In the first two decades of the 20th century, the writer Owen Johnson penned “The Lawrenceville Stories,” about life at a New Jersey prep school. I read them voraciously as a child because I’m very odd. In one story, a student bets his friends that he can walk around the quad smoking a cigarette without getting in trouble. He achieves this feat by convincing his deans that he is smoking “medicinal cigarettes.” Well, everything old is new again.
This is a surprising result. Smokers are far LESS likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 that non-smokers and it looks robust across countries.
Why might this be? https://t.co/7pwrKJVkdY
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) April 13, 2020
Stunning new data from the Center for Disease Control, as well as other international studies, has shown what smokers have always hoped for. Smoking, it turns out, actually seems to improve outcomes for people with the coronavirus. Those of us who have used the leaf that made America great for years have been the targets of extreme abuse. We have been mocked, derided, accused of weakness. But we are basically a happy people. I mean, we smoke, so this is not a time for us to say we told you so.
Instead, we would like to provide some advice for those of you thinking of taking up the only truly unique pleasure since the Romans in an attempt to fend off Chinese plague. Smoking is not as easy as it looks, it takes some skill and dedication, but these five tips will help you master it in time for the next outbreak of the Wuhan Flu.
When I was 20, my mom had breast cancer and lost her appetite with the chemo. The doctor suggested that grass might help; my mom asked me if I had any. I was convinced it was a trap, but what could I do? Now, my mom had never smoked anything, and had laid a guilt trip on me when she found my first pack of cigs so heavy that it still weighs on me, but now the tables were turned. I chose a bong to teach her to inhale, but it still took forever. I wasted almost an eighth. But she finally got it and ate a burger on her way home from my place.
The trick to inhaling is to take the smoke in your mouth, and then take a breath. At first, that is. Eventually it will become more natural, but to begin with you have to make that effort. It’s worth it.
2. Finding Your Brand
Among smokers what brand you smoke says a lot about you. They all have unique identity signifiers. I have a friend who grew up referring to Marlboro Lights as a kind of generic, “Yeah, I smoke but it’s not a big deal,” option. Camels were often associated with hippies. If you are a Long Island grandfather disappointed in your offspring try Benson and Hedges. There are a lot of choices. Explore, experiment. I roll my own cigarettes but I don’t advise that, it’s not for beginners.
3. Embrace The Coolness
A simple, basic, incontrovertible fact about smoking is that it’s cool. Anti-smoking activists who want you to die from coronavirus have tried to dispute this for decades, and to no avail. Whether it’s Humphrey Bogart or Dorothy Parker lighting a smoke, the slow inhalation followed by a come hither glance is in the stock photo library of American coolness. People can pretend it’s not cool, but come on; let’s live in the real world.
4. Dealing With Social Disdain
I’ll be honest here; if you take up this challenge of smoking to protect yourself from the communist flu, you’re going to get a lot of side eye. There is a certain type of person who disdains smokers, who feels perfectly comfortable criticizing a complete stranger on the street for enjoying this special gift from Native Americans. These people are to be given no quarter. Appropriate responses include, “Who the f*** are you?,” and “Do I give you s*** for supersizing at McDonalds?” This kind of thing usually disarms them, or at least sends them off in a sanctimonious tizzy.
5. Bumming Smokes
Once you have committed to joining the ranks of the dedicated smoker, you will discover you have a lot of friends who “don’t smoke.” “Don’t smoke,” means they only smoke at parties or after they have had a beer, these people will need your cigarettes to get by. Don’t begrudge them. You’re there to help them realize that for their own safety, it’s time to get more serious about their attachment to smoking.
Smoking cigarettes is manly and virtuous; it can also be feminine and seductive. It has been difficult to find silver linings among the death and economic devastation of the coronavirus, but if we can get back to smoking as a society, for our own good, than something will have been achieved. I am ready and dedicated to making that a reality.