Smoking is the new jogging.

Smoking has joined jogging as a legitimate form of exercise during the COVID-19 lockdowns because it requires smokers to remove their face masks in public places. According to strict lockdown rules, masks must be worn outside at all times unless a person is exercising, or for religious reasons.

“Smokers are smoking in public places all over the world during the pandemic,” stated the World Health Organisation (WHO), which awarded smoking its new status.

“They are removing their face masks in order to do so, and they are doing it so often, in every part of the world living through lockdown, that we had no choice but to declare cigarette smoking a form of exercise.

Had we not declared smoking a form of exercise, local authorities throughout the world would be forced to prevent people from smoking outdoors, and they appear extremely reluctant to do that.”

In many parts of the world, people are also allowed outside without a mask for religious reasons. While smoking is not a form of worship, it is one of the few vices allowed in devoutly religious societies, even those living under Sharia law.

Big Tobacco is delighted at the announcement.

“Now we don’t have to spend millions of dollars to lobby governments or to convince people that cigarette smoking is not potentially deadly to smokers, bystanders and the planet. If smoking is a form of exercise, it must be healthy. The WHO just saved us a fortune.”

Social commentators have long questioned the tolerance of smoking during the COVID-19 pandemic. They argue that cigarette smoking not only pollutes the air, but weakens the immune systems of smokers and passive smokers. If more people have weak immune systems, they claim, more people will be susceptible to COVID-19 and similar diseases.

This means people throughout the world could be in lockdown for even longer.

Image: Julia Engel

Tobacco companies to pay for COVID-19 vaccine roll-out.

The tobacco industry will cover the cost of the COIVD-19 vaccine roll-out across the world due to the link between cigarette smoking and damage to human health. Wealthy cigarette manufacturers have until June 30, 2021, to pay the United Nations (UN) a levy, the exact amount of which will be set once the total cost of the vaccine roll-out is known.

“Cigarette smoking ruins human health,” began a statement from the UN and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“People with poor health have weak immune systems, and viruses survive in bodies with weak immune systems. If there are more unhealthy people on the planet, viruses such as COVID-19 are more difficult to prevent, control and eliminate. For that reason, the tobacco industry will pay for the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine, which will help protect the health of all citizens.”

The tobacco industry has reacted strongly to the shock announcement.

“This is an unprecedented and unacceptable imposition on what is a legal industry. Never before has one industry been forced to bear the cost of an international crisis, and the tobacco industry will fight this levy through the proper channels.”

The UN and the WHO, meanwhile, reminded the tobacco industry that cigarette smoking damages the health of smokers, non-smokers and the planet, and that the ongoing pandemic has reminded everyone of the importance of protecting the health and wellbeing of the world’s population.

The tobacco lobby also argued that other industries should also be forced to pay the levy.

“The justification for imposing the levy on the tobacco industry is that our products damage human health. If that is true, then fast food outlets such as McDonalds, KFC and Jollibee should also pay the levy, because consumption of their products leads to poor health outcomes.”

The UN explained that the fast food industry may also be charged the levy once the total cost of the international vaccine roll-out has been determined.

Governments throughout the world have declined to comment publicly on the decision. While they are expected to be pleased that someone else is covering the cost of vaccinating their citizens, they are wary of making any statement that might upset the powerful tobacco lobby.

COVID-19 vaccination has already begun in some countries, and the program will continue across the globe for the remainder of 2021.

Image: Julia Engel