Alex Massie

Lucky Strikes in the War on Terror

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Yesterday I suggested that the War on Smoking should be considered one theatre in the War on Drugs. Silly me for forgetting that it's actually a subset of the War on Terror. Here's ASH's Cecilia Farren talking on the Today programme about some recent modest amendments to Holland's smoking laws:

"It's a very backward step. For me, on the side of keeping smokefree law is public opinion, public health, workers health, equality of access. There's just so many reasons and on the other side it's just long campaigning by the tobacco industry, frightening businesses. It's an absolute terror campaign and I think you've got to have backbone to stand up to them or actually back down in front of their campaign."

Meanwhile, the anti-tobacco movement continues to peddle palpable nonsense (One cigarette can give you cancer! So can one whiff of second-hand smoke!) and we wait, with unbated breath, to see if the British government will stop paying the anti-tobacco industry to lobby the government. On this last point, I have no great confidence since the Department of Health and the rest of the government machine remains intact.

And if only the tobacco industry were as fierce and effective as Ms Farren suggests! The sad truth is that the tobacco lobby has been led dreadfully. First by denying the obvious for so many years (tobacco can be bad for you) and then by falling into the trap of making it seem as though the pub-smoking battle was fought between smokers and abstainers not, as was the case, between individual businesses and an overbearing government. It was a question of property rights as much as anything else.

Not that Big Tobacco minds too much. There are enough happy smokers in China, India and the rest of the world for there to be no need to make much of a fuss here.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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