Since the time I can remember I have believed cigarettes are bad.
My Christian parents made sure I knew that Christians don't smoke, Jesus would be re have condoned it, and besides, it's bad for you and will kill you.
As I look around at society, I think they would be happy with how our culture has gone from celebrating smoking to outright demonising it. Smokers, once the loudest and coolest at the bar or restaurant, now huddle in the wet and cold around the corner outside observing the 20 metres from the doorways rule.
Apart from the odd cigarette in my teen years as I tested how cool I really would have been if I smoked, I never really saw the appeal of smoking and had little desire to be admired by the smoking crowd.
But now, in my 30s, I am warned yet again of another horrible killer that needs to become demonised... junk food.
Processed food, to be more accurate.
I don't disagree with the consensus, but my eyes roll when I hear people preaching about how Maccas is evil, soft drink should be taxed, and parents who allow their children to eat sugar should be castrated.
If I'm honest, I look around my church and see nothing but overweight and obese people. It grosses me out, as a skinny person, but I love them all the same.
But I know in my heart if I lit up a cigarette in the church car park on Sunday afternoon, I would get looks of dismay and judgement as though I were a sinner fallen from grace. Someone who loved be enough to talk with me would explain that it's killing my body, which is a temple.
Perhaps they would invite me to McDonalds to talk with me about how I need to look after my body like a good Christian.
I'm not suggesting junk food needs to be treated like smoking, I'm suggesting smoking should be treated like junk food.
We all know it will kill you, but do you want a long and celery filled life, or a short and quarter pounder filled life? If smoking takes 10 years off your life, but you enjoy your 70 years more than having lived 80 and abstained the whole time, are you really worse off?
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the warning labels, education, taxes, advertising restrictions etc on any product that potentially does a human harm, including bread, roundup, junk food, alcohol, cigarettes, petrol powered automobiles and school, but what I hate is the hypocritical judgement cast on a fellow human who knows the downside and makes a conscious choice to enjoy his or her life and smoke (away from my children of course).
Having put a lot of thought into how I really feel about smoking, I realised I always wanted thought smoking a cigar would be great.
I love the thought of sitting back in a comfortable armchair, reflecting on the week's happenings, cigar in hand.
So I decided to take up cigars.
And they're great.
The time I spend doing nothing except smoking a cigar is probably the only time during a week where I don't have some kind of electronic device either talking to me visually or audibly, or a person trying to communicate with me.
I feel like I have time now to reflect on the world and my own actions, and since doing so I have become more calm, self controlled, peaceful and unperturbed by the actions or missteps of others.
I have come up with ideas for my company which I otherwise would not have thought of, and I genuinely enjoy the time.
Boiling it down, smoking a cigar once every week or two has meant my marriage is better, I'm more present when with my kids, I function better at work, and I feel better about myself. Am I happy to trade 5 to 10 years of my life for this? Yes.
What about prayer or meditation?
"Surely you could have achieved this outcome using some other method, Jason!?"
But I haven't succeeded at meditation, I don't find it enjoyable and my mind just wanders.
I value prayer, but I have never felt effective in prayer by setting aside "prayer time". It feels forced and ineffective. The only way I can pray is to simply talk with God throughout the day. That's just how it works for me. (Sorry atheist friends, I know you're rolling your eyes)