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David Hockney critical of plain pack campaigner

Sat 28th January 2012, posted by editor

Anti-smokers "naive about advertising and packaging" says artist

Artist David Hockney has criticised an anti-tobacco campaigner who is leading the fight for plain packaging.

Responding to an interview with Simon Chapman, a professor of public health at the University of Sydney in Australia where plain packaging will be introduced later this year, Hockney wrote:

Why doesn't Mr Chapman debate with a good and satisfied customer of the tobacco companies (Plain packs will make smoking history, 25 January)? Someone who has seen what will replace it as a smoothing, calming contemplative helper. Someone whose friends died of alcohol consumption, not tobacco. Someone who has smoked for nearly as long as he has lived. Someone who knows about the fanatical attitude of haters of tobacco. Someone who is not so naive about advertising and packaging.

Someone who has almost outlived a fanatical anti-smoking father. Someone who is fed up to the teeth with people who think they really know what health is. Someone who is not afraid of the cowardly, crooked politicians who stifle the debate about pleasure in the now. Someone who knows that time is elastic. Someone who knows how easy it is to lie with statistics. Someone who is not a professional agitator, who knows there is no such thing as a professional smoker but knows there are hundreds of dreary, professional, highly paid anti-smokers.

Someone who thinks laughter is good for you as it drains fear from the body. Someone who has something better to do than to try and control the quiet lives of others. Someone who knows we are all a bit different and is fed up with the growing regimentation of people. Someone who knows that smokers can live perfectly average-length lives but heavy drinkers rarely. Someone who is shocked by the growing conformity among people, and what that might mean for a reasonable free society. Someone who prefers the centre of Bohemia to Australian suburbia. Someone who knows we have to die.

Source: Guardian (28 January 2012)

Additional reading: David Hockney appointed to Order of Merit (2 January 2012)


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In 2012 the Government held a public consultation on whether the UK should adopt standardised (or 'plain') packaging for tobacco products. In total the consultation received over 665,000 responses, with a substantial majority (427,888) opposed to the policy. In November 2013 the Government announced a further review of the evidence on standardised packaging and commissioned paediatrician Sir Cyril Chantler submit a report by the end of March 2014. The report was published on April 3 when public health minister Jane Ellison simultaneously announced that it was "minded" to proceed with the policy subject to a "final short consultation". To make your views known please visit our NO PRIME MINISTER microsite NOW! To receive updates about our campaign please enter your details below.

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