Annual pipe-smoker award is extinguished

Another bit of moderately old England has died. After 39 years, the Pipesmoker of the Year award is to be extinguished because its organisers feared it fell foul of new laws on tobacco promotion.

Thus ends one of the diminishing opportunities for newspapers to show a picture of a man of a certain age smiling and smoking at the same time. No more will inside pages on a slow news day be graced with a picture of the winner, briar clenched between teeth, looking either happy or pensive.

The award was due to have been presented at the Pipe and Pipe Tobacco Trade Association's annual lunch at the Savoy this Wednesday. Previously this occasion has seen the title bestowed on Stephen Fry, Sir Henry Cooper, Tony Benn, the former prime minister Harold Wilson and the inventor Trevor Baylis.

Last night Mr Baylis, 66, expressed his sadness at the cancellation of the award. "Whenever I've had a bright idea the pipe's come out to help me ponder it. It's helped me to control countless anxieties, and made a major contribution to what I've achieved in my lifetime."

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