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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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"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."

I kind of thought the same thing myself. Outside of the smoking issue, the last I'd heard of Joe Jackson was in the eighties.

I have some friends who are music afficionados (I can never spell that word) and even today here in the US, people are quite interested in Joe Jackson's music. I even overheard one friend talking on the phone at work about getting Joe Jackson tickets when he was last playing in my area.

It heartened me to hear that, because Joe Jackson has been a strong and vocal supporter for the rights of smokers. I'm glad to know that people are still interested in his work. Personally, I'm simply not a big music listener. But if I were going to buy a CD, I'd feel pretty good about my purchase if it were a Joe Jackson CD before I ever even cracked the cellophane.


He's very thoughtful and perceptive. But I only know his writing. So I think of him as a writer. If he came and played around here, I'd probably go along and see him too - on the grounds that, if I liked his writing, I might like his music as well.

In fact, I might discover that I liked his music more than his writing. I have the idea he's a bit of rocker, perhaps with a slight country & western tinge, and a hint of Buddy Holly. But that's pure imagination on my part. Perhaps I should buy one of his albums. It would be a way of saying a small 'thank you' for his writing.


Joe Jackson

Now there,s an interesting idea.....I wonder if Joe could write what he,and everyone else,thinks about the ban into a song and via facebook,etc.get it right up there in the charts......it has been done before(if he,s already done that,my apologies,and the title please).....I,ll be off to buy it like a flash....

He writes a lot about smoking already. He can hardly do any more.

And I think that there are already quite a few songs about the ban. Eamonn Mallon's Jackboot is pretty powerful (although I only know the acoustic version). And the Pretty Things' All Light Up. That's pretty powerful too. I'm sure I can think of more.


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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

Ranty says...

A couple of years ago I enjoyed a long conversation with Mike Oldfield. He called me to say how disgusted he was with the smoking ban. His one pleasure used to be having a pint of bitter in his local and rolling his own smokes. He told me he would sit by the fire and really, really relax. He felt at peace with the world. I asked him what he could do to help, and he said he would donate money. We arranged to speak again, but the next time never happened. He made the decision to sell his house for a couple of million and he moved to Spain, where, he was reported as saying, "There is no-one here that wants to interfere with my right to smoke, in a pub". I tried to reach him by phone a few times but I guess he dumped his British mobile. I still have his personal email address and I may write to him to see how he is getting on. Mike is a lovely bloke, and he just wanted what we all want: to be left in peace.


He told me he would sit by the fire and really, really relax. He felt at peace with the world.

That's what I used to do. I seldom talked to anyone much. Just sat in a chair with a pint and a cigarette, at peace with the world. I've never quite been at peace with the world since.

He's wrong to think that nobody in Spain wants to interfere with his right to smoke in a pub. The Spanish health minister has been pushing for the Spanish ban to be tightened up so as to 'harmonise' with other EU countries. She says that Spain is 'mature enough' (WTF does that mean?) for further legislation. She wanted regulations tightened at the beginning of 2010. And when that didn't happen, she wanted them tightened by the middle of 2010. That hasn't happened either.


Musicians regularly flout the ban. A recent documentary about Blur's comeback showed Damon Albarn smoking in a recording studio, which would be classed as a workplace, even in his own home, since there were other people present at the recording session. Has a performer ever been fined? Has a venue ever been fined? Good luck to them. Any way, for all our talk, nothing will change unless people are prepared to take the hit in the pocket and light up, perhaps "against the strong wishes" of a friendly property owner.

Ever since becoming a die hard fan of this blog and Leg Iron's (and quite a few of the others on your blog rolls) I've graduated from casual observer status to semi-literate observer status vis-a-vis UK politics. Your political system is vastly more complicated than ours. For starters, you've got coalition governance. By contrast, we're simply a boring two party winner-take-all, day and night, white or black, on or off, zeroes (Democrats - couldn't resist that dig) or ones system here. Third parties have almost no bearing on our politics. It's been 20 years since Ross Perot affected an election with his 20% share. Witness the big healthcare debate we just went through. In the end, the vote just followed party lines, not one Republican voted for it. Even the new Tea Party movement is a rudderless ship at this point in time.

I'll be closely watching and analyzing the outcome of your election come Friday. With my untrained eye, I'll be watching for a big increase in UKIP and Libertarian votes as an indication of how your smokers really react at the polls, where the rubber meets the road, to the smoking bans in your country. I intend to prod my fellow smoking brethren (and sistren?) here to register and show up in big numbers, come November, to help show the Democrats where the exit door is, by using your election results (hopefully) as an added impetus. My fingers are crossed.

Big simple, stupid question from an American cousin:: What would be the implications of a huge surge in votes for the UKIP and/or the Libertarians as future 'kingmakers' in your political power structure?

If there is a huge surge like that, it would probably shift the centre ground of UK politics in their direction, to the extent that it's at all mobile.

While I'd like that to happen, I don't expect it will. The Libertarian party is a small party with only a few candidates in a few seats. UKIP usually picks up most votes during the EU elections, when Britons feel able to thumb their noses at the EU. Since this is a UK General Election, they're much more likely to vote for whoever they traditionally vote for. Only this time the public mood is clearly highly volatile, as was seen by the sudden surge in popularity for the Lib Dems in recent weeks.

What I do expect to see is voters turning in much larger numbers than usual to fringe parties of all sorts. UKIP, BNP, Greens, SNP, etc, etc. The political establishment is widely seen as corrupt (well, it is corrupt!), and I expect to see people turning elsewhere. Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to think that the Lib Dems aren't part of the political establishment, when actually they are, and sing from the same hymn sheet on most issues (including the smoking ban).

The mainstream UK parties have been losing voter share steadily over the past 3 or 4 decades. I expect that trend to continue and to accelerate the more people become disenchanted. If, as seems fairly likely, we'll have some sort of coalition government after the election tomorrow, we'll quite likely have another election in a few months time, in which voter diillusionment is likely to be still deeper.

I realise that this is a long and rather vague answer to a seemingly simple question.


P.S. I'm a fan of Leg-iron too. Although oddly enough, my blog started a year or so back as a consequence of having a bit of a flaming row with him about something. I forget exactly what. Smoking, almost certainly.


I think the bigger you are the less is going to be said to you (both famous & physically) Obama (US president is a smoker) & I just can't envision too many saying sorry Mr. President but you can't smoke here! He sure doesn't advertise his smoking though--rather cowardly don't you think?

Me again.

Here's some late breaking news regarding stars who smoke. Our movie star California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger just vetoed a bill forged by our left of North Korea state legislature that would have banned smoking at all state beaches in California. The Terminator makes no secret of his love of a good cigar. He even once set up a tent outside of his office at the Capitol to smoke stogies.

He said the bill crossed the line on government intrusion in his veto message. Unfortunately, he did lend some credence to the ridiculous cigarette butt as major shoreline damage argument as an aside, but I'll forgive him for that, politics is politics. The bill's author, a Democrat (naturally) from a greasy, grimy seaport near Los Angeles apparently found cigarette butts to be more harmful to marine life than the discharge from the ships that ply the waters in her port city.

What an outrage this would have been to the smokers of the Golden State, who kick in over a billion dollars a year to the state kitty through tobacco taxes, to have been effectively banned from the beach. Who wants to go to the beach and spend the whole time having a nicotine fit?

It made me think about that great, super-funny piece you wrote on beaches, sand, and silicosis a while back. I originally intended to write my own article on the topic based on your treatise and then link to it, but like a lot of my stuff, I never finished it. I planned to tie it into Silicon Valley and Steve Jobs with his reneging on Apple warranties if the owner smoked, but it all got too disjointed and spread out.

I am still laughing at the concept of sand-free beaches you advanced. An absolute classic.


Yes, I read somewhere earlier today that the Terminator had vetoed that. Good for him. There was something else he vetoed a few months back. But I can't remember quite what.

Reminds me that I was looking at an interactive graphic in the Sacramento Bee yesterday about the sharp rise in unemployment in California in recent years.


My wife read a feature about Simon Cowell. Apparently his 'personal' dressing room is full of ashtrays! It's a civil law not criminal law. The worst you can get is a £50 fine, or £2500 for the management. If you can have a private jet, I am sure that a promise to pay the £2500 on a regular basis is small change.

My opinion of Simon Cowell just went up several notches.



Thanks for that.

Forest has provided a link to a BBC website where UK smokers, shortly to go to the polls, can check out how their members of parliament voted on public smoking bans.

The issue is not expected to tip the result of the election, but, in one of the most keenly-fought campaigns in recent times, all issues are seen as important.

The link is: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4714660.stm.

News to me! I've not heard a single mention of the smoking ban throughout the entire campaign.


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