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The classic oxymoron
Today, I was walking home and there was a smoker a little way in front of me. As he was walking, I watched as he finished his cigarette, threw it on the ground, stepped on it and kept walking without breaking stride. And it occured to me, the most oxymoronic phrase to have crept into usage is a "social smoker". I will leave to one side all the arguments on a health basis - I'll take a liberal perspective on this one: if the smoker wants to kill themselves, why not? Go for it! The problem, of course, is that they affect other people when they do it.
It smells terrible, it makes my clothes stink, my eyes sting and my throat sore. And that is just passive smoking. I fail to see how it can be a social activity. So I have come up with a challenge. I know a few of my readers are engineers. Probably most of them, in fact. Your challenge for today: come up with a tool which will still allow the smoker to kill themself with their disgusting habit while cutting out as much of the smoke as possible. Bonus points if you cut out their smoky exhalations. Extra bonus points if it could be made cheaply enough that it could be made compulsory in all public spaces. Extra-extra bonus points if it looks ugly and uncool.
Disclaimer: any ideas remain the property of the original writer. Anyone who wants to adopt my ideas to cut out smoking is welcome to. Even better if they want to give me a share of any royalties.
Suggestion 1: Sort of like a giant upside-down fishbowl with a rubber ring around the opening, a string and an inbuilt lighter. The person wears it on their head and puts the rubber ring around their neck to seal it. To smoke, the person attaches a cigarette to the string and through a complicated series of head tilts can get the cigarette into their mouth. Kind of a game for them and a chance for everyone else to laugh at them. To light the cigarette they push a button on the outside of the bowl which lights the lighter.
Suggestion 2: A mini-gas scrubber going on the end of the cigarette which captures all of the fumes and collects them.
Suggestion 3: A small amount of explosive placed in the middle of the cigarette - enough to do a little bit of damage to the hands (and possibly face if their timing is right) - while this doesn't really solve the problem of catching the smoke, it might decrease the overall amount, because I'd imagine most smokers would stop after two (one to blow off each hand). I suppose there could be ethical concerns though...
Comment from Todd Fraser
What you've left out is an exhaust gas scrubber on option 1 otherwise the smoker will choke from no air in or out. I know they're choking themselves anyway but we have to be looking out for their health :-P
Good point, although forgetting it does have merits...
My favourite procrastinations
The Head Heeb - Jonathan provides a balanced view on various Israeli and (former) colonial states in less developed regions of the world.
The Bladder - a sports satire site. Well worth a look.