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England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland

UK Update…

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Smokers have the right to be heard

Simon Clark is asking for our ideas HERE.

I am not a smoker, I’m a vaper. I’m a smoker at heart. But if ever we are disempowered as smokers have been, we will need the same rights,

This was my (edited) answer to “Do Smokers have Rights?”

I think smokers have as much right to smoke as Bell ringers have a right to ring bells, as Sportspeople have the right to play sport and, Bell ringers and Sportspeople are treated without judgement by the medical profession which they have paid for with their taxes, when they have been (self) injured. I broke a finger Bell ringing. The hospital classified it as a “sports injury” and gave me a surprising statistic of how many people they treat regularly for rope burns and broken digits, JUST from Bell ringing!? All sports are expensive to our NHS yet personally inflicted. What society views as a “good” lifestyle costs in hip replacements, knee replacements, and foot trouble in later life. Dancers and musicians suffer equally. Many end up with serious health problems from a self inflicted lifestyle. A good number die. Yet they have rights.

Quote (ASH) – “Prior to the implementation of the smokefree law, it was estimated that exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace caused around 617 premature deaths in the UK each year.

How they worked out this figure must have been magical rather than scientific! For 617 (guesstimate?) deaths from SHS – itself debatable, a quarter of the entire British population have been excommunicated from society, even in places where their SHS can do no harm.

Smokers use a legal product to perform a legal lifestyle.

They do have rights.

They have the right to protest their excommunication from society that has been orchestrated by self righteous people who have used every means? possible and millions of pounds to do it.

They have the right to explain that SHS was an excuse to turn society away from their habit.

They have the right to explain that they are NOT a dying breed (pun intended) but that cancer rates, asthma, allergies and other “smoking related” illnesses are increasing, not falling, despite their excommunication.

They have the right to explain that their habit and self harming has been over exaggerated by the self righteous and that medical porn displayed on their product packs are criminal nocebos performed against them.

The biggest right they have, is the right to free speech. Smokers have a right to be heard. They are never represented fairly in the media They are yelled down on TV, and like the inquisition, they are only allowed to speak when they recant.

Smokers have a right to be heard.

Tobacco Products Directive: one more chance to influence UK government
OCTOBER 30, 2013
We need your support – again.
Forest’s No Thank EU website has been updated and it now reads:
On October 8th 2013 MEPs voted to ban menthol cigarettes, prohibit ten packs, outlaw pouches of hand rolling tobacco below 20g, and increase the size of health warnings to cover 65 per cent of the pack or pouch.
The European Parliament, the European Commission and government ministers from the 28 member states are now negotiating the final text of the Tobacco Products Directive. It is still possible to influence the outcome but you MUST make your voice heard NOW.
Even if you have written to your MP already, please write againasking them to raise your concerns with the ministers representing the UK government in the current negotiations.
Read More.

The places where the pubs are boarded up
August 13, 2013
By Brian Wheeler

The Great British Beer Festival is under way – a celebration of real ale and British pub culture. But in some parts of the UK, pubs are in perilous decline.
“After a match we often meet our wives for a quiet drink in the local.”
It was probably stretching credibility, even in those supposedly more innocent times, to imagine a national sporting icon, a hero of England’s World Cup winning team, playing darts in his local pub.  
But however dated and clumsy it looks now, Bobby Moore’s late 1960s TV ad urging couples, like him and “Mrs Bobby Moore”, to “look in at the local” captures a turning point in the nation’s drinking culture.
The local pub, a traditional bastion of male-dominated working-class life, was having to adapt to changing times.
Forty years later, it is still a feature of life in the UK, but there are some parts of the country where it is dying. One such place is Blackburn, in Lancashire.
It is not exactly news that pubs have been have been closing at a rapid rate in recent years. A combination of the smoking ban, cheap alcohol in supermarkets and the economic downturn have been widely blamed for leaving publicans in many parts of the country struggling to carry on.
The 2003 Licensing Act, with its relaxation of opening hours, turned out to be another nail in the coffin of many locals, increasing staff costs and accelerating the trend towards late-night bar culture in the centre of towns.
But according to research by drinks trade analysts CGA, there have been more pub closures in Blackburn than just about anywhere else in the UK. In the year to December 2012, nearly 20% of the town’s licensed premises, 28 pubs in total, called last orders for the final time.
It is a similar story across the North West of England, with Bolton, Oldham and Preston all in the top 10 of towns and cities with highest closure rates. Some smaller towns, such as Ossett, in Yorkshire, where 22% of the pubs disappeared last year, have seen a higher closure rate, but from a much smaller base.
Greenhithe, in Kent, and Chigwell, in Essex, have lost more than half of their pubs between 2007 and 2012, proving it is not just a northern phenomenon.
The figures do not come as a surprise to Geoff Sutcliffe, landlord of Blackburn’s The Rising Sun, one of the few pubs outside the town centre not to have been boarded up or converted into flats, shops or restaurants. But he is sanguine about the changing nature of the trade.
“The drinking culture has changed immensely over the years,” he says. “The youngsters have that much else to enjoy themselves with, or use their spare time. They don’t need to go in pubs.
“In our day, we used to be taken to the pub by our fathers when we were 18, and he would buy us our first pint, or what he thought was our first pint. It was a part of our everyday life. The pub trade is struggling now, because the youngsters will go out once or twice at the weekend and they’ll spend a fair amount of money, but during the week they don’t seem to go out.”
A licensee for more than 30 years, Sutcliffe’s pub is a spotless monument to the golden age of the local. Bobby Moore would probably have found its polished wooden benches and cosy, music-free environs a bit old fashioned.
Sutcliffe has preserved many of the original 19th Century features, including the vault, a snug bar that as late as the 1970s was an exclusively male enclave, where beer was a penny a pint cheaper.
These days, The Rising Sun is proudly unisex. Its customers are mostly retired people who like to drop by for a chat with friends and a game of dominoes.
“The youngsters call this place The Rising Dead,” jokes Sutcliffe. He does not see much of a future for the traditional local boozer.
“I would say that in another 20 years or so we will end up like the continent where all there will be is cafe-style bars in town centres and that’s the way the trade will survive. When this generation disappears so will the local pub.”
Not everyone is as gloomy about the future of the trade. Across town, landlady Carol Davies is trying to keep her head above water with a hyperactive programme of quizzes and entertainment at the Clifton Arms.
“It has become tougher, more difficult, with the prices and people losing their jobs. We don’t have the same trade as we did years ago,” she says.
There is a “domino effect” when pubs close, she says. Darts and football leagues start to thin out, customers get into the habit of socialising or drinking at home. More pubs have to close their doors.
By far the biggest problem, according to pub-goers and publicans in Blackburn, is cheap supermarket booze.
“The supermarket prices are so unreal that people are choosing to buy beer and drink it at home,” says Davies. “I probably have eight or nine gentlemen that are by themselves and they want to come out to talk to other people and some of them can’t do that any more.”
So what happens to all of these abandoned pubs when they have pulled their final pint? Towns like Blackburn with large Muslim populations have seen some of them converted into Islamic centres or mosques in recent years.
Salim Mullah, chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, says former pubs make good mosques or madrassas, serving a similar purpose for the local community as the pub, but without the alcohol.
“When pubs or other kinds of public buildings become available, the Muslim community tend to purchase them and renovate them. It becomes part of their life. It is where local services are accessed. They are situated centrally, in the heart of the community.”
In many parts of the country, supermarkets are taking over.
“A decade or 15 years ago, pubs that were originally cinemas in the centre of towns were being turned into apartments. Either that or converted or bulldozed,” says Jon Collins, chief executive of CGA strategy.
“That fell out of favour. It is more supermarkets now. They make perfect sites for Tesco Metros or similar. It is almost adding insult to injury. Supermarkets are seen as the prime cause of pubs closing down and they are taking over those sites.”
The pub trade received an unexpected boost in this year’s Budget when Chancellor George Osborne cut tax on a pint of beer and scrapped the so-called beer duty escalator, which guaranteed above inflation price rises.
It was a victory for The Campaign for Real Ale, which immediately designated April as Community Pubs Month. It urged changes to the planning laws and other reforms to protect pubs.
“There is now a need for everyone to work together to help reverse the decline in pub-going and put this great British industry firmly back on the map,” said Camra chief Mike Benner.
So there may be light at the end of the tunnel. Pub closures have slowed from a peak of 52 a week in 2008 to 18 in the final quarter of last year, according to CGA. Collins still expects a further 5,000 pubs to close by 2018 but, he says, there are signs that a new kind of local is springing up.
These are neighbourhood bars that stay open late at weekends, with DJs and food, attracting a younger crowd, who go out once or twice a week as a “treat”. The sort of place the modern equivalent of “Mr and Mrs Bobby Moore” might drop in for a couple of drinks in fact.

Brilliant night at #freedomdinner
July 4, 2013
Well, that went quite well.
The second Freedom Dinner at Boisdale of Canary Wharf attracted over 150 guests, two excellent speakers and a host of complimentary tweets
Read More.

All pregnant women to take smoking tests as it is revealed one-in-five still light up while expecting
May 11th 2013
By JAMES RUSH, Daily Mail
Women with high carbon monoxide readings to be given advice on quitting
Midwives have described the guidelines as ‘ill-judged’
Previous research suggested link between smoking during pregnancy and the risk of a child developing meningitis
Pregnant women are to take breath tests to check if they are smoking in a bid to tackle the one in five who light up while expecting.
Midwives will test women at antenatal appointments and those with high carbon monoxide readings will be given advice on how to quit smoking, although no NHS treatment is compulsory, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has said.
Babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy are three times more likely to have a low birth weight, which is a leading cause of infant death.
Midwives however have described the NICE suggestion as ‘ill-judged’, The Sunday Times has reported.
In December last year researchers warned smoking during pregnancy can treble the baby’s chance of developing meningitis.
It is believed 21 per cent of woman smoke during pregnancy.
Researchers from the University of Nottingham analysed 18 studies which looked at the link between passive smoking and meningitis.
They found that children exposed to second hand smoke in the home were more than twice as likely to get the illness.
The under-fives were even more vulnerable – they were found to be two and a half times more at risk.
And children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy were three times more likely to get meningitis, the study published in BMC Public Health found.
According to The Sunday Times, a Royal College of Midwives source said the new guidance from NICE on breath tests could damage relationships with expectant mothers.
The source said: ‘Midwives should not be seen to be “policing” pregnant women and enforcing CO monitoring.’
Ellie Lee, director of the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies at the University of Kent, said: ‘If pregnant women think they need help with stopping smoking then that is fine, but it’s not the place of midwives to start dictating to pregnant women what they do and don’t do.’

You are invited to attend Forest’s Smoke On The Water, our annual boat party.
This year’s event takes place on Tuesday 18th June, 2013 (when the weather will be much better!).
Guests embark at Westminster Pier from 7.15pm where we will be static for a one-hour drinks reception. After that we’ll cruise towards Canary Wharf, returning to Festival Pier at 10.15pm. Cash bar from 8.15.
Our vessel, The Elizabethan, is a Mississippi style paddle steamer with an external walkway and plenty of room to smoke while enjoying the conversation and the scenery. (Did we mention this a smoker-friendly event?)
Fully refurbished for 2013, the Elizabethan also has a unique sliding roof which is very atmospheric on a nice sunny evening. Expect live music and some mercifully short speeches from special guests.
Registered guests only so RSVP as soon as possible. Telephone Nicky on 01223 370156 or email

Queen’s Speech: Bad news for healthy lifestyles?
May 8, 2013
By Nick Triggle
Sometimes it is what is omitted rather than what is included that is the most telling. In terms of the health aspects of the Queen’s Speech, that could certainly be true.
Over the past 18 months, the government has been considering the merits of a minimum price for alcohol and of requiring cigarettes to be sold in plain packets.
Slowly but surely its enthusiasm for the measures gathered pace.
But this year, progress has shuddered to a halt.
Neither measure was included in the legislative programme for the next 12 months, which was announced on Wednesday.
Officially, the government is saying this does not mean the plans have been abandoned.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt took to the airwaves on Wednesday morning to point out the government was still free to introduce legislation even if it was not in the speech.
That is true. But normally a government would have been expected to set out its plans for two such high-profile initiatives.
Only Australia has introduced plain packaging, while alcohol pricing has been tried out in just a handful of areas (although it does have its critics in that it is a fairly blunt tool in that it increases costs for responsible drinkers as well as those that consume to excess).
So it is unsurprising public health campaigners have been left disappointed.
The response of Dr Janet Atherton, president of the Association of Directors of Public Health, is typical of the sentiment across the sector.
“We are disappointed,” she says.
“There has been extensive public consultation on both issues and we believe that this should now be subject to early parliamentary debate.
“We strongly support both measures as effective ways to address two of the major public health issues facing this country.”
Health professionals usually say the best and most effective initiatives are designed and organised locally.
But there is also a belief that they are helped if the government shows leadership on key issues.
It is why the Labour government’s ban on smoking in public places was so welcomed.
Not only did it protect people from second-hand smoke, but it also encouraged more people to think about quitting.
And, what is more, it arguably kick-started a wider debate about unhealthy behaviours more generally from the quality of school dinners to drinking habits.
It is a point made by Prof Lindsey Davies, of the Faculty of Public Health.
“When it comes to policy decisions that affect everyone’s health, it’s actions, not words, that make a difference,” she says.
“From compulsory seat belts to the smoking ban, we’ve seen that governments of all political persuasions need to show leadership and courage to protect people’s health.
“Previously unthinkable interventions have become an everyday part of most people’s lives because governments acted on the evidence for making ground-breaking policy decisions.
“We urge the UK government to think again and introduce legislation for standardised packs and minimum unit pricing.”

Life is now. Don’t let the professional anti-smoking brigade ruin it
The UK’s remaining smokers can’t be legislated out of existence. Everyone dies and to be obsessed with longevity is life-denying
15 March 2013
By David Hockney
There are about 10 million adult smokers in the UK. None are professional. There are far too many professional anti-smokers whose aim is to get rid of smoking altogether. They will fail.
They are people with a purpose in life (and are convinced everyone would be better off not smoking), but others can have a purpose in life as I do, which I’m quite convinced keeps me going, as did Monet (never seen without a cigarette in his mouth).
The NHS never mentions this, and few doctors do. We live in a very shallow age. Now the latest thing is that bacon is bad for you, another killer. It’s as though shortly death itself can be postponed. That seems to be a mad aim.
We are all going to die, and this luckily comes at the end of life. People are living longer, yes, but this includes the smokers. We are moving into a very different world. Newspapers are dying (the young don’t read them), and online everyone becomes editor. Things are going to be very different. The way things are advertised is going to be very different, with less, not more, control.
The figures for smoking have been the same for about four or five years now. This means that you have a hardcore of smokers – naughty people who should know better – who accept the fact that fate plays a part in life and know that to be obsessed with longevity is life-denying. There is only now.
The aim of the professional anti-smoker is to get rid of it. The press tells us “it’s not acceptable”. Well, it is for 10 million people, who probably don’t all read newspapers and have little to do with the political and media elite. So how come the professional anti-smoker is now an expert in packaging? Have you noticed that marijuana has quite good sales (they tell me) with no packaging whatsoever? Tobacco will be the same. Why does the government only listen to the anti-smokers who obviously natter and natter about it? My father was one of these anti-smokers, and they won’t be happy until it’s gone.
But aren’t we heading for some kind of showdown here? Why won’t they accept that there are still a lot of smokers and that the reports of its demise are wildly wrong? The young think they are immortal and this won’t change.

They simply can’t back it up!
21 January 2013
And so it all began in 1975, but where has it got to now? We now know that the smoking ban was brought in on the back of lies, fabrications, manipulated statistics & utter junk science-in fact I am surprised that Jamrozik’s name and science still be held in the same sentence such was the estimated garbage he gave the world!
Read more.

UK Could Be A ‘No Smoking Nation’ By 2032
Campaigners want to make cigarettes more expensive and too socially unacceptable for most people to continue smoking.
By Gerard Tubb, Sky Correspondent
Senior doctors and anti-smoking campaigners have told Sky News they are working towards making the UK a no smoking nation within the next 20 years.
Leading specialist Professor John Britton has called on the Government to back the goal, describing it as entirely realistic.
“Andrew Lansley could make himself a legacy greater than that of almost any other Health Secretary in history,” Professor Britton, who chairs the Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group, said.
“I think it will be entirely realistic for all practical purposes to eradicate smoking within 20 years.”
Although smoking rates are falling, each year it kills around 100,000 people, while 200,000 children and young people take up the habit.
Smoking is estimated to cost the NHS in England alone ?2.7bn per year, with the cost to society as a whole estimated to be ?13.74bn.
In the North East, which has successfully reduced the number of adults who smoke from 24.2% in 2009 to 21.5% in 2011, the goal of a smoke-free UK within two decades is being actively promoted by Fresh, the regional office for tobacco control.
“Our vision is to make smoking history for our children in the next 20 years and we know there are millions out there that back this,” Ailsa Rutter, the organisation’s chief executive, said.
Campaigners say they are not pushing for a ban, but want to make cigarettes more expensive, less well advertised and too socially unacceptable for most people to continue smoking.
Proposals to reduce the desirability of tobacco by forcing the industry to sell it in unbranded packaging are being assessed by the Government.
The Department of Health says it has an “open mind” about the idea, which is fiercely opposed by the tobacco industry.
UK campaigners have been spurred on by initiatives elsewhere, including attempts in Australia to make it illegal to sell tobacco to anyone born after the year 2000.
Ms Rutter said public opinion has changed in recent years and that she believes the tide is turning against smoking.
“We really can push further,” she said. “We can make smoking history, and I do truly believe that it’s the right thing to do.”
Her vision is supported by Dr Chris Stenton, consultant chest physician at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary
He said: “I do look forward to the time when no one will smoke – 20 years or 30 years – but thereabouts.”

Interesting. Perhaps the same strategy could be used to eliminate private vehicle driving and encourage people toward healthy walking, bicycling, mass transit or to simply live closer to their jobs and schools! Simply set up a “level playing field” for gasoline and cigarette taxation (basically quadrupling the price of a liter of gas) and right away you’d see significant reductions in children being murdered by cars on the roads! Paint all cars mud brown to reduce their attraction to children, and cover 50% of their bodies with gory 3-D images of bloody dismembered bodies. Schools could give kids T-Shirts emblazoned with “My Mommy Loves Me! She Doesn’t Drive!” if the child can bring in a certified “Car-Free” license from the mom (or dad of course!) and they could teach the children to object to being stuffed into the family Death Machine.
2032? Hey, with the right kind of campaign we can virtually eliminate the private car a LOT faster than that!
– Michael J. McFadden,
Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

Review the smoking ban and allow separate smoking rooms, says Forest
29th June 2012
Forest is marking the fifth anniversary of the smoking ban in England by renewing its call for an amendment to the ban that would allow separate smoking rooms in pubs and private members’ clubs.
Simon Clark, director of Forest, said: “The smoking ban has been a disaster for many pubs and clubs. Over 5000 pubs have closed since the ban was introduced, many as a direct result of the legislation.
“We know this because figures from a respected hospitality industry database show a significant increase in pub closures in the immediate aftermath of smoking bans in Ireland (2004), Scotland (2006) and England (2007).
“Urban pubs, in particular, have been hit badly, and working men’s clubs have also suffered.
“The impact on many people’s social lives has been enormous. Thanks to the ban many smokers are smoking and drinking at home. Who can blame them when the alternative is standing outside in the wind and rain?
“In contrast, the effect of the ban on public health has been negligible. There is no good evidence to suggest that Britain is a healthier place as a result of outlawing smoking in every pub and bar.
“The ban has encouraged greater intolerance on both sides, with many smokers reaching for their fags in defiance and fanatical anti-smoking campaigners more determined than ever to bully smokers into quitting.”
Calling for a comprehensive review of the impact of the smoking ban, Clark said:
“In the words of [artist] David Hockney, ‘Pubs aren’t health clubs’. There has to be a sensible compromise that gives publicans, customers and staff an element of choice.
“We want the government to amend the legislation to allow separate, well-ventilated smoking rooms in pubs and clubs. Few people would object to that because no-one would be exposed to other people’s smoke against their wishes.”
On Tuesday [June 26th] Forest marked the fifth anniversary of the smoking ban in England by hosting a ‘Freedom Dinner’ in London. Guest speakers at the ?80 per head event were writer and broadcaster James Delingpole, Claire Fox, director of the Institute of Ideas, and General Sir Mike Jackson, former head of the British Army (2003-2006).

The absurd persecution of smokers is beginning to stink more than a pub’s worth of used ashtrays
By Steve Doughty
16 April 2012
There are two ways to damage yourself: the ways which are condoned by the Government and the ways which are not.
These two categories do not necessarily align with the laws of the land, but the law is a flexible instrument these days, enforced only where the authorities concerned choose to enforce it.
So if you want to harm your health by taking illegal drugs, be pleased to go ahead. If heroin is your poison, Whitehall ministries have in recent years established needle exchanges to help you with the required equipment and shooting galleries which have provided junkies with the finest ingredients to feed their habit.
You can claim state sickness benefits on the grounds that you are incapacitated because of your drug addiction, and around 50,000 people do so. This is not merely tolerance of harmful and criminal behaviour, it is rewarding it.
Alcohol is bit trickier, because a lot of voters don’t like the way town and city centres have become theme parks for loutishness and violence at the weekends. The chosen response of Coalition ministers is to propose increasing the price of the cheapest alcohol – something that will punish the law-abiding poor but do nothing to curb the riotous Friday-night crowds in the stand-up drinking barns.
If you wish to drink yourself to death, a preferred option of a good proportion of the population, the Government will merely tax you on your way.
However, smoking, now that is something different.
I hold no brief for the tobacco industry or for any part of the smoking lobby. I fully accept that smoking is highly dangerous to the health of the smoker. I know that a large number of people, perhaps even a majority, regard smoking as unpleasant and they don’t want smokers around them.
None of this justifies the absurd persecution of smokers that is beginning to stink more than a pub’s worth of used ashtrays.
The retreat of smokers from offices, shops, factories and restaurants during the 1990s was broadly popular and widely welcomed. But why did the 2007 anti-smoking legislation have to ban smoking rooms in office blocks? The smokers who used them could not conceivably have been harming anyone else.
Why was it necessary to ban smoking in all pubs and restaurants, even those that wanted to provide a haven for smokers? The pretext for this was that it was important to protect bar and restaurant staff from the dangers of passive smoking.
Passive smoking remains no more than an assertion backed by the force of the nanny state. There is no serious evidence that people who do not smoke are harmed by tobacco smoke in the general atmosphere. It is just something we are expected to believe.
The idea that bar staff might choose whether they wanted to work in a smokers’ pub or otherwise is not entertained in this thinking. They appear to live under different rules from Christians, whom the Government is now advising to go find another job if their employer is unwilling to allow them to wear a token of their beliefs.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley now wants to take the suppression of smoking a step further, with a law forcing all cigarettes to be sold under plain packaging. Mr Lansley tells us that ‘there isn’t a harmless level of tobacco smoking’.
The tobacco industry, ably assisted by Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, who, as ever, is prepared to put his own opinions over any notion of Cabinet loyalty, says this is pointless. Cigarette boxes are designed for brand loyalty and to attract existing smokers from rival brands, it says. Removing branding will only help smugglers and hurt the Treasury, it claims.
Whether or not this is true, the Lansley plan will certainly contribute to the further branding of a large group of people, smokers themselves. Their cigarettes will be sold as a shameful product that cannot show its name in public, much in the way that pornographic magazines once were. Those pathetic little groups outside offices trying to take a puff as they shelter from the rain will have one more indignity and humiliation heaped upon them.

Forest slams increase in tobacco duty
21st March 2012
Forest has attacked the Chancellor’s decision to increase tobacco duty by five per cent above inflation from tonight.
Simon Clark, director of Forest, said: “This is a smugglers’ charter.
“More and more consumers will turn to the black market or buy their tobacco abroad.
“The elderly, the low paid and the unemployed will be hit the hardest but this is an attack on all law-abiding smokers who support Britain’s retailers by purchasing their cigarettes at home.
“The only people celebrating this decision will be criminal gangs and tobacco control lobbyists.”
Update: Health campaigners warmly welcomed the five per cent increase. ASH chief executive Deborah Arnott said:
“This is excellent news. Raising the price of tobacco through taxation is the most effective way of encouraging smokers who want to quit to make that first step.
“We are delighted that the Chancellor has listened to the voices of the health community and taken decisive action to tackle the greatest single cause of ill health and premature death.
“This tax rise will also put cigarettes out of the price range of many young people making it less likely that they will take up this lethal habit.”
Read More.

Being lonely “worse than smoking”
Feb. 12th, 2012
By Virgin Media
Being lonely in old age will propel you to the grave more quickly than smoking, a senior Downing Street adviser said as part of an effort to encourage people to retire later.
David Halpern, the director of Number 10’s Behavioural Insight Team, said not having someone with whom to share problems was one of the most significant lifestyle factors affecting mortality.
Dubbed the “nudge unit”, Mr Halpern’s team was set up to develop ways to push people gently into changing behaviour rather than more draconian government interventions.
Mr Halpern was picked by Prime Minister David Cameron as one of six experts joining him at a summit of Nordic and Baltic states, where one topic was how to ensure more workers delayed their retirement.
He told other leaders and experts that a majority of the UK’s over-75s considered themselves lonely “all or most of the time”.
“Work matters, particularly for older people, not just for money, but absolutely for social contact,” he said.
Presenting a graphic setting out specific lifestyle factors, he said: “We know smoking is really bad for you. But much worse are things like social relationships.
“If you have got someone who loves you, someone you can talk to if you have got a problem, that is a more powerful predictor of whether you will be alive in 10 years’ time, more than almost any other actor, certainly more than smoking.”
He also suggested the numbers of old people living alone were causing the UK’s housing shortage.
“We do have enough houses, it’s just essentially they are lived in by older people.”

BBC – Timeshift The Smoking Years
Last Night’s Viewing: Timeshift: The Smoking Years BBC4
How to Cook Like Heston Channel 4
05 January 2012
By Tom Sutcliffe
Borja Cantera’s film was a study of how quickly the universally acceptable can flip into the untolerated. Presented as the evolutionary history of the smoker, it began with the democratisation of the fag with the invention of the first cigarette-rolling machine in 1880 and closed with a hideous vista of extinguished stub-ends, smouldering gently like a post-apocalyptic landscape.
Read More

January 2012.
Timeshift reveals the story of the creature that is ‘the smoker’. How did this species arrive on our shores? Why did it become so sexy – and so dominant in our lives? Was there really a time when everywhere people could be found shrouded in a thick blue cloud?.

Watch Timeshift: The Smoking Years on Youtube


A whiff of revolution in the air
Barred from polite society, the new militant smokers are demanding their own space. Eleanor Bailey on places to be seen through the fug

1 December 1996
Eleanor Bailey
Smokers are revolting. After years of submission, they are rising, phoenix-like from the ashes, to fight back. Smokers-with-attitude have had enough of social apartheid: the non-smoking sections, smoke-free zones, abuse from strangers and finger wagging from government. This refound pride is also being given a boost by celebrity endorsements. Writer Will Self and Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson have spoken out. Loaded magazine’s December cover portrays cult comedian Denis Leary, acid features pinched round a half-smoked ciggie with the words “Still Smoking” emblazoned underneath. “Denis Leary is Hollywood’s Healthiest Man” it explains unashamedly.
The revolutionary call to the new militant smokers, the Das Kapital of the smoke-and-be-damned philosophy, is London’s first smoking guide: where to do it, when to do it and how to look cool along the way. The images throughout Smoking In London, a book produced by Forest (the Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco) make one thing clear; that, contrary to what your teacher told you, smoking is both clever and funny and people who smoke are more sociable (60 per cent of pub-goers smoke, compared to 30 per cent of the population as a whole). After last week’s Budget they may be 15p a pack worse off, but smokers are still more amusing, more well-adjusted, tolerant individuals than their pink- lunged counterparts.
The guide is littered with pictures of urbane, white-haired Peter Cookalikes (proving that smoking and old age are not necessarily mutually exclusive), career women looking meaner with a fag, cool black musicians and sexy clubbers. There is not, it must be said, much representation of the less savoury smokers who look like the inside of an ashtray. (But there is a picture of Auberon Waugh.)
Special marks are awarded to places where smoking is not just tolerated but encouraged. The Canal Cafe Theatre, W2, is held up as a shining example. Its administrator, Antony Nichols, says that smoking is “practically obligatory”.
According to the guide’s editor, James Leavey, the best places to be seen smoking are the various fashionable Cuban bars such as Cuba Libre, Kensington, because as well as a smoke, you can also pretend to be Ernest Hemingway. “Quaglinos and Mezzo, too, are of course very good because of the cigarette girls who put the glamour back into smoking,” says Leavey. “Any of the newer cocktail bars are very smoker friendly because smokers look so good.” The bar/theatre Portobello Gold is so into smoking that it is displaying cool smoking shots from the Forest guide. Customers not only smoke with impunity but know they are art forms within an art form – what more can the aspirational West Londoner ask for?
The guide emphasises smoking as a sophisticated activity of choice rather than yellow-fingered addiction. The writer, presenter and occasional smoker Andrew Jefford – whose newspaper tobacco column Smokes came out in book form this year – explains that smokers are not the moral equivalent of old-lady muggers with Imelda Marcos’s self-control. But that with smoking, like with food and drink, our tastes have become more discriminating. “The 20th century may well be seen as something of a side alley,” says Jefford. “Just as there is a Campaign for Real Ale, there may be a campaign for real tobacco. There will be a move away from the modern low tar cigarettes, which as they get lighter and lighter you have to smoke more and more to get any kind of effect. Instead people will smoke fewer, but better quality cigarettes. Enjoying it and making a statement at the same time.” The Forest guide quotes cigar maker Zino Davidoff – “Less is more, even in smoking. Make it a philosophy, make it a delightful celebration.”
“I gave up being ‘a smoker’ four years ago,” says Penny, 28, a gardener. I had a year’s complete break. Then one night I was eating out with old friends, all smokers, and I joined them. I really enjoyed it. It’s a nice thing to do when you’re out, it’s more atmospheric. I didn’t wake up the next morning with a desperate craving, I had no urge at all. I thought I can control this. And that’s what happened. I probably smoke about a pack a month. I don’t see why I shouldn’t smoke a bit if I want to. I’m in control.”
Witness the swing back to pipe and cigar smoking, the rebirth of cigar bars and the growing appreciation of smoking as a sensual experience. Simon Chase, Marketing Director at Hunters & Frankau, the chief importer of Cuban cigars into the UK, agrees. “Many smokers are making informed choices about what they smoke rather than being tied to their addiction.” Last week saw the launch of a new brand of Havana called Cuaba, a return to the luxurious, torpedo-shaped cigar popular in the last century.
The place to smoke cigars is JJ Fox’s in St James Street, W1, where there is an informal cigar divan where people (such as Harvey Keitel) “naturally gather”. There are spontaneous jamming sessions and film folk. Oscar Wilde used to frequent and Winston Churchill’s special chair remains in situ.
Cigar bars are now such a style concept in the States that Los Angeles, that health-obsessed city, is trying to wrest the title Cigar Capital of the World from London. Celebrities including Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Belushi and George Hamilton are falling over themselves to open bars, despite the fact that from the beginning of next year a ban on smoking in other bars, clubs and casinos comes into force.
Smoking equates with atmosphere and stirring of the creative juices. “Lots of artists have said that they need to smoke to think,” explains James Leavey. “That’s why there is such a grand tradition of it and why great thinkers have smoked, like Karl Marx and Mozart.” It is perhaps also why many of his top recommendations are the creative and media haunts. “Jerry’s bar in Soho is always a splendid fug,” says Leavey. “Keith Waterhouse goes there, and Richard Littlejohn. And the place is awash with actors.” The nearby French House is another top venue. “It’s always full of West End stars.” Noel, the landlord, famed for his Elvis impressions and star of the recent documentary on Soho life, is a firm believer that smoking is essential to the celebrity personality.
The inference is, smoke the right cigarettes and you will be associated with the live fast, die young film star ethos. And if one needed confirmation that the trend was transatlantic, Smoke, the cult Wu Wang/ Paul Auster movie was set in a Brooklyn tobacconist. The follow-up, Blue in The Face, featured a laconic Lou Reed puffing through much of the film.
It’s not just a style issue. Members of the public are fighting for their right to light up outside bars and restaurants. Commuter Peter Boddington, 43, has sunk pounds 20,000 into an as yet unsuccessful court case against British Rail for banning him from smoking. “I spend two-and-a-half thousand a year on a season ticket and at least as much again in the buffet,” he says. “And they won’t even let me have a cigarette with my coffee.” Boddington has been escorted by police from the train twice for smoking, but he continues to light up with what he claims is a growing band of militants who rendezvous in the buffet. “The buffet has become a sort of unofficial smoking area. They don’t say anything any more. Banning smoking was nothing but a PR exercise because they couldn’t improve anything else.”
Boddington claims huge support from the public. “Loads of people have written letters,” he says. “They even stop me in the street. We’re standing up for ourselves. We won’t be treated like lepers.”
The militant smoker believes the spread of bans on smoking in public is just the beginning. David Lancaster, Editor of Eat Soup, the new foodie magazine for new lads, (which claims its typical reader “always respects the rights of non-smokers – they are free to leave”) says the “health Nazis” will not stop at smoking bans. “It will extend to anything dangerous; bungee jumping, riding a motorcycle.
“There has been too much emphasis on people being told what to do. People should be allowed to go out and enjoy themselves without feeling guilty. The perfect end of a good meal or the accompaniment to a good evening is a well chosen cigarette. It tastes nice. Whatever people say, it is still undeniably cool. It is inextricably associated with glamour and sophistication.”
Julian, 29, a musician, explains the difference between the places where smoking is tolerated and places where it is not. “You only have to look at the difference between the Firkin pubs and the Wetherspoon pubs. Both are popping up all over the place, yet the Firkins achieve an authenticity whereas the Wetherspoons are huge, clinical, atmosphereless places. The main difference is that Wetherspoons have no-smoking areas. I don’t even smoke and I wouldn’t go near them.
“All the full of character bars such as Gordon’s Wine Bar and Ronnie Scotts are full of smoke. It wouldn’t be the same without it.”

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