Smokers who suspect, when perusing my occasional caustic considerations about their general bone-headedness, that I was once one of their number are entirely correct.
But it was a long time ago, long before every packet carried the prominent warning that the habit was fatal, and I would probably have given up a lot sooner than I did if my appreciation for a bargain did not always outweigh my common sense.
At the time I was living on the coast, in a port town, and my landlord worked on the boats. Through him I had access to cigarettes of such staggering cheapness that it would have been a crime not to light up.
What’s more, the future Mrs Dee had presented me with a rather smart lighter as a Christmas gift, so I was locked in – at least until she became the current Mrs Dee and started to put her foot down.
There’s no chance that she would ever let me backslide these days, and it would be the cost rather than the health risk that would be her trump card.
Picking up a packet hits you hard in the pocket, and I guess that the cost of feeding their addiction means that those still in thrall to what are generally agreed to be cancer sticks don’t have as much disposable income as those of us who saw the light, slipping the lighter into a drawer and eventually forgetting about it.
That’s why I don’t see much of a future for a new gadget that not only lights your fag, but maintains a count of how many you have puffed.
It’s called the Quitbit and its designers say that it has been created to shame smokers into quitting by revealing the true extent of their habit – but not until they have been persuaded to part with as much as £90 for this particular bit of quit kit.
Each time it is used, it tracks the number of cigarettes an owner smokes and will also flag up how long it’s been since the user last lit up
And you can set it to show you just how much money has been spent on cigarettes, or saved by cutting back.
If you’re determined to cut down, there’s also a timer, and a setting which will only allow it to work for particular periods of the day.
I’ve had a look through the spec and there doesn’t seem to be anything in there about a flashing red light or a stern warning voice booming out to advise the smoker about the folly of their actions, but what would be the point?
Smokers already know that what they are doing is poisoning them, and they already know that they are paying through the nose for the pleasure.
They don’t care what the rest of us think, and they certainly won’t care what a smart-aleck little box tells them.
Which is why they’ll stick with ‘five for £1’ lighters and save their cash to fund another hit of their lethal, but still legal, habit.