You are certainly correct in everything you have said about the changes in societal attitudes and regulations about smoking. It has indeed become more and more expensive and inconvenient to smoke and much legislation has been enacted to warn people of the dangers of smoking and encourage them to quit. The two primary reasons for this trend seem to be the evidence of the link between smoking and illnesses such as lung cancer and the emotional and health care costs associated with smoking. A second reason is the realization of the impact of second-hand smoke on the health of children and other adults who are exposed to it even though they themselves are non-smokers.
While there are still some people who believe that the reasons are bogus and just an excuse for social control of us by the government or the medical profession, most people realize that the science behind these findings is sound. So what does society do about people who continue to smoke? Are the rights of smokers being violated? I’m not in a position to address the issue of smokers’ rights and my personal opinions are not really relevant to your question.
What is relevant is this: given the reality of the changes in society, what do you do if you are a smoker and don’t want to quit? Obviously no one can force you to quit, though it sounds as though a part of you wants to quit smoking. If that part of you is stronger than the part that wants to keep smoking, there are a variety of programs, medicines and over-the-counter products that really are quite effective in helping people quit smoking. I also believe there is a lot of value in accessing a support group and working with agencies who have programs proven to be successful in helping smokers quit. You might check with your county health department or local hospital wellness program about resources for helping you quit smoking.
If you do choose to continue smoking or are not ready to try to quit, I have a few suggestions for you. Try to realize that the rules developed are to protect others and discourage people from starting to smoke. They are not personal and they are not specifically aimed at you. You can continue to smoke but you will have to conform to the rules (no smoking in restaurants, hospitals, etc.) because smoking is simply no longer allowed or tolerated in many places. There are still designated areas where you can smoke and while it is inconvenient, it is also the reality of the situation. When you do smoke it is always good to be courteous to the non-smokers around you. Ex-smokers and even some non-smokers actually do have empathy for the inconvenience smokers now have to deal with. Smokers get a bad rap when they are discourteous or angry at people around them. In most cases, the non-smokers around you had no part in setting up the rules. Basically you have to deal with things as they are. It’s aggravating, but that’s the truth of it.
I guess the thing I think about most, having had a mother who was a lifelong smoker die prematurely of lung cancer, is how sad I am that I didn’t have more time in life to share with her. The emotional costs to family members and others who love a smoker are immeasurable. If you happen to be one of those smokers who end up dying prematurely of a serious or terminal illness, it is a real loss both to you and to your family. This realization alone is often enough to tip the scales for a smoker to decide to quit. I wish you the best in your decision-making.