They are buying supermarket spirits, drinking far more at home, becoming increasingly isolated and rural bachelors, as is often the case, can easily become one more statistic in a soaring rural suicide rate.
That is a cold fact of our modern existence if we are driven to examine them realities more deeply and darkly than I normally do.
We surviving smokers, through the huge tax imposition on cigarettes, contribute a rich stream of revenue to our governments. If these leaders really wished to take a dramatic step to cut the smoking rate they would so sharply increase the price of a pack that we would not be able to smoke as much as we do now.
But no, they need the revenue and so they inch up the prices every Budget by a few cents at most so that what they call the old reliables of smokes and drinks continue to be cash cows.
If I ever stop smoking, and I do not propose to stop something which I relish so much, it will very definitely be on cost grounds rather than concern about my health.
But even if I do stop I will certainly keep a pack in the car so that I can defiantly light up if I am driving alone through the west and encounter a smoke policeman at some deserted crossroads atop one of our many mountains. And that’s a fact and a promise.
And as I rot away in Mountjoy for my crime the incredible reality is that I will be free to smoke away in my cell!