I never thought I would do this. I have decided to start to smoke tobacco.
I really hate the stuff. Most of the time, it just smells awful. Occasionally I may find a tobacco smell that I like, but those times it is usually just a sniff that brings to my mind a memory of some nice moment, perhaps some Saturday afternoon in my childhood when my dad's friends or neighbours were visiting, drinking beer and telling stories. They used to roll their own, so it's usually the smell of an open pack of loose tobacco that I find nice. Or perhaps it's just the Rizla paper. The other kinds of tobacco I just hate, particularly the smoke from little cigarillos.
Usually the smoke makes me cough. My aunt, a one-time prolific smoker, died of lung cancer, and I saw off her coff-in as she was no longer cough-ing. Ha ha, not so funny, I loved my aunt and I am sad that she is gone. My home has always been smoke-free. I find restaurants much more enjoyable now that they are not thick with stench.
But I can't stand our government any more. The increasing control and meddling in our lives just has to be met with a response. It's not just about smoking, it's about everything, the well over fifteen hundred new pieces of legislation that enter the book of codex each year, not to mention the countless diktats given out by the EU. But the final straw was observing the procedures of purchasing a pack of cigarettes at the grocery store. The tobacco is only available at the cashier, hidden, so that minors are not exposed to the attraction.
So here we are, at the queue. The fairly old man in front of me has lifted his modest groceries on the conveyor belt and the cashier girl has scanned the bar codes, so they're almost ready and I lift my stuff on the belt. The man in front of me only wants one more thing: some tobacco.
- "A pack of red Marlboros", he asks. He wants his smoke. I have a cubic meter of groceries, I want to pay them at the counter and go home.
The girl at the counter hands the man an A4 sheet laminated in plastic, without saying anything.
- "What? Please, just a red Marlboro", asks the man and tries to hand back the sheet. "Same as last week."
- "You have to say the number. It's the new law", responds the girl.
- "What number?", asks the man.
- "A number on that list, please. I can only sell you tobacco if you say the number."
- "What? Why? That doesn't make sense."
- "Sorry, it doesn't but it's the law, you have to say the number. Just look it up."
- "I can't read this. I left my glasses home. What number is red Marlboro?"
- "Sorry, I cannot tell you. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has made this law. If I tell you, my boss will be fined and he'll be mad at me if I don't do as they say. We could lose our license."
- "So you can't tell me my number? I can't read this. Why couldn't you make the letters a little bigger on this list? I just want the pack of red Marlboro."
- "I asked the same, but my boss says they can't. It's in the law. It has to be this kind of text."
- "Are you serious?"
At this point, I step in, and help the man, as I am able to read this font, which the law 2010/1311 mandates has to be 14pt Helvetica, and may contain Finnish or Swedish languages - as if Marlboro is much different in any language: "It's number 16."
- "One pack of 16, please".
- "Thank you."
The girl pounds in the code 16, which she of course knew all the time. The machine whizzes and the red Marlboro appears from the transparent polycarbonate tube, and the girl hands it to the man. He pays for his stuff.
- "Here's your change. Thanks, and see you again!" says the girl.
- "I think not. This is silly. I'll go to Tallinn and buy the lot there from now on. Bye!"
And I think I will do the same. I just want to have a few packs of cigarettes around so that I can consider myself living in a protest against this absurd piece of legislation. As I said, I hate the smoke. I'll have a hard time smoking any of it and I won't be able to breathe in. But consider this, Pekka Puska: you just made me really want to be a smoker. I also want to buy some beer, distribute Coke and other brands of carbonated sugar water to minors, and I even feel an urge to consume large quantities of butter. They may not be so good for my health, but if I don't get any, I think my blood pressure is going so high my vessels are going to burst.
And I won't buy tobacco here. I feel it's my duty to take the cheap ferry to Tallinn, buy the tobacco there, and bring it to Finland, because it would be unethical to pay tax for this mockery. I think I also hear the call of duty that I also have to bring a twelve-pack of duty-free Koskenkorva. We have to fight this fascism.
Fellow smokers, I'm with you, even if I can't really breathe in that stuff.