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Forest EU, one year on

A year ago today Forest EU was officially launched in Brussels.

Over 100 guests, including journalists, researchers, consultants, lobbyists and consumers, attended the launch event that took place in a bar a few metres from the European Parliament.

It was by general consensus a very successful evening, helped in part by the balmy weather that allowed guests to eat, drink and smoke on the terrace outside (see above).

Dan Donovan made a video of the occasion and elicited some interesting comments from guests:

"I'm made to feel like a leper because I choose to smoke," said one. "I know the risks but I also feel I shouldn't be made to feel ostracised."

"I'm not a smoker but I stand for smokers' rights because it's about freedom of choice and equality," said another.

A third commented, "Ever since I started smoking I've always felt bad about the fact that I'm a smoker. So for me, being in an environment where people are like, 'No, you should be allowed to smoke', it's very interesting. It's given me a different perspective on my habit as a smoker."

A fourth said, "Here we are all adults, we know the risks, and if I want to light a cigarette please let me do it."

My favourite comment however was this one:

"An organisation like this speaks for me, as a smoker."

Since then Forest EU has hosted a number of events in Brussels and Strasbourg. Speakers have included Prof Neil McKeganey (Centre for Substance Use Research and lead author of The Pleasure of Smoking report), Claire Fox (Institute of Ideas), and another professor, Sinclair Davidson (Institute of Policy Research).

Next week there will be another event to mark both the campaign's first anniversary and the publication of a new report that will put a spotlight on the well-funded tobacco control lobby that operates in Brussels.

Politico reports:

Lighting up: Forest EU, a smokers’ rights group, is hosting a “Down with the busybodies” party on June 7 to launch “Smoke and Mirrors,” which it describes as a map of “the anti-tobacco lobby groups in Brussels and their role in promoting stronger tobacco control policies.” Expect jazz and smoke on the terrace.

If you'd like to attend, click here. We'd be delighted to see you.

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