Right of Reply; Marjorie Nicholson

The Director of the pro-smoking group FOREST answers David Aaronovitch' s attack on tobacco
Click to follow
The Independent Culture
WITH ENEMIES like David Aaronovitch ("Give me just one reason why we should be nice to smokers", 8 October), smokers hardly need friends. I can think of no self-respecting restaurateur who would wish to entertain a man who advocates violence against Liam Gallagher, and the US President. Patronage by either of these two gentlemen would surely outweigh any kudos gained from having Mr Aaronovitch masticating in the corner.

He does, however, have a serious point. Why do restaurateurs accommodate smokers, and, according to him, offer them the best tables?

Could it be that smokers spend more money, eat out more frequently, or are simply nicer people to have around?

And, if there were a genuine demand for the type of high-class eatery that is demanded by Mr Aaronovitch, wouldn't some bright entrepreneur have stepped into the frame by now?

But let us explore his "National Kick a Smoker Day" proposal that the Government legitimise violence against its 15 million citizens who smoke. A fundamental tenet of democracy is the protection of society's minorities, not the incitement of physical violence against them.

So how do we reconcile Mr Aaronovitch with the rest of society? How about a one-way ticket to California, where smoking is prohibited not only in restaurants, but along whole streets? If he wishes to remain in Britain, perhaps we should sign him up to one of the Government's proposed "good citizenship" courses (a day in school with a bunch of 13-year-olds could do him some good).

Or, better still, raise the money for him to open his own restaurant, exclusively for anti-smokers, with not even smoked salmon on the menu.