Frank Davis

Banging on about the Smoking Ban

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Ruined Life of a Star
Recent comments have reminded me that the destructive effects of the smoking ban aren't restricted to 'ordinary' people. They affect stars as well.

Here's Eastenders star June Brown reported in the Sun two years ago:

EASTENDERS star June Brown has lambasted the smoking ban, insisting it has 'ruined her life'.

The 81-year-old actress, who plays chain-smoking soap legend Dot Branning, hates being forced not to spark up, and feels she should be allowed to what she likes in her advanced years.

She vented her no doubt tobacco-coloured spleen on This Morning yesterday, saying: "I've been here hours and I've only had two cigarettes outside, standing up. I shall bring me stool with me next time.

"I don't like doing interviews very much. I don't like not being able to smoke.

"I keep saying I'm not going to go anywhere where I'm not allowed to smoke, then I find I've done it.

"You can't go anywhere and smoke now - it's ruined my life. It's ruined the whole end of my life. At my age, I should be allowed concessions. I should be allowed to do as I please."

I heard her interviewed on Radio 4 last year, and she'd brought along an e-cig with her, and was making sure everybody knew she was using one.

And I think that I remember her saying that she and Jerry Hall (one-time girlfriend of Mick Jagger) had stood smoking outside a theatre where they were both appearing.

In some ways it must be worse for stars, because they're likely to get recognised standing outside, and that must make them even more vulnerable than ordinary people.

It seems to me that the only smokers that smoking bans won't affect will be the super-rich, who always entertained at home, insulated from things like smoking bans. I suspect that neither June Brown nor Jerry Hall belong in that category.

Other famous smokers include Joanna Lumley, who has had a very public profile since she allied herself with the cause of the Gurkhas. But to my knowledge, she never speaks about the smoking ban.

There's also Andrew Neil, who gave DK a hard time on the Daily Politics show a week or two back. Cigars are what he enjoys, I believe. He never seems to speak about it either.

And of course there's Jeremy Clarkson. Who is much more vocal, of course. I've read some characteristically pungent complaints by him about the smoking ban.

And there's also Joe Jackson. But he comes over (to me at least) more as a thoughtful contributor to the smoking debate than a rock star. Perhaps that's because I don't know his music at all.

There must be hundreds of movie stars and rock stars and other assorted stars who are just as much affected as everybody else.

Over the past 2 or 3 years, I've often heard calls for one or two big stars to stand up for smokers, but none ever seem to do so. And that's maybe because stars, by their nature, are wholly dependent on public approval for their living, and dare not do anything that might cost them that approval. They might easily find that they cease to get any more work, once antismoking zealots start pulling strings - just like in the McCarthy era in the USA, a lot of left wing actors and directors and writers got marginalised. And since smoking is now almost as bad as paedophilia, they might end up sharing the same fate as Gary Glitter.

As a result, I tend to think there's not going to be much help for smokers coming from stars. I figure they'll only come aboard when smokers start winning, and their cause begins to gather momentum. As it will, one day.

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(Deleted comment)
I think that if stars are big enough, they can do that with ease. Not sure about lesser stars, who might not be able to pay fines every time they play a gig.

The EU legislation wending its way through the EU parliament has provisions for prosecution of 'high profile' offenders. That could bring a new level of intensity to smoker persecution.


Despite ASH's best outraged pouting, neither Albarn nor the Stones have been prosecuted or fined for their blatant public smoking.

There is an area which is greyer which involves smoking in stage plays, which is technically illegal but some actors were so publically incensed by this nonsense that it has become de facto legal for the actors to smoke, but not the audience. Now there's logical.

Here's a thought. If you are very very wealthy and you have a butler or a valet or some such, does that mean your home is someone's workplace and therefore it comes under the ban?

PT Barnum

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