I want to apologise first for the lengthy break from this project; the holidays offer far too many pleasures, distractions, excuses, one of which I must make another apology for, and that is the loveliness of the cigarette.
I am not a smoker, but in times of celebration and drunkenness, it seems that all of a sudden, everybody becomes one. And despite all the horror ads they show us on the television and the perpetual health warnings, there is just something irresistible about the beloved cancer stick. Oscar Wilde said, “A cigarette is the perfect type of pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?” The holiday season serves as a blissful reminder of this, where unlike food and sex there is no point at which you say, “enough.” Cigarette smoking also seems to bring strangers together, more effectively than anything else. On those pauses throughout a working day or outside a nightclub, you will always see a group of people standing around leisurely, chattering and puffing away, holding between their fingers that common uniter of humankind in all its sticky, paper-wrapped glory.
But I don’t want to glamorise. Being a casual smoker, I still haven’t conquered the horrid “virgin smoker symptoms”, where after just a few puffs of tobacco I break into a cold sweat and become violently nauseous. Also, regardless of all the health warnings and the shock-advertising, all the glamorising is already taken care of. Cigarette smoking is still very much in style, from the cool and apathetic to the high-brow, Francophile intellectuals, there seems to be an accompanying lifestyle that comes inside every carton, and despite the outlawing of cigarette advertisements long ago, the tobacco industry has nothing to worry about, because they will forever have a loyal army of fashion designers, artists and celebrities to do it all for them.