Since my early childhood, as far back as I can recall, parents and elders have always asked me to stay away from smoking. It wasn’t hard as nobody in my family smokes and so I did not realise how ‘cool’ smoking can actually make you look- until I joined college where a lot of people I saw around would have a cigarette in hand, even though most of them were doing it under pressure from friends or just to impress girls; not knowing what it would eventually do to their health. <br/><br/>Well, the days passed by and I somehow coped up with the aggravation of having to blankly stare at my friends when they talked about various brands of cigarettes and in what way one tasted different from the other. The agony grew when I watched my favourite movie star puffing a huge cigar just before kicking the bad guy’s butt. I will never be able to do that…I would say to myself disappointingly. <br/><br/>The craving to have a smoke was at its peak often and I would think of giving in to the temptation at the insistence of friends, who would say ‘just try once and we will not force you again’. But, somehow, I held myself back. <br/><br/>All that talk of how smoking can be the root cause of different deadly diseases such as cancer seemed even more meaningless when I started working. More than just getting to know your colleagues, I realised that the ordinary looking tobacco filled tube of bliss can also help you get into your boss’ good books (generally applies to male bosses). Imagine what would it feel like when even your boss joins the smokers’ league and you are made to look like an unwanted outsider at ‘males only’ parties, where you would be the only one without a smoldering stick in your hand. <br/><br/>I was slowly, but surely, starting to discover what fun it is to spend thousands of rupees every month to ruin your health and still feel on top of the world. How much I would have loved to experience that. <br/><br/>I also got to know that smoking is the best way to socialize because the corner cigarette shop just outside your work place is the best place where you can meet just about anybody and everybody in the official hierarchy. Who knows where a casual conversation starting over a ‘do you have a light?’ can take you? It is worth every second of the seven minutes that each cigarette takes out of your life. <br/><br/>Well, smoking has so many ‘benefits’ that I can go on and on filling pages, but for the fear of inviting the wrath of our ignorant government officials, who have taken extreme steps to cut down the consumption of cigarettes. <br/><br/>But all said and done, one thing that I do know deep down inside my heart is that all these smokers are a bunch of regular chaps, who would do anything to quit the habit but are just paying for what would have been just one cigarette and no more at a day back in college. <br/><br/>Proud to be a non smoker!