Mirza's Mind, Putrid Puffing

01 August 2007 - Asian Woman  www.asianwomanmag.com

Comedian Shazia Mirza gives AW her unique take on the new smoking ban in the UK.

Do you have stained yellow teeth, brown fingernails, lungs that look like second hand dustbin bags, and breath that smells of mouldy turnips?

Don't worry, you are not a tramp. You are a smoker. You have been polluting the lives of non-smokers for centuries and all of this is about to come to a ceremonious stop on 1st July. Hurray!

I am not a smoker but I have become a passive smoker whilst working as a comedian in smoky venues across the nation. I go home at night wearing clothes that reek of stale nicotine and awake in the morning feeling like I was in Pete Doherty's caravan.

I am aware that post 01/07 I may get passive smoker nicotine withdrawal symptoms, I'll probably be a bit grumpy and irritable, but at least I won't wake up with hair that smells like an exhaust pipe. The ban will be a blow to those of you who like a post-coital cigarette - you will just have to stop having sex in shopping arcades and train stations and do it in the privacy of your own home, where you will be able to have a fag afterwards! Recently, a lovely young woman served me at my bank, and then 20 minutes later I saw her standing on a street corner across the road enjoying a cigarette with her colleagues. It instantly changed my perception of her; she went from Oprah Winfrey to Paris Hilton in a single puff.

A cigarette makes the most glamorous situations look tacky. It's the cheapest thing in the world when you're at a wedding and the bride lights up. She's wearing an $800,000 Versace Dress, diamond jewellery and Louboutin heels - then she ruins it by putting a fag in her mouth, instantly transforming herself into Pat Butcher waiting for a service wash to finish in the launderette.

Gone are the days when cigarettes were associated with sophisticated chic. A cigarette may have been sexy when it was hanging out of Marlene Dietrich's mouth but that was a long time ago and nobody knew better. If you need reassurance not to start smoking take a look at former screen idol and serial puffer Brigitte Bardot who now looks like a bag of old toast crumbs.

I hope the smoking ban goes some way to influencing young people never to start smoking in the first place. Get some dreadlocks instead.

Smoking is also very expensive. One day you run out of money and become one of those people in your local newsagents asking for a pack of ten extra cheap cigarettes. You'll then go and smoke them down your local Bingo hall in a thick smog sitting opposite a 96 year-old dirty man with blue lips, saliva dripping from his mouth and his fly's undone.

That's when you will realise that your life's gone a bit awry. But by then your lips will have pursed into a permanent butt-sucking scowl and your voice will be rougher than Ann Widdecombe's beard, so nobody will hear you scream.

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