Smoking U-turn: Health lobby more sorry than angry

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The Independent Online
The anti-smoking lobby greeted news of the change in government policy more with sorrow than outright anger yesterday.

They recognised that ministers had faced a difficult choice, and concentrated much of their fire on the tactics of the motor racing industry. Their comments were also clearly intended to shore up ministers against demands from other lobby groups from within sport and the tobacco industry.

Dr Sandy Macara, chairman of the British Medical Association, said there had been "blackmail" from the Formula One lobby. "Clearly an unholy alliance of the tobacco manufacturers and the Formula One organisers has put the Government in an impossible position."

The director of the anti-smoking campaign group Ash, Clive Bates, said he believed the tobacco industry and F1 had "heavied the Government by threatening to take events away from Europe".

The disappointment was echoed by Stephen Thornton, chief executive designate of the NHS Confederation. Health authorities, he said, were looking for a lead from the Government to help reduce smoking-related diseases.