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Notes from the smoking lounge 

That was a rare treat.

Last night - following in the footsteps of Jacob Rees Mogg who spoke to members of the Cambridge University Conservative Association on Thursday night - I addressed a rather more intimate gathering of CUCA members.

It was billed as ‘Cigars and Whisky with Forest’ and I’d been asked to give a short informal talk about our work.

The invitation wasn’t universally welcomed and two weeks ago the Student Union’s Ethical Affairs Officer issued a statement denouncing “this association between CUCA and Forest”.

“While there is nothing we can do to prevent this association between CUCA and Forest,” he sniffed, “we are surprised to hear of its existence.

“The arguments for tobacco control are coherent, powerful and backed up intensely by research, encouraging CUSU to be in support of it.

“For the environmental, social and moral good of the society our students live in, we condemn Forest’s work, making us thoroughly disappointed by this event.”

One reason they couldn’t do anything about it was the inspired choice of venue - Robert Graham Whisky and Cigar Emporium.

Outside it was a wet and miserable night but in the comforting embrace of Robert Graham’s smoking lounge it was warm and extremely snug.

Cigar shops, I need hardly remind you, were given an exemption from the smoking ban as long as consumption is for sampling purposes only.

Last night guests were each given a complimentary cigar together with a selection of whiskies.

I spoke for 15 minutes, then answered a few questions. Afterwards we continued chatting for the best part of an hour before the manager closed the shop’s doors and we were ushered out into the cold, dark street.

All in all, a very enjoyable evening. (My only disappointment was the lack of protestors.)

Thanks to CUCA for inviting me.

PS. Another guest last night was my old friend Madsen Pirie, president and co-founder of the Adam Smith Institute, who lives in Cambridge.

Well, it turns out Madsen has a cigar named after him - the Regius Lord Madsen.

He’s also the first person I know who owns a Tesla electric car. I only found out because we were talking about the launch of Tesla founder Elon Musk’s space rocket. (Space travel is another of Madsen’s interests.)

I think Madsen has the Model S but I’ll find out soon enough because he suggested we go for a spin sometime so I can experience what has been described as its “sport’s car performance”.

Not sure I want to die in an electric car, Madsen, but offer accepted.

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Reader Comments (4)

Cigar smokers can still enjoy their hobby in comfort while cigarette or tobacco smokers cannot. This whole smoking issue has a huge amount of snobbery driving bans.

Take off a flimsy outer wrapping and cigar smokers still have beautiful art work on the box with product information denied to tobacco smokers.

The law stinks because it is discriminatory in so many ways. Rich people and no doubt some govt ministers smoke cigars while looking down on the working or under classes who prefer a cigarette or roll up.

Sunday, February 11, 2018 at 14:33 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

"Speaking at the Human Rights Committee’s meeting today, Mr Rees-Mogg claimed the Charity Commission threatens Student Unions with their charitable status when deciding which speakers they can or cannot invite to campus."

It sounds like the Charity Commission has taken on the role of deciding what is 'controversial' and what isn't. And what students are permitted to hear and what is forbidden.

Sunday, February 11, 2018 at 16:02 | Unregistered CommenterTony

The 'Ethical Affairs Officer' may believe that: "the arguments for tobacco control are coherent, powerful and backed up intensely by research" but a close examination of that research may show otherwise.

Many reports used to justify smoking bans are outright fabrications or manipulate data extremely. The numerous reports on 'heart attack miracles' come to mind. As does the active suppression and attacks on authors of all dissenting reports.

When did censorship and suppression of academic inquiry and fro speech become 'ethical'?

If the data is as sound as asserted, why does the so-called 'Ethical Affairs Officer' and tobacco control writ large seek to censor discussion at the cost of liberty and free speech?

Sunday, February 11, 2018 at 20:58 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

“He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that."

John Stuart Mill — On Liberty
(Chapter II, Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion)

Sunday, February 11, 2018 at 22:41 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

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