stories

The Last of The Smoker - Chapter 1 - page 3

Faced with this sort of criticism, I could hardly be expected to remain silent. This was insulting not only to me but to all smokers. Just as I was considering writing a reply I received a phone call from the editor of a magazine called 'True Rumours' for which I contributed a regular column. He urged me not to give in to pressure from the newly powerful smoke-haters but to fight back. Straight away I dashed off an article and submitted it to the magazine. My main points went something like this:

"Discrimination against smokers is fierce, because the naivetof the anti-smokers has spread to extremists. Sympathy for those who assert their hatred of smoking is overwhelming precisely because these people do not smoke. Smoking cures stomatitis, because tobacco has the effect of soothing the bitterness of the nerves. Admittedly non-smokers often look fit and healthy. This is because so many of them play sports. They smile for no reason. They never think deeply about things, and you only have to chat with them for a while to see how boring they are. Their conversation is superficial, shallow, rambling and incoherent, and apt suddenly to shift direction for no apparent reason. They are incapable of entertaining two distinct ideas. Their reasoning is not inductive but deductive, so instead of being easy to understand, they tend to jump without warning to facile conclusions. They prattle on about sport whether you are interested or not, but when the conversation turns to philosophy or literature they just fall asleep."

As soon as this article appeared there was a storm of protest in the press. Naturally the anti-smokers had little new to say in their arguments. In fact some of the readers who wrote in had simply rewritten my article replacing "anti-smoker" with "smoker." Their ignorant and illiterate counter-arguments made them just the right sort of cretins to represent the anti-smoking lobby, and the editors at "True Rumours" were happy to publish their lively contributions. From this time I began to receive threatening telephone calls and hate-mail. The callers tended to rely on simple abuse: "Why are you in such a hurry to die, asshole?" A few of of the letters were rather more tactful, but most were equally abusive and from time to time I would be sent a lump of black tar with instructions to "Eat this and die." Once cigarette advertising had been completely banned from television, newspapers and magazines, that awful Japanese trait of blindly following the crowd came to the fore and discrimination against smokers became rampant. Although I did my writing at home, from time to time I would take a walk around the neighbourhood when I went out to buy books. On one occasion I came across the following sign in a nearby park: