I’m marking a significant anniversary this week. It’s been 20 years since I last smoked a cigarette. I became a regular smoker when Lester Pearson was still Prime Minister, and I burned through a package a day for most of the next 27 years.
Such a different world it was back then, because of tobacco. We could smoke in university classrooms. Airplanes didn’t even have non-smoking sections. Their first advice if the oxygen masks ever had to be deployed – stop smoking.
As a young reporter I would be sent to cover a dinner, and I came home stinking of smoke. I never noticed, because I was part of the problem then.
Twenty years after butting out the last one, I still occasionally have dreams in which I’m smoking. I wake up and for a few brief seconds, I imagine that I have a sore throat. That is truly a powerful psychological addiction. I remember that on those frigid days in January when I pass by the smokers who are huddled outside of buildings. I want to say to them “Is it really worth it?” I don’t, because I’ve been there and I know what it’s like.
When I stopped in 1993, cigarettes were six bucks a package, now they’re closer to 15. So what happened to all that money I should have saved by now? Most of it went into the gas tank it seems.
My car doesn’t even have an ashtray any more, and I live in a building where you’re not allowed to smoke in your own home. Who would ever thought that would happen? Watching all the smoking scenes in period dramas like Mad Men seems very strange, but I can’t help but wonder if Don Draper might be training a whole new generation to light up.
When will we ever learn?
I’m Roger Currie