stories

The Last of The Smoker - Chapter 2 - page 1

Then the National Tobacco Company was set on fire, and when the company was eventually forced into bankruptcy the Dark Age for smokers r eally arrived. Each night, parties of Anti-Smoking League members roamed the streets wearing pointed white masks and carrying torches above their heads, setting fire to the few tobacco stores that remained. I was still making the most of my privileges as a popular author by getting my edito rs to buy cigarettes for me, and so I continued smoking without much int erruption

.

"Never mind about my fee," I would say. "Pay me in cigarettes, or else I'm not writing a thing."

My poor editors had to scurry around the whole country in order to supply me with cigarettes that were still sold secretly at some country stores or smuggled into the country and sold on the black market.

There were others like me. The idiots in the press continued to run special features on famous people who were still smoking. Each report listed the names of one hundred people who like me had publicly announced their intention to continue smoking. 'Which of these stubborn people will become the last of the smokers?' Although I was hiding out at my home, now even I was in constant danger. Stones were hurled through the windows and arsonists set fire to the wall and hedges around my house. Graffiti in various colours was sprayed on the wall and no matter how many times I repainted it, the slogans reappeared.

"Smoker's House" "Nicotine Death" "Owner not True Japanese"

The abusive letters and crank-calls increased, and most of them now contained direct threats. Unable to live with me any longer, my wife took my son and moved to her parents' home.

Each day the newspapers ran columns asking, "Who will be the last of the smokers?" They even had experts trying to predict the result, as the list of names printed became shorter and shorter. The pressure on smokers escalated as quickly as the complaints against discrimination decreased. One day, I tried calling the Association for the Protection of Human Rights. The man I spoke to was utterly lost for an answer and made no effort to be polite.