Once a year John Mallon, our man in Cork, embarks on a media tour of Ireland.
The aim is to arrange interviews with as many radio stations as possible on a given theme.
The latest tour began on April 3 and the theme was 'Smoking: Pleasure or Addiction?'
The briefing we sent to the media began:
Why do almost one in four people in Ireland continue to smoke? The Tobacco Free Ireland Action Plan, including plain packaging of tobacco products, is doomed to failure because politicians and regulators aren’t listening to consumers and don’t understand why many people smoke.
A recent study of over 600 smokers in Britain and Ireland found that nearly all respondents (95%) gave pleasure as their primary reason for smoking, with 35% suggesting that smoking was part of their identity.
According to the study – which was conducted by the Centre for Substance Use Research in Glasgow and funded by Forest – the overwhelming majority of confirmed smokers say they light up not because they are addicted but because they enjoy smoking.
Helpfully the tour coincided with the launch of a new quit smoking campaign in Ireland.
Less helpful was the fact that the week before John set off the Irish government announced the 12-month implentation period for plain packaging. (It begins on September 30, 2017.)
Consequently John did several interviews about that before the tour even began so some stations didn't want to feature him again quite so soon, which is understandable.
Despite this John's schedule last week included interviews with radio stations in Galway (Galway Bay FM), Clonmel (Tipp FM), Tralee (Radio Kerry) and Waterford (WLR FM).
Tomorrow he's in Kilkenny (KCLR 96FM, tbc) and then it's home to Cork for Easter.