This is a request for courtesy from smokers, and a little more thought from people who establish 'no smoking' areas.

Smoking is a widespread habit. Sad but true. It's going to scar, cripple and kill lots of people of whom I'm very fond. It already has done, in fact. But it seems we're stuck with it. I'm not about to stop everyone smoking, even though the world might be a happier place if they did stop.

So, managers and putters-up of signs, when you ask people not to smoke, consider for a moment that they might be left with only the outside world to smoke in. I'm asthmatic. I choke and retch if I inhale too much tobacco smoke. People are more likely to ask me if I mind them lighting up in the smoking area of a pub than in the outside world. People cheerfully smoke cigarettes on crowded footbridges, and walking along the road. I don't want every day to be a nightmare because of this. And of course there's the litter problem. Cigarette butts are an extremely unsightly form of litter, and in places like the City of London, where the litter bins have been removed for fear of terrorism, every single cigarette smoked ends up on the ground. Charming.

So, smokers, please smoke away from people who don't smoke, or ask those around you if they mind - even if they're just random members of the public. And if you, as a site manager or whatever, are considering putting up 'no smoking' signs, try to offer a smoking room. You'll earn friends on both sides of the divide like that.

Addendum: Because people have mistaken my dislike for smoking for a dislike for smokers, I'll be utterly explicit: We need more smoking areas, to protect the environment (in a little way), and to show respect for smokers' and non-smokers' rights alike.

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