The high priest of the American anti-smoking movement arrived in London yesterday to urge the capital to adopt a Californian-style ban on cigarettes in public places.
Stanton Glantz, a medical professor whose investigations cost tobacco companies billions and formed the background to the film The Insider, said public opinion in London was ready to accept the strict controls pioneered in the US.
Professor Glantz, of the University of California in San Francisco, was due to give evidence today to a three-member Greater London Assembly committee on passive smoking which is considering a smoking ban in pubs, restaurants and clubs, and the areas outside their entrances.
Professor Glantz's supporters see him as a crusader, but others have described him as a "merchant of hate" who aims to demonise smokers and make them social outcasts.
In 1994 he was handed 4,000 pages of internal documents belonging to the tobacco company Brown & Williamson by a source nicknamed "Mr Butts". The episode formed part of the background for The Insider, which starred Al Pacino as a investigative journalist and Russell Crowe as a company scientist.
Mr Glantz published the documents, accepted as the most damning evidence produced against tobacco companies, as The Cigarette Papers, provoking former president Bill Clinton to regulate cigarettes as a nicotine delivery agent.
He went on to help state attorneys reach a settlement with the tobacco industry in which the companies agreed to pay $208bn, and led the campaign for a Californian ban which came into force in 1995.
After arriving at Waterloo station yesterday he said: "This is an idea whose time has long since come. It is popular with the public and it is time for London to catch up with other world cities and become smoke free.
"I'm a great believer in civil liberties but I don't believe anyone has the right to poison someone else. A cigarette is a little toxic waste dump on fire."
Forest, the smokers' rights organisation, said such a ban might work in California, where the weather allowed people to go outside all year round, but would be "unwelcome and unworkable" in London.Reuse content