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

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mechanical Design Engineer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: MECHANICAL D...

SQL DBA (2005/2008/2012, projects, storage requirements)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

Copywriter - Corporate clients - Wimbledon

£21000 - £23000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Copywriter - London As a Copywrite...

Horticulture Lecturer / Tutor / Assessor - Derbyshire

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: As a result of our successf...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Tiger skin seized from a smuggler by customs officers in Lhasa, Tibet  

Save the tiger: Poaching facts

Harvey Day
 

Save the tiger: 7 saddening facts about the extinction of Javan tigers

Harvey Day
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried