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« Tribute to Herman Leonard | Main | Pubs need smokers »

Introducing ... Forest Éireann

Further to my recent trip to Ireland, I am delighted to report that Forest is to launch its first group outside the UK. Like Forest, Forest Éireann will campaign against the denormalisation of smoking and the vilification of smokers by the tobacco control lobby.

This is what we call a 'soft' launch (ie done without any fanfare). The plan is to attract a core group of supporters and then develop a modest website that will feature news, information and a dedicated blog.

Our spokesman in Ireland is John Mallon. John and I first swapped emails in 2005 when he wanted to make a film highlighting the truth about passive smoking. "I am a smoker who deeply resents having to go out in the rain to smoke because of a law enacted on a false premise," he told me.

Today he says: "When plans for a comprehensive smoking ban were announced, what got to me was the sense that there was something fundamentally wrong with the whole thing. The way the ban was sold to us was designed to ensure that no decent person could oppose it. Yet I had nagging doubts.

"Any suggestions about compromise, partial restrictions or even a voluntary code were rejected in the most high-handed fashion. In my experience this was most unusual because Irish society is better known for its cheerful tolerance and our live and let live attitude to life.

"The outcome of the ban, now in its sixth year, suggests that it has been counter-productive. Smoking rates have increased while one pub a day closes due to the effects of the ban. Meanwhile society is polarised at social occasions due to large numbers of people being forced to go outdoors.

"The ban affects everybody, smoker and non-smoker alike. If people do not fight for their rights, a host of other restrictions will surely follow."

I've been to Ireland many times since 2003 and I've lost count of the number of times I've been interviewed on Irish radio in particular.

As much as I enjoy the opportunity, I have always felt that Forest should be represented in Ireland by a bona fide Irish voice and having met John I believe we have the right man.

If you live in Ireland (or are Irish and living abroad) please register your support HERE.

Reader Comments (9)

Brilliant news... good luck to our Irish friends. I used to go to Ireland a lot, but now hardly ever. An irish pub (or any pub for that matter) without smoke is a dreary and annoying place. I am convinced that we need a major territory to reverse its ban, and then we could see a domino effect. That could be England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Northerm Ireland (all seperate bans of course, each one could change on its own) Or even France, New York etc. We have seen Bulgaria, Croatia and Macedonia all alter their bans to help the bar trade (English pub owners take note - other bar owners in other countries recognise the damage to their trade, why don't the English ones??) but the media don't seemk to care about small states a long way from home.

Simon - is there a facebook page for the Irish group coming?

August 17, 2010 at 12:55 | Unregistered CommenterMark Butcher

I work in N Ireland and live in the Republic. There is a lot of lies spread about the smoking bans here particularly when it comes to enforcement. Everyone knows which pubs have smoking rooms and those that bring out ashtrays after time. It is accepted and no one complains because [a] you are on the premises after time and [b] it is a way of shoving two fingers up to the government.

The ban is ignored in many places and all you have to do is drive through Ireland and look at the drivers. Taxis, work vehicles and even police cars are full of smokers and no one batts an eyelid. The ban was brought in to please Europe during the boom times and now that the country is on it's knees there is no interest in it anymore.

Good luck to John and I have registered and hopefully there will be plenty of support.

August 17, 2010 at 14:06 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Peoples

Brilliant. Especially as it features Dan Donovan's excellent portrait of me!

August 17, 2010 at 15:39 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Speller

"better known for its cheerful tolerance and our live and let live attitude to life. "
End quote

Yes indeed. As an English person raised by a much beloved Irish father, I believe those qualities were instilled in me by him. I will always be grateful to the Ireland that was for those wonderful qualities, and I hope that they can rise back up to the surface again. Very good luck to John Mallon, I hope you get tons of support.

August 17, 2010 at 16:47 | Unregistered CommenterLiberty

Awesome! As a dual citizen of the U.S. and Ireland, I look forward to hearing more about how the ban is going to be I can visit the land that my mom is from and not have to stand out in the cold:-)

August 17, 2010 at 17:03 | Unregistered Commenterjredheadgirl

For a thousand years Irishmen were treated like pigs by abscent masters ,
now they are treated like rats by their own Judasaic politicians.
Irishmen prance,dance,sing and wax lyrical about freedom,thenfall on their knees
at the first "no smoking" sign..

Wrap the Green Leaf round me

August 17, 2010 at 19:54 | Unregistered CommenterBarus an Connacht

"when he wanted to make a film highlighting the truth about passive smoking...."

Great stuff - but what happened to the film ?

At any rate, the VERY Best of British AND Irish to Mr Mallon !

And to Forest Éireann, naturally !

And I agree with Mark B above: all it takes is for ONE Country or City to have the courage to say 'Sod this !', and the cracks will begin to appear in the whole wretched edifice of Blind Intolerance.

(Just wish it could be England - but I AM biased !).

August 17, 2010 at 21:01 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Good luck, Mr Mallon.
I looked at an Irish antismoking site aimed at teenagers the other day. Now, not for a minute would I want Irish teenagers or any others to take up smoking - it really ought not to be a teenage thing - not that it matters that much. But I was quite amused to see how intelligently teenagers addressed this 'official' site. For lack of a better word, they told the owners of the site to 'f*ck off' and leave them alone.

It is universally recognised that there comes a time in life when one has done one's life's work. One has brought up one's children and they have become independent. Once on has achieved that happy situation, one can relax.
There is no need to promote tobacco - people will find it for themselves because it is enjoyable, in its way - just as whisky is. These things are fun for grown ups.

It is on that basis that one can defend tobacco. It is no big deal. It is an enjoyable thing is one wishes to indulge. There is no problem.

August 18, 2010 at 2:35 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

"There is no problem."

No - but just look at the mountains of dosh (to say nothing of the myriad job-opportunities) be made by CREATING one !

August 18, 2010 at 11:57 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

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