'I used to smoke. Today, even a faint whiff of cigarette smoke in the street turns my stomach'

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By Paula Thelwell

Human nature never fails to astound yours truly.

After decades of dire warnings over the proven dangers of smoking, outlawing the activity in numerous situations – and hiking tobacco duty to make cigarettes supposedly prohibitively expensive – statistics have revealed that one in seven Islanders aged 16 and above smoked in 2021.

More alarmingly, more figures released by Statistics Jersey showed that 19% of deaths (140) in the preceding 12 months were attributed to smoking.

The report also revealed that 4% of admissions to the General Hospital in 2020 were down to smoking related complaints, resulting in 1,120 people taking up beds, compared to 890 in 2018.

Sadly, while non-smokers are protected in the workplace, on public transport, in pubs, restaurants and al fresco areas from the hazard of inhaling second-hand cigarette smoke, 14% of all babies born last year would share a home with a smoker.

Smoking can kill, not just those who imbibe but others around them, and that has been scientifically proven and repeatedly reinforced though health and public information campaigns for over 40 years.

A comment made by a colleague in the mid-90s resonates with me to this day. He said that anyone then under the age of 30 who smoked must have lost their senses.

Here we are in 2022 and children are still taking up the habit.

I used to smoke. Who didn’t? But I kicked the habit in my late 20s. Today, even a faint whiff of cigarette smoke in the street turns my stomach.

Maybe messages enticing smokers to quit need to be revitalised to hit home to the image-conscious young.

While statistical results of a campaign to stop Danish teenagers smoking eludes me, more then three decades after it was rolled out, the core message sticks in my mind.

It asked the question, why did boys not want to kiss girls who smoke? Because their breath stinks!

To which you can add, so does their hair and clothes – as is the case with all smokers.

Keyboard skills

From Braintree in Essex comes a novel way of capturing an image that requires a great deal of skill and dexterity.

James Cook has a rare and special talent when it comes to using an old-fashioned typewriter. He creates typictions or typed-depictions, portraits or images formed from letters, numbers and punctuation symbols.

Interest in his artwork is so high that he works full-time in a studio in London – which also houses his collection of 120 typewriters – and he has appeared on American television.

Cook won fame stateside with a canny resemblance of actor Tom Hanks, a fellow fan of the typewriter.

It takes QWERTY to another level.

Mobile users beware

The public humiliation of MP Neil Parish was made complete the weekend before last, when he was forced to resign his seat after admitting to watching pornography on his phone in the Commons chamber.

His online activities were spotted by two female Tory MPs seated close by, who reported his indiscretion to the party Whip.

A few years ago I found myself covering an event in Jersey attended by a prominent Member of the UK Parliament.

Seated behind the politician in question I was struck by his rudeness as, throughout the Bailiff’s speech, some of it directed in the customary complementary tones at him in person and the government he was representing, he was fixated with his phone, scrolling through the government Twitter pages and joining in the ‘chat’.

It appears it is not only teenagers who are addicted to technology and its various – and often unsavoury – uses.

Tick-tock

As is the habit of Jersey’s boomerang politics, the subject of whether the Island should move all-year-round to Central European Time – one hour ahead of the UK in winter and two in summer – was due to bounce back.

Despite Islanders rejected the notion – by an overwhelming 72% – in a referendum in October 2008, I am surprised it has been left floating in the ether for so long.

It is back in the spotlight again as the contentious issue is being raised in the Houses of Parliament for the umpteenth occasion.

The old tired arguments, also rejected in the 1990s and numerous times since and before, are the same: extra light in the evening, more time for sport and leisure, greater road safety blah, blah, blah.

Following an unsuccessful trial between March 1968 and October 1971 across the UK and islands, we Brits have been firmly against adopting CET – and Brexit will only compound that.

Whether people like it or not, the Island is tied intrinsically into the UK national clock and its timings.

As a listener who called into a live debate on 103FM about the proposal in 2008, enquired: ‘which barmpot came up with this idea!’

No doubt there will be more barmpots in the future to drag this old hot potato up over and over again.

As for another referendum, even in an island famous for a wanton waste of public resources, there must be more important matters to throw taxpayers’ money at.

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