This is a topic I have tried, and failed, to understand my entire life. As non-smoker, I’m told that I can’t possibly understand, and therefore shouldn’t try to. Perhaps in my quest to truly comprehend, I should take up smoking in order to get perspective from that side of the fence? However, I refuse to believe that it cannot be grasped by an intelligent non-smoker.
As a child, my parents smoked like proverbial chimneys. It is ingrained in my childhood as an integral part of the fabric of life. My parents both smoked Embassy tipped, 30-40 per day each, and I’d regularly be sent to the shops to get more. The artexed walls of our house were repainted once or twice every year, and any friend or relative going on a foreign holiday was given orders to bring back as much Duty Free as possible. In the 70’s my sisters and I were vaguely aware that it wasn’t good for you, and would sometimes flush cigarettes away, or bury them in the garden.
So much has been written about people wanting and trying to stop smoking, and very little has been written about the reasons new smokers are being recruited every day of every year. The top reasons I can find include these;
- It looks cool
- Peer pressure
- It tastes lovely
- It helps avoid living to an old age
- It’s very affordable
- It clears your sinuses
- Cigarette smoke smells delicious on clothing
- It generates billions in profits for respectable companies
- It provides well paid employment for thousands in the Third World
- Tax revenue helps to build hospitals to look after non-smokers
OK, these aren’t real reasons, and I’m being deliberately facetious. The truth is, I can’t find any genuine and logical reasons to take up smoking in the first place. It’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes, where no-one wants to admit to their own stupidity, and therefore accedes to the consensus. Having canvassed many smokers, they have also failed to come up with any good reasons to start in the first place.
I did try to smoke once. I wondered what the mysterious appeal was. Maybe it tasted great, maybe I’d get an immediate buzz from it, and maybe I would indeed look cool. Not a chance – It tasted foul, gave no buzzy sensation, and made me look like a fud (a fanny) sucking flavoured air from a burning white stick.
My point is this. If anyone can understand smoking, then it should be me. I’m a pretty smart guy, I’ve been surrounded by smoking all my life, and I couldn’t care less about the health issues. On the face of it, I would appear to be an ideal candidate. So why then can’t I empathise with smokers themselves? Why do I see all smokers as gullible fools who have not only been conned and hooked, but are so unwilling to admit this that they themselves become complicit in the recruitment of new generations? At a time of year, when so many people are making resolutions to stop smoking, wouldn’t it be better to resolve to take the piss out of those who do it, and see how that affects take up rates amongst teenagers.
Smokers, you should know this; I may seem outwardly polite and diplomatic, but inside I’m laughing at you.