"Giving up is easy - I've done it myself many times!"Despite being the number one killer of all recreational drugs, tobacco has somehow contrived to remain fashionable. Through icons as diverse as Humphrey Bogart, James Dean and Tank Girl, the lethal weed has retained its fatal glamour. The knowledge that it's more insidiously addictive than just about anything, and that it kills one in four of its regular users, just seems to fuel the myth.
Although advertising is tightly restricted, tobacco companies continue to promote this appalling substance, which has little merit to the user other than its ability to create an absurd craving from the very first puff. Most of their new business is recruited from the 12-21 age-group, which just goes to prove what politicians are so fond of telling us: "drug dealers are preying on your children."
The reality, for most of us, is that we were enslaved behind the bicycle sheds at some point in our teens, and have never managed to get shot of the little bastards since. Ephidrina should know - she is a hopeless addict.
If you're lucky... you never start smoking.
If you're unlucky... you become uncontrollably addicted, smoke more than your poor, beleaguered body can take, and die a nasty and painful premature death. After having thrown a considerable amount of your disposable income after an expensive habit, lining the pockets of the tobacco barons and filling government coffers; and living the life of a social leper, with bad breath and smelly clothes.
Cigarettes smell bad. They pollute the environment.
Even the most dedicated smoker knows this. The fundamental truism that divides
the world into smokers and non-smokers, makes tobacco a uniquely anti-social
drug. History is full of people loitering
in doorways and hanging about on street corners, because the non-smokers
had decreed that smoking should not take place indoors.
There have been a few half-hearted attempts at total prohibition, but tobacco's noxious character has made it effectively self-regulating. While we are perfectly free to legally buy cigarettes, the army of non-smokers have made damn sure we can't smoke them anywhere. Ever since tobacco's devastating effects on health became known, all-out war has been raging between the tobacco-free masses and the PR officers of the tobacco firms. Caught in the middle are the sorry addicts, alternately apologizing for their weaknesses, and noisily asserting their rights to a slow, self-inflicted death.
The reasons why tobacco has always slipped through the prohibition net are fairly simple. It's way too boring a drug to seriously upset the puritans, and nowhere near subversive enough to bother the powerful. It's irrestibly and perfectly addictive, so a huge number of people will buy into it regularly, raising relaible tax revenue for governments and turning a healthy profit for the capitalists. The political influence of the tobacco industry in the West is enormous. In the USA, as a direct result of lobbying by the tobacco merchants, cigarettes are sold virtually unregulated. In this case, money talks.