Despite knowing each puff takes us closer to the grave, Big Tobacco keeps its nicotine-stained grip on millions of users Its World No Tobacco Day and Im on the Ash (Action on Smoking and Health) website, gathering material to beat up Big Tobacco, even as I have a fag in my hand my 146,000th, I think and my chest rattles as if Radio 4 were playing inside it, but far away. Im aware of the irony, but who is to do the deed but a 20-year smoker? Im the victim of Big Tobacco, not you. Despite wailing about NHS resources, which I think my fag tax repays, and complaining about smoke pollution usually while choosing to live in cities all non-smokers actually have to do is watch us die. But at some point during my research I look down at the cigarette my 146,001st, I think and I find that Im not angry with Big Tobacco. Im angrier with the woman in the street, who saw my cigarette, and invited her children to insult me, even though I insincerely apologised, and she probably owns a car the size of a medium elephant. Im aware I sound like a frontwoman for Big Tobacco and I do not mind; sometimes allies are unpalatable and sometimes people are self-destructive. Obviously Big Tobacco is evil; due to the anti-smoking lobby, the smoker is no longer gifted denial. My pusher, Philip Morris, maker of Marlboros, is a comic monster in my eyes, a sort of cartoon character of greed, floundering in the face of regulation, trying to push a murderous drug responsibly. It is a monster even among monsters because destruction is a side-effect of its business, not the actual point of it. If Big Tobacco does its job properly, its customers simply die; and every time it loses a customer it needs to find another to replace it. It even killed Beryl Bainbridge. When I think of Big Tobacco I usually imagine Ned Beatty playing the corporate mouthpiece in the 1976 masterpiece Network There are no third worlds. There is no west. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars strangling a leftwing novelist in her Camden flat, and then coming back for me. The evil is ongoing, and historic. Big Tobacco lied for years about the true effects of its product, even as its executives wrote crazed notes to each other The customers are dying What the anti-tobacco lobby fails to understand is that some people like to smoke. Theyve done their job well; everyone who can read now knows smoking kills. I know it, Big Tobacco knows it, even the cigarette packet, which is amazingly self-aware, knows it. You cant get much clearer than Smoking Seriously Harms You and Others Around You, written in a black box, like a Victorian letter of condolence, sent slightly too early. Even Big Tobacco admits it now. PM [Philip Morris] USA agrees with the overwhelming medical and scientific consensus that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other serious diseases in smokers, says Philip Morris. Smoking is a cause of various serious and fatal diseases, says BAT, likewise opening a vein. Of course, it was the anti-smoking lobby that made them say it and I thank them, as I draw out my 146,002nd cigarette. Even on World No Tobacco Day, non-smoker, not everyone wants to be saved. Guardian