September 23, 2014

Source: Shutterstock

I quit smoking around 10 years after I quit drinking, but I miss smoking much more, and it was far harder to give up. Especially since, right after my last cigarette, I met my future husband”€”a smoker. Because God can be a jerk.

(Incidentally, by “€œsmoking,”€ I mean tobacco. Weed never did a thing for me.)

Anyway, I”€™ve promised myself that if I ever find out I have cancer, I get to start smoking again.

This leaves me going for mammograms I don”€™t believe in, then waiting in vain for the phone to ring, like a particularly morbid teenager. That’s when I”€™m not twisting into awkward poses, going on a skin safari in search of promising new moles or suddenly suspicious-looking old ones.

Last week, I thought I”€™d finally found a new and even better excuse to light up.

“€œOntario politician says it is time for a cigarette smokers registry,”€ said the headline at

Ontario has always taken a hard line when it comes to its provincial anti-smoking laws and MPP John Abbot says it is time to take this hard line even further. Mr. Abbot wants the province to create the country’s first “€œsmokers registry.”€

“€œAlas, even that rather tepid spirit of rebellion appears to be absent in the hearts of kids these days.”€

“€œThis will be useful for both smokers and non-smokers,”€ says Abbot,  “€œThe time has come for us to know where smokers live, work and, most importantly, smoke, so the non-smoking public can make decisions based on this information.”€

Judging from the comments, I wasn”€™t the only one who failed to twig that this was supposed to be satire. In my feeble defense, I plead an intoxicating cocktail of wishful thinking, pre-dawn caffeine deficiency, and Muggeridge’s Law of Satire.

Still, I felt stupid and deserved to. As one friend emailed me, “€œDon”€™t you know by now that you can”€™t believe anything the CBC reports?”€

The same friend informed me that there’s a comedy program on CBC Radio called This Is That, and that this was one of their bits. How was I to know? While I”€™m not one of those clods who think “€œsatire”€ is necessarily synonymous with “€œfunny,”€ still: the Onion at its best combines painfully acute plausibility with laugh out loud humor. Whereas that This Is That post read like the rough outline for a promising gag, rather than a polished bit. You can almost hear them in the writers”€™ room: “€œWe”€™ll stick in the jokes later.”€

Furthermore, except for the fact that I”€™m obligated to pay for it, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation plays no role in my life, not even as an object of scornful amusement. I couldn”€™t find CBC Radio on either the AM or the FM dial were you to hold a gun to my head.

Which brings us back to the whole plausibility thing. After all, up until recently, Canada kept a long gun registry”€”one of those expensive and ultimately impotent “€œsecurity theater”€ productions the state inevitably mounts after Muslims do something horrible.

After decades of promises, demands, and more promises, the registry was finally discontinued. Then thousands of firearms owners undertook the “€œGreat Canadian Gun Registry Shuffle:”€ swapping rifles in a now-legal, vaguely passive-aggressive, but still ingenious stunt that delivered the coup de grace to the existing database, should a future Liberal or NDP government vote to revive it.

I would have gladly taken part in the Shuffle, but all I own is a single shotgun, and a 20 gauge youth model at that. In other words, no one else would”€™ve wanted it, and I can”€™t manage anything more powerful.

Having missed out on that mischievous, subversive fun, I was looking forward to giving that smokers”€™ registry the nicotine stained finger, to the point of daydreaming about which brand I”€™d go back to buying.


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