shouldn't be done, but the thing is everyone knew this and anyone who didn't is clearly too stupid and ignorant for their actions to have any meaning or impact on any decision making. Cigarettes are bad, but now they're being hidden away and that makes them more noticeable than ever. You can still buy cigarettes and people care as little as they always did. You don't feel embarrassed when buying them, it's not a taboo to smoke, all it is is simply a slight inconvenience, but an inconvenience that is worth it because you like smoking. It doesn't change anything, it's just annoying.
And now purchasing cigarettes is set to become even more annoying with the introduction of blank packaging. Australia has already introduced it and off the back off this the UK seems set to follow. I obviously hope that this initiative is successful and brings about the end of smoking since it's clearly a terrible habit and can kill you. I just don't think that these mindless tactics of just covering them up or making the packaging blank is going to change anything since no one buys their cigarettes because of the packaging. The box has never been eye catching; they simply buy it because of the name. And it's this constant tedium of making cigarettes harder to browse before purchase that will have the opposite effect. It will force people to remember their brand better in future and so make buying cigarettes as simple as it ever was, except now some idiot has to open a shutter for no reason.
Buying cigarettes: 1920 - infinity and beyond.
“Hello I'd like a pack of Marlboro please”
“Certainly sir” (for post 2013 scenes also include clerk moving shutter out of way for no reason)
And these blank packages are anything less than blank. Look at the ones they're selling in Australia. The scare tactics on the front used to be plain and dull but now look at this stuff. It's amazing. It's so eye catching and extreme. They don't even look like warnings anymore; they're too well shot and focused on. They're more like awesome graffiti or cool graphics design. Whoever made these seems to have missed the point of scary and wrapped all the way round to badass. Now this packaging is noticeable, this is eye catching. I just might buy a pack.
So there you have it. My continued annoyance with having been around smokers and their trials to purchase cigarettes has started to make me realise just how pointless any of these initiatives are. They don't make people forget smoking, they make them remember it even better so as to avoid any annoyances when purchasing them. I hate smoking and feel sorry for anyone affected by it. I just don't think this is the solution.