Saturday, July 23, 2011


Below is the letter I have writen to the editor of the Luton Herald and Post. A copy has been sent to the Press Complaints Commission. I hear some have even reported the paper to Beds Police. Please, if you feel as strongly as I do after reading Simon Clark's blog piece linked below, then write your own letter and make sure that these people realise that smokers are not fair game - literally.

Dear Ms Hughes,

I am dismayed that your feature writer felt it highly amusing to single out one minority group of people for attack in his article "Snipers Could Soon Snuff Out Smoking" July 21, 2011. Should this kind of joke have been directed at any other minority, you and your writer would be facing charges of inciting hate crime.

Many older people who still smoke do so because they have smoked since childhood and studies show that quitting rather than to continue smoking moderately can be more harmful.

Alan Dee could have written an article very much in the public interest that would call for more research on this issue so that this particular lifestyle group, and their families, could be better informed at what quitting after a lifetime of smoking means for those who do not fit the "one size fits all" health approach and are skeptical of the political smoke-free agenda.

Instead Dee chose to incite hatred at these people's expense based on his own prejudices. I fail to see how that is funny. I would welcome an explanation as to why your paper sees this group as a legitimate target for attack and how inciting others to violence against smokers is in the public interest

FYI Lifelong smokers began smoking in a different age and are from a different generation where smoking was perceived differently and accepted almost everywhere. They resent that as considerate smoker adults who have enjoyed smoking in places where they were permitted in a tolerant society happy to compromise and share until recent years, and during the last four years particularly, that they have been dehumanised, denormalised, stigmatised and marginalised by public health bodies that make some quite outrageous health claims.

Frankly, unbiased and ethical publications such as the Luton Herald and Post should have put this propaganda to the test and then perhaps prejudices as wild as your reporter's would not have got to such hysterical levels.

Do you ever ask these bodies that make some new smoking and health claim based on "research" or "science" or "a study", for example, for the data and the results it quotes from? Do you ever ask such questions as : "What was the methodology used? What was the sample group? What were the other confounding factors? Over what period of time does this study cover? Who is the author of the new research/study? Do they have a conflict of interest - ie : is that person an anti-smoker activist/academic or have links to either the Anti-smoker industry or the Pharmaceutical industry? Who has funded this study?" ... and then given it over to independent epidemiologists to analyse?

The one size fits all health approach that aims to enforce the ideological aim (decided in 1970 and aimed for 2000) of a smoke-free world seems to promote smokerphobia of the sort your writer has demonstrated in a monumentally offensive article and I would respectfully ask that you withdraw it, apologise for your lack of judgment in allowing it to be published, and ask your writer to apologise for the offence he has caused.

Smokerphobia is something that we have been monitoring following high profile and often violent incidents between smokers and anti-smokers since 2007. I think your article is worthy of being added unless, of course, your writer had not meant offence and is satisfied to accept that he has been grossly misinformed about the smoking and health issue and, particulalry, the sort of people who are part of the minority who still smoke.

Pat Nurse