Magazine article The Spectator

My Right to Cough Up Blood

Magazine article The Spectator

My Right to Cough Up Blood

Article excerpt

Did you know that smoking stops you getting cancer of the endometrium? Well, apparently it does. I was alerted to this fact not through some shady tobacco-industry sponsored website, but from those depraved, humourless, crypto-fascists at Ash, the people who want us all to stop smoking. It cheered me up enormously. Until, that is, I looked up endometrium in the dictionary and discovered that it referred to the lining of the womb, at which point my hopes crashed. If I had a womb, I'd have been in seventh heaven. Maybe I should sue the tobacco companies because I don't have a womb; they should have told me that smoking was beneficial only if I possessed an endometrium. It should be on the packets in big letters. Protect the lining of your womb: smoke more fags.

Smoking also stops you getting Parkinson's disease, according to Ash, which is at least a small comfort. From a less rigorously scientific basis and after several drinks I've been heard to argue that smoking guards against the common cold, influenza, constipation, obesity, pregnancy, morbid arrogance, herpes simplex and halitosis of all kinds except that caused by the inhalation of tobacco smoke. I don't suppose anybody believed my anecdotal evidence. And to be honest I don't believe Ash.

I will just about concede that there is a direct relationship between smoking and lung cancer (although not passive smoking and lung cancer) and that smoking makes you cough and that if you already have a cough and you do as I do and attempt to manfully step up your intake of cigarettes, then, in the end, blood will make an unexpected and unwelcome appearance in the expectorant. I will not attempt to gull you about smoking; I don't believe that it is good for your health, even for those blessed with a womb. I'm sure that if you smoke it will probably damage your health, although I doubt very much that it damages the health of those around you (the evidence here is inconclusive and often contradictory). I am much more likely to die of lung cancer as a result of my nicotine habit - but even that 'much more' is a complex and chimeric notion; if one person in a thousand dies of lung cancer without smoking and ten die because they smoke like laboratory beagles, then that is indeed an enormously increased risk - but still a pretty low probability, all in all. Recently we were told that smoking shortened one's life by an average of four and a half years whereas obesity shortened one's life by seven years. So maybe cigarettes should be compulsory in restaurants - they are, after all, a proven appetite-suppressor (of which more later). But whatever - a fat smoker should, then, see his or her life shortened by a total of 11 and a half years. Meanwhile, driving a car shortens your life by a good few years too, as does drinking large amounts of alcohol, being stressed at work, getting divorced, living in Scotland and being working class. Somewhere in the UK there's a fat, pissed, stressed-out, car-driving, blue-collar jock who smokes 40 a day and is just about to pick up his decree nisi: statistically speaking, he should have been dead at about the age of 15. As they say, there are lies, damned lies, and stuff produced by the health quangos to frighten us all.

I am simultaneously confused and appalled, though, by the government's proposed measures to stop us smoking. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.