Prosecute Damon Albarn over on stage cigarette urges anti-smoking charity

Ben Mitchell,Press Association
Monday 22 March 2010 16:04

An anti-smoking charity called today for Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn to be prosecuted for smoking a cigarette on stage on the first night of a tour.

The former Blur singer was seen to light up a cigarette while performing at the Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth on Sunday night.

Bass guitarist Paul Simonon, formerly of The Clash, also smoked during the show in front of an "intimate" audience of about 500 fans.

Now the anti-smoking charity Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) has called for Albarn and Simonon to be prosecuted to make an example of them.

Spokeswoman Amanda Sandford said: "There can be no excuse for that as it is an indoor place and the law is very clear.

"We are not allowed to smoke on stage unless it's relevant to the act.

"They should be fined. It's not just the artist, it's the premises where the act is held. I would expect the local authority to take the appropriate action.

"It's not just illegal but more importantly it's about the message it sends out to fans.

"People in the public eye have a duty not to promote smoking. It's very irresponsible - I suppose they think it's rebellious and they may get some extra kudos from it and maybe some extra publicity."

A member of staff at the Wedgewood Rooms said they had not been made aware of the smoking during the show or received any complaints.

Gorillaz were on the first night of a "rehearsal" tour as they prepare to headline the Coachella festival in California ahead of a series of shows in the UK in the autumn.

Paul Hunt, head of environment and public protection at Portsmouth City Council, said: "Making sure premises remain smoke-free is the duty of the management.

"If we receive complaints from the public we would contact the business first and issue a warning if we felt the complaints were justified.

"We haven't received an official complaint about smoking during the Gorillaz's performance but if this did come to light we would investigate further.

"Our approach is to always work with businesses to make sure they comply with legislation but if smoking is ignored on the premises we would then consider taking legal action which would start with the issuing of a fixed penalty notice."

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