Clean Air – Malawi Style.

As a non-smoker I am delighted at the way legislation has at last guaranteed me fresh air when I have a meal in a restaurant, travel on public transport and visit public building of one sort or another. To breathe fresh, clean air is one of those commodities that should be considered as a human right to be enjoyed by all, just like fresh, clean water. We’ll never reach that utopian position of course, but at least we can try.

Most countries now have outlawed air pollution in theory, even if practice lags behind the law to a lesser or greater extent, mostly greater. Even little, poverty-ridden Malawi legislates in favour of clean air, and some folk there are trying to go farther than the rest of the world.

A law to be passed reads “Any person who vitiates the atmosphere in any place so as to make it noxious to the public to the health of persons in general dwelling or carrying on business in the neighbourhood or passing along a public way shall be guilty of a misdemeanour”. Fine stuff.

But one legal person is arguing that the above prohibition includes farting. And why not? When I was boarding a long distance bus once travelling from Amsterdam to Athens the driver announced to the waiting queue “If you have to fart please do it now before you get on the bus”.

And the legal person in question is none other than the Justice Minister, while the Solicitor General insists that the law only refers to what is commonly known as pollution rather than wind produced after a good plate of beans.

And this is no wind up, it’s serious – check it out. And as I sit and ponder the implications and complications of such a law, and wonder how it will be enforced, I’m suddenly filled with sympathy for all those smokers who just can’t stop.

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