Both David Hockney & I Are Chain-Smoking Through Coronavirus

by Stephanie Maida · April 16, 2020

    My colleague Christie sent me this link to the New York Post earlier, saying "He's like your spirit animal." A huge compliment considering she was referring to David Hockney, the legendary painter who broke records in 2018 when one of his works sold for $90.3 million, making it the most expensive piece of art ever auctioned by a living artist (until Jeff Koons reclaimed his title a year later, but I digress). However, artistic prowess is not the thing I share with Hockney. Rather, it's his adamant embrace of cigarettes.

    I know. I know! And I'll be honest, I tried to quit once or twice - without relegating myself to the use of a Juul - but I'm a stress smoker, the opposite of a social smoker, and all this isolation has forced my private (well, not so private, I did just light up on a Zoom meeting the other day) vice to its pinnacle. I'm aware of the terrible irony here: my fear of a respiratory illness has me smoking a pack a day. 

    No, I do not have a therapist. What I do have, however, is David Hockney's quirky claim that "smokers have developed an immune system to this virus." He said this in a letter to the Daily Mail, pointing to some research from China that seemed to indicate fewer smokers were being treated for coronavirus. Obviously, that contradicts just about every other warning from health officials that says smoking puts one at an even higher risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19, and obviously, I take my medical advice from doctors and not, however genius they may be, artists.

    But I will admit, the fact that 82-year-old Hockney is still puffing away in the face of fear gave me one fleeting moment of hope about my worst habit. Then again, he did live through the pop art scene of the 1960s, and you'd develop an immune system of steel after that. Guess I should probably try to put the smokes down after all.

    [Photo via @david.hockney]