When discussing health these days, if we’re not dissecting the latest updates on the pandemic, we’re often focusing on nutrition and dietary choices –– or mental health and wellbeing. These are areas, after all, in which it’s possible to quickly implement practical changes. For instance, we can make easy changes to our diets, particularly with more access to vegetarian and vegan options now widely available, and eateries becoming more inclusive with their menus. Indeed, we’ve even discussed The Vegan Dining Trail from Galway to Cork, where each restaurant along the route is completely meat-free! We might not have imagined such a thing existing several years back.
One thing that doesn’t seem to come up anymore in conversations about health and lifestyle, however, is smoking. Most millennials and older generations will remember when smoking in restaurants was totally acceptable; bars and clubs had indoor smoking areas; smoking on public transport was permitted; some workplaces would even allow ashtrays on desks.
There‘s no significant, identifiable moment to refer to as the point when all of this stopped being normal. It all just seems to have faded into the past, so gradually yet so completely as to be somewhat baffling in retrospect. So when did we stop talking about smoking? Did anyone even notice it went away?
The most obvious change in the quest to phase out smoking came in the form of restrictions imposed across Ireland. Somewhat ahead of the game, Ireland was the first country in the world to implement comprehensive legislation back in 2004, creating smoke-free workplaces –– including bars and restaurants. It was an historic moment, and it caused uproar amongst publicans who claimed it would be the death of the hospitality industry for Ireland. Of course, it wasn’t, like most adjustments, we accepted the inconvenience, changed our behaviours and got on with our lives.
It was a risky step to take though. In fact, fifteen years after restrictions were imposed, the Irish Examiner took a look back and acknowledged that the extent of the knock-on effects were unknown. At the time when restrictions were imposed, there was fear of factory-floor rebellions, as well as nervousness amongst employers and employees, business owners, and smokers. The contrast to today is stark. Just imagine seeing a patron, elbows on the bar, lit cigarette in hand; you can practically feel eyebrows reaching hairlines, and mouths agog. The very idea almost seems treacherous!
With such an immediate “nip it in the bud” change back then, the simple fact is that many had no choice but to change their habits –– though many were loathe to surrender nicotine. Plenty were not relishing the thought of standing in the path of a biting Irish wind, trying to light a cigarette whilst shivering in the bitter cold, however. Thus, in response to an influx of determined quitters, a market for alternative nicotine products emerged, slowly but surely.
That market has evolved over time, with smokeless tobacco products, nicotine gum, nicotine patches, and various types of lozenges all helping smokers to adhere to restrictions at various points in the past fifteen years or so. Today, nicotine pouches are surfacing as the latest popular options. A post on nicotine pouches by Prilla explains that clean, discreet use and a range of flavours are proving to be appealing to consumers. In short though, numerous “nicotine replacement therapy” (or NRT) alternatives have helped smokers to maintain their lifestyles without having major issues with habits and cravings in places where smoking is prohibited.
So, with the majority of the world following suit with smoking restrictions and the NRT industry providing more socially acceptable alternatives to puffing on a cigarette, smoking really has become almost a taboo subject. With these significant changes now well established, smoking naturally and gradually faded into the shadows rather than abruptly ceasing to be a topic of discussion.
Recommending the best place for Mujadara, comparing the newest nicotine pouch flavours and staying safe and sanitised is truly the new norm for those who might once have been labelled “smokers.”