Scientists and ‘guys with leather jackets’ have hailed the number of smokers across the world reaching the one billion mark as a ringing endorsement of nicotine, pulmonary disease, Dot Cotton and everyone who has appeared in a French film ever. Despite ever changing teenage fashions and crazes, popular kids, like their parents 30 years ago, still rate ‘lighting up’ as one of their most popular pastimes, alongside ‘casual bigotry’, ‘cheap cider’ and ‘getting fingered at a bus stop’.
Anti-smoking campaigns continue to highlight the fact that cigarettes can cut the average lifespan by an average of five to ten years. However, tobaaco experts pointed out, they are wilfully ignoring the fact that smoking is conveniently trimming off the least attractive years from our lives.
‘Despite smoking killing five times more people than road accidents, overdoses, murder, suicide and HIV all put together, it still totally rocks,’ said a spokesman for British-American Tobacco. ‘Who wouldn’t want the body of Chris Moyles, the face of Keith Richards and the smell of Pete Doherty?’
A pro-cancer spokesman said: ‘This summer, malignant growths will be the new black … and brown … and yellowish green. Other than the deep fried potato, cigarettes are the only thing endorsed by both Kerry Katona and Sir Walter Rayleigh. There’s nothing sexier than a rebellious heart attack, Charlie Sheen’s finger nails or the Marlboro Man coughing up a lung.’
Smoking has always been the recreational ‘drug of choice’ for those who want evoke the feel of hazy jazz clubs, James Dean chic and the whiff of a decomposing ash tray. Like the confessional booth, it helpfully fills lulls in conversation, relieves anxiety and gives priests something to do with their hands. One hardened smoker admitted: ‘I cannot be Simon Cowell but I can grow a tumour that looks like him’.