Smokers, what's hard is seeing a loved one die early

Share

If aliens were secretly watching the Earth, there are many things that would puzzle them about the behaviour of humans: commuting; quinoa; stilettos; Miley Cyrus …. But surely the most bizarre and illogical thing we do is smoking tobacco. If you've never seen it, look up the 1970s Bob Newhart sketch in which a 16th-century British government official talks to an excitable Walter Raleigh: "You can shred the leaves … put it in a little piece of paper … OK Walt, and then what do you do with it? Ha ha ha... you set fire to it, Walt?" I still find smoking just as baffling.

On Tuesday, we start Stoptober, an initiative launched by Public Health England to encourage people to quit, and helpfully the coolest man on the planet, Barack Obama, has just been overheard telling a UN official that he hasn't smoked for years. "That's because I'm scared of my wife," he confided. Rumour has it that Michelle Obama extracted a promise from her husband that if he insisted on risking assassination by running for president then he had to balance out his chances of an early death by giving up smoking. Now that's logical, brave and kind. (And there's a leader who would not be ashamed to call himself a feminist.)

As a non-smoker, I confess that I cannot understand what makes people smoke. It smells and tastes filthy, makes you feel sick (at first), gives you wrinkles and costs, I'm told, £8 for 20 cigarettes. (I double checked and it's true!) Also, if you smoke, the chances are that you will die of it, and die horribly. Smoking will reduce your life by an average of 14 years. Michelle Obama may be guilty of nagging her husband, but what's that compared to wilfully making yourself sicker and sicker and then leaving your children fatherless and the woman you love to spend her old age alone?

Research released last week by the Office for National Statistics shows that married people (14 per cent) are about half as likely to smoke as single people (27 per cent) and considerably less likely than cohabitees (33 per cent). I should hope so. When you commit to spend the rest of your life with someone, you should endeavour to make that life as long and as healthy as you can. It also showed that smoking rates are highest among the unemployed and people in lower paid jobs. I've heard the argument that the poor people should be allowed their simple pleasures, but really that is patronising and offensive claptrap.

Tobacco is the opium of the people, and the only people getting real pleasure from it are the ones charging £8 a packet for a slow and nasty death. The idea that smoking is relaxing is also ridiculous. Have you ever sat next to a smoker on a long flight?

I get it: tobacco is one of the hardest drugs to quit. Not impossible, but very, very hard. On the other hand, compared to losing a partner to an early and lingering death, it really can't be that bad. Please, smokers, pack it in this October, and never start again.

twitter.com/@katyguest36912

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Technician

£30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

Energy Sales Co-ordinator

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Energy Sales Consultant

£25000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

Bid Writer – Energy Markets

£35000 Per Annum DOE: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Com...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Public sector workers march through Newcastle city centre as they take part in the one-day walkout as part of bitter disputes over pay, pensions, jobs and spending cuts  

The Government’s attitude to the civil service is breathtaking hypocrisy

Chris Blackhurst
Brazil fans are devastated while watching the first half on Copacabana Beach during the 2014 FIFA World Cup semi-final match between Brazil and Germany on July 8, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The winner advances to the final at the famed Maracana stadium.  

The response to Brazil's defeat has been a surreal exploration of loss and tragedy

Timothy Kennett
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil