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40 years of hurt - the persecution of smokers

Forest has a new report out today.

It's called 40 Years of Hurt: The hyper-regulation of smokers 1979-2019, a title inspired by Mark Littlewood's speech at Forest's 40th anniversary dinner in London in June.

The report, which you can download here, was written by author and civil rights campaigner Josie Appleton, director of the Manifesto Club.

According to Josie:

“Smokers are the canaries for civil liberties. In the past decade there has been a series of novel and unprecedented incursions on public and private rights.

“Smokers are increasingly stigmatised and discriminated against not to protect the health of other people but ‘for their own good’.

“This directly violates the harm principle that assumes a person has autonomy over their own life and body as long as they do not hurt other people.

“Outlawing smoking in places of residence, whether it be prison, mental health units or social housing, demonstrates a worrying erosion of our rights to autonomy and privacy.

“Smoking is prohibited on hospital grounds and patients, some of whom are infirm or elderly, are forced off site or targeted with patronising messages on public address systems.

“Banning smoking in outdoor public places such as parks and beaches is justified not because there is a direct risk to anyone else’s health but to prevent smokers setting what the authorities consider to be a ‘bad example’.

“What began decades ago as a legitimate public health campaign to educate people about the risks of smoking has become a moral crusade that threatens our culture of tolerance and diversity.

“The war on smoking is not about smoking. I have seen the same move towards direct state coercion in many areas of social life, including regulation of the homeless and young people.

“It is also telling that the kinds of restrictions imposed on smokers are now being proposed for food and drink. All of us, whether smokers or non-smokers, have a fundamental interest in defending personal and civic freedoms so we can live our lives as we think best, rather than as the state tells us to."

The press release includes the following quote by me:

“Since Forest was founded 40 years ago anti-smoking policies have evolved from education and voluntary codes to coercion and legislation.

“It’s time to stub out the increasingly brutal approach to smoking cessation that includes the deliberate persecution of millions of consumers.

“In a free society adults must be allowed to make choices concerning their lifestyle without excessive state intervention.

“After four decades government must end the war on smoking and focus on choice and personal responsibility.”

I thought twice about using the word ‘persecution’ in relation to smokers but I checked and the definition includes ‘hostility and ill-treatment, ‘oppression’, and ‘persistent harassment’, all of which apply to smokers in 2019.

To read the report click here.

Update: Josie has written an article for Spiked - First they came for the smokers. You might like to comment.

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Reader Comments (4)

I hope you get some press coverage but 40 years has also been spent grooming the next generation to hate and fear smokers.

Sadly, too many journalists today cannot think past "I don't like it so you should not do it and if you don't stop, we'll campaign for a law to make you.,"

Many of them should hang their heads in absolute shame at the copy and paste hate campaign they have willingly run for the anti smoker industry.

Freedom as a concept doesn't seem to matter in this puritan age where bullying and abuse have become the norm instead of tolerance, sharing and live and let live.

So much started with smoking bans including the nastiness that we see everywhere around us in modern society. If this is the future, I'd rather go back to the grey and industrial barren landscape of the 1970s. At least we knew how to have a good time without worrying about every little morsel of something we put in our mouths.

Why can't our leaders understand that they do not own our lives, life is for living not measuring, and in the 21st century some 60 years after we put a man on the moon, we should have the technology that can deal with a wisp of smoke inside any designated place that smokers should be permitted to meet and socialise with their own kind the same as any other minority.

Hate campaigns are anti social and dangerous to society. Smokers are not.

Monday, August 5, 2019 at 13:13 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Bravo. It is good to see a realistic assessment of the campaign of persecution waged against smokers.

I do hope this is widely disseminated to MPs and the members of the devolved legislatures, as well as to key MEPs. I also encourage you to consider sending it to some select press outlets outside the UK (in the EU, US, Canada, and Australia/New Zealand for example).

Thanks for keeping the fight for liberty alive.

Monday, August 5, 2019 at 21:21 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

Well done and sincere congratulations on continuing to fight the puritanical bullies who believe they know best how other adults should live.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019 at 2:40 | Unregistered CommenterMark Jarratt

Thank you Simon! Looking forward to reading that report tomorrow (Heh, it's getting close to 5am here... gotta get back to my coffin before that Big Burny Carcinogenic Monster rises up in the East!)

- MJM, a night owl...

Saturday, August 17, 2019 at 9:36 | Unregistered CommenterMichael J McFadden

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