puff puff puff, blow your cares away.

stephin and gia demonstrate how people look cool when they smoke

I don’t know what it was that made me change my mind. four years ago when I left new york, the smoking ban there had just gone into effect. I believed that pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants should face the challenge of providing smoking areas and ventilation, but also that the government shouldn’t be allowed to dictate what someone does inside their own space (what if you own the place? is it anyone else’s business?). but now that I’ve been back and forth between london and new york so much, I have to confess I love going out in new york and not coming home with hair, skin and clothing so smelly that I feel embarrassed people might think I am actually a smoker. maybe I’m just getting old and no longer can tolerate the smoke (being in a smoke-filled bar in london means I probably won’t get a good night’s sleep), but I don’t care. the smoking ban starts in london tomorrow, and while it couldn’t happen fast enough for me it is sure to cause total mayhem. there is no place to put all the filth and ash (imagine hundreds of ashtrays being dumped on to the streets of london at once and that’s just gross), and the government actually plans to fine people for stamping out a butt on the street. good luck, gov! (and of course londoners will soon discover that the smell of smoke in bars masks many other, even more frightening aromas.) timeout london once created an anatomical cartoon pointing to each part of the body and what smoking did to it, and I used to have it taped up next to my desk in case I ever craved an american spirit ultra light to go along with my fluteful of veuve clicquot. so if destroying your central nervous system, having decreased libido/fertility, creepy old lady smoker’s mouth, vile complexion and bad breath are not enough to keep you off the evil cancer sticks, here’s a similar chart demonstrating what smoking does to your body and a reminder of what’s in a cigarette (including lovely poisons such as hydrogen cyanide, butane, formaldehyde, methan, and arsenic: yum!). smokers look hot, there’s no doubt about it. and I associate smoking with some of the great bohemian heroes of our time (serge gainsbourg was so dedicated he smoke and drank himself to death!) but personally I can’t take it anymore, I need some clean air in my lungs (since I live in the most polluted town in the UK, near one of its most polluted streets). if you fancy quitting, here are some ideas and here is a link to the antismoking lobby group that my dad was a member of. my dad was so ahead of his time: he used to have me do calligraphy “thank you for not smoking” signs that he would display at dinner parties at our house, forcing his mates out into the freezing cold with their cigars.

photographs: gail o’hara, natch