In a way you have to admire the efforts of the “smokers’ union” who are still fighting last-ditch battles against the inexorable armies of Governments who seek further to marginalise them and outlaw the effects of their noxious habit.

Amongst these smokeheads are a bunch of writers and other articulate protesters who seek to equate their belief that they should be allowed to smoke when and where they like with a specious view that restrictions on smokers’ freedoms are in some way an infringement of civil liberties.

Take Claire Fox of the so-called “Institute of Ideas” for example. Writing recently in “The Spectator” Ms Fox says that modest proposals in the Scottish Parliament to restrict point of sale promotion of cigarette brands “… flies in the face of the very basis of a free democratic society”. In the same article she even invokes John Stuart Mill in specious support of her view that further anti-smoking legislation is in some way an infringement of our freedoms.

The strange thing about Claire Fox’s nonsense is that she and other smokeheads such as Rod Liddle and David Hockney are intelligent and articulate people who would see through the cant of all this hypocrisy if it was applied to subjects other than their phony “rights” to enjoy their tobacco habits unrestrained. In reality anti-smoking legislation such as the ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants is wholly consistent with the protection of freedoms not in conflict with them.

The majority of the adult population doesn’t smoke and it surely the wish of this majority to enjoy their food and drink in public places unhindered by tobacco smoke – and this a right that the legislation protects. That the majority in an increasing number of civilised countries can enjoy a meal without the risk of smoke from a nearby table invading them is surely commendable social progress.

Of course although Governments are acting in the interests of most of us this does not mean that the smokehead brigade lacks supporters. The celebrity of a David Hockney, for example, is such that he will always have a platform to express his views – however poisonous. Similarly the tobaccos giants, such as British American Tobacco (BAT), have enough money to peddle piffle about their repulsive trade. If you can stomach it take a look at BAT’s website where you will find plenty of reprehensible nonsense about BAT’s commitment to “Corporate Social Responsibility”. If ever there was an oxymoronic idea it is that a tobacco giant can be “socially responsible” – but they are also firm allies of the smokehead bridge who tell us that they are defending our freedoms.

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