Everyone knows that smoking is enormously harmful and kills thousands of people each and every year.
That said, when you’ve slogged your way to the top of a particularly precipitous part of a coastal path, sitting on a rock looking out to sea and having a fag is one of life’s great pleasures. As it is after you’ve eaten a few really tasty sausages, seen a kingfisher flash along a river, transferred your home-made compost to bags, bade farewell to a friend at the local crematorium and before, during and after sex.
In most pensioners’ lifetime, smokers have been transformed into social pariahs just behind paedophiles in the current canon of wickedness – even though they regularly cough up (sometimes literally) more than £13 billion a year for the public coffers.
Giving up smoking is incredibly difficult, but with will-power and determination, it’s possible for any pensioner to forgo the noxious weed, put on several kilos in weight, become even more grumpy and fritter away their life savings on ketamine and crack cocaine.
Cutting down to four or five a day is slightly easier, especially if you roll your own and make each cigarette eight feet long and supported by a lightweight tripod, while gradually replacing cigarettes with e-cigarettes, herbal cigarettes, filter-tipped asparagus, carefully rolled puff pastry or plasticine are other alternatives of varying effectiveness.
Nicotine patches can be of some help, particularly in sandwiches instead of cheese slices, while hypnotherapy is rarely successful unless you wear a cravat.
Current legislation on smoking is now thought to be too permissive, and the next session of parliament is likely to see smoking confined to uninhabited islands at least 200 miles from the nearest populated area. Smokers still unwilling to give up will be barred from all NHS treatments except surgical procedures to sew their lips and nostrils together.