MOTHERS and asthmatics will want to kill me for saying this, but sometimes I miss the days when you could smoke in pubs, clubs, restaurants and pretty much anywhere else in reach of an ashtray or street gutter.
As far as I can tell, this opinion has nothing to do with me being a smoker (I'll have an occasional puff but I have barely bought a packet of fags in my life), and more to do with a kind of golden age syndrome.
Some might find this disgusting, but I always felt at home in a public bar that was thick with the fog of a hundred smokers' conversations.
When I was a kid and Sizzler used to still offer you a seat in the smoker's or non-smoker's section, mum often sat us with the smokers so as not to make too much of a fuss.
There was something about the vibe of a smoky room - perhaps people were more relaxed when they weren't denied their nicotine and something to keep their hands occupied.
Sometimes, conversations flow more fluently when you've got a fag in one hand and a schooner in the other.
These days, the pubs with a decent-sized smokers' area seem to get divided into two halves, and even though I rarely smoke, I often find myself hanging outside in the cold with the darbers' team.
ALSO MAKING HEADLINES TODAY ...
Hell, they might not live as long but at least they are enjoying what time they have - before cancer sets in.
Perhaps I had a susceptibility to smoking addiction that was never realised?
My grandfather lived on a constant diet of cigarettes. I used to sit there and watch him roll one after the other and wonder when he would finally decide he'd smoked enough.
From an early age I got used to enjoying the company of smokers, but also got a good impression of how addictive the smokes can be - not just the cigarettes but the act of smoking itself.
For this reason, I am not willing to pass judgement on anyone who lights up.
This is not to say that I support the big tobacco companies and their highly addictive little cancer sticks - especially when those things can harm unborn babies.
But there are certain things that I think should be left to personal choice.
Since smoking is still technically legal, I think we should still respect the choice of those who wish to smoke.