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Barbara Ellen: No need for all compassion to go up in smoke

Further to my previous post ...

It was nice to read some words in defence of smokers, and in the Guardian-owned Observer, of all places.

Commenting on the Welsh Government’s plan to make it a criminal offence to smoke on hospital grounds, columnist Barbara Ellen wrote:

While Britain still has smokers, is a designated smoking area outside a hospital such a terrible thing? It’s even arguable that smokers deserve a tiny break. The vast majority of smokers have complied with new laws with barely a peep – they’ve done as instructed, regarding smoking in public areas, trudging outside, to dolefully puff away in all weathers. The poor sods.

Now it seems they won’t even be able to smoke in a designated spot outside hospitals – the most stressful places on Earth. Evoking human rights may be stretching it (just a tad), but there’s no need for all compassion to go up in smoke.

See: Let stressed-out people have a puff outside hospitals, for pity’s sake (Observer)

As it happens, Ellen’s views echo my own, as published by the Guardian on Friday:

“Threatening hospital patients, visitors and staff with fines when some of them may be at their most vulnerable is despicable. What’s wrong with a designated smoking area?”

Let’s hope more people speak out against the policy before it’s introduced in Wales in 2019.

To many people it appears quite logical to ban smoking on hospital grounds. In my eyes it demonstrates the callousness and lack of empathy for ordinary people that distinguishes the anti-smoking movement from other ‘charitable’ causes.

It suits politicians of course because announcements like the one on Friday help distract attention from the failings of the NHS - A&E waiting times, ambulance response rates and so on.

The NHS in Wales is under particular scrutiny because it’s generally regarded to be in a worse state than the NHS in other parts of the country.

According to a recent BBC report:

In April, 80% of patients spent less than four hours in A&E, up from 75.6% in March.
However, performance was worse than the same period in 2017.

The NHS Confederation said it showed the health service was climbing out of the extreme winter pressures period but "remain in challenging times".

The four hour wait performance continues to be well-below the target of 95% - which has not been met since it was introduced.

Between March and April the number of patients having to spend more than 12 hours in accident and emergency units dropped by about a third.

However, the performance on this measure is also worse than in 2017 - with 3,819 patients spending 12 hours or more in A&E in April.

Targets said nobody should wait that long.

The Welsh Government’s response? Criminalise patients caught smoking on hospital grounds. Genius.


Why the devolved parliaments matter

You may have read this story yesterday:

Wales is set to be the first country in the UK to extend its smoking ban to outdoor areas, with smoke-free areas expected to be in place in hospital grounds, school grounds and playgrounds by summer 2019 ...

The changes will make it illegal to smoke in the hospital grounds, with legal backing for fines to be issued to smokers breaking the rules, therefore improving the environment for patients, visitors and staff.

Welsh health secretary Vaughan Getting said:

"I am proud that Wales continues to be at the forefront of UK action to reduce smoking and prevent young people from taking it up in the first place.

"We have seen significant changes to the attitudes to smoking since 2007. Back then we received some resistance to change, but we have seen a remarkable culture-change and I am pleased our plan to extend smoke-free areas to outdoor public spaces has received overwhelming public support.

"This is another step in the right direction to de-normalise smoking in Wales.”

The changes to the smoke-free legislation will be introduced under the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017, which was passed by Assembly Members last year.

The announcement was reported – with quotes from Forest – by BBC Wales, ITV Wales and the Guardian.

I did interviews for ITV Wales and BBC Radio Wales and was also quoted by Gizmodo UK whose correspondent concluded his report by writing:

The move would makes Wales the first country to ban smoking in outdoor areas, though it wouldn't be surprising if this move was similarly adopted by Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England. Now if only the governments could do something about people vaping indoors, that'd be great.

Leaving vaping aside, he's spot on about Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England. There's a tendency, in England especially, to ignore developments in the devolved parliaments but that's a huge mistake.

Bills are passed in Holyrood or Cardiff that lead to some fairly restrictive measures and Westminster invariably follows suit.

Next month the Scottish Government is expected to announce its new tobacco control plan. Don’t be surprised if it includes measures already adopted in Wales.

Worse, the tobacco control team will probably want to announce their own headline-grabbing initiative so they can boast that "Scotland is set to be the first country in the UK to ..."

This, I'm sure, is why I found myself on BBC Radio Ulster yesterday discussing the Welsh Government announcement. The producers were savvy enough to understand that what happens in Wales could have repercussions in other parts of the UK.

As it happens, the extension of the smoking ban wasn't the lead story in Wales last night. Top billing on one local news programme concerned the race to become the new leader of the Welsh Labour party and therefore the new first minister in Wales.

According to BBC Wales:

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething has told BBC Wales he is "optimistic" he can be a candidate to be the next first minister and leader of Welsh Labour.

It follows four Labour AMs saying they will back him - he needs five nominations to stand. Currently only Mark Drakeford has enough support.

What a coincidence! On the same day Gething announced plans to extend the smoking ban, he also effectively declared his candidacy for the Welsh Labour leadership. (See what he did there?)

If he stands, his main, possibly only, rival will be former Wales health minister Mark Drakeford, the man responsible for the bill that made it possible to make it illegal to smoke in schools and hospital grounds.

Drakeford was also the man who argued that e-cigarettes are "re-normalising" smoking and tried to impose a partial ban on vaping in enclosed public places until he was forced to drop the measure.

This, then, is what we face – health ministers using the war on smoking to raise their profile before launching bids for the leadership of their party.

Even Nicola Sturgeon made her name initially as the SNP's shadow minister for health (see 'My brush with Nicola Sturgeon').

In contrast no modern politician with their eye on high office ever achieved their goal by standing up for choice and personal responsibility.

PS. On BBC Radio Ulster yesterday I found myself in a four-way discussion with Gerry McElwee (Cancer Focus Northern Ireland), journalist Tina Calder and ... Chris Snowdon.

I quite enjoyed it because we had 35 minutes, the discussion was quite lively, and a panel of four was far better, I thought, than the usual and rather predictable head-to-head.

For some reason though I found myself calling the head of the IEA’s Lifestyle Unit "Christopher". Why, I don't know.

Anyway it's available as a podcast. To listen click on this link – Wales could soon have the most restrictive laws on smoking in the UK, but does it go far enough?


Smoking is a feminist issue – discuss

Delighted to report that our next 'Burning Issues' dinner in Dublin will feature, as guest speaker, Ella Whelan.

Ella is a freelance journalist and author of What Women Want: Fun, Freedom and an End to Feminism. She was assistant editor at the online magazine Spiked and host of the Spiked podcast between 2015-2018.

She appears regularly on Sky News, Any Questions (BBC Radio Four), Daily Politics (BBC Two), RTE, Channel 4, Good Morning Britain (ITV) and many other programmes. She has written for the Sun, the Spectator, City AM, the IBT, Grazia and others.

She is currently researching a book on feminism, transgenderism and what happens when you ask, what does it mean to be a woman?

Following previous dinners that featured Claire Fox ('Is health the new religion?') and Chris Snowdon ('The Nanny State We're In'), the subject of next month's event is 'Smoking is a feminist issue'. Here's the blurb:

For some women in the first half of the 20th century, smoking was a symbol of emancipation and equality with men. Others believe feminism was used by the tobacco industry to exploit women and acquire a new generation of customers.

This patronising view of women continues today. ‘Slim’ and flavoured cigarettes were banned in favour of ‘gender-neutral’ cigarettes for fear they enticed women to smoke. Plain packaging was introduced, it was argued, because the tobacco industry was conspiring to seduce women with ‘glitzy’ or pastel colours.

Mothers who light up, even in the open air, while taking their child to a park or play area, are criticised and frowned upon for a habit that may be one of their few daily pleasures.

In 2018 Ireland is debating a women's right to have an abortion and control over their own bodies. Does a similar argument not apply to women who choose to smoke? Do we need to revive the rebellious spirit of those early 20th-century smokers?

Last year Ella was the recipient of one of Forest's 'Voices of Freedom' awards so we're delighted she can join us in Dublin.


Plain speaking on plain packaging revisited

Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of the full implementation of plain packaging of tobacco in the UK.

On February 24, 2015, Forest hosted An Evening of Plain Speaking on Plain Packaging.

Speakers included Angela Harbutt (Hands Off Our Packs), John O'Connell (TaxPayers Alliance), Dr Madsen Pirie (Adam Smith Institute), Emily Barley (Conservatives for Liberty), Rory Broomfield (The Freedom Association), Claire Fox (Institute of Ideas), Chris Snowdon and Mark Littlewood (Institute of Economic Affairs).

The arguments against standardised or 'plain' packs are as relevant today as they were then. So here's the video featuring the edited highlights of what, if I say so myself, was a rather splendid event. Standing ovations all round!!


Plain packaging and all that jazz

On Sunday (May 20) it's the first anniversary of the full implementation of plain packaging in the UK.

When I think back to the campaign we set up to try and stop the government introducing the measure, I'm tempted to ask, 'Why did we go to so much bother?'

If you haven't already done so (it's essential reading!) you can read the full story of the Hands Off Our Packs campaign here.

Looking back it's a reminder of how my life was dominated for the best part of four years by that one issue. And when I say dominated, I truly mean that.

Activists who took part in the EU referendum campaign talk about the way it ruled their lives. The plain packaging campaign wasn't as concentrated as that but with the exception of a six-month period in 2013 – when we naively thought we'd won a stay of execution and the issue wouldn't return until after the 2015 election – it was pretty full on.

The first meeting to discuss a consumer-led campaign took place in a peaceful rural retreat overlooking a lake in Oxfordshire. It was a warm and sunny day and by the end of the afternoon – following several hours' brainstorming – we had a rough plan in place, including a name. (You should have heard some of the other suggestions!)

We then had to get funding, appoint a campaign manager and hire an assistant. Eight months later – following a great deal of work (and a lot of angst) – Hands Off Our Packs was officially launched on February 28, 2012.

Even at the time however I was conscious that relatively few smokers seemed bothered by the threat of standardised or 'plain' packaging. In the same way that the display ban elicited a cursory "meh", most people appeared apathetic.

That's not to say they supported the idea. You've only got to look at the hundreds of thousands of people (almost half a million) who signed letters and petitions opposing plain packs – vastly outnumbering those who signed petitions in favour of it – to realise there was little public support for the measure, and a lot of opposition.

Among smokers however the attitude was one of, "Who cares? No-one smokes because of the packaging."

And so it's proved.

This week, quoting figures from something called the Smoking Toolkit Study, the Tobacco Manufacturers Association reported that:

The Smoking Toolkit Study has found that on a three month rolling average, from December 2017 to March 2018, smoking rates in England were higher than for the same time last year before plain packaging was fully introduced.

The TMA estimated that:

If the same effect was seen across the UK there would be approximately 350,000 more adult smokers in March 2018 than a year before plain packaging was fully introduced.

I should add that the TMA's interpretation of the figures has been challenged on Twitter by Jamie Brown, deputy director of the UCL Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group, but however you read them it's clear the introduction of plain packs in 2016/17 has done nothing to reduce smoking rates.

Nor is this outcome exclusive to the UK. In Australia, where plain packaging was introduced in December 2012, and France (January 2016), it's a very similar story.

The reality is that while there are a host of very good reasons to challenge plain packaging – the attack on intellectual property, the attempted denormalisation of a legal product, the infantilisation of society and the slippery slope argument – it makes relatively little difference to consumers, apart perhaps from driving them to buy cheaper brands, which they were doing anyway as the price of cigarettes continued to rise year on year.

The failure of plain packaging to have any substantial impact should be a great disappointment to the tobacco control industry but they do what they always do when an anti-smoking policy fails – they ignore it.

If standardised packs showed even a small sign of achieving their goals (including a reduction in youth smoking rates) rest assured we would hear all about it. Instead ... silence.

In that respect plain packaging is a classic anti-smoking measure. Promoted and campaigned for over many years, introduced with no little fanfare, then quietly forgotten when it fails to meet its objectives.

We've been here before. Graphic health warnings, the ban on tobacco vending machines, the display ban, the ban on smoking in cars carrying children.

All, in their day, fiercely fought for but, years later, there's little evidence that any of these policies had a significant impact on smokers, potential smokers or public health.

It's an indictment of graphic health warnings, for example, that a few years after they were introduced anti-smoking campaigners were demanding plain packaging and even larger health warnings, suggesting the existing ones hadn’t worked.

The tobacco control lobby retorts that it's a combination of all these policies that has helped reduce smoking rates but the evidence doesn't support that.

Historically smoking has been in decline for more than 50 years. Smoking rates fell heavily between the mid Seventies and early Nineties (when there were relatively few anti-smoking laws in place) and has edged down ever since.

The smoking ban – as has been well documented – had relatively little impact on smoking rates and the significant drop that took place from 2012-2016 would seem to be related to the 1.6 million smokers who switched permanently to e-cigarettes.

Punitive taxation has probably been a factor too but many smokers have found a way around that, buying abroad or on the black market. Increasing tobacco duty even further may force more smokers to quit but the downside is the boost it will give illicit trade allied to a serious loss of revenue (which government can ill afford to lose).

Anyway, here we are, a year on following the full implementation of plain packaging. As it happens it's also the first anniversary of the full implementation of the EU's revised Tobacco Products Directive (TPD2).

In case you've forgotten, measures included a ban on packs containing fewer than 20 cigarettes, a ban on smaller pouches of rolling tobacco, larger health warnings (up to 65 per cent of the front and back of the pack) and a ban on flavoured cigarettes (menthol will be prohibited from 2020).

Again, where is the evidence that these measures are improving public health? To the best of my knowledge it doesn't exist. Instead anti-smoking campaigners retreat behind the mantra that "It's too early to judge."

In my experience, if any of these measures were going to work in terms of smoking rates it would happen soon rather than later because people get used to the changes very quickly.

Like it or not (and I know some readers don't like me saying this), the overwhelming majority of smokers adapted to the smoking ban. They didn't quit. They went outside or stayed at home (in preference to standing outside the pub).

Graphic health warnings? A bit shocking at first but within weeks hardly anyone noticed them. The overwhelming majority of smokers didn't quit and the impact on young people was unremarkable.

Prohibition of tobacco vending machines? The ban has been a very minor inconvenience to smokers, no more than that. They were the most expensive method of buying cigarettes which is why the suggestion that 50,000 children regularly accessed cigarettes via pub or hotel vending machines was stretching credibility. Impact of the ban on smoking rates: zero, I would argue.

Tobacco display ban? A bit annoying at first because of slow service while shop assistants got to grips with the new system but that was soon ironed out. Like all the policies I've mentioned I still think it's wrong (for several reasons) but how many people have actually quit or were discouraged from taking up smoking because the packs are behind a sliding door?

It's a rhetorical question and with good reason. No-one knows. None of these measures has been independently reviewed so no-one knows what impact they've had – on health, on smoking rates, on consumers, on retailers.

Yes, smoking rates have continued to decline but there is nothing to suggest that any of the measures listed above have had a significant effect beyond historical trends or the impact of smokers switching to e-cigarettes.

That's why Forest is calling for a "root and branch" review of tobacco regulations. Here's my comment:

"Governments blunder on from one tobacco control measure to another, regardless of their impact.

"It's time for an independent root and branch review of all the tobacco control measures introduced since 2010, including plain packaging and the behind-the-counter display ban.

"The failure of plain packaging is an indictment of the haste with which the policy was pushed through parliament before the 2015 general election.

"Plain packaging has nothing to do with health. The decision to introduce it in the UK was based not on evidence that it would reduce smoking rates but on party politics. It wasn't right then and it isn't right now."

See 'Consumer group calls for review of tobacco regulations' (Talking Retail).

Will the Government listen? Probably not, but you can't fault us for trying.

See also 'One year on, no evidence that tougher EU rules on tobacco products are working say campaigners' (Forest EU).


Primary school children recruited to fight war on smoking

I recorded a short interview for ITV Calendar News this afternoon.

It was in response to this story – 'Barnsley schoolchildren urge parents not to smoke':

Children from a primary school in Barnsley are urging parents to think twice before smoking around school grounds.

The 'peaceful protest' by pupils at Laithes Primary School is part of the 'Breathe 2025' campaign - and the council's vision to make the borough a smoke-free zone.

A 'peaceful playground protest' by primary school children, none of whom would be older than eleven. What the hell's going on?

The first word that came to mind was 'exploitation'. How dare the council use children in this way.

One, I doubt very much that many of the children would have given a moment's thought to parents smoking 'around the school grounds' until they found themselves taking part in a staged 'playground protest'.

Two, can you imagine the pressure this puts on the young children of parents who do smoke? Effectively they are being press-ganged into fighting the council's war on smoking.

Three, I'm pretty sure most headteachers have many more things to concern them than a handful of parents smoking outside the school gates.

If the words 'Barnsley Council' sound familiar it's because I wrote about the council only a couple of weeks ago. (See 'Trouble at market' and 'Hypocrites!'.

It's clear that councillors are determined to create a 'smoke free' borough, whatever that means, and they'll do whatever it takes to achieve it, even if it means putting market traders out of business or exploiting children in local primary schools.

What a truly disgusting thing to do.

Update: Just seen this on Twitter. Note the way the woman with the megaphone is coaching the children to chant "Keep our schools smoke free".


A new era

Aaron Biebert has posted a couple of comments on my last post.

You can read them here.

At risk of annoying the director of A Billion Lives even further, here’s my response to his response to my response to his tweet that declared ‘A new era of the anti-smoking movement begins today in the US. We're a small (but very proud) part of it. Check this out!‘:

Aaron, let me get this right. There is a new anti-smoking movement. It still involves smoking bans, punitive taxation and denormalisation, but this is a gentler, kinder form of anti-smoking because smokers will be offered alternatives to smoking that will make giving up much easier.

I’m sorry, but however you dress it up, anti-smoking is anti-smoking and when you declare you are “very proud” to be part of the “anti-smoking movement” (which is where I came in) don’t blame us if we take you at face value.

Leaving aside the wisdom of embracing the same name (if you are genuinely different from the ‘old’ anti-smoking nutjobs and prohibitionists you would surely want to distance yourself from them), I’m not convinced there’s a great deal of difference between the old and new era you describe.

For example, the article your original tweet urged us to read (Finding a balance between protecting our youth and saving 40 million smokers’ lives) concludes:

Public health officials ought to welcome the manufacture and marketing of regulated, safer nicotine containing products and encourage innovation and competition to eliminate smoked products. Products and regulation that will make smoking obsolete will also make most concerns about youth moot once smoking disappears and safer products are available. This will take time but if we keep our eye on the prize and if cooler heads prevail, America can lead the way to get rid of burning tobacco products.

‘Eliminate smoked products’, ‘make smoking obsolete’, ‘get rid of burning tobacco products’ ... It’s pretty clear that the goal of the ‘new’ anti-smoking movement you are “very proud” to be part of is not dissimilar to that of the ‘old’ anti-smoking movement - the elimination of combustible tobacco.

Both movements are driven by zealots who seem to know what’s best for other people. The difference is, the ‘new’ anti-smoking movement now has technology (and Philip Morris) on its side.

I think you’re nice guy, Aaron, and you mean well, but you’re flailing around a bit here. We called you out on your boast that you’re “very proud” to be part of the “anti-smoking movement” and you’ve tried to justify that by talking about a ‘new era’.

Words matter so why mention ‘anti-smoking’ at all? If you can’t throw yourself enthusiastically behind the ‘pro-choice’ movement, why not say you’re “proud” to be part of the “tobacco harm reduction movement”? Instead you chose to nail your colours to the ‘anti-smoking’ mast and no amount of semantics about a ‘new era’ can change that.

Btw, a word of advice: it’s always better to be ‘pro’ than ‘anti’ because it lends itself to a far more positive message. Also, declaring that you are proud to be ‘anti-smoking’ is a red rag to many smokers, even those who may be thinking about quitting for health or other reasons.

Like it or not, it makes you the enemy to many smokers who have put up with decades of harassment and abuse from the international stop smoking brigade. It may even make some smokers who are thinking of giving up less likely to quit or switch to new nicotine products because that’s human nature.

Finally, I totally accept that some smokers want to quit and (possibly) need help. We’ve never denied that or the serious health risks associated with smoking, although I do think they’re exaggerated.

Forest embraces and supports ‘safer’ nicotine products and opposes vaping bans and other unnecessary restrictions on e-cigarettes because we believe in choice. The difference between us and most vaping advocates is that we will NEVER abandon those who enjoy smoking and don’t want to stop.


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.

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