Thursday, 15 April 2010

Tony Blair: the smoking years

I'm reading Strange Days Indeed by Francis Wheen at the moment, from which...

I have an abiding memory from the late Seventies of my first encounter with a puppyish young barrister named Tony Blair, who turned up at the New Statesman offering a short article about a High Court judgment and then accompanied me to our local pub in High Holborn, where he bought a packet of fags and lit up. 

Cherie Booth later ordered him to kick the habit as a precondition for marrying her; in 2006, as prime minister, he avenged himself by banning smoking in all public buildings. Having a ciggy in a saloon bar is now as unthinkable as driving without a seatbelt.

Explains a lot.


Anonymous said...

I always knew "THE JOKER" was a closet anti smoker.

Dick Puddlecote said...

"Having a ciggy in a saloon bar is now as unthinkable as driving without a seatbelt"

Depends what country you're in.

Anonymous said...

Having a ciggy in a saloon bar is now as unthinkable as driving without a seatbelt.

He would get a shock if he came in my local then.

Anonymous said...

It certainly does explain a lot.

I can't repeat what I feel for the NuLab party under Blair. They interfered in my life, my work, my community, my family, my health and my wealth - all to the detriment.

I won't state what I think of any party that has the word 'labour' in it, but I will campaign against it for the rest of my years - like many ex-labour voters I now know since this ban that is so unfair to millions.

How the hypocrites can bleat about wanting a fair society for everyone is utter madness for circa 15m smokers, and that's before we begin to think about the real numbers when we start including friends and family members.

My immediate family consists of 9 people (children not included). There is 1 smoker. Guess what - all the members are against the ban - that includes one GB Team athlete, a barrister, a social worker and an adult education teacher.

Even my non-smoking, tee-totaller boss thinks that it is appalling that our country treats people in the way that smokers (and drinkers) are being treated.

He's going to vote this year for the first time in 35 years. So is his wife, who also never usually bothers and his daughter (first time voter).


Anonymous said...

"Having a ciggy in a saloon bar is now as unthinkable as driving without a seatbelt"

And neither is "unthinkable". Neither is even close to "unthinkable".

Forgive me if Brits have a use for the phrase that I'm unfamiliar with, but what is a "saloon bar" supposed to mean in this context?

The phrase makes me think of 19th century places in mythical America with swinging half-doors, where men get into squabbles that result in "High Noon" shoot-outs.

From the little I know, I think the cowboys also rode their horses without seat belts.

The very idea stretches the bounds of my tiny imagination. It's "unthinkable".


Fredrik Eich said...

It's a hell of a lot easier to drive without a seat belt than it is to smoke in a pub. I have been banned from a number of pubs for smoking but have yet to pick up a seat belt fine. Not wearing bike helmets ,however, close to impossible not to get a fine.

timbone said...

I was aware that Tone had once smoked. I was also aware that his beautiful wife is a bigot (recalling a story from Stephen Fry). I also picked up somewhere that he was not initially into a total ban (after all, as PM he would have approved John Reid's Manifesto commitment).

So what happend?

His wife. Deborah Arnott. His God.

Anonymous said...

ASH and the RCP

"In response to the call in The Times, the Health Minister, Melanie Johnson, backed by John Reid,

the Health Secretary, and Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, said that more needed to be done to

persuade the public of the merits of a ban before it could be imposed."

"In a letter to Tony Blair, ASH urges the government to honour its commitment to ratify the

global tobacco treaty without further delay"

Britain ratifies anti-tobacco treaty - DECEMBER 16, 2004
"The British Department of Health has issued a statement saying that the United Kingdom has

become the latest country to ratify the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on

Tobacco Control - the first global health treaty."

"The announcement was hidden away in a statement about a reduction in the number of smokers in

the UK."


Tony Blair's 10 Years Of Tobacco Control 2007
"Blair promised much for tobacco control but required considerable pressure before he delivered"