I don't smoke.
Well, I do smoke the very occasional cigar - nothing complements the smoky subtlety of a good malt whisky like a quality cigar - but I don't smoke cigarettes. It's not because I have any particular objection to cigarette smoking - I don't - it's just a habit that never caught on with me.
One of the reasons for that is possibly that I grew up in a household that was permanently shrouded in a fug of cigarette smoke. My dad smoked cigarettes, my mother smoked cigarettes and both my older brothers smoked cigarettes. I remember how we would all be sitting around chuckling along to Morecambe & Wise with a blue grey haze hanging from the ceiling like an inverted morning mist.
I know that all of my many cousins grew up in similar households as did my school chums. I remember wedding receptions where the adult guests smoked freely in the local village halls while us kids sipped our bottles of cola through straws and how a dozen or more of us would crowd around a table at the local British Legion where the ashtray would be overflowing with stubbed out cigarette butts while we peered through a shroud of cigarette smoke at the band playing "Tie A Yellow Ribbon" for the third time that evening.
Despite all this, neither myself or any of the other kids I knew at the time suffered from the effects of "passive smoking". There was one kid at school who was always ill with ear infections, asthma and the like, but his parents were amongst the few that didn't smoke, refused to allow smoking in their home and were obsessive vegetarians. I remember going around there once for tea (not the drink, but the evening meal as it used to be when we had dinner at midday) and being confronted with a plate of leaves. I never went there again and that kid never seemed to have any friends.
Anyway, people of my generation grew up in homes filled with cigarette smoke. We played in streets choked with leaded petrol fumes, smoke from coal fires and pollution from the Slough Trading Estate.
So why is it all different now?
Between 500 to 1,000 children a year end up in hospital because they are exposed to their parents' smoking.
Right. So we now live in a world where kids rarely come into contact with cigarette smoke, don't play in streets clogged with pollution from coal fires and leaded petrol and they're less healthy than we were?
Something stinks about this story and it isn't cigarette smoke.