Smoking gets into your eyes
The smoke filtered in the editorial room. I was sitting behind the computer, getting sniffs of air-consuming tobacco. This had been going on all morning, reporters and editors going out to have a puff. I suddenly couldn't hold myself any longer, went out of the room took a cigarette from whoever happened to be standing, lit it and inhaled.
"But you don't smoke," one asked in amazement.
"I do now, the smell is refreshing, the tobacco revitalizes your body," I replied.
I continue to fondly remember this episode, although it was not the first, certainly didn't get me on the road to smoking, because I started experimenting long before that, in fact at the age of 14 and 15.
It was considered the fad to have a cigarette between your fingers and to be puffing and inhaling like a demented yo-yo with your neck stretching out, and your eyes pronouncing as you attempt to inhale.
The game was soon up especially if you start coughing as the nicotine hits the back of your mouth. Little did we know the damage we were doing to ourselves. It was acceptable, a means to filter into the grown up world, and watch –rated blue movies. We were in too much of a hurry to be 18.
People thought of smoking as social. There was a negative health aspect to it, but this was downplayed because of the emerging popular culture that has been built up in the 1950s and 1960s which stressed enjoyment and good time.
Smoking, cigarettes, puffing on the ads and billboards was abounding across the western world. It was fashionable and trendy; you were a bigger man, a tougher hunk if you smoked certain brands.
And there was little old me stuck in between the flashes and bright lights of a society that was going places, you had to be on board the boat, otherwise it will sail without you.
I remember one teacher actually telling us that some women and men I dare say, started smoking at an early age and can't give it up now because they've gotten used to having something in their hands and between their fingers.
When I look back now on those years I think the teacher should have stressed the ruinous health aspects of smoking, and the fact each cigarette takes some minutes from your life. I think my wife said its 11 minutes, but you might have to check. And please don't ask how the calculations were made, leave it to the experts.
But it's always wiser after the event. Today we have a lot more scientific research at hand, we know for instance of the direct causal link between smoking and cancer, there is, I think, less advertising and more health warnings on each pack of cigarettes.
This maybe of course be happening to the dismay of multinational cigarette companies, but its tough. And anyway maybe the companies already knows it won't make a blind bit of difference to people who want to smoke, and to youngsters who want that first drag.
States and politicians may cynically feel good about themselves for instituting legislations, but these mean they are not there to prohibit and deter but provide guidelines, putting the onus on a beguiled public.
There is too much at stake: Economy, business, employment, money-making. Tobacco is here to stay, its human nature, its freedom.
I occasionally still have the puff, so does my 17-year-old son against my advice, what a pity, what a world, one filled with contradictions and paradoxes.
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