Having just returned from a week in County Cork, it is interesting to note that just about every policy advanced by any Scottish Executive of whatever hue in respect of curbing smoking, from banning it in enclosed spaces to keeping cigarettes off display in shops, seems to have originated in the Republic of Ireland.
This leads the author to three conclusions.
Firstly, that the deeply authoritarian nature of Irish political culture has not been mitigated by the Republic's integration into the wider world.
Secondly, that the Scottish Parliament is full of deadheads incapable of creative thought; we have to do it because the Irish are doing it.
Thirdly, that both Scottish and Irish nationalists are just like every other nationalist grouping that has ever existed anywhere in the world - they love the nation and hate the people.
Since July 1 2009, tobacconists in the Republic of Ireland have been compelled to keep their wares off display. They still keep them behind the counter but now store them in orange coloured contraptions which are supposed to work like cold drinks vending machines, a code being entered and your box of 20 Whatever You Likes dropping down to be furtively handed over.
In one shop I was in, the thing was already broken; but I'm sure their manufacturers have made an enormous profit.