I have finally won a coveted award: Smoker Friendly Journalist of the Year

What is it with all these awards ceremonies? Funniest Politician this, Worst-Dressed Pop Star that: there are now so many fatuous types of award, celebrating so many ridiculous "achievements", that even I have received one.

Yes, this columnist is now the official Smoker-Friendly Journalist of the Year. I was honoured by the pressure group Forest (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco) for complaining bitterly about the anti-smoking busybodies I encountered when pregnant. It is interesting to note that, since my article, the government has suddenly changed its mind about pregnant smokers, and now pledges to support their efforts to give up, rather than publicly condemn them.

Anyway, the ceremony was called "Big Smoke 2", and the press release promised to "recreate an era when most people at parties were happily smoking and the ones who weren't didn't give a damn". I would make a short acceptance speech at a club in the West End, where a "huge orgy of hedonism" was promised.

The venue (aptly named "Gass") was a basement bar with little or no obvious ventilation. Coming down the stairs, I was instantly surrounded by the thick cloud of smoke that had settled, toxically, at head height. The only possible way to breathe was in short gasps, and my eyes began to sting almost immediately. A hundred or so diehard smokers, many sporting Germanic handle-bar moustaches, ostentatiously dragged in and exhaled in the darkness around me.

Feeling my way through the smog, I stumbled up to the bar and self-consciously lit a cigarette. Eyes were flicking my way, waiting to see how deeply I inhaled, whether I blew smoke rings and what brand I "used" - it was the school toilets all over again. Two young Forest workers, dressed as a doctor and nurse, marched between tar-sucking groups, handing out free fags. They found me hovering in a corner and, with madcap humour, joked: "Who wants to live for ever, eh Lauren? Eh? . . . Live fast, die young - ha ha ha ha."

Previous winners of Forest awards include well-known hedonists such as Anthony Worrell Thompson, the comedian Jo Brand and that loudmouth of motors Jeremy Clarkson. But the late Auberon Waugh was the movement's leading light. As a member of their advisory council, Bron was given a special "Posthumous Award", accepted on his behalf by Robert Posner of the Literary Review.

As I waited for my award, the non-smoking director of Forest, Simon Clark, joined me. "The others [celebrity smokers] are too scared it would damage their public image to be seen here. Obviously, that's not a problem for you," he chuckled. Finally, it was time for my award. The ex-editor of Living Marxism gave me a build-up that would make an Olympic medal-winner blush. Standing in the shadows, I shuffled my feet while she banged out phrases about my "indomitable fighting spirit" and my heroism in "daring to speak out". It was a tribute more befitting a political rally. When I clambered on to the podium, all I could see was a rather sozzled bunch of bourgeois, libertarian extremists. I dedicated the award to an actor pal of mine who is currently suffering persecution in the smoker's hell, LA.

Apart from one elderly gentleman who looked rather scary in what appeared to be lederhosen and several facial piercings, the event was so far removed from an orgy of hedonism that I expected to see Ann Widdecombe sitting at a table. And my award? A lighter shaped like a hand grenade.