Good things about smoking
Rock star smell
Helps people with Crohn’s Disease
Smoking-shelter social bonding
That Post-Coital Hollywood Feeling
Staves off irritating hunger pangs
Gives fingers a healthy yellow stain
Inspires Catholic style masochistic guilt
Bad Things About Smoking
The whole dying thing.
I LOVE smoking. I love that first cigarette of the day when you literally feel you’re going to die if you don’t light up right this second and then that acrid,guilty, breathless first drag as you stand in the early morning sun, lost inside a cloud. I love a cigarette with a cup of cream coffee, a cigarette with a glass of red, a cigarette for the sake of a cigarette, a cigarette that you don’t even notice you’re smoking, a cigarette after a cigarette after a cigarette.
I started smoking young. It’s sort of a family tradition. My father smoked cigars which stunk the whole house out, and my mother has been a chain-smoker since forever. She was probably born with a Gauloises in her mouth. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen my mother without a cigarette – she even smokes them at the dinner table between bites of food. She is French though, which might have something to do with it.
Anyway, I spent most of my childhood bathed in the blue poison of cigarette smoke so becoming a smoker was pretty much a certainty. I was dedicated to my foggy destiny. I remember my first ever drag, the nicotine hitting me like a little slap and making me dizzy. I must admit, I didn’t actually like smoking when I first started, and boarding school smoking is a risky business. My sister, always encouraging my little rebellions, used to send me individual Marlboro Lights in the post, taped down to her spidery hand-written letters with sellotape. I would peel them off, hoping there was no sticky-tape residue left on the filter (in case I got poisoned – the irony) and smoke myself silly in my toilet.
Nowadays I’m a forty a day boy. I’m not proud of that, by the way. Forty a day seems reckless and indulgent, but there you go. As I’ve got older my cigarette smoking has taken on a more refined edge –I used to keep my fags in a crushed packet somewhere beneath the condoms and the tissue-paper detritus of my coat pocket, and now I have a selection of vintage Player’s tins which I lovingly fill up each and every day. My two-quid-for-three plastic lighters have been replaced with a gold zippo, pretentiously engraved with the Arthur Rimbaud quote ‘Je est un autre’.
Anyway. The reason I’m writing this post is because of a headline in today’s Guardian.
“Graphic images on fag packets don’t deter teen smokers.”
Well of course they don’t, silly! When you’re young, you can’t comprehend things like cancer or tumours. Your even white teeth will stay even and white forever. You are pristine! You are ivory! You are immortal! And smoking is cool! In fact, those little pictures only serve to inspire rebellion. There are even these handy little stickers you can buy online, which cover up the pictures of black teeth and huge swollen cancerous tongues. So instead of this:
You get this:
Then there’s talk of putting cigarettes inside plain white packaging, which will frankly just make smoking that much more forbidden, that much more enigmatic. Don’t these people understand teenagers at all? If I was in charge, I’d just stick My Little Pony pictures all over the packets surrounded by the word GAY in swirly pink letters and watch the male teenage smoking population plummet. But even then they’ll find a way around it – because they are teenagers, they are resourceful, and they are ADDICTED TO NICOTINE.
I’m in no way condoning teenage smoking by the way. No matter how much I love the act of smoking, I really do understand that it’s a horrible habit that shouldn’t be encouraged, but the way the Government are going about things is ridiculous. Why not just outlaw smoking completely? That might do the trick. Or introduce e-cigarettes and make them widely available in shops? The e-cig is a brilliant little invention, and I use mine whenever I’m in the pub on a rainy day. Those big fat metal bastards that you can buy online even look cool, in a steampunky sort of way.
So try not to smoke kids, and all that jazz. You ain’t gonna be pristine forever. But there’s really no point in telling you that, is there?