Sunday, August 19, 2012

Where There's Smoke There's Ire

Very few guinea pigs smoke. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, its very hard to roll your own without the opposable thumbs that some inferior species possess. Secondly, with our notoriously prolific bladders, cigarettes are likely to rapidly become too damp to light. Thirdly nobody likes singed whiskers and last but not least, if we did manged to get the thing lit it would immediately become something of a fire hazard with all the hay and wood chips which most guinea pig cages contain. Some animals do smoke however. An orang utan in an Indonesian zoo is being forced to quit cold turkey.  His keepers finally decided that they had to do something about the crowds of locals who would throw lit cigarettes for him to smoke. All this goes to show that orang utans have evolved to a greater extent than many Indonesians.

The bumbling Australian Labor government had a rare win last week when the High Court upheld their right to force tobacco companies to sell their cigarettes in plain packaging. Well, not plain exactly. The packets will have graphic photos of some of the consequences of smoking on them. Gangrenous feet, rotten teeth, mouth cancer - all those good things. Now other countries are looking at similar legislation. Even India. Of course plain packaging won't stop hardened smokers buying the awful things. Many of them would smoke dogs' bush chocolate if it was wrapped in white paper and came in a packet of twenty. With any luck it might stop kids being attracted to smoking though. Even the dumbest, spottiest teenager is less likely to buy something featuring a gangrenous foot on the packet rather than a trendy, cool logo in attractive colours.

Smoking has become an integral part of love making.

It's another step towards eradicating this deadly habit. Just imagine how much money health systems around the world would save if nobody smoked. They'd have enough funds to start dealing with the problems of alcoholism. The Australian Liberal National Party coalition - the opposition party, very reluctantly supported the legislation because even they are not stupid enough to side with tobacco companies. However, it is interesting to note that they are the only political party in Australia still accepting donations from cigarette manufacturers.

I don't allow my staff to smoke of course and as a result they both hate the smell of cigarettes, and that's just as well because it is becoming harder and harder to be a smoker in Australia. Even the local beach is non-smoking now. You can imaging my staff's horror therefore when they visited Switzerland a couple of years ago and found that all the restaurants there still allowed smoking.  Sure there were non-smoking tables but they'd be right next to a table containing a family of eight all puffing away (even the two year old in the high chair).  Badger and I have never heard the last if that. To this day they still mutter "What's the point of having non-smoking tables in a smoking restaurant? You might as well have a pissing section in a swimming pool." Crude perhaps, but they make a good point don't you think? Switzerland! This is the nation that doesn't allow you to flush your toilet after eleven at night in case you wake your neighbours. Yet they are quite happy to let you kill your fellow restaurant goers by means of passive smoking.

A scene from a typical Swiss restaurant.

Most airlines are now non-smoking with the notable exception of Egypt Air who have a compulsory smoking policy. The cabin crew hand out packets of cigarettes as part of the safety demonstration. Demonstrating to novices how to light them instead of pointing out the emergency exits. In the event a failure in the aircraft's lighting system passengers are requested to ensure that their cigarettes are lit so that the cabin crew can locate them in the dark. My male staff told me this and he's a reverse people smuggler, so it must be true.
Naturally First and Business class passengers are given Cuban cigars which are traditionally rolled on the thighs of a virgin. This is true actually, not a myth at all, but what they don't tell is that the virgin is the geeky, obese forty-one year old son of a tobacco plantation owner with bad breath and a very unfortunate perspiration problem.

Professional cigar roller Juan Balltoomenni.

It must be so hard so escape the clutches of nicotine addiction. I'm sure that even those few smokers who say they don't want to give up really do. How could they not? These days everyone at least in the developed world is aware of the health consequences of smoking, not to mention the financial impact on their finances. That's why the bastards at British American Tobacco and others are turning their attention to the developing world where they have a ready market of less sophisticated clients who still think it's a good idea to shove burning organic matter into their young mouths.

So, what's next? Bottles of vodka with labels portraying rotten livers or the body of a young child killed by a drunk driver? Junk food wrappers with a photo of someone having a triple heart bypass operation? Poker machines on which the symbols portray empty wallets, kids sitting around a table with no food, a desperate man hanging himself because he's lost everything. Why not if it helps?

I agree with Billy. Having opposable thumbs is definitely over rated. Anyway I'd hate to have my beautiful, pristine feet stained yellow with tobacco.


  1. live for your posts Billy!!! so sorry you've had to cut them back cause staff thought his job was more important than yours!!!!

  2. AUGH! Unsure which picture was more grotesque, the second or the fourth. Eyes will never be the same again, although Badger does have a very well groomed right front paw. Will the others ever be granted screen time?