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The ideological bullying of smokers

Ian O'Doherty is one of the most fearless journalists in Ireland.

In my experience very few columnists – he writes for the Irish Independent and Irish Daily Star – are prepared to tackle some of the difficult issues he addresses.

He's also a smoker and is one of the few remaining journalists who's prepared to admit it without apologising.

Naturally he was top of the list of people we wanted to meet when we organised a series of dinners in Dublin last year.

Not only did he join us on a couple of occasions, he even accepted an invitation to say a few words at the Golden Nanny Awards in November when he also proposed an ad hoc toast to the woman who had previously been his bete noire, Senator Catherine Noone, winner of the 'Nanny-in-Chief' award.

On Saturday Ian used his column in the Irish Independent to attack those who refuse to let mental health patients' smoke even in the grounds of mental health units.

But he went further. He also criticised blanket bans on smoking on the grounds of Irish hospitals, pointing out that:

People smoke in hospitals for a variety of reasons, and one which is never considered by the authorities is that it is actually good for their head.

Certainly, when my father spent a few years in and out of James's hospital with the terminal, non-smoking related disease which would ultimately kill him, he measured the days by increments of when he'd go out for a smoke. It broke the endless monotony of living on a ward and, like many other long-term patients, he was determined to not become a 'lifer', one of those lost, institutionalised souls who simply lie in bed all day staring at the ceiling.

Getting up and going out for a break is often the only relief a patient gets.

To enforce such a rule on people who are already in so much turmoil that they are in a residential mental unit just seems needlessly, spitefully cruel. Life has already proved intolerable for many of these patients, and taking away what may well be their last bit of pleasure and relief is an extraordinary act of ideological bullying.

Ian also included a comment from Forest Ireland’s John Mallon (taken from this press release) which I’m pleased about because John was an outspoken critic of the plan to ban smoking in three mental health units in Cork when it was first reported locally.

Anyway, the article is well worth reading. Click here. You can register for free and it only takes a moment.

Above: Ian O'Doherty at the Golden Nanny Awards, Dublin, November 2017. Below: with Claire Fox, director of the Academy of Ideas, Dublin, May 2017.

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Reader Comments (1)

It's time to take the bullying and persecution of smokers head on. Tobacco control is based on exaggeration and lies and sustained by cultivating hate. Harm reduction isn't part of its plan, social engineering through persecution and suppressing dissent is their means. Their end state is prohibition. Tobacco control's lies must be exposed.

Monday, March 12, 2018 at 20:23 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

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