And so Parliament has voted to ban smoking in pubs and clubs and public places. But what about this poor woman? "Mary" is now a social pariah, forced to eek out a life outside Semi-Chem, where she works as a beauty advisor, making up increasingly implausible reasons why she removes several layers of Elizabeth Arden pancake, dons a simple disguise and is "just nipping out".

And what if she gives up the evil of tobacco? Ten more years of life? Ten more years of mucky nursing homes where the catheter falls out and the person in the next bed is dying of gangrene? Have a fag, Mary. You know it makes sense.

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