Health is the new religion

Abomination, abhorrent, despicable.

Just been on The Stephen Nolan Show (BBC Radio Ulster) and those are just three of the words used by callers to describe smoking in the open air.

Funnily enough, when I hear those words in a Presbyterian accent I automatically think of the Rev Ian Paisley.

Well, they say that health is the new religion.


Best smoking area? No thanks!

Our search for the pub with the best smoking area has suffered a setback.

Following an appeal to friends of Forest, supporters of the Save Our Pubs & Clubs campaign, and readers of this blog, we received an encouraging number of nominations and some warm comments.

The next step was to write to the landlords, inviting them to complete and return the official nomination form, which they had to sign.

So far so good. Unfortunately very few recipients returned the form by the closing date, so this week, with the deadline extended to May 27, I asked a colleague to chase them up.

Some licensees responded positively but several said they didn't want to receive an award for Best Smoking Area. One landlord – a belligerent Australian – went even further.

"Best Smoking Area?" he raged. "I'm bigger than that." Pause. "You get me?"


A favor de Philip Morris

Spoke to an Argentinian journalist who rang Forest from South America last night.

Uruguayan has introduced some of the toughest tobacco control measures in the world including graphic health warnings that cover 80 per cent of a cigarette pack,front and back. In response Philip Morris is suing the government for lost revenue.

"El tabaco es un producto legal y la gente debería poder fumar sin ser hostigada," I told her. "La gente que fuma ya sabe que es potencialmente dañino para su salud, pero este tipo de iniciativas fomentan la discriminación contra los fumadores."

Well, that's how it was translated.

See: Por qué Philip Morris considera a Uruguay una amenaza? (BBC World)


Smoke ban reception update

Reaction to the Save Our Pubs & Clubs reception at the House of Commons, announced yesterday:

The Morning Advertiser has the story here: Pubs invited to smoke-ban event.

See also: Save Our Pubs & Clubs plans Commons reception as it lobbies for ‘smoking rooms’ (Public Affairs News) and Campaigners lobby MPs to change smoking ban‎ (Harpers Wine & Spirit Trades Review).

Thanks to londonmum for posting the announcement on The Sun discussion forum: Save Our Pubs & Clubs - smokers alert!!

Ditto Angela Harbutt for posting on Liberal Vision: Save Our Pubs & Clubs – join us in Westminster on June 29

Please let me know of any other reports or links. Events such as this need to develop momentum so if there are any other bloggers reading this we'd appreciate a plug!

PS. To Frank Davis who commented, on our Facebook page, "Thanks for the invitation. I don't think I need to lobby my latest MP. He's one of the few who voted against the ban", I couldn't disagree more.

We have to keep lobbying those who are onside in order to maintain their support. If MPs don't hear from constituents on this issue they will think it no longer matters or that public support for the ban is almost universal.

As any political campaigner will tell you, never take the core vote for granted. Get your supporters out, then target the swing voters.


Here's Simon with the travel ...

Should have been in Edinburgh today.

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association has invited representatives from the European hospitality sector to advise them on how the smoking ban could be changed to accommodate smokers and protect jobs "without exposing staff or non-smoking customers to tobacco smoke".

The seminar, I am told, will comprise leading members of the SLTA and licensees from the Netherlands, Croatia and Hungary who have practical experience of systems that can control tobacco smoke without resorting to a comprehensive ban.

Sounds good, so I was going as an observer. Unfortunately all flights in and out of Scotland have been cancelled until two o'clock this afternoon because of the alleged threat of volcanic ash. (Thank you, Iceland!)

Trains, meanwhile, have been hit by yesterday's storms in Scotland and the north of England. I did think about driving, but a 14-hour round-trip for a two-hour meeting?

All is not lost, though, because a colleague has made it Edinburgh (from London). It wasn't easy, though. X reports that she caught the last BA flight out of Heathrow last night but it had to land at Glasgow.

Passengers were then driven by coach to Edinburgh and she arrived at her hotel at 2.30am.

Some people will do anything to discuss the smoking ban!

See: SLTA to hold talks on smoking ban (Evening Times)


Save Our Pubs & Clubs - join us in Westminster on June 29

The fight to amend the smoking ban is going to the heart of Westminster.

On Wednesday June 29, two days before the fourth anniversary of the smoking ban in England, we want supporters of the Save Our Pubs & Clubs campaign to join us at the Houses of Parliament.

Supporters are invited to attend a special reception hosted by The Rt Hon Greg Knight MP (Conservative), Roger Godsiff MP (Labour) and John Hemming MP (Liberal Democrat).

Location: Terrace Pavilion, House of Commons.
Time: 4.00-6.00pm

In advance of the event you will be asked to contact your local MP so you can arrange to meet them at the reception to discuss the smoking ban and related issues.

The aim of the event is to highlight the impact of the ban and demonstrate the strength of feeling that still exists in many quarters.

This is rare opportunity to lobby your MP in the presence of other like-minded people. We need as many people as possible to take part so please support this initiative and encourage others to do so too.

To attend the reception you MUST register in advance.

Telephone Nicky Shepherd on 01223 370156 or email your full name and address to and we will send you a formal invitation.

For further information visit the Save Our Pubs & Clubs website.

See also: Members of parliament unite to amend smoking ban (Forest)

PS: if you have a blog or website and want to promote the event, feel free to add the 'Lobby Your MP' logo (above) to the sidebar with a link to this page.


New York ban on smoking in parks and plazas starts tomorrow

New York extends smoking ban to parks, beaches and plazas.

Forest's response to the ban, to be introduced tomorrow, can be found on our website: Forest slams New York ban on beaches, parks and plazas.


Lunatics and libertarians

I must declare an interest.

Last year I helped libertarian bloggers Anna Raccoon and Old Holborn get smoker-friendly landlord Nick Hogan released from jail.

It was an exhilarating few days. Anna (aka Susanne Nundy) was friendly, professional and true to her word. Her description of Old Holborn, who led our raid on Salford Prison, is spot on:

I have a lot of respect for Old Holborn, he is a maverick, he is irrepressible, tiresomely energetic, and the original loose cannon. Hence I have a soft spot for him ...

Working with Anna and Old Holborn was as close as I've come to what some might call the "libertarian fringe". I enjoyed the experience but having dipped my toe in the water I wasn't tempted to jump in.

Today, via Dick Puddlecote, I discovered on Anna Raccoon's website this extraordinary, epic post.

The first half made me laugh out loud. Beautifully written, it's the funniest thing I have read in ages.

The second half was more disturbing and made me fear for several people's sanity.

Dick asks: "So what now, then? All over to UKIP?"

If I was Nigel Farage I'd be pulling up the drawbridge and dropping the portcullis.