Why I plan to carry on smoking in 1999

January 8, 1999

Criminologist and lecturer in sociology at Reading University. He is a patron of FOREST, the pro-smoking lobby group.

I am a libertarian and I enjoy smoking. Everybody has the right to smoke and everybody has the right not to be confronted with the smoke. Smoking is being stigmatised - and it has gone too far. Just look at what young people are being told; sex education - use a condom; drugs education - be careful what you do; smoking education - don't do it. Fornicate, take hard drugs as long as you know what they are doing to you, but do not smoke cigarettes.

I have a highly pressurised job. Smoking makes me think faster - increasing my motor neurone rate. I am teaching more students than ever. I want to maintain my academic and teaching standards and write more books. Smoking helps me do that. I was regarded as academically useless before I went to teach and took up smoking.

In my view, the dangers are grossly exaggerated. I refuse to submit to what I regard as bogus science. The claim that smoking causes lung cancer seems to me flawed. It is a contributory factor in those who are genetically predisposed to the disease - the vast majority of smokers never contract it and environmental pollutants cause far more damage. The idea that passive smoking is dangerous is a complete and utter fraud - most studies show there is no link.

I refuse to give into Puritanism. Essentially, the anti-smoking movement is a moral crusade. Smoking is a lifestyle choice. It may knock two years off my life. I am willing to chance that for the pleasure it gives me and the way it helps me work. I smoke when I'm stuck at the workstation in my study. I do not smoke when I am running around.

We need a balance so that smokers and nonsmokers have their liberties. It is anti-working class and anti-women - it is as if they are trying to make us into criminals. In America they are trying to get tobacco declared a narcotic. Smoking is the thin end of the wedge. If they win this one, alcohol is next.

Anti-smoking campaign, page 17

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