About Forest Éireann
Following the public smoking ban and other tobacco control measures, Forest Éireann aims to represent smokers in Ireland in the same way that our parent group represents smokers in the UK.
Our primary purpose is to protect the interests of adults who choose to smoke tobacco. That means communicating with government and the media by engaging with politicians and journalists.
In the UK Forest is widely acknowledged in political and media circles as the "voice of the smoker". We want Forest Éireann to achieve similar recognition in Ireland.
Supporters in the UK include celebrity chef and publican Antony Worrall Thompson, world famous artist David Hockney, Oscar-winning screenwriter Ronald Harwood, and musician Joe Jackson.
Spokesmen for Forest are regularly quoted in newspapers and magazines, as well as appearing on television and radio. Forest Éireann will seek similar exposure in Ireland.
In the UK Forest has published hard-hitting essays and reports including Joe Jackson's The Smoking Issue and a 50-page report entitled Prejudice & Propaganda: The Truth About Passive Smoking. Where appropriate, Forest Éireann will publish and distribute similar documents in Ireland.
Forest is well known for a organising special events that have attracted thousands of people, including members of parliament, journalists and broadcasters. They include Revolt In Style, a smoker-friendly dinner for 400 people at the Savoy Hotel in London on the eve of the introduction of the public smoking ban in England in 2007, and Politics and Prohibition, a speakeasy themed event that featured a mock police raid and the arrest of our guest speaker who was charged with inciting people to enjoy themselves!
Most recently, in June 2010, Forest's sister campaign The Free Society hosted a successful programme of events in London entitled Voices of Freedom: The Battle Against Big Government. The series concluded with a riverboat party on the Thames attended by over 200 guests including several members of parliament. Once established, Forest Éireann will explore similar events in Ireland.
Our spokesman is John Mallon, a father of two adult children who lives a "modest but happy" life with his partner in Cork City.
John’s working career is as varied as it is colourful. From labouring on an offshore oil rig to national sales manager for Apple (Ireland), it includes ten years of self employment running two businesses concurrently.
For the past two years John has been studying full-time at University College Cork. Now he is embarking on a new project - defending smokers and promoting a more tolerant, less regulated society.
Commenting on his new challenge, John says: "I'm no radical but I believe in the citizen’s right to oppose those things that seek to marginalise them.
"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 urge like-minded people to support Forest Éireann and together we can make a difference."