"Tobacco is not an illegal substance yet the government is persecuting a minority. I think that's a disgrace in a social democracy."
Sir Ronald Harwood,
Playwright and screenwriter
Forest is not a membership organisation nor are we run by committee (a source of great disappointment to the Communist Party of Britain!). We are, quite simply, a lobby group whose role is to protect the interests of adults who choose to smoke or consume tobacco.
We do that by communicating with politicians and the media on a variety of tobacco-related issues including public smoking bans, tobacco displays and vending machines, tobacco duty, cross-border shopping and plain packaging. Other issues include the 'denormalisation' of smoking and threats to ban smoking in private vehicles and in outdoor areas such as parks and beaches.
Forest is widely recognised by government and other national and local authorities as the "voice of the smoker". As a result we are often invited to present our views to government bodies, either in writing or in person. In the past we have submitted reports to and appeared before the Health and Safety Commission, House of Commons Health Select Committee, Greater London Authority Investigative Committee on Smoking in Public Places, Scottish Parliament Community Care Committee and many more, including local council committees from Middlesbrough in the north east of England to Plymouth in the south west.
We have also been active internationally, making submissions to the European Commission and representing consumers at meetings convened by the EC in Brussels. Most recently (December 2010) we organised an online petition in response to an EC public consultation to revisions to the Tobacco Products Directive.
Forest is equally well-known to journalists and broadcasters. Our spokesmen appear regularly on British radio and television and we are often quoted by national and local newspapers. In addition to news programmes, Forest spokesmen (and supporters like Antony Worrall Thompson, David Hockney and Joe Jackson) have appeared on programmes such as The One Show (BBC1), Jeremy Vine (BBC Radio 2), You and Yours (BBC Radio 4) and many more.
Since August 2010, when we launched a satellite group (Forest Eireann) in Ireland, we have also appeared with increasing frequency on Irish radio, with occasional quotes in Irish newspaper reports.
To raise awareness of specific issues Forest publishes occasional reports and other publications. Copies are distributed to journalists and politicians and made available online.
Forest spokesman are available to speak at public meetings and private events including university debates. Forest director Simon Clark has addressed the Oxford Union (with Forest patron Antony Worrall Thompson), the Oxford Libertarian Society (formerly the Oxford Hayek Society), University College Dublin Debating Society. He has also been invited to speak at meetings organised by think tanks (Policy Exchange, Adam Smith Institute) and other groups.
We also organise our own events (receptions and speaker meetings) in London and at party conferences. Invited guests include politicians, political researchers, broadcasters and journalists.
Are you tired of being targetted for your smoking habit?