The Joy of Smoking?

Culture | 22 June 2017
Keeley L Walkerby Keeley L Walker

 

From the moment an individual lights their first cigarette, they have become acquainted with a seductive ally.

A friend, who will not only always be there for you, but help you make new friends by the simple nature of engaging in an age-old social ritual. In this way it has become a natural part of social conduct in the same way that drinking has.

Cigarettes bring people together and break down social barriers. Before two people know it, they are bonding, have discovered a mutual habit, a thing in common. And, dare I say it, any activity that draws attention to the mouth is considered enticing – and so smoking brings together not just friends but also lovers.

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Not only is the ritual social but solitary in equal measure. Smokers design their daily schedule around when they can snatch those 3-6 minutes to simply relax and regroup. It becomes a legitimate excuse for escaping the hustle and bustle of every day life, to steal those few precious carefree moments of pleasure – alone and yet with your trusty companion. Hiding, quite literally, behind a ‘smoke-screen’

There is also the desire for self-expression that smoking provides.

Much like fashion, a cigarette says something about you, while saying nothing at all.

This is why it has become the crucial accessory for characters populating plays, books and films throughout the years.

The yearning for a cigarette goes so far beyond tobacco. It is a physical thrill to purse ones lips around a comforting source of both relaxation and stimulation. – one that the smoker has longed for and missed like the trusty companion they would never choose to be separated from.

Believe it or not, a cigarette acts as a timekeeper. Every smoker knows how long it takes to consume a single cigarette. As such, if one is a few puffs away from stubbing out, they know – ‘I’ve got about 30 seconds’ and then it’s back to whatever they were doing before.

And lastly, human behaviour is often governed by seeking rewards. After a long hard day, or a stressful meeting a smoker may not receive the pat on the back they so deserve from another individual, but they can and almost always do steal that precious moment with their faithful cylindrical companion, light up, inhale and are instantly rewarded.

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If there were a way in which that pleasure seeking, instant gratification could be replicated without the life-threatening consequences, my journey to becoming tobacco free would have been a far simpler endeavour. But back then no such device existed. Now, when those cravings kick in, take it from me, dear smoker, you are not yearning for a cigarette, you are simply gasping for AYR.

 

 

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