Rhiannon Harries: Making us walk an extra 10 yards isn't going to stop us smoking

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The Independent Online

Most of the many stupid things I do on a regular basis – late payment of bills, buying over-priced sandwiches, missing flights – are the result of either laziness or a chronic lack of organisation. The stupidest of all, however, involves an uncharacteristic amount of effort and forward-planning. Apologies readers/Mum/everyone. I am a smoker.

So last week's announcement of Government plans to extend the smoking ban to open-air spots from pub gardens to office entrances left me, and presumably many of my ilk, with a sinking feeling. Not because I feel persecuted; I'm in complete agreement with the intention and if it at least translates into a reduction in passive smoking, it will be worthwhile. I just wish I believed it might make me – and Britain's four million other smokers – give up.

The problem, for me anyway, is that smoking has always been an inconvenient habit. Counter-intuitively, it was in the aftermath of 2007's smoking ban that, already well into my twenties, I went from being an occasional cadger of other people's cigarettes to a committed 10-a-day, maybe- more-at-the-weekend type.

From the outset I've been accustomed to braving freezing temperatures and driving rain or, if I've lucked out at a party with a liberal host, risking all by hanging out of a sash window for the sake of a fag. Anyone bemoaning the nation's metaphorical lack of grit this winter should have seen my friends and I sitting on a snow-covered Caffè Nero terrace enjoying a coffee and cig as cheerfully as if we'd been basking on the Italian Riviera.

And God knows the depths I'd sink to in search of a new packet. One acquaintance, an ordinarily mild-mannered type, reckons that if he found himself penniless, it would be 24 hours – tops – before he started mugging old ladies for fag money.

Yes, logically, making something difficult should put people off. But rational motives don't come into it: anyone addicted to nicotine knows there is no good reason for doing something that costs a fortune, gives you the skin of Dot Cotton, the teeth of Shane MacGowan, and is ultimately linked to an early death. Frankly, walking an extra 10 metres is the least of my worries.

But if that part of the proposal is ill-conceived, I barely know where to start on comments from Royal College of General Practitioners chairman Prof Steven Field, who thinks the glamorisation of smoking in British dramas should also be tackled. Since I wasn't aware that Britain made any glamorous dramas, this seemed an unlikely factor, but Field gives a helpful example in the form of Corrie's Deirdre Barlow. Yikes, surely that'll have everyone binning their cigs? Unfortunately for me, not quite.