Smoking in buildings used by the public is about to become illegal in England. The Celtic parts of the British Isles have already taken this path, and indeed it was the popularity of this measure in the Republic of Ireland that finally persuaded the government to take the plunge. I will be glad that this is finally to the law. At last we will be able to eat in a restaurant an emerge without clothes and hair smelling foul. However, the punishment for smoking will not approach what happens in Sunni areas of Iraq where Al Qaida punish smokers by cutting off the two 'smoking fingers'.
I have been convinced of the evils of smoking ever since my grandmother took me on her knee and pointed out my cousin who was smoking away. "Look how green he is going" she said, and I'm sure he went as green as Shrek.
Nevertheless, my father smoked, lighting one cigarette with the but of the last one. He died young of a pulmonary embolus while suffering from smoker's polycythemia.
When I attend King's College Hospital we have an X-ray meeting where we review around 50 chest X-rays and chest CTs. The pulmonary radiologist is first class. He tells you straight away whether your patient is a smoker by viewing the state of the lungs on CT. A couple of weeks ago he astonished me by pointing out that the patient smoked cannabis. Only cannabis smoking can produce this degree of emphysema in one so young. Today he made the diagnosis of AIDS in a Nigerian Health Tourist. He had enlarged lymph nodes beneath his chin and nowhere else. "This is a picture pathognomic of HIV infection," he said