On Saturday the health section of the BBC News website ran a piece headlined 'Athletes attacked for smoking habits'. Footballers such as Wayne Rooney and Zinedine Zidane and basketball player Michael Jordan were all mentioned as example of "top athletes" who should be role models for children and, by implication, shouldn't smoke.
I was asked for a comment and this is what I said:
"Research suggests that it is mainly peer pressure and the influence of family members that encourages young people to smoke.
"However the responsibility for young people smoking lies primarily with those who supply tobacco to underage users. We should crack down on them and leave people like Wayne Rooney alone.
"Rooney and other high-profile athletes are adults. They are entitled to smoke without being targeted by the finger-waggers' alliance."
You can read the full report HERE.
H/T The expression "finger-waggers' alliance" was used by journalist Dorothy-Grace Elder, a former member of the Scottish Parliament, when she appeared on Politics Now (ITV Scotland) with The Free Society's Brian Monteith last year (see HERE). I have used it occasionally ever since.
Leading the chorus of disapproval about athletes smoking is Cancer Research. But the BBC also quoted Anna Gilmore, professor of public health at the University of Bath, and Amanda Amos, professor of health promotion at the University of Edinburgh.
Have you noticed how more and more universities are jumping on board the anti-smoking bandwagon? A couple of weeks ago the University of Glasgow published a study that suggested - completely erroneously as far as I could tell - that hospital admissions for child asthma had fallen as a result of the smoking ban in Scotland.
All this comes a year after I highlighted a response to a public consultation in Scotland that declared that "The University of Aberdeen believes that the measures proposed to eliminate sale of tobacco product displays and vending machines are both justifiable as are the associated penalties".
What's going on? Could it, perhaps, have something to do with funding rather than academic excellence? Perish the thought!!