News Releases

New Year Message plus Review of the Year 2021

Fri 31st December, 2021

Dear Friend of Forest,

It's been another difficult year for many people. The good news is that there seems to be light at the end of the long Covid tunnel but I remember writing that last year so let's not get ahead of ourselves!

My personal view is that if we want to return to 'normal' we will have to learn to live with Covid and its variations and accept that going to pubs, restaurants and other indoor public places will always carry some risk so excessive restrictions are not the answer now we are post peak pandemic.

Instead, and unless ministers wish to trash the economy and individual liberties completely, governments must put choice and personal responsibility first, giving adults the freedom to make informed decisions without intrusive and heavy-handed measures that are sometimes driven more by politics than by evidence.

Much like tobacco control, in fact.

Talking of which 2022 will present several challenges for confirmed smokers. For example, the Welsh Government recently launched a 'consultation' designed to progress its target of a 'smoke free' (sic) Wales by 2030. The closing date is 31st January 2022 and we would encourage friends of Forest to participate, even though the consultation appears to be weighted heavily in favour of those who support the government's smoke free goal.

We also await the publication of the UK government's new Tobacco Control Plan which is designed to achieve the same ambition for England. Measures that have been lobbied for by the tobacco control industry included a multi-million pound levy on tobacco companies (that would almost certainly be passed on to the consumer), extending the smoking ban to pavements outside pubs and restaurants, reducing the prevalence of shops that sell tobacco, raising the age of sale to 21, and printing health warnings on individual cigarettes.

Covid has given governments an unprecedented reason/excuse to impose extraordinary restrictions on the population. Some of those measures have probably been justified, temporarily at least, but it's our job to ensure that, having acquired a taste for strict and sometimes oppressive regulations in the name of public health, it does not become the default position of politicians and public health officials.

Smokers know all about oppressive regulations so let their experience of the slippery slope and creeping prohibition be a warning to everyone who values individual liberty.

In the meantime, from all of us at Forest, have a happy New Year and here is our Review of the Year 2021.

Simon Clark
Director, Forest
30th December 2021

Back to top