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Monday
Jul012019

ASH - less popular than The Donkey Sanctuary, more famous than the Canal and River Trust

This is mildly interesting.

I was looking on the YouGov website for the data tables for ASH's latest poll (see previous post) when I chanced upon this interesting 'fact':

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is the 87th most popular charity & organisation [in the UK] and the 84th most famous.

What charities could possibly be more popular or famous than our brave anti-smoking warriors? Here's a random selection:

Dogs Trust
Cats Protection
The Donkey Sanctuary
English Defence League

The good news is that ASH came above CLIC Sargent, Midlands Air Ambulance and the Canal and River Trust.

For further information – including the charities and organisations liked by 'fans' of ASH click here.

PS. Still waiting for those data tables to be published on the YouGov website in accordance with the Market Research Society (MRS) code of conduct.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday
Jul012019

ASH's call for further anti-smoking measures falls flat

A YouGov poll of over 10,000 adults in England, commissioned by ASH, has proved a bit of a damp squib, news wise.

Headlined ‘12 years on from England going smokefree, support for the Government to do more to tackle smoking is continuing to grow’, the press release - embargoed until midnight last night - has been largely ignored by the media.

So far I have seen only two reports, one in the Hartlepool Mail, the other in the Yorkshire Post (which included a response from Forest).

Furthermore I was due to go head-to-head with ASH CEO Deborah Arnott on BBC Radio Sussex at 9.10 this morning but the interview was cancelled in favour of an item about switching energy and mobile phone providers.

Last week another ASH press release (Over half a million social housing tenants in poverty due to the cost of smoking) met a similar fate.

I’ll come back to that issue in a separate post but it's clear that journalists and broadcasters are not particularly interested in ASH’s latest anti-smoking rants.

It would be foolish nevertheless to dismiss them or rest on our laurels because you can be sure that the YouGov poll will be winging its way to health secretary Matt Hancock and ASH’s friends in the Department of Health with an accompanying letter urging the government to go harder, faster.

According to the YouGov survey ‘more than three quarters support activities to limit smoking or think government should do more, with the proportion thinking government should do more growing significantly over time.’

Ending smoking by 2035 is achievable, say ASH, if the Government introduce tough new tobacco regulations, all of which are supported by the public, including:

Requiring businesses to have a licence to sell tobacco which they can lose if they sell to underage smokers (83% of adults support, only 4% oppose)

Making tobacco manufacturers pay a levy or licence fee to Government to help smokers quit and prevent young people from taking up smoking, (72% of adults in England support, only 7% oppose)

Requiring tobacco manufacturers to include Government mandated information about quitting inside cigarette packs (64% of adults in England support, only 9% oppose)

Prohibiting smoking in all private vehicles, not just those carrying children under 18 (64% support 16% oppose)

Increasing the age of sale from 18 to 21 (58% of adults in England support, only 17% oppose)

If the poll is correct it’s a classic example of the tyranny of the majority.

However I’d like to see what the questions were because our polling, conducted by Populus, has consistently found little enthusiasm for further tobacco control measures - certainly nothing on the scale of these results.

It’s worth noting, btw, that there is no mention of smoking in outdoor areas (parks, beaches etc) or smoking on film and TV.

I wonder if ASH posed questions about those issues and didn’t get the results they were hoping for.

For the record, here is Forest’s full response to ASH’s call for further anti-smoking measures.

It’s not online but the Yorkshire Post quoted me as follows:

Smokers' group Forest said the demands represent "another aggressive and illiberal attack on legitimate consumers".

Director Simon Clark said smoking rates had fallen sharply as people voluntarily switched to e-cigarettes.

He added: "It's not the government's job to end smoking. The government's role is to educate people about the relative risks of a wide range of consumer products. Beyond that it's a question of choice."

Update: I have emailed YouGov requesting the full data tables. In accordance with the Market Research Society (MRS) code of conduct the company is obliged to publish any data that relates to any report that has been published and which now sits in the public domain.

Saturday
Jun292019

"Vivat Forest!"

Here is my opening address to guests at the Forest dinner the other evening.

I began by thanking our host Ranald Macdonald, MD of Boisdale Restaurants, with whom we have worked for 15 years, and the staff at Boisdale including the general manager and head chef.

I then continued:

Ladies and gentlemen, it has been my great pleasure to be the non-smoking director of Forest for 20 of our 40 years.

Smokers must be one of the most vilified minorities in the country and I am proud to be involved in this small but important battle against the overbearing nanny state and the ghastly anti-smoking zealots.

Founded in 1979 by Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris, a former Battle of Britain fighter pilot and lifelong pipesmoker, much of Forest’s work is media related. Over four decades we’ve been quoted tens of thousands of times and given thousands of TV and radio interviews.

When we are not responding to the latest anti-smoking initiatives we are writing or commissioning our own reports, contributing to government consultations or appearing before parliamentary committees.

I’d like to thank everyone who has worked for Forest from 1979 to the present day. It’s a long list so it’s unfair to single anyone out but I would like to mention a few people who are here tonight.

Jacqui Delbaere first worked for Forest in 2004 when she worked on our campaign against the indoor smoking ban. She’s subsequently worked on a string of Forest events and initiatives including this event tonight.

Photographer Dan Donovan first worked for Forest in 2007, shortly after the introduction of the smoking ban. Dan is our official photographer and he also designs and produces most of our campaign tools.

Angela Harbutt ran Forest’s Hands Off Our Packs campaign against plain packaging of tobacco. That campaign raised over 260,000 signatures via a street petition and delivered 50,000 letters to Downing Street.

John Mallon is Forest’s spokesman in Ireland where the political and media environment is even more hostile to smokers than here in the UK.

And Guillaume Perigois is our man in Brussels where he fights the good fight on behalf of tens of millions of smokers throughout the European Union.

Ladies and gentlemen, please give them and everyone else who has worked for Forest a warm round of applause.

I’d also like to thank everyone who has attended a Forest event – whether it’s been a dinner like this, a drinks reception, a book launch, a campaign launch, a panel discussion or a party conference event. Your support is greatly appreciated.

I would also like to thank David Hockney, often described as “Britain’s greatest living artist”. The first Forest event David attended was a private dinner at Boisdale of Bishopsgate, in 2004. He enjoyed the evening so much he said later it was a “life affirming moment”.

In 2005 he joined us in Brighton where we were hosting an event at the Labour Party conference to protest against the Labour government’s plan to ban smoking in all public places. That day was the best day of my working life and it still makes me laugh thinking about it.

David began the day on BBC Breakfast and the Today programme and ended it giving an interview to the Sunday Times over dinner in Brighton. In the hours in between he was interviewed by every broadsheet newspaper and by Andrew Neil for the BBC.

He spoke at the Forest event and even found time to take part in a photo op we had organised that went slightly awry when it was invaded by an anti-tobacco campaigner who stood next to him holding a banner that read ‘Ban tobacco’.

Alongside him David stood smoking and holding a piece of paper that read ‘Death awaits you even if you do not smoke’.

You can see a picture of them in this photo journal. Do please take a copy home. It features photos of Forest events, campaign launches and some of the many friends of Forest who have attended our events or supported our campaigns.

One of them is musician Joe Jackson who was another vocal opponent of the smoking ban. Joe can’t be with us tonight because he’s on tour in Germany, but we remain in contact and he sent us this message:

Forty years ago we couldn't imagine what monsters the nanny state and the public health racket would turn in to. We need Forest more than ever. In fact we need 50, a hundred, Forests. Keep it up and 'don't let the bastards grind you down'.

I would like to thank Forest's two non-executive directors, John Burton and Russell Lewis, and remember Lord Harris of High Cross.

Ralph Harris was chairman of Forest from 1987 until his death in 2006. He was better known as one of the founders of the Institute of Economic Affairs, which was his first love, but he was a huge help to Forest and to me personally. I valued not only his advice but his unwavering optimism, which is a fantastic quality to have. Ralph will never be forgotten, either by Forest or the IEA.

Thank you too to the members of parliament who have consistently opposed excessive regulations on tobacco and other products such as food and drink. A number of them are here tonight and looking ahead I think we’ll need your help and support even more.

Smoking is increasingly being prohibited in outdoor public places; some campaigners are calling for smoking to be banned in social housing; next year menthol cigarettes will be banned; in the UK anti-smoking campaigners want to restrict the prevalence of shops that sell tobacco; Beverley Hills in California has just become the first town in the US to outlaw all tobacco sales in shops; there is talk of health warnings on individual cigarettes; and it’s even been suggested that when you open a pack of cigarettes you should be forced to listen to an audio health warning.

The anti-tobacco template is of course being rolled out for alcohol and sugary foods and drinks, and it will inevitably be used to restrict the use and sale of e-cigarettes because the long-term goal of tobacco control campaigners is not a ‘smoke-free’ world but a ‘nicotine-free’ world.

Finally, I’d like to thank the tobacco companies who have supported Forest for 40 years. We don’t take the companies’ support for granted and we know that society‘s relationship with smoking has changed and will continue to change, and we also know that the companies are changing and moving towards safer nicotine products, as indeed they should.

Forest’s focus is also evolving to embrace and support risk reduction products but as long as there are adults who choose to smoke, enjoy smoking, and don’t want to quit, we will NEVER abandon them because it’s our belief that choice and personal responsibility are paramount.

I will finish by inviting Ranald to read out a second message. It’s from Alexander Waugh, grandson of Evelyn and son of Auberon Waugh. Bron was another great supporter of Forest and when I joined Forest it was a huge thrill to meet him because I grew up reading his columns in The Spectator and Private Eye.

He was very charming and he managed to persuade me that Forest should sponsor a series of drinks parties at his Academy Club in a small, almost Dickensian room in Soho. I’m not sure who benefited most but I met some very interesting people at those soirées including three people who are here tonight – Mick Hume, the great Tom Utley, and Claire Fox who is speaking later.

Bron died in 2001 but last week Alexander sent us this message:

Wishing your organisation all happiness and prosperity and ultimate success against the tyrannies of nanny stateism. With all warmest salutations for your fortieth anniversary! Vivat Forest!

Below: Boisdale MD Ranald Macdonald reads Alexander Waugh's message to guests

Friday
Jun282019

"Thank you for a splendid evening, Boisdale did us proud"

Forest's 40th anniversary dinner at Boisdale of Canary Wharf on Tuesday night went pretty well, I thought.

We had 180 guests including a number of MPs, MEPs and parliamentary researchers.

There were journalists from The Spectator, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, London Evening Standard and Sunday Times.

Westminster think tanks were well represented and we even had someone from the cannabis industry.

The event began with cocktails on the smoking terrace. A live band played in the bar before guests were called to take their seats in the restaurant.

At that point I’d had nothing to drink other than a glass of water. This was because a number of minor but irritating issues kept me occupied behind the scenes. For example:

We struggled to erect the large pop-up display we had ordered for the stage.

There were no lectern mics, despite the fact that we'd ordered a purpose-built lectern.

The file for an audio track we wanted to play over the PA system at the end of the dinner had gone AWOL.

We also had several late cancellations which meant the seating plan had to be adjusted and place cards reset.

Thankfully most of the problems were resolved by the time we sat down for dinner but I wasn't as relaxed as I might have been.

Ninety minutes later, after a three-course dinner with wine, Boisdale MD Ranald MacDonald invited me on stage.

I thanked a number of people – including current and former colleagues – and Ranald read out messages from absent friends. One was from Joe Jackson who had written:

Forty years ago we couldn't imagine what monsters the nanny state and the public health racket would turn in to. We need Forest more than ever. In fact we need 50, a hundred, Forests. Keep it up and 'don't let the bastards grind you down'.

The other was from Alexander Waugh, grandson of Evelyn and son of Auberon Waugh who was a great supporter of Forest.

Alexander's message said:

Wishing your organisation all happiness and prosperity and ultimate success against the tyrannies of nanny stateism. With all warmest salutations for your fortieth anniversary! Vivat Forest!

I introduced Dr Madsen Pirie, co-founder and president of the Adam Smith Institute, who gave a short speech before proposing a toast "To freedom and to Forest!"

We then presented gifts to several people to thank them for their work over the years.

The first was Brian Monteith. Brian was a spokesman for Forest in Scotland who later became a member of the Scottish Parliament and is now an MEP for the Brexit party.

The second was TV chef and publican Antony Worrall Thompson. Invited to say a few words, Antony's message to public health zealots was priceless.

"Fuck 'em," he said.

Naturally it brought the house down.

The third and fourth recipients were Angela Harbutt, who ran the Hands Off Our Packs campaign, launched in 2012, and photographer Dan Donovan whose photo journal Forest Unfiltered was on every table.

Then it was time for our two guest speakers – Mark Littlewood, director-general of the Institute of Economic Affairs, and Claire Fox, founder and director of the Academy of Ideas and another newly elected MEP.

My mind was a bit elsewhere so I remember only a little of what they said but judging by the applause both speeches were very well received.

Finally we welcomed to the stage stand-up comedian Geoff Norcott.

Geoff was in the news recently after the BBC invited him to join their 'diversity and inclusion advisory group'.

A regular guest on The Mash Report, he has appeared on Live At The Apollo and Mock The Week. He's also been on Question Time, Daily Politics and The Now Show on Radio 4.

What can I say? Geoff's set went down really well and it was a great way to finish before guests left to catch a train or joined us in the bar or on the terrace for more drinks.

I left at 12.30am and I wasn't the last to go, which is a normally a good sign.

Thank you to everyone who subsequently sent us a message. These are some of the responses:

'What a splendid occasion. Bravo!'

'I had the best time ever. Thank you!'

'Congratulations on an impressive event. It was good fun.'

'Thank you so much for such a splendid evening. Boisdale did us proud with the dinner and the speeches and awards were a delight.'

'Thank you for a wonderful evening. A fitting celebration of Forest and everything it's done for freedom over the last 40 years.'

To view the full gallery of pictures from the dinner click here.

PS. After attending a ‘sumptuous gala dinner’ to mark Forest's 40th anniversary, Daily Mail columnist Tom Utley today wrote:

I have to say, however, that I particularly enjoy the company of smokers. There's an instant camaraderie among us, the fellow-feeling that springs from belonging to an increasingly oppressed minority, driven outside in all weathers by nanny-state legislators and disapproving hosts and hostesses to indulge our weakness on the naughty step.

On the whole, we also seemed to share a view of the world: an antipathy to being bossed around by we-know-best politicians, a love of individual freedom and a devil-may-care belief that the point of life is to live it, not merely to prolong it. To be fair, this attitude is shared by countless non-smokers — and particularly those who tolerate our disgusting habit — many of whom were present at the dinner.

It was striking that there were large numbers of Brexiteers among us — unusual in metropolitan gatherings of this kind. This confirmed my belief that we who want to break free from subjugation to Brussels tend to put a higher premium on personal liberty than those who are content to be ruled by think-alike bureaucrats whom they can't hire or fire.

Full article: 'My Marlboro addiction and why, unlike those silly luvvies, we should thank those who give us medicine and petrol'.

Tuesday
Jun252019

Tonight’s the night

We are hosting a gala dinner tonight to mark Forest’s 40th anniversary.

I think we can call it a gala dinner. I’ve read several definitions of the word ‘gala’ but it seems to mean a big party with dinner and entertainment and sometimes dancing and an auction.

OK, there won’t be dancing or an auction but we do have live music, guest speakers, a stand-up comedian and a DJ.

We also have 180 confirmed guests including MPs, MEPs, journalists and friends of Forest.

The event - at Boisdale of Canary Wharf - starts at 6.15pm but I shall be there mid afternoon with a small team to set things up.

If everything goes exactly to plan it will be a small miracle (I’m keeping my eye on the weather too) but we’re looking forward to it.

Full report tomorrow (or the day after if I’m too tired to write it.)

Monday
Jun242019

Memories of Camberwell (and Chiswick)

Thanks to Boris Johnson’s neighbours Camberwell is suddenly in the spotlight.

I know the area because I lived there for five years from 1987 when I bought a house in Camberwell Grove with a friend.

Peter had previously lived up the road in Kennington and in four years had made £40,000 on a two-bedroom flat overlooking the Oval cricket ground.

He still couldn’t afford the four-storey Camberwell town house he wanted to buy so he suggested I make up the difference, which gave me a 25 per cent share of the house.

I was 28 and this was my first step on the property ladder. The house was in need of a little care and attention but it was far beyond what I could have hoped to buy on my own.

Two years earlier I had considered buying a one-bedroom flat in Chiswick for £48,000. Now, here I was, part-owner of four-bedroom Georgian townhouse valued at £150,000 for which we paid £175,000!

Camberwell Grove, as its name suggests, was a tree-lined avenue and one of the nicest roads in the area. As we discovered, this made it a target for burglars.

On one occasion I arrived home late at night - Peter was away on business - to find the house surrounded by policemen.

They had been tipped off that intruders had broken in and I wasn’t allowed in until they were sure no-one was in the house.

I think we lost a television and a VHS recorder but it could have been worse.

Another time I arrived home, I heard someone moving around upstairs and called up, assuming it was Peter.

Seconds later a man rushed down the stairs, pushed past me and ran out on to the street. I don’t know how long he had been there but nothing appeared to have been stolen.

Later, however, I lost my prized Fiesta XR2 to another thief. One minute it was sitting outside our front door. A few days later, when I returned from a short break, it had disappeared, never to be seen again.

It’s replacement, another XR2 (albeit a different model), very nearly went the same way. Fortunately, having broken in to it by smashing the rear window, the would-be thieves couldn’t get the car started - a recurring problem with that vehicle that ultimately worked to my advantage.

They did however take the spare wheel. I hope they got a good price for it.

Despite that, I was happy in Camberwell. The area wasn’t great but the size and character of the house made up for it. It even had a roof terrace although when the sun came out it was usually too hot to spend much time up there.

Unfortunately, soon after we bought it - at the height of the housing boom - the market collapsed and when I moved out, after getting married in 1992, the house was worth less than we (over)paid for it and instead of making money on my share I had to buy myself out.

Oh well.

Update: I was in Chiswick only last weekend and passed the road, just off the High Street, where I nearly bought that flat in 1985.

One-bedroom apartments in that same road are currently on the market for £500,000, which is far more than my current four-bedroom house in Cambridgeshire is worth!

I also walked past the Barley Mow Centre, formerly the Barley Mow Workspace, where I worked as a freelance journalist/researcher from 1986 to 1990.

It was a great place to work because it brought together in one building an incredibly eclectic group of people, some working for themselves, others running small businesses.

One of the latter was a catering company that ran the canteen where we could meet and chat over lunch.

I loved working there although the ‘commute’ from Camberwell to Chiswick became a bit of a pain. (When I started at the Barley Mow I lived a mile away, in Ravenscourt Park.)

Eventually it was easier to work from home in Camberwell. It also deterred burglars because we had no more break-ins after that.

Below, top to bottom: (1) The Barley Mow Centre in Chiswick where I worked from 1986-1990; (2) The road in Chiswick where I could have bought a one-bedroomed flat for £48,000 in 1985; (3) Ravenscourt Park Road where I rented a studio flat from 1985-1986. I had to move out after an incident involving a Christmas pudding that went up in smoke.

Saturday
Jun222019

Velvet Glove Iron Fist - tenth anniversary

On Tuesday we are marking Forest’s 40th anniversary with a gala dinner in London.

I’ll write more about that over the next few days but I couldn’t let today pass without mentioning another anniversary.

Ten years ago, on June 22, 2009, Forest hosted a reception for over 200 people at Boisdale of Belgravia.

To put the event in context, in November 2007 we organised a party to mark the publication of a book, Scared To Death, by Christopher Booker and Richard North.

Sub-titled ‘From BSE to Global Warming, Why Scares Are Costing Us The Earth’, one of the chapters was about passive smoking.

According to Booker, a columnist for the Sunday Telegraph and one of the founders of Private Eye:

For years, despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars on trying to prove that smokers not only harmed themselves but also the health of those around them, the anti-smoking campaigners found the evidence they wanted frustratingly elusive.

So when the two most comprehensive studies of passive smoking ever carried out each came up with findings that non-smokers living with smokers faced no significantly increased risk of cancer, their antismoking sponsors did all they could to get the reports suppressed.

In a pattern familiar from other scares, the researchers were subjected to a torrent of personal vilification. By the time a wave of smoking bans swept through Europe and America in the early 21st century, the official statistics used to justify them had become not just exaggerated but wholly fictitious.

Forest was keen to help promote the book so we organised a reception at Boisdale and invited the authors. The day after the event I wrote:

Over 150 guests turned up and many were still there come midnight. Wine flowed and Boisdale MD Ranald Macdonald was as generous as ever with whisky and cigars.

[Co-authors] Christopher Booker and Richard North travelled from Somerset and Yorkshire to sign copies of the book which quickly sold out.

Christopher gave a short speech - to cheers and applause - and proposed a toast, at which point everyone raised their glasses and cheered (again).

The message was clear: people are sick and tired of having their freedoms restricted by politicians and campaigners, especially when it involves scaremongering and the consistent abuse of science and statistics.

Fast forward to the spring of 2009 when I was sent a copy of another book. Unlike Scared To Death it was self published and in the absence of a mainstream publisher the author had set up a website to promote it himself.

I’m normally a bit sceptical about self-published books but as soon as I read it I wrote:

I can't speak highly enough of this extraordinary labour of love. I've read many books on smoking and this is best by far. It's a superb read. To use that old cliche, it's a page-turner, which is some achievement. It's packed with information but it's also very readable - serious yet hugely entertaining.

Better still, this is no fire-breathing polemic. The amount of research that has gone into it is staggering. And the tone is moderate throughout which is important because it will appeal to a far wider readership.

The book was Velvet Glove Iron Fist: A History of Anti-Smoking by Chris Snowdon and on June 22, 2009, it was launched at a party that also marked Forest’s 30th anniversary.

The following week the online magazine Spiked published an interview with Chris that took place that same evening. It’s no longer online but a short passage has survived on one of my long forgotten blog posts (Chris Snowdon: online, off message).

Written by Rob Lyons, who was deputy editor of Spiked, the passage reads:

I’m sitting in the corner of a bar, talking to author Christopher Snowdon and doing something almost unheard of in Britain these days: enjoying a cigarette under cover. Admittedly, it is a pretty open-air kind of ‘under cover’ in a specially adapted part of the Boisdale restaurant and bar near London’s Victoria station; still, the novelty value is not lost on me.

We are here because Snowdon is launching his book this evening, a history of the anti-smoking movement that has been three-and-a-half years in the making. One of the main reasons he wrote it, he tells me, is because ‘I wanted to read it. I went into the library looking for a history of the anti-smoking movement, assuming there would be one, and there wasn’t.’

Instead, he had to wade through many other books on the history of tobacco, picking out snippets here and there and trying to build up a picture of the chequered history of those who want to see the evil weed confined to the ashtray of history.

By coincidence (or perhaps not!) Rob became a regular guest at Forest events and subsequently worked on our Action on Consumer Choice project. In 2017 he also wrote the Forest report 'Road To Ruin: The impact of the smoking ban on pubs and personal choice'.

Chris of course went on to work at the Institute of Economic Affairs - where he is head of their Lifestyle Economics Unit - and it’s fair to say he is now one of Britain’s leading commentators on nanny state issues, if not the leading commentator.

One of Chris's great skills is his ability to turn detailed research into something that is entertaining and accessible. It's a talent very few academics have while very few journalists can be bothered to do the research.

As for Velvet Glove Iron Fist, there is little to add to what I wrote ten years ago:

This is a superbly written, impeccably researched book that deserves the widest possible audience.

If you haven’t read it are copies are still available on Amazon. Warmly recommended.

Update: Chris has also written about the book here - Ten years of Velvet Glove, Iron Fist.

PS. I had completely forgotten about this but Peter Snowdon, Chris’s father, posted a short video of that 2009 event on YouTube. He also posted a video of his son's speech. As Chris might say, do give them a watch.

Wednesday
Jun192019

Coming soon ... 

Delighted to report that Forest’s 40th anniversary dinner at Boisdale of Canary Wharf next week is fully booked.

Tickets were strictly limited and last week we reached capacity - almost 200 guests.

We considered giving every guest a Forest-branded Zippo lighter but at £36 each that was too expensive.

We looked at promotional ashtrays but suppliers repeatedly told us, “We don’t sell ashtrays any more.”

Instead we’re giving guests a 52-page photo journal featuring pictures taken at various Forest events over the last 15 years.

It features, on the cover, a photograph of David Hockney supporting Forest at the Labour conference in Brighton in 2005.

Inside there are images of broadcaster Andrew Neil addressing 400 guests at the Savoy Hotel in London in 2007, and Hockney (again) with Greg Knight MP at a Forest reception at the Houses of Parliament in 2011.

There are photos from two campaign launches - Save Our Pubs & Clubs (2009) and Hands Off Our Packs (2012) - and other events including The Freedom Dinner and Smoke On The Water.

Most of the pictures were taken by Dan Donovan who has been part of the Forest family since 2007.

It was difficult choosing which photos to include because there were so many but on the lighter side the image below is one of my favourites.

It was taken at the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras where we were filming a video for Forest’s ‘No Thank EU’ campaign against the revised Tobacco Products Directive.

It’s not the most flattering (of me!) but it sums up, I think, why I'm still doing this job after 20 years.

Working for Forest is a serious business with a serious message but it can also be great fun and Dan's photo captures one of many funny moments.

Forest Unfiltered, a photo journal featuring the photography of Dan Donovan and others, will be available at our gala dinner next week.

At the same time an electronic version will be available for download via this blog and the Forest website.

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