Privileged to be growing up in a world free of smoke

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Old habits die hard - and my mother is living proof.

Despite being 80 years young, she still smokes, despite my best efforts. “I’ve survived this long!” she quips, anytime I bring up the subject.

“But mother dear,” I always reply, “everyone knows how bad smoking is for your health these days.”

“Nonsense!” is her usual response. “They only banned it on buses because the drivers complained that it made their uniforms smell.”

It’s hard to argue with such flawless logic. But I try anyway. It’s for her own good after all.

My sympathy for smokers - other than my mother, of course - disappeared a long time ago. I know it’s tough to quit, it took me long enough to kick the habit. And I know that if I did still enjoy a fly ciggie, the last thing I’d want is people moaning at me every minute to stub it out.

But the fact remains that it’s a filthy habit and should be consigned to the last century.

Not that my mother pays any attention when I tell her.

I’m hoping that the latest arrival to the family could finally make her consider quitting.

A fortnight ago, my second grandchild Sophie was born. It made me think how much of a blessing it is that she’ll grow up in a smoke-free world.

When I was wee, it seemed like every adult smoked; at home, in the car, on the bus, in the office, in the pub - even in hospital!

My own battle to quit coincided with the birth of my first-born, Emma, in the late 1980s. When I discovered I was pregnant, I made the decision that it was finally time to stop.

It was tough at first - not helped by the fact that all my friends and family were still puffing away. But I thought things would be easier when I eventually reached the hospital.

So imagine my horror when I discovered that patients were allowed to smoke freely in the television room at the maternity hospital. There were no bedside TVs back then. My options were either to sit in a room with a fog thicker than the Forth on a cold day, or keep to my bed and read. I think I got through 12 paperbacks in the space of five days.

The smoke used to actually seep out from under the doors of the TV room, like it was the laboratory of a crazy professor from a low-budget horror film.

My bed was at the far end of the room so at least I didn’t have to inhale it. Not that most of the expecting mothers were bothered - nearly all of them enjoyed a puff.

It’s unbelievable to think that smoking in hospitals was once considered normal behaviour.

Thankfully Emma didn’t have such an issue to consider when was giving birth to Sophie. You’re not even allowed to smoke on the grounds of any hospital - something that I was quick to tell my mother.