Gareth from the Office: No smoke without asking

No smoking

No smoking

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THIS week I was subjected to something that annoys me beyond belief.

It was while I was walking to the shops in Newport Pagnell and approached by a line of about seven lads waiting outside. I thought nothing of it at first but as I got nearer I instinctively guessed what was coming.

Gareth Ellis

Gareth Ellis

I overheard one of the group say, ‘go on, ask him’ before the biggest lad broke away from the group.

And, as I foolishly looked over and made eye contact, the youngster asked: “Can you buy us some baccy mate?”

Admittedly, when faced with such a request I’ve often stopped and hesitated but I’m afraid the answer has always been no. It’s illegal to buy cigarettes or alcohol for those under age.

The thought process is sometimes to come out with a witty comment; on this occasion I considered correcting the boy’s grammar to ask ‘Don’t you mean tobacco?’ But rather than an arrogant retort I opted for a calm ‘definitely not’ – which prompted some hilarity from his friends.

But as calm as the answer may have been the reality of the situation was far different.

I too have behaved similarly irresponsibly at that age –before I was old enough to buy cigarettes or had the correct ID to prove I was legally entitled to. And, yes I appreciate the irony of my statements, but it makes me realise what idiots my friends and I made of ourselves.

The problem is that eventually someone will cave in for fear of any potentional trouble.

Unsuspecting passers-by would rather avoid a confrontation and buy the cigarettes rather than risk the wrath of a group of over zealous teenagers.

However, a deterrent was the move in 2007 to raise the legal age for buying cigarettes and alcohol from 16 to 18.

Now it is those people I feel sorry for, not sorry enough to buy them cigarettes but still sorry nonetheless. It has been reported by experts that 80 per cent of people start smoking long before the age of 19; these people have probably been smoking from a young age and there is every chance they are still smoking now.

But if you were legally smoking at 16 then told you would have to ‘give it up for two years’, that would be tough.

Because aside from being a supporter of the English football team it’s accepted that nothing is more difficult than quitting smoking.

I smoked when I was younger, peer pressure was my excuse. But thankfully the habit never took hold long enough for me to resort to asking people outside shops to ‘buy me some baccy’.