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Director of A Billion Lives replies

Aaron Biebert, director of A Billion Lives, has replied to my previous post.

You can read his response in the comments here, but what astounded me was his claim that:

The movement to help people who want to quit smoking switch to something safer is called the Anti-Smoking movement.

That was news to me. As Paul McNamara commented:

No it is not, Aaron, it is called Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR). I have never in my life associated any anti-smoking movement that was anything other than hostile to smokers.

"I respect smokers and their choice."

Then please respect the feelings of smokers when they tell you that anti-smoking is not an appropriate name.

Exactly right, Paul.

To be fair to Aaron, at least he’s prepared to engage with us (and always has been), unlike many others I could mention. I respect him for that, so here’s my own response to his comment:

Aaron, I have never heard the term ‘anti-smoking movement’ used in the context you describe. As Paul says, what you are talking about is tobacco harm reduction.

You may think that THR and anti-smoking are the same thing but they are very different, or should be. THR informs, educates and encourages smokers to switch. It doesn’t (or shouldn’t) seek to coerce smokers to switch or quit or denormalise a substantial part of the population.

Like most readers of this blog I support tobacco harm reduction but I’m not anti-smoking (or anti-smoker). THR is about choice - “extending choice” as British American Tobacco rightly puts it. The anti-smoking movement, in contrast, doesn’t believe in choice.

Anti-smoking campaigners want to restrict and ultimately ban the sale of combustible tobacco and smoking accessories. They support discrimination, regressive taxation, creeping prohibition and other policies designed to force smokers to give up.

The anti-smoking movement is in denial about the pleasure many smokers get from smoking. I suspect many anti-smokers are also in denial about the pleasure of vaping. In their eyes it's a smoking cessation tool not a device for the long-term recreational consumption of nicotine.

As far as the anti-smoking movement is concerned most smokers (and even vapers) are addicts, victims of Big Tobacco. The anti-smoking industry exaggerates and distorts scientific evidence (on secondhand smoke, for example) with no thought for the negative impact that has had on the lives of smokers, their families and even their non-smoking peers.

THR has belatedly been embraced by anti-smoking campaigners, which may explain your confusion. That's no excuse though for allying yourself with the the "anti-smoking movement", parts of which you yourself attempted to expose as “corrupt” in A Billion Lives.

Wearing both my personal and Forest hats I will happily work with and support those who promote THR but as soon as THR advocates cross the line and embrace the language and endgame of the anti-smoking industry (a 'smoke free' world run by serial prohibitionists), they become our enemy. Anyone who promotes an anti-smoking agenda will be called to account because the war on smoking - and those who enjoy smoking and don’t want to quit - is unacceptable in a free and tolerant society.

As I have written several times on this blog, I respected the hard work and commitment with which you promoted A Billion Lives. In the UK I was one of your most active cheerleaders, even though I had reservations about the film that were partly confirmed when I saw it. I did so on the grounds that, tendentious title aside, it was an honest if laboured attempt to promote tobacco harm reduction and expose corruption within government and NGOs.

Now you have declared yourself “very proud” to be part of the “anti-smoking movement” you have crossed the line I referred to above. You may have done it in ignorance of what “anti-smoking” truly means, but I find that hard to believe.

When you started on your 'journey' I considered you slightly naive and gave you the benefit of the doubt. I can no longer do that. Anti-smoking is the antithesis of individual choice and personal responsibility. The “anti-smoking movement”, like the temperance movement before it, is puritanical and illiberal.

Some anti-smoking campaigners may be well-meaning but the outcome of their fanaticism is ultimately detrimental to society because it breeds intolerance.

To say you are part of the “anti-smoking movement” because “pro-choice movement” was already taken is a pathetic cop-out. The “anti-smoking movement” has existed for centuries. In its more organised public health form it's been with us for decades, if not the best part of a century, far longer than the “pro-choice movement”.

As I've explained, the pro-choice movement includes support for tobacco harm reduction but you've chosen to be part of the anti-smoking movement whose endgame is a ‘smoke free’ and probably nicotine-free world.

If you are now “proud” to be part of a movement that includes many of the NGOs and governments you previously sought to condemn as corrupt, good luck to you, but it strikes me as a betrayal of the message you were trying to communicate in your film.

You’re not the first and you won’t be the last THR evangelist to nail their colours to the anti-smoking mast but don’t insult our intelligence by reinventing the meaning of “anti-smoking movement” after we've called you out.

You may be a little ingenuous but you're not stupid, and nor are we.


Billion Lives team "very proud" to be part of the "anti-smoking movement"

Still on vaping, Twitter threw me another bone this week:

You may remember A Billion Lives. It was a worthy but rather dull pro-vaping documentary that was shown in a handful of cinemas at the back end of 2016.

I wrote about it several times and reviewed it here. Dr Attila Danko (see previous post) was one of many vaping advocates featured in the film.

At the time director Aaron Biebert insisted his film was principally about corruption. Commenting on this blog in response to my review, he wrote:

The movie was created for future generations to tell the story of how millions (or even a billion given enough time) people will die early from smoking and how corruption in our government and NGOs helped enable that death.

Even though I agree 100% that smokers should have the right to smoke (and not be harassed), the movie was not about the right to smoke. With some estimating that there are now 1.4 billion smokers, that right is alive and well. It was about the right to quit.

If I interpreted that correctly, A Billion Lives wasn't an anti-smoking film. It was anti-corruption and pro the 'right to quit' (a strange concept I shall return to in another post).

Fast forward 18 months and the Billion Lives' team is not only working for Derek Yach's Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (funded by PMI), it's "very proud" to be part of the "anti-smoking movement", a racket that is driven by many of the NGOs and governments A Billion Lives was supposed to expose.

As for "the right to smoke (and not be harassed)", I don't remember seeing that in any tobacco control manifesto.

Harassment of smokers – whether through bans, taxation or 'denormalisation' – is central to the anti-smoking crusade.

When you become a "very proud" member of that movement you signal your support for policies that are designed specifically to coerce smokers to quit.

Forest, on the other hand, is proud to belong to the pro-choice movement. If adults choose to smoke, or vape, or smoke and vape, or quit, or never smoke, good luck to them. It's their choice and whatever they choose they have our support.

As it happens I was invited to talk about about vaping on BBC Radio Essex on Wednesday.

They were running a story about a woman whose e-cigarette battery exploded in her car, burning her hair and scalp, but they wanted a broader discussion about vaping and were interested to hear what Forest's position was.

I defended vaping in pubs and other public places including hospital grounds.

I said e-cigarettes are popular (with some smokers) because they offer a pleasurable alternative to smoking.

I refuted the suggestion that e-cigarettes might be a gateway to smoking, pointing out there was no evidence for this.

I also stressed that tobacco is a legal product and Forest will continue to support adults who choose to smoke.

Would vaping advocates stand up for smokers in the same way? Some would but not many.

As for the team behind the pro-vaping documentary A Billion Lives, they make no attempt to disguise their allegiance. In their own words, they're "very proud" to be part of the "anti-smoking movement".

Who could have predicted that?


Transparency, transparency, transparency

"Off to Canberra today to help make smoking obsolete!"

I don't mind admitting that when I read that comment by Dr Attila Danko, president of the New Nicotine Alliance Australia, posted on Facebook on February 14, 2017, it raised my hackles a little.

I won't repeat my lengthy response but you can read it here – Enemies of choice.

As it happens the good doctor had been on my radar for a while. In 2015 he gave a speech at the Global Forum on Nicotine in Warsaw that was reported to me privately as follows:

Attila Danko brought the house down with a passionate (some might say overwrought) defence of ecigs and railed against the insane regulation of them in Australia.

I watched a video of it later and had to laugh. I'm all for passion but this was something else.

Delegates gave him a standing ovation, which is almost unheard of at an event like that.

Anyway, God love him, Danko popped up on my Twitter feed last weekend.

This was due to the fact that he was recently appointed 'medical director' at Nicovape, a "proudly independent New Zealand owned and operated e-cigarette device and liquid manufacturer".

According to Nicovape's website:

Under Australian laws, it is illegal to buy, possess or use liquid nicotine for vaping without a prescription from a registered Australian medical practitioner.

However, use and possession of liquid nicotine for a ‘therapeutic use’ (eg to quit or reduce smoking or to prevent relapse) is classified as a Schedule 4, which is legal to possess and use if the user has a prescription.

To cut to the chase:

Due to our exclusive affiliation with Australian registered medical practitioners, Nicovape allows you to legally purchase and possess nicotine containing e-cigarettes in Australia.

In other words, the company is selling its product not as a recreational device but as a medicinal tool available only on prescription.

There may be some very good reasons why Attila Danko has accepted his new role but it did seem at odds with his position as president of NNA Australia and one person (the group's estranged founder) was unimpressed.

Since that and several more tweets appeared on Sunday, NNA Australia has announced that Danko has now resigned as president. As of this morning though he was still listed as a board member and there is no mention of his role with Nicovape.

I mention this not because I want to point the finger but because it raises some interesting issues. In particular, how close should vaping advocates align themselves with commercial interests?

As director of Forest, a group that receives donations from tobacco companies, it would be grossly hypocritical of me to criticise any group or individual who accepts money from the private sector.

What I would say is: transparency, transparency, transparency.

If vaping advocates get into bed with the industry - even via third parties - they should be open about it.

To be fair to Danko, there’s nothing clandestine about his new role. It's there, in black and white, on the Nicovape website ('Meet our doctors').

How that sits with others is up to them. Personally I don't have a problem with it as long as there is a clear line in the sand.

For example, I don't see how you can be on the board of an 'independent' vaping advocacy group while at the same time working for a company with a vested commercial interest.

Can you imagine the outcry if someone working for a tobacco company was on the board of Forest? (I can't imagine rival companies would be very happy about it either!)

As it happens, my predecessor at Forest was a huge advocate of air filtration systems as a solution to the issue of smoking in indoor public places.

She became quite an expert and when she left Forest she got a job with ... an air filtration company.

While she worked for Forest however she was a genuinely independent advocate, never promoting any specific brand or company.

It was only after she left Forest that she joined the air filtration industry and her appointment was open and transparent. (I seem to remember the company issued a press release.)

Vaping advocates should take note because I suspect Attila Danko won't be the last to make the switch from independent advocacy to a more commercially driven role.

Like former ministers who take jobs in a sector they gained some knowledge of while they were in government, there's nothing wrong with it, but perceptions do need to be handled.

There has to be a clear demarcation between independent advocacy and commercial interests and in my view NNA Australia got it wrong by not announcing Danko's resignation as president before he was revealed as 'medical director' of Nicovape.

If he’s still on the board he should probably resign from that too.



Barnsley Council's bid to ban the sale of smoking accessories by market traders has reached the ears of the Sheffield Star.

The story, which I wrote about yesterday, comes with a twist however.

Thanks to a Freedom of Information request by Keiron Knight, who runs a market stall in Barnsley and represents the National Market Traders Federation, the Star is able to report that:

A council which banned the sale of smoking related goods from market stalls in a prestigious new shopping complex on public health grounds has money tied up in tobacco companies through its pension funds, it has emerged.

Market trader Kieron Knight, who has built up a business based principally on selling goods for smokers on Barnsley market has been told he cannot continue to do so if he takes a stall at the new Glass Works complex, being built to replace Barnsley’s old Metropolitan Centre.

He has been offered help by the council to switch to other products, but says his reliance on supplying legally available items to smokers means it would be impossible to do so and has asked questions under Freedom of Information legislation which reveal the council invests indirectly through the South Yorkshire Pensions Authority, which provides retirement income for its staff, in several tobacco firms.

I have no problem with councils (or anyone else) having shares in tobacco companies. (I'm no expert but traditionally it's been a pretty safe investment so it makes shrewd financial sense.)

You must be a hypocrite of the first order though if you invest in tobacco companies while banning smoking in outdoor public places and prohibiting small traders from selling smoking-related accessories – all in pursuit of your ultimate goal, a 'smoke-free' borough.

I spoke to Keiron Knight (and the Star) a couple of days ago. The paper reports:

Mr Knight has the support of smokers’ group Forest and director Simon Clark said: “Tobacco is a legal product. It’s wrong and extremely hypocritical for the council to ban the sale of smoking accessories in every market in the borough.

“To the best of our knowledge neither traders nor consumers were consulted which demonstrates the contempt the council has for local people.

“If the aim is to denormalise smoking it won’t work because smokers will buy their accessories elsewhere. The policy will however hurt market traders, some of whom may be forced out of business.”

Full report: Council accused of hypocrisy over tobacco investments while promoting 'smoke free' town (Sheffield Star).


Trouble at market

According to a BBC report yesterday:

Sugary drinks have been barred from sale at Barnsley Council in a bid to make the town a "sugar-free borough".

As well as cutting out full-sugar drinks from sale and removing vending machines from council buildings, the cafe at the council's Westgate Plaza headquarters now gives a calorific value on its sandwiches, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

The council is working with prospective tenants of the new Market Food Hall, which is currently under construction, with the aim of introducing similar labels.

See Barnsley bans sugary drinks in 'sugar-free borough' bid (BBC News).

By coincidence, when the story appeared online I was addressing another Barnsley Council initiative. In November last year the Barnsley Chronicle reported:

Radical measures to stop market traders selling smoking materials are being introduced by the council as it pushes ahead with its plans to eradicate smoking from the town.

It is part of an ambitious plan to make Barnsley home to the first smoke-free market in the country.

Stall holders had previously been told the council wanted to build on the success of voluntary smoke-free zones in other parts of the borough by extending the ‘ban’ to outside areas around the market.

In January the paper reported:

A ban on selling smoking products which has been slapped on market traders will be rolled out across the whole of the [new] £130m Glass Works development.

Councillor Roy Miller told the paper he wanted families and children to enjoy a smoke-free town and market:

"The council supports the market traders and independent retailers who are at the heart of Barnsley’s unique shopping experience.

"We have provided a suitable amount of time for existing traders to phase out their current stock of smoking related products and to adapt their product lines so they can continue to thrive in the town centre.

"We want families, especially children, to be able to enjoy our town and market area without smoking being present. As well as the benefits to health, we also hope to see a reduction in cigarette litter in the area, which looks unpleasant and is costly to clean up."

I've come to this story late but yesterday I spoke to the vice-president of the Barnsley branch of the National Market Traders Federation (NMTF). He confirmed that, for now, the new policy affects only market traders, which smacks of discrimination.

He also told me that for one trader smoking accessories represent her entire business. For others, in Barnsley and outlying areas, they provide regular and useful income. This policy threatens their survival.

I'm told that the party in control of Barnsley Council never changes (it's a Labour stronghold) so protests, including a petition, have been ignored.

The traders won't give up however and Freedom of Information requests have revealed some interesting information.

Watch this space.


VApril and the UKVIA Forum 2018

Yesterday was the last day of VApril, the vaping industry funded campaign designed to encourage smokers to switch to e-cigarettes.

In the UK there are currently two vaping industry bodies of any substance – the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) and the Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA).

The IBVTA is the 'only trade association dedicated to representing the UK's independent vape industry'. Members (to name a few at random) include Totally Wicked, UK Vapour Brands, JAC Vapour, Vapestick and Vlad the Inhaler Ltd.

The UKVIA, which is behind VApril, is the 'country's leading forum for supporting and promoting the circa £1bn vaping industry'. Members include Vape Club, E-Liquid Brands, Madvapes, Vaporized and Vapo.

Significantly, membership of the UKVIA also includes Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Fontem Ventures (a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco) and JTI.

The result is that Steve Brine, minister for public health, is happy to meet representatives of the IBVTA but not the UKVIA.

Yes, I know about the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) but I'm sick of Article 5.3 being misrepresented by tobacco control to stop the tobacco industry meeting government ministers.

In my view health ministers should engage with both bodies (IBVTA and UKVIA) because it's clear to all but the most swivel-eyed fanatics that the tobacco industry has a major role to play in the development of alternative and potentially 'safer' nicotine products.

Anyway, with the calendar already featuring No Smoking Day and Stoptober plus countless smoking cessation events, I was concerned that VApril would be yet another 'bash smoking' exercise. The good news is, it wasn't.

With one exception – Vaporized's poorly judged 'WarOnCigarettes' hashtag – VApril was largely free of anti-smoking rhetoric.

Instead the four-week campaign focussed on the '3 step April Challenge' which encouraged those who want to stop smoking to attend 'masterclasses' in cities across the UK.

By adopting a helpful, non-judgemental tone VApril avoided the nagging anti-smoking narrative that drives most smoking cessation campaigns.

The positive tone was set by the recruitment of Dr Christian Jessen as the face of VApril. Great choice, not least because Jessen comes across as both likeable and genuinely liberal.

He's also not afraid to ruffle a few feathers among his colleagues in the medical profession.

It was a relief too not to be subjected to the parade of ex-smoking 'celebrities' that Stoptober wheels out every year to increasingly little effect.

So far so good.

If I have one issue it's this. Throughout the campaign I followed the VApril hashtag on Twitter.

What I found were numerous tweets by a number of companies (not members of the UKVIA) using the hashtag to flog their products. For example:

Or this:

Hijacked is too strong a word but I did feel that VApril's mission to educate and inform was compromised by some fairly naked commercial activity (none of it the fault of the UKVIA).

How that problem can be solved I don't know. If companies want to use the hashtag #VApril as part of a sales promotion you can't stop them, but it's an issue that needs to be addressed.

Thankfully it wasn't universal and tweets by companies that are members of the UKVIA were far more restrained, in keeping with the ethos of the campaign:

Anyway, I can't write about VApril without mentioning the main event – the inaugural UKVIA Forum that took place at the Kings Fund in London last week.

Like the campaign itself I was pleasantly surprised. I arrived a little sceptical (the list of speakers suggested there was going to be a lot of preaching to the converted) but I left having enjoyed it.

For starters, it was very well-paced. Unlike many conferences I've been to no session overstayed its welcome.

The sessions were well moderated and every panellist had time to make their points. There was even time for Q&As which is essential, I think, if you want the audience to be properly engaged.

Many of the speakers were unfamiliar to me so that was good because I learned something new.

(Note to conference organisers: please, please don't invite the same speakers every year. I don't care how 'expert' they are. It's boring hearing the same people again and again and again.)

Other speakers reinforced what I already knew but that was fine too. Here are some of the messages I took away:

According to a new survey the top three drivers of switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes are:

(1) Smell of smoke – 62%
(2) Cost (of cigarettes) – 60%
(3) Cost of insurance – 50%

Contrary to what we often hear, flavour is not a driver.

Top three reasons why smokers don't start vaping:

(1) Expensive (initially)
(2) Too much choice
(3) Never crossed their minds

The top three reasons people stop vaping and switch back to smoking are:

(1) Not getting the pleasure
(2) Not as convenient as smoking
(3) Plethora of choice (confusing)

I can't remember who said it but one speaker talked of vaping needing an "iPhone moment" – an e-cigarette that "just works" and is simplicity itself.

Could that, perhaps, be Ayr, "vaping reimagined"?

Ayr, we were told, is the "first vaporiser that refills and recharges itself automatically".

"Intuitive and smart", it "shows exactly how much you've vaped during a single session" allowing a clear start and finish to every session.

Nine flavours and three different strengths, there's even a "discreet mode" that allows you to vape unobtrusively.

Like the original iPhone, it really does look beautiful, and different.

But wait.

Ayr can monitor your first and last puff and the information it collects on your vaping behaviour can be provided "to the medical community".

Seriously? To the medical community? What kind of device is this?

When I questioned this (no-one else seemed the least bit bothered) I was assured that all information will be "anonymised" but it strikes me that Ayr may be too clever by half.

It's still a wonderful looking device but I can't see it being a game-changer unless it's licensed to one of the major players.

One or two comments aside (one speaker dismissed smoking as "dumb-arse", another spoke of "our quest to eradicate smoking"), what I enjoyed about the UKVIA Forum is that I didn't feel I was being lectured about the evils of smoking.

If you smoke and don't want to quit you would not have felt out-of-place or uncomfortable, unlike the E-Cigarette Summit that is currently taking place in Washington DC. For example, how's this for the arrogance of (some) vaping advocates:

Message: even if you enjoy smoking and are "unwilling" to quit, you should still switch to e-cigarettes!

They don't get it, do they? Even when research tells them, time and again, that the reason many smokers won't switch to e-cigarettes is because vaping doesn't give them the same pleasure as smoking, some THR advocates continue to shout, "Switch to vaping!"

Are they deaf or simply driven by an evangelical desire that everyone should follow their own righteous path to a smoke free future?

Finally, I've mentioned Twitter several times in this post and with good reason because it seems the success of VApril may be judged largely by its performance on social media.

As of last Monday, we were told, the campaign had achieved 2.1 million Twitter impressions, plus 323k post (?) impressions across social media.

The UKVIA had also acquired 375 new followers and the campaign had engaged with 321 politicians and public health community professionals.

I sense a bit of PR spin there but credit where credit's due. VApril was a well thought out campaign and the first UKVIA Forum was well-organised and well-attended (170 delegates).

I'm disappointed Dr Neil McKeganey wasn't invited to discuss his peer-reviewed paper 'Why Don’t More Smokers Switch to Using E-Cigarettes: The Views of Confirmed Smokers' but maybe that was too much to ask. Next year, perhaps.

Update: The UKVIA has revealed that "nearly 1000 smokers across the UK took the #VAprilChallenge". I'd like to know what the target was but, either way, I'm sure VApril – and the UKVIA Forum – will be back next year.


The consequences of a ban on smoking in outdoor eating areas

A proposal by former health minster James Reilly to extend the smoking ban to outdoor eating areas in Ireland is dividing opinion.

Writing in yesterday's Irish Independent, columnist Ian O'Doherty (above) commented:

The only reason I am reluctant to call Reilly and his ilk a bunch of single-issue fanatics is because he'd probably thank me for the compliment - after all, he has previously described tobacco companies as 'evil' and pompously declared 'war' on smoking.

In true tinpot-tyrant fashion, they are determined to make Ireland 'smoke free' by 2025 - an idea that is ludicrous, totalitarian and, like all their plans, unworkable.

The problem with these ideas is that they want to completely remove the individual autonomy of grown adults and private businesses and concentrate all such decisions in the hands of the State.

If a private bar or restaurant wants to accommodate smokers in their outside areas, that is an issue between the patrons and the management. If people are staying away from their place because of smoking, they won't allow it.

That is entirely their call to make. You see, the market always works things out far better than any politician, even a colossus like James Reilly, ever could.

See Latest smoking proposals are about control, not health.

Meanwhile the Sunday Times Ireland today reports that 'Proposals to ban smoking in outdoor eating areas may make pubs stub out their dining options instead.'

Carol McCann, a restaurant supervisor at the Harbourmaster bar and restaurant in Dublin, points out that, thanks to Ireland’s complete lack of sunny weather -amounting to all of two days in the past eight months - choosing whether to facilitate outdoor smokers or diners is a no-brainer.

“It wouldn’t be that big an issue for us,” said McCann. “For the three sunny days we get in Ireland each year, that is the only time our outdoors areas are used for eating.”

Smokers, on the other hand, use the outdoors areas all year round. “Our whole building is for diners, so I’d leave outside for the smokers.”

Even in warner climates the cost of banning smoking outside has "unintended consequences". Only last week, in Australia, the Herald Sun reported:

Customers are being banned from eating outside so smokers can puff away with impunity at some cafes and restaurants in Victoria. Dozens of eateries in Melbourne's east have transformed outdoor dining areas into smoking safe spaces after new laws banning cigarettes around food came into effect ...

The full report is behind a paywall but you get the gist.

Back in Ireland, the Sunday Times quotes Forest spokesman John Mallon and includes some fascinating information that will interest those of you who supported Forest's well-publicised opposition to proposals to extend the smoking ban to outdoor areas in Brighton:

Brighton and Hove city council considered banned smoking on Brighton beach, but surveys indicated insufficient public support for the move.

The council also considered a ban in outdoor dining areas, but settled for a voluntary scheme. Initially many food businesses indicated that they would sign up, but last week the council said just four had done so.

Verity Craig is the owner of Bohemia, a bar and restaurant in Brighton which has two outdoor areas. She never considered signing up to the voluntary scheme to convert weather of them into a non-smoking area.

That is because, in five years in business, she has never received a complaint from diners about smoking.

Fancy that!

What these reports tell me is that, far from being an insignificant minority, smokers still have some clout.

The number of people who want to smoke when they are out socialising is not inconsiderable and the hospitality industry is generally keen to accommodate them, if they can.

Moreover, the objections to smoking outside are coming not from fellow diners (by and large) but from a tiny coterie of professional anti-smokers.

With this in mind I think we have a chance of winning this battle but opposition voices must be much louder and more persistent than they have been.

I understand why many of you are weary of fighting the tobacco control industry and feel the war on smoking is going in only one direction, but that's no reason to throw in the towel.

In Brighton we demonstrated the importance of making our voices heard (see Brighton - common sense prevails) and we need to do so again ... and again.

The consequence of a ban on smoking in outdoor eating areas in Ireland would almost certainly encourage similar action from devolved parliaments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and local authorities in England.

Although some businesses might choose to allow smoking in preference to eating, the likely outcome of that is that tobacco control campaigners will then demand a complete ban on smoking outside pubs, restaurants and cafes, regardless of whether people are eating or merely drinking.

I know that, you know that.

Worse – and unlike Ireland where the authorities regularly turn a blind eye to minor infractions of the law on smoking in enclosed public places – the UK will no doubt enforce any new regulations to the nth degree.

So, still much to play for. I'll keep you posted.


“I don't like the world I am living in and shall have few regrets when I leave it.”

"I am glad that I'm an old person. I don't like the world I am living in and shall have few regrets when I leave it.”

Jenty Burrill, a long-standing supporter of Forest, on Facebook today.

Jenty’s comment was posted on the Friends of Forest page in response to the letter (Smoking in outdoor areas) I mentioned in my previous post.

What a terrible indictment of the tobacco control industry, their acolytes in parliament, and the relentless war on tobacco.

I am struggling to find words that truly describe their shameful crusade to denormalise millions of ordinary people in the name of ‘public health’.

Suggestions welcome.