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Public Health England's new quit smoking campaign is "emotional blackmail"

Fri 30th December, 2016

Forest has criticised Public Health England for featuring children as part of its new quit smoking campaign.

A short film features children's TV doctor Dr Ranj Singh working with primary school children in Coventry "to create their own heartfelt messages about the dangers of smoking."

Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest, said using children was "emotional blackmail" and marked a "new low for the public health industry".

He said:

"Using children to make adults feel guilty about smoking is a new low for the public health industry. It's emotional blackmail and should be condemned by all decent people, not financed with taxpayers' money.

"Adults know the health risks of smoking. Most smoke because they enjoy it. Public health campaigners should respect that choice and stop bullying smokers to quit."

A study published this week by the Centre for Substance Use Research in Glasgow found that an overwhelming majority of confirmed smokers said the primary reason they light up is because they enjoy smoking not because they are addicted.

A survey of over 600 smokers found that nearly all respondents (95%) gave pleasure as their number one reason for smoking.

Well over half (62%) liked the physical effect of nicotine, 55% liked the way smoking provided “time for oneself”, 52% liked the taste or smell of tobacco, and 49% liked the ritual involved in smoking.

Most of those surveyed (77%) expected to smoke for many years with only 5% envisaging a time in the near future when they might have stopped.

Although a majority (56%) felt that they were addicted to smoking, many described the habit as a personal choice rather than behaviour determined by their dependence on nicotine.

Asked what might prompt them to stop smoking in future, the most common reasons were becoming seriously unwell as a result of smoking or exacerbating an illness through smoking.

Anti-smoking policies such as smoking bans and plain packaging were not cited by any respondents as reasons to quit smoking.

Nine out of ten respondents (91%) felt they were treated unfairly by government. Only 4% felt they were treated fairly.

Clark said:

“A significant number of adults smoke, and enjoy smoking, and and have no intention of giving up.

"Tobacco is a legal product. Further discrimination against smokers would be unfair and immoral."

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