Returning to PM again after a not altogether brief hiatus stemming from a move to the big city, everyone’s favourite blogger, Me, returns to the forefront of the popular consciousness to tackle the big issues facing todays society, and to offer the long awaited cure all answers to modern day conundrums.

Not really. I have just gotten a few thoughts together that I would like to share on a topic that is very close to my heart. (And lungs.) Namely smoking. The burning of dried leaves and poisonous chemicals for the purpose of inhalation through the mouth. Many of us do it; I do it (But don’t tell my Mum.) Dot Cotton does it, but it appears to me to be an issue which society is entirely conflicted about. Is it bad for you? (Yes) Is it addictive? (Yes) Should non-smokers have to breath our dirty smoke? (No) and most importantly, does it make you look cool? (Yes)

Those aren’t my only thoughts on the issue by the way, and I am glad that you have managed to make it this far with me.

As a smoker I definitely have a few issues with the way that my slow suicide of choice is portrayed by the media, by politicians and by the tobacco companies themselves. I am under no delusions as to negative effects that it has on the human body. I know that this ritual that I love so will no doubt leave me with many lasting reminders of my choice. That however is exactly what it is. My choice as an adult. It is one we are all capable of making by the time we reach the legal age of man to cigarette consent.

I get the feeling that this is the reason that all of the frankly rather disgusting warnings that all of my paraphernalia now comes adorned with have had little to no effect on the sale of tobacco products. I am all but certain that there is not a smoker out there who is ignorant to the fact that “Smoking causes a slow and painful death.” Or that “Smoking is highly addictive.” Perhaps it is a frightening thought in that case that so many people chose to do it anyway; fully aware o the risks involved.

Or perhaps smoking, as one of a plethora of other chemical stimulants is given rather specialist treatment. You can’t imagine the imbibing of alcohol being outlawed in public houses now can you? Despite it being an arguably much more dangerous drug, all things considered. (Just to ever so briefly touch on the subject: Why don’t we just have both smoking and non smoking pubs? Publican’s choice. It’s cold out there bro!) Why are people who drink not lampooned as suicidal idiots who stink and throw away their money? The simple fact of the matter is that when done sensibly, no drugs ought to do any harm to anyone but the user. In my opinion that makes it a matter of individual choice. We are all free to destroy ourselves as we chose are we not? (Barring the situation of having direct dependants I would say.) Is it not a bit like embracing the impermanence of this life? I know I am shortening my lifespan, but I am at peace with that idea. That doesn’t mean that I am unhappy with life, nor does it mean that I want to die tomorrow. It does mean that I am not personally into the idea of futilely trying to expand my life to unnatural lengths because of a fear of death.

I would also like to challenge the idea that people only smoke because they are hopelessly addicted to nicotine. Don’t get me wrong, I love me the feeling of coming alive after the first cigarette of the day. I don’t like the concept of chemical addiction as  a whole, nor the fact that big business saw fit to harness physical addiction to a harmful substance for profit; but my point is that this is only a very small, and ultimately negligible part of the reason that I continue to smoke.

Smoking to me is enjoyable. Much like a brisk walk in the woods, a nice glass of scotch, a passionate lovemaking session or whatever happens to tickle your particular pickle. I doubt that I will smoke forever, and I am fully aware that if I ever muster up enough concern to actually try I could most likely rid myself of my terrible affliction. Before I do that however, I plan to live my life doing as many of the things which I enjoy as I have the time and means to, without negatively impacting on others as far as humanly possible. I don’t even mind paying so much tax on my tobacco. The duty goes towards the NHS, that fixes us all up. No matter our preferred self harm method. I enjoy the sensation, the taste, the smell, the small craftsmanship involved in rolling, the blowing of smoke rings and the explaining that I can’t blow a smoke ship to hopeful Lord of the Rings enthusiasts. I always ask if anyone minds me smoking in their presence, and always respect the wishes of others. I don’t think that there ought to be much more to it than that.

I wouldn’t actively encourage anyone to start smoking from scratch, nor to submit to peer pressure or anything like that. I would just like for society at large to accept that smoking is something that some people do; and then go back to drinking themselves to death. Just like in the good old days!