Figures released today reveal that 15,436 UK smokers froze to death during the month of March - many perishing in broad daylight outside High Street coffee shops whilst sat down quietly minding their own business. Thousands more, mainly from the east coast, remain missing presumed dead. Restaurants too reported losing loyal smoking customers - those who opted to dine alfresco and ended up making the ultimate sacrifice.
Admitting this year-on-year 99.99% surge in smoke-related deaths from exposure, “was a trifle disappointing,” Coalition Health supremo, Jeremy Hunt, stressed that each of the unfortunate fatalities was technically free at the point of delivery and had probably saved the NHS a small fortune.
Worst hit was the sleepy Suffolk town of Southwold where, during one Arctic Saturday afternoon, 32 outdoor smokers were pronounced dead where they sat outside Cafe Nero and Starbucks. “I kept warning our regular smokers to stay indoors and stay alive but would they listen,” cried a disconsolate Assistant Manager Helen Cockle, herself a vegetarian struggling to control a 5-a-day courgette habit.
Even more deaths occurred when desperate home-based smokers 'popped out for a quickie' and failed to return. Typical of many was the story reported by Dorking pensioner, Vera Cathcart who lost her husband Ronald during the advert break in Coronation Street.
On a more industrial scale, Reg Maltby, who runs a busy mini-market in Letchworth, lost his entire staff during the afternoon tea break last Wednesday. “I counted out all eleven at 3.15 and not a single one made it back,” said a shocked Mr Maltby.
Meanwhile the last 50,000 or so pubs in Britain remain mostly empty and nicely warm.