I've been bombarded with pro- and anti-smoking bumf since starting this column. Anything from Forest, the smokers' rights group, is the best. The Forest belief system is based on the theory that the world is in the evil grip of a bunch of power-crazed non-smokers. On the front page of the website it says: "Your silence is the anti-smokers victory!" (Their punctuation.) And they take it all very seriously. Last week in a press release they referred to Tara Palmer-Tomkinson as an "ageing It-girl" - simply because she had done something they deemed anti-cigarette.
Forest is proud of its lobbying achievements: "In the last year alone we have appeared no fewer than three times on BBC Radio 4's flagship Today programme," it says on the website. But it is not all good news. "Although we receive donations from UK tobacco companies, this source of funds has been declining steadily for many years and we therefore welcome support from smokers and tolerant non-smokers."
You would have to smoke, I guess, working for Forest, or at least be "a tolerant non-smoker". I wonder if smoking is allowed in its offices? Or even encouraged? Everyone holding a fag in team pix, that sort of thing.
As it happens they have just banned smoking in the Guardian's main offices in London. It used to be tolerated on the landings. Day or night there were always two or three people lurking over one of the over-flowing ashtray-bins on the landings of the editorial floors. (Sometimes one of those people would be me.) There was also a deeply dubious "unwritten rule" that you could smoke at your desk after 7pm. Only smokers knew about this rule; non-smokers had never heard of it.
Now smoking is only allowed on the upper level of the staff canteen - another victory for those intolerant non-smokers Forest keeps warning about us. An uncorroborated source from the features floor, who asks not to be named, tells me: "I think it has definitely stopped people smoking so much. Who can be bothered with a long schlep every time they fancy a fag?"
On the anti-smoking bumf side, I have been sent a book called The Voice of Tobacco, which is the diary of one chap's struggle to give up. The USP is a sure-fire loser - tobacco keeps "talking" to the author, willing him to start smoking again - but I did like all the celebrity quotes. Such as this: "Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life. (Brooke Shields, during an interview to become spokesperson for an anti-smoking campaign.) And this from Woody Allen: "Remember, if you smoke after sex, you're doing it too fast."
Actually I've dipped back into the book and the author guy, Richard Craze, can be pretty funny. "One year's smoking deducts five years from your life," he writes on day six of giving up. "I have smoked for some 35 years. 35x5 = 175 years off my life, which means I died somewhere around 1825." I think I will give the book to my boyfriend, who still misses his fags quite a bit.
I'm trying to think what day I'm on now, and realise I don't have a clue. Whodathunkit? Probably time I stopped boring on in print about how easy it has been to quit, and how bleeding relieved I am to have done it. And so: I give up.