Each trip to California reminds me how pleasant life is in Ohio. Dine on some exquisite fare here, then step outside for a smoke. Stand on a corner, with other aficionados of the art, reflect on what is noble and what ignoble, what pleasure is worth the having, and what the habit might reveal about the man, never mind Lauren Bacal. Is this the end of the sublime art of smoking?
A.S. Hamrah asks, does the apparent triumph of smoking bans from Boston to Bhutan prove that if the 20th century was a century of smoking, the 21st will end up smokeless? Not necessarily he argues, note how smoking was outlawed in Japan in 1629 (along with kabuki, with which it was associated), but smoking did not stop. And this from King James I in 1604: Smoking was "a custom lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomelesse." So he increased the tobacco tax by 4,000%. His subjects, however, continued to smoke. A worthy essay. Note the few good books on smoking he mentions.