Christopher Gray talks passive smoking

‘You don’t object to my smoking a cigar, Beatrix? The smoke goes out of the window, you know,” said the Baronet, after they had driven about a mile in silence.

“What young lady, so appealed to by a parent, ever did object? The fact is, Sir Jekyl did not give himself the trouble to listen to her answer, but was manifestly thinking of something quite different as he lighted his match.” Parents’ indifference to their offspring’s attitude to having smoke blown at them during travel is by no means simply a phenomenon of modern times. The two paragraphs above are taken from Guy Deverell, a Gothic novel by that masterly Victorian writer J. Sheridan Le Fanu. It was published in 1865. The lines jumped out at me as I read the book on Monday night since, moments before, I had been listening on the news to a report of the vote in the House of Commons to ban smoking in cars when children are present.

This was an eminently sensible decision whose opponents — smoker Nick Clegg for one — stand revealed as selfish fools.

Besides the obvious benefit to youngsters in cutting their risk of harm from passive smoking, the measure will also help adults to end a disgusting, costly habit.

I write from experience. Once, having bought a fine new car, I decided to save its upholstery (and Rosemarie) from the smell of smoke. After 25 years of slavery to tobacco, I found I could drive for hours without a fag, proving I wasn’t as addicted as I thought. It was a short step from there to quitting altogether.