The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Thursday, November 13, 2008

No smoking in taxis, please.

Smoking kills. So, does passive smoking (that is when you don't smoke but someone else does nearby, or recently). Knowing this, Singapore's authorities moved a couple of years ago, to control smoking in public places, banning it except in designated smoking areas, at cafes, hawker centres, eateries, restaurants (and later bars and clubs). Unpopular though this move was, with smokers, I think it is a good thing.

The other day, I got into a cab that had the strongest smell I have ever encountered in public transport: smoke. The whole cab reeked of cigarettes - every inch of the place emanated old, dead cigarettes. It was horrible. Now, I knew, at once, that this could only be because the driver was a heavy smoker and smoked in his own cab - because the smell was just too thick, too all-encompassing to have come from a recent passenger's cigarette. It wasn't the smell of just one fag - it was the smell of hundreds, all laid on top of one another. It was truly dreadful.

The stench was all the more surprising in that he had clearly not been smoking recently, since there was no smoke in the air and he had not a cigarette in his hand. It is just that he had smoked so consistently and persistently in his cab, that the very substance and fabric of the cab itself had come to smell like an ashtray, filled with fuming butts.

Now, I don't want my cab to smell like a cheap nightclub. I don't want to have to absorb thousands of airborne toxins, permeating the air of the cab. I want to breathe clean air. Why should I not when cabs are simply so expensive, anyway, these days? Did I ask the driver to give me free cigarette fumes? No. Yet, he did.

Now, I didn't know when I took that cab that smoking was not allowed in cabs. If I had known this, I would have noted his license number and reported him. Clearly, the fact that smoking in cabs is banned yet his cab smelled of smoke, indicates that the legislation is not working. It needs to be enforced. Taxis should be smoke free zones. Neither drivers nor passengers should smoke in cabs. If a passenger smokes, they will leave behind fumes for the next passenger to breathe - so no-one should smoke. Perhaps it is time to stiffen the penalties: a cab driver should lose the right to drive, if his cab smells of smoke. Such a penalty might actually work, if enforced.

I understand that some drivers are smokers and that, for them, ironically, smoking is a matter of life and death and they really must get their puff every hour/minute/second. Well, there is a simple solution: they will have to stop their cab somewhere, GET OUT, then smoke. They should not smoke in an enclosed space, because then they will smell of cigarette smoke, too.

I am glad, however, that this incident made me research the law around smoking in cabs. The next time I get into a cab that smells of smoke, I will report the driver. If everyone did this, it wouldn't be long before drivers (and passengers) did, indeed, stop smoking in what is, after all, a public place: a taxi.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 9:05 PM 


Blogger thoughtfulape said...

I would argue that a nonlegislative solution would be superior. Allow Taxi drivers to prominently display nonsmoking or smoking emblems on the doors of their cabs. If I don't want a smoke filled taxi, I wait for one that displays the appropriate emblem. In such a way we can respect both the rights of smoking taxi drivers (and customers) as well as nonsmoking drivers and customers. If a driver is willing to sacrifice hid number of customers for the convenience of smoking in his taxi why shouldn't he?
There is already too much authoritarian regulation of peoples behavior in general and a solution which respects everybody's freedom is preferable in my opinion.

12:15 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

The solution of which you speak would not work in Singapore because too many drivers appear to be smokers. If your proposal were implemented then a large segment of taxis would be unavailable to many commuters. The only solution is a strict ban on smoking (there is one...but it is not enforced enough).

In Singapore, the softly, softly approach never really works: a strong stand is necessary to modify any behaviour (which is why law and order is the way it is here).

Thanks for your suggestion.

3:54 PM  

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