In this interview we speak to Freedom to Choose representative David Atherton, discussing why they were set up, the anti-smoking lobby’s effects on civil liberties in the UK and of course the electronic cigarette.
As this is quite a long interview, we have broken it up into sections for your convenience. Just use the contents below to navigate.
Why Freedom to Choose Began
ECD: David, why was Freedom to Choose set up?
David: It was set up by Feal-Martinez in 2005 who was a Swindon publican, and he is still is as far as I am aware. I think he wanted to do something that was quite separate from FOREST. This was 2004, 2005 when the pub smoking ban was due to come in. Like a lot of the people, before we had taken the smoking ban in good grace, because there was always the pub where you could go and have a smoke in – I think that was the straw that broke Bob’s back to get himself motivated to start a campaign to stop the ban at the time, which obviously failed, and to hopefully get it amended now.
ECD: FOREST have tobacco industry funding whereas you don’t.
David: They do, that’s correct. In fact, I don’t see that as a problem, I know Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s have got a retail group pressure group themselves, I can’t see anything wrong with tobacco companies having a pressure group but certainly you can’t make the accusation that we are funded by tobacco companies.We are not motivated by financial interests, we are motivated by social reasons to meet and associate with each other.
ECD: Was Freedom to Choose set up before or after Forces?
David: Oh, Forces was set up in 1995 in San Francisco.
It was set up in America, I suppose what Bob could have done was to become the UK branch of Forces, but instead he decided to set up a separate entity. But obviously we do know each other, we do swap emails, we are linked in to each other on Facebook and we do swap information. You probably wouldn’t get in a cigarette paper between us in terms of differences.
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