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My inaugural smoking experience was at age 13, it involved a 42 year old “mature” model, a pack of Dunhill Filters, a futon couch and that ecstatic moment when virginity has just escaped you. And while the only part of that statement that might hold any form of legitimacy is my age, the allure of post-coital tobacco still stands steadfast in my only true appreciation of nicotine. Truth is I did try the evil cig at 13; Marlboro filters in all their golden glory while lying on my parent’s bed, thinking I was an adolescent Jimmi Hendrix. This lead to an inevitable half hour of vomiting and visceral hand scrubbing to rid myself of the foul stench that had seemed to incarcerate my dermis. I’ve never looked back since, sure I have the occasional beer influenced drag, but the thought of going through a pack a day sends shivers down my lungs. But I have endured girlfriends who clutch a twak harder than a Jewish lawyer and his pay cheque, a myriad of friends who indulge in constant inhaling, and a father in the wrath of a viscous mid-life crisis that thought a Stuyvesant would aptly compliment his newly bought convertible. It weirdly did. But why do these people smoke? Is it because of the colourful packaging and pretty coloured brands? Yes, because I buy weed for the fragrant smell and decorative bank bags.
Australia has just had a law constitutionally passed that prohibits manufacturers from placing their brands on boxes. Instead, cigarettes will now come in bland olive green packaging, with a basic brand label in a common font and the box dominated by one of those pictures of rotting teeth, decaying lungs or a simple image of Pete Doherty with the words “Don’t ever fucking become this”. Companies challenged the bill, saying it infringes on their intellectual property rights and opens the backdoor to counterfeit Indonesian cigarette traders who could essentially wrap recycled foetuses in Rizla and call them Lucy Strike without any redeemable recourse.
The idea behind the proposed bill is that it will curb smoking and save lives. But do we, as independent citizens, really want a governmental watch dog’s hot breath on our neck in any potentially hazardous situation? You can base jump, drive a motor bike on a track at 300KM/h and have unprotected sex with millions, if not hundreds of millions of people if you want, but government knows best: so don’t smoke. There is no regulation on prescription medication, because a GP is the praised deity of health. But 35 years ago 9/10 doctors recommended Camel, and as basic human logic and continual medical surveys have discovered, doctors shouldn’t be so flippant in their recommendations. And will it even curb smoking? In the US, 68% of teenagers claim to have started smoking before 18. Is this because of flashy brands and sexy boxes? Nope, its because bearded men on Harley’s wearing leather jackets smoke, and those mother fuckers are bad ass.
And now our esteemed leaders in the ANC have decided to replicate this model in South Africa. With some of our top selling “eintjies” being cheaper no-name brands like Texan and Pacific; which sell for half the price, are the majority of Saffas brand conscious? If a chick whips out a box of Pacifics and lights up then she is either from the heart of Kraaifontein, a prostitute, or a 300 pound lovely that is using them as an entrée to her bucket of KFC chicken. Its not sexy, but the locals don’t seem to care. And while our health minister Aaron Motsoaledi is one of the few minister’s doing a good job, is our impending direction to that of a nanny state really in the interest of the public, or of complete government control? *place tin foil hat on now*
Look, people will always smoke. If they aren’t smoking in my face, or at least in a public spot deemed a “smoking area” then why the fuck should I care? I’m not getting heart disease, lung cancer, impotency or that awful smell on my breath as if I left a raw onion in the sun for a few days. There are so many laws that look out for the “benefit” of the public, when in actual fact it has nothing to do with anyone except the smoker themselves. Don’t go smoking in a babies’ nursery, in church or during surgery; but banal olive green boxes with decaying body parts is just offensive, I don’t think it will work. Plus the last thing I want when using mix for a joint is the glaring face of a stillborn baby on a box looking at my happy vibes.
*Follow @Stroobz as he teaches a baby to chain smoke, and directs a porno featuring Woody Allen, Helen Miren and that Jack Russell from the Savannah ads.