I can remember quite distinctly where if not exactly when I had my first cigarette. I was on my way home from school when some friends suggested we go round the back of a row of shops on Corby’s Occupation Road. One of my friends produced a packet of ten Player’s No.6 and proceeded to hand them around. Indeed, I recently saw a full packet of the very same cigarettes being sold on Ebay, being described as “A Collectable vintage cigarette packet in very good order and complete with all 10 cigarettes and the card. Please note…I don’t know what the cigarettes are like after all this time so would not advise smoking them!!!” The lethal combination of peer pressure with the added ingredient of ignorance saw me putting that first cigarette to my lips. From the very moment that it was lit I was hooked. I didn’t cough or splutter: I was addicted from that instant. In the late sixties there were no health warnings on cigarette packaging, advertisements encouraging us to smoke were everywhere, sport was sponsored by the tobacco giants, adults could smoke in virtually any working environment and the pubs, clubs, public transport, sporting and music venues were all full of smokers. My Dad smoked a pipe and my eldest brother smoked like a trooper. No one talked of risk. Today the NHS tells us on their website that smoking causes about 90% of lung cancers. It also causes cancer in many other parts of the body including the mouth, lips, throat, voice box (larynx), oesophagus (the tube between your mouth and your stomach), bladder, kidney, liver, stomach and pancreas, to name but a few. Not to mention the risks of causing coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, damaged blood vessels or damaging arteries that supply blood to your brain. Then there’s chronic bronchitis, emphysema and pneumonia. The tobacco company’s still make their vast profits out of this legalised misery of others. Last week I quit.