KOLOMOLOKALAKUNI, Tokevalu. This remote South Pacific island emerges from the blue ocean waters that surround it like a poached egg, or perhaps the white scum that forms on a steaming cup of hot cocoa. “It is paradise,” says Sister Agnesita Marie, a Precious Blood nun who has come here from America to care for the diseased for whom this will serve as a final resting place. “It is a beautiful place to die,” she says with a look of resignation on her face.
This idyllic island is home to the world’s first smoker’s colony, a place of exile modeled on leper’s colonies that have been established on nearby islands such as Makogai. “We have no place else to go,” says Guy Scalzini, a manufacturer’s representative to the computer industry from Needham, Massachusetts. “First they told us to go outside, then get away from the entrance,” he says as he exhales a perfect smoke ring from an Old Gold he holds in his right hand. “Then they said, just keep on going, so we did–to the South Pacific.”
Others, such as Sam Masterson, a Chicago lawyer, come here of their own volition. “My wife told me, ‘You choose–you can either smoke cigars or you can have sex with me’,” he says with a faraway look in his eye. “I wasn’t getting it that much,” he recalls, “and they give you free matches with every purchase of a five-pack of White Owls, so in the end it wasn’t even close.”
The nuns who come here say their efforts are intended to make the final days of smokers less painful and to prepare them for an afterlife where their vice will have no adverse consequences.
“The immortal soul does not suffer from morning-after smoker’s mouth that feels like a thousand mice in muddy army boots have been traipsing over one’s tongue,” says Sister Mary Joseph Arimathea, who abandoned a comfortable position as head coach of the Sacred Heart Gremlins 7th grade girls volleyball team to come here. “Also, ESPN Classic is included in your basic cable package in heaven.”