Charlie Courtauld: I'm just popping out to the chemist for my repeat prescription of cigarettes

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It's hardly surprising to me that Iain Duncan Smith is not having a great time as Tory leader. Using my infallible pick-a-winner method, I could have warned party members that Ken Clarke was the preferable choice. Nothing to do with the policies: just the habits. In a two-horse race, always plump for the smoker. For there's a secret, known only to us puffers, which colours this judgement. It is that smokers are Better People and More Interesting than our abstemious counterparts. In my opinion, you'll always find better conversations by the overflowing ashtray of the office smoking room, or among the huddled masses puffing out in the rain, than you will by the photocopier or the fax machine.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am quite aware that the above principle is utter tosh. But it's no more stupid than putting your faith in astrology, water-divining or Treasury models, and let's face it, lots of people believe in those. Secondly, I am entirely au fait with the downside of smoking: that it kills you. But hey, I've got multiple sclerosis, and that cuts your life expectancy too, by more than my daily intake of fags. Irritatingly, they don't tell you if these sentences are concurrent or consecutive – but let's assume that they cancel each other out, so those few tabs a day are a freebie for me.

Not that my wife sees it quite that way. Lucy discourages the habit. In our ashtray combat, she has two weapons at her disposal. The first is not my health – that's a lost cause – but our children's. On the unanswerable pretext of protecting Daisy, Martha and Rory from inhaling the toxic passive fumes, she has banned smoking anywhere in the house. Fair enough I suppose, and I have retreated to the shed with my stash of Silk Cut.

So now she has a new argument. Money. Thanks to successive chancellors (including the traitorous Ken Clarke), cigarettes are extremely expensive: £4.50 for a pack of 20. That's 22p each. (Oh for the days when an illicit pack was less than a quid at Windsor Riverside Railway Station). It mounts up. To prove that my intake is unaffordable, Lucy has started to scribble down monthly budgets under which no money is left over for fripperies, ie fags. It's all there: everything in, everything out. And it adds up to zero. In the starkest terms, it's either cigs for me or new shoes for the girls.

So now it's my turn for a fightback. We may not be able to afford packs, OK. But how about roll-ups? They're much cheaper. Hitherto, there has been a fatal flaw in this argument: I can't roll my own. All attempts I've made in the past have resulted in an empty Rizla paper stuck to my bottom lip. Hopeless. And not very tasty either. But there's a new thingy, tailor-made for broke tobacco addicts with MS. It stuffs ready-rolled tubes with tobacco. Not perfectly maybe, but better than anything I can do. The result even looks like a real cigarette, even when I put cannabis in it to help the walking (I deferred the NHS trial last week because I need to drive).

So now the real challenge begins: getting tobacco on the NHS. Not very likely, you might think. In the past, those killjoy doctors have rather frowned on smokers. But maybe the department can make an exception in this case. After all, Health Secretary Alan Milburn's clinical excellence committee, Nice, has spent much of the past year trying to persuade those of us on expensive disease-modifying MS drugs that the NHS can't afford to stump up the £7,000 per patient per year that they cost. Well here's a wheeze for you, Al. Free rolling tobacco for all MS patients! Relatively cheap, easier to administer than those fiddly injections every day and – you never know your luck – it could help to get us off your hands that bit sooner.

Set up yet another task force, Al: put Ken Clarke on to the idea. And get one of Stephen Byers' old spin doctors to make the announcement at a "good time" – like the outbreak of World War Three in Kashmir or when England get booted out by Denmark in the second round of the World Cup.

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