Jeremy Clarkson has announced today that he has quit smoking, after some 43 years and an estimated 630,000 cigarettes. Hell might just be about to freeze over.
Despite warnings from doctors, Clarkson upheld his smoking habit for almost his entire adult life – but after being diagnosed with pneumonia in the midst of his summer getaway to the Balearic island of Majorca earlier this month, he decided it was time to put down the lighter.
“I was told, by everyone, that I had to stop. Immediately,” he wrote in a column for The Sunday Times. “I had no choice at the time because the blood poisoning was so bad and I was so racked with the resultant rigors that I couldn’t work a cigarette lighter.”
He joked that people have told him to take up running or give up drinking as a next step in healthy living.
“I was invited this weekend to the south coast so I could go swimming,” he wrote. “Swimming? In the English Channel? I’m off the fags, for Christ’s sake. I haven’t gone mad. Swimming in British waters is something you should consider only if your Spitfire’s been shot down.”
He advised others trying to quit to go places where it’s near-impossible to smoke, like the cinema, or Australia, where cigarettes are highly priced and banned in many public spaces.
He said that it’s helpful to have a friend willing to quit with you, and the key to staying away from the cigarettes is ‘willpower’.
“So now it’s been a month. I’ve pushed it. I’ve got drunk. I’ve stayed up late. I’ve been to bars with smokers and sat outside in a cloud of their exhalations. And so far I haven’t cracked,” he wrote in his column.
After his bout of pneumonia, Clarkson said lung tests showed he still had 96 per cent capacity for a person his age and he could ‘breathe out harder and for longer than a non-smoking 40-year-old’.
“In short, getting on for three-quarters of a million fags have not harmed me in any way. I have quite literally defied medical science,” he wrote.
And big tobacco sighed…