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Smoke up!

19 June 2012, 21:09

Act 63 of 2008, Section 4 (1), states: “No person shall sell or supply any tobacco product to any person under the age of 18 years.” The fine is anything up to R100 000.

Camel cigarettes used to advertise: “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.”

Which of the above statements do you find to be the most ridiculous? Street vendors and cafe owners that are never prosecuted for selling cigarettes to under-aged school children – or that Camel cigarettes are healthy? Or that 12 year old girls can decide to have an abortion, but are not allowed to smoke?

I grew up in an era where smoking a cigarette was depicted as sophisticated – a sign of maturity – and even sexy. The 50’s and 60’s films always included at least one seductive scene where the lead male actor, and his female counterpart, ended up blowing smoke into one another’s faces – before making passionate love to the sound of hidden violins. Afterwards they smoked Lexington, who advertised: “After action satisfaction.”

Nowadays, in love scenes, the actors just jump straight into bed – no violins, and no smoke – just grunting and groaning.

Anyone, who has ever watched an old Humphrey Bogart movie, ran the very real risk of getting lung cancer from the secondary smoke coming from old Bogie’s constant puffing. Bogie died from cancer of the *oesophagus at the age of 57; weighing only 36 kg.

In my younger days it was perfectly legal to smoke in a cinema while watching a movie. The projected image had to penetrate the thick layer of smoke rising from the audience – like mist floating above a bog of heads. No one I know developed cancer from secondary smoke. Maybe this was because most of us smoked – and, like Aids – secondary smoke had not yet been invented at the time.  

I first started smoking Camel cigarettes. It had the type of masculine image that appealed to my young, befuddled mind. So did their ad: “I’d walk a mile for a Camel.” We had miles in those days, you see. Before kilometres. And potholes. And taxis. And a corrupt, incompetent, communist government. (Sorry, I digress.)

Later I switched to Texan cigarettes; mainly because Camel was too bloody expensive on an apprentice’s salary. So I puffed along merrily for 34 years and then, for no other reason than deciding that I’ve had enough, stopped smoking 10 years ago.

Now here’s a bit of worthless information:

I smoked at least 20 fags a day (sometimes more than 40). At **50 mm each, over a period of 34 years (248 200 cigarettes), this means that I’ve smoked a whopping twelve and a half kilometre long zol!

It takes roughly 6 minutes to smoke a cigarette. So, I could have smoked, constantly, for 2.83 years. (6 x 248 000 = 1 488 000 minutes or 2.83 years.)

Cigarettes contain nicotine. It takes the body 2 to 3 days to get rid of it after smoking a cigarette. That means that in 248 000 x 2 days (or 1358.9 years) my body will be uncontaminated. Will the ANC still be in power? Will Eskom still be struggling? Will Zion still be uploading those senseless photos? Who knows?

But, truthfully, I don’t mind if people smoke in restaurants, shops, movies, or even in my own home – as long as they don’t blow it out.

* oesophagus – like a sarcophagus, but smaller.

** Regular cigarettes are 70 mm in length, and "king size" are 84 mm in length. (The filter length averages 30 mm.)

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