The Irish Examiner in the past has refused to publish letters from me on the topic of smoking.
And yet they have no problem printing a specimen like this one on Saturday. Let's have a look in more detail at what their letters editor considers worthy. Its author, Daniel Field, informs us in the first paragraph that "I am a student, 17, and I smoke, but if it was banned I would have to give up".
Now forgive me for being pedantic, but Daniel is breaking the law as a seventeen year old schoolboy if he is smoking. But he further portrays himself as some kind of ‘God-love-us’ whose only motivation to quit would be a legal ban on smoking. So he doesn't mind breaking the law now, but he would cease to do so if we were all banned. Sorry Daniel, I don't believe you. I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t smoke at all and some adult put you up to writing this garbage.
And he offers further evidence to support my conclusions. Daniel writes that "in America, smoking is banned in all public places, both indoors and outdoors, even in public parks. We should do that too". The fact is that many States in the Union allow smoking in pubs and only two, California and New York, have any outdoor restrictions at all. Poor Daniel has been fed falsehoods by some extreme phobic adult. This is shown when the adult involved goes on to claim that "our government is always talking about banning smoking in all public places, but nothing happens". Another lie fed to the impressionable youth.
But what else would one expect when his 'facts' are so blatantly wrong. For the lad’s information, Excise & VAT combined yield €1.5Bn and not €2Bn as he wrongly states, and the most extreme voices from the Tobacco Control Industry are wildly claiming that 5,500 people die of smoking-related diseases every year and not the 5,800 figure that Daniel states. And while there is no confirmed official figure for the cost of smoking illnesses to the HSE, our young hero happily claims that it stands at €2Bn.
So this letter, alleging to come from a teenager who is worried about me smoking, is probably nothing more than a sneaky piece of cheap propaganda from an adult ASH volunteer, who would like the reader to believe that teenagers everywhere wish to see the freedom to smoke being curtailed and maybe even banned outright. If they are going to engage in such subterfuge they should have the decency to put a bit more effort into it. Better again, the Examiner should send a police car to Knocknaheeny to arrest the parents of the writer, if they can find such an address.