"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
It is now nine years since the introduction of the smoking ban in Scotland, and eight years since it was introduced in the rest of the United Kingdom. They say time heals, yet many smokers remain angry and frustrated by the excessive nature of the ban which is still out of tune with most of Europe where many governments have found a compromise that accommodates smokers without inconveniencing non-smokers.
Although many smokers have adapted to the ban, others are appalled that the Coalition Government has continued to "denormalise" tobacco and coerce consumers to give up a perfectly legal habit.
If politicians don't hear from their constituents they won't know what you are thinking. So the best way you can help is by lobbying your MP in person or in writing. Tell them about the impact the smoking ban has had on you, your friends, and your local pub or club.
Only write to your constituency MP. MPs get lots of letters. Letters from constituents will always get priority, and make sure that you personalise your letter as much as possible. MPs will generally ignore letters that appear to be part of an organised campaign.
Better still, go and see your local MP. Most MPs hold regular surgeries in their constituency. Find out when they are and ask to see your MP face to face. The more people who contact their MP, the more they will sit up and take notice.
To find out who your MP and send them an email visit: www.writetothem.com
To find out who your MP is visit: www.theyworkforyou.com
Letters should be sent to your MP at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA. Don't forget to request a reply.
Journalists won't write about the smoking ban – or other smoking-related topics – unless they think it's a "live" political issue. To maintain their interest in the smoking ban (which most journalists consider to be "old news"), you must keep writing letters about the impact of the ban and other tobacco control measures.
Note: keep letters for publication short and to the point.
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Are you tired of being targetted for your smoking habit?