Michaels: Raise the smoking age and butt out misguided ideas

"Smoking is gross. It will kill you. It will turn you into a wrinkly old bag who smells like a toxic campfire.... But, man, it's good."

Back when smoking was cool. Or not

On the corner of famed Parisian block, at the conclusion of a harrowing ride on my rental bicycle last year, I asked my friend to pass me the cigarette she’d been puffing on.

It just looked so right.

We were where Ernest Hemingway, Anais Nin, Henry Miller and any number of literary giants from centuries of yore had tread, doing what we, and dozens more were doing and then some.

If there ever was a time

With one puff I imagined being there, with them, swept up in the romance of history.

With one more, I felt what I imagine to be old neural-pathways light up like Christmas.

It had been at least five years since I’d had a cigarette and yet, like that, there it was heaven.

Way better than the romantic notions that had led me astray, which was troublesome.

Sure, smoking is gross. It will kill you. It will turn you into a wrinkly old bag who smells like a toxic campfire.

It’s bad.

But, man, it’s good.

And your brain never forgets.

So I let it have three puffs, and then I passed the ciggie back to my friend and resolved myself to not start again. So far so good.

When the ads for National Non Smoking week started rolling in this week that’s all I thought about. Not how awful cigarettes are. The powers that be have done a commendable job drilling that into my brain.

I thought about how good that last cigarette was and how it would be easier to have never started.

That brings me to the question Health Minister Terry Lake raised at the start of non smoking week is it time to raise B.C.’s legal smoking age to 21?

The current legal smoking age in B.C. is 19 and the B.C. Cancer Agency cites a report in the National Academics of Science, Engineering and Medicine, saying raising the minimum legal age to 21 means those who can legally buy tobacco are less likely to be in the same social networks as high school students, meaning tobacco access for those in that age group will be less.

Social access is key, isn’t it? They’ve hit the nail on the head when it comes to smoking.

Just imagine how less appealing smoking would have been to Hemmingway if his peers hadn’t puffed away.

History could have been rewritten — or maybe just a few great novels.


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