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Plans to ban smoking on a beach in beautiful Pembrokeshire have been described as "idiotic and bonkers" by, er, me.

According to the Mail Online:

Simon Clark, director of pro-smoking [sic] group Forest said: "It is idiotic and bonkers. There is no evidence of health risk from smoking in the open air.

"It is another example of a local authority throwing its weight around on what should be a private matter.

"Youngsters start smoking from peer pressure and family members and not from someone enjoying a smoke on a beach."

See: Britain plans first 'no smoking' beach on the Pembrokeshire coast to discourage children from taking up the habit on holiday (Mail Online).

An edited version of the same quote (but always including the words "idiotic" and "bonkers") has also appeared in The Times, Daily Express, Daily Mirror and Daily Telegraph.

The funny thing is that while the sentiment is 100 per cent accurate, "idiotic" and "bonkers" were put in my mouth by an agency journalist who rang me, listened for 30 seconds, then asked: "Would you say the decision is silly or bonkers?"

I laughed because I knew exactly what he wanted.

And so it came to pass that "bonkers" (not a word I often use) became Forest's considered response to yet another ban on smoking in the open air.

In truth my private reaction is much stronger but – to answer those who want me to use words like "thugs" and "bullies" – I am of the opinion that overtly aggressive language rarely plays well in the mainstream media. In fact I can almost guarantee Forest wouldn't get quoted at all if we went down that path.

Nor does it generate support from middle England (or Wales or Scotland). To get people – non-smokers especially – on our side we have to laugh at the absurdity of these petty rules and regulations which are not supported by scientific evidence.

We have to hold them up, not to abuse but to scorn and ridicule.

Calling our opponents "thugs" or worse is unhelpful. They may be wrong, in our eyes, but many tobacco campaigners and politicians are genuinely well-meaning and sincere. (Others aren't but we'll deal with them separately.)

The wrong language makes us appear the aggressor, and that's counter-productive.

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Reader Comments (5)

Because clearly it's so much more polite and acceptable to the media and Govt to describe law abiding adult consumers as dirty, filthy, disgusting, selfish, child abusing, pathetic addicts.

I get your point but I still disgaree. I think they must be made to see they are on the wrong side. If they don't want to be described in the terms you object to, then they should stop supporting extremist actions and legislation and the nastiness that goes with them.

I won't say "thanks my friend" as I'm having my head kicked in. I don't believe politeness will get us anywhere. Being vile and abusive - "If YOU smoke YOU stink" - got them exactly where they wanted to be.

Friday, June 5, 2015 at 15:19 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

The problem is that the antismokers are actually the aggressors. Their goal is to denormalize smoking. To do so they have created societal division and have vilified and demonized smokers. Those orchestrating the campaign use aggressive language to make smokers seem inconsiderate, a health risk to others, filthy, dirty, smelly, etc. the comments sections often contain vulgar and offensive attacks on smokers and these are rarely removed. On the other hand, civil, balanced and respectful comments against bans and mistreatment of smokers are frequently censored.

Friday, June 5, 2015 at 18:19 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

I, completely, agree with Simon's sentiment but I also think that, sometimes, the comparison should be made obvious, i.e. we don't bander emotional names about. Only they do and if they continue, could we have the scientific justification, please?

Friday, June 5, 2015 at 19:56 | Unregistered CommenterFrank J

"tobacco campaigners and politicians are genuinely well-meaning and sincere."

Pull the other one. You've been doing this long enough to know that isn't true.

Saturday, June 6, 2015 at 20:05 | Unregistered CommenterBucko

Thank you for editing my quote. What I actually wrote was "many tobacco campaigners and politicians are genuinely well-meaning and sincere" and I've been doing this long enough to know that it is true. (Some of them are at the Global Forum on Nicotine in Waraw this weekend.)

Saturday, June 6, 2015 at 20:54 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

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