The strange thing is that cigarettes are now seen as so evil that it is impossible to explain to people that a modest habit such as Clegg's is really not so bad for one on the continuum of harms. Why has smoking become the Worst Thing Ever?Damn right!
I would suggest that this is because it has come to be considered a legitimate outlet for the expression of people's self-righteousness. People are now hooked on looking down their noses at anyone else whenever they can, and there are few easier targets than someone who confesses to being a smoker.
To admit to being a smoker is to admit to being weak, to being in thrall to an addiction (albeit not a glamorous one), to not knowing what is best for one. And, worst of all, for not doing as the majority tell you to do. There is no excuse for smoking, not really – you can manage without it – and so it enrages people all the more when someone admits to it.
But the more people act like that, the more the smokers will entrench. Like the last village in Gaul that resists the occupying forces of the Romans, there will always be a group of smokers who do so not only because it can relax one wonderfully (think of all the soldiers who smoke) but precisely because it enrages an enormous number of busybodies.
Sunday, 24 October 2010
... than Nicholas Lezard at CiF.