Smokers were thoughtless, are those who want to drop their masks the same? - Susan Morrison

When the smoking ban first rumbled on the horizon, the Smoking Jimmies and the Fag-ash Lills threatened revolt. No-one can stop us smoking in pubs. It is our right to light up anywhere, they thundered, then coughed, presumably.

Friday, 6th August 2021, 4:55 am
A shopper in Princes Street wears a mask. Susan Morrison will keep wearing hers for the good of all, she says. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Smokers were rude and thoughtless. My own pre-ban behaviour still shames me. I’d spark up in bars, restaurants and backstage in comedy clubs.

Anti-ban folk were wrong. We did not have the right to inflict our stinking, cancerous fag smoke on other people and the ban massively improved life in Scotland.

Now I hear the same tired arguments over mask-wearing. Oh, they wail, it is my right to be mask-free. My personal freedom, they bleat, is being curtailed.

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The right of the person working behind the counter or sitting in the seat next to our warriors for freedom to go about their lives free of the threat of catching Covid-19, or carrying it home to a vulnerable loved one, appears irrelevant.

The anti-smoke ban people used to claim that they didn’t care if they got cancer. ‘We all die of something’ they’d bray. As an ex-smoker now living with cancer, I don’t think much of that argument. I never did, actually.

Some anti-maskers have appropriated that dumb debate point. They say they would ‘cheerfully risk catching Covid’ to maintain their personal freedom. Carry on MacDuff, but please stay out of hospital. Keep the bed clear for someone who needs it. Incidentally, being intubated really cuts down your freedom of movement.

I’ll keep wearing my masks for now. For one thing, it's a handy disguise if I want to avoid someone, but for another, it's my responsibility to care for other people. I might be vaxxed to the max, but there’s a chance I could pass the bug along, and that’s something I’d rather avoid.

In fact, I wonder if mask-wearing will be something we do like our Japanese and Koreans friends during flu outbreaks. It seems a polite thing to do.

Ironically, when we wear our masks in the face of the bleating bare-faced nay-sayers it's their lives we could be saving.

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