May 25, 2017
by Forest EU

Are you a smoker or a tolerant non-smoker? You’re invited!

Live jazz. Nice drinks and food. Great company, and the chance of a smoke and a chat outside on the terrace. Here’s your ticket to our launch party.

Live jazz. Nice drinks. Good food. Great company, and the chance of a smoke and a chat outside on the terrace.

Brussels is famous for its conviviality and superb gastronomic culture. The EU quarter has taken this side of Belgian life to heart, and it’s in this spirit that Forest EU is holding its launch party on 31 st May.

Brussels’ newest lobby group, Forest EU has been set up to promote smokers’ rights.

Yes, that’s right, smokers – not exactly the EU’s most fashionable cause just now, and we expect our work to be subject to the usual catcalls from those hell bent on banning tobacco from our lives. So we’ve set out how we hope to continue – with a relaxed approach, getting across our point of view with respect for everybody’s point of view.

Our message is above all one of tolerance, which we believe is central to the European tradition. We freely admit that smoking has health risks. And we don’t hide that our funding comes from the tobacco industry.

But we think that smokers have the right to be represented in the corridors of power – after all they pay billions of tax in pursuing a perfectly legal activity. Most of Europe’s 100 million smokers are decent, law abiding citizens who deserve to be treated properly and listened to by policy makers.

The truth is that policies made at the EU level affect the lives of millions of adults across Europe who are rarely consulted.

In fact, worse than that, the whole tone of public policy as regards to smokers is becoming increasingly hostile and unpleasant. Smokers are being subjected to increasing attacks and restrictions on their habit. In some cases new rules have no public health justification but are intended to demonise the smoker as an individual. By casting smokers as pariahs, anti-smoking campaigners hope to intimidate people away from tobacco.

Enough is enough. Such tactics should have no place in a civilised society. It is wrong to demonise millions of smokers, just as it would be wrong to demonise any other law abiding section of society.

Instead we must take a more reasoned and liberal approach that is consistent with Europe’s traditions of tolerance and good governance.

This is the argument that Forest EU will be making. We already have offices in the UK and Ireland, where we have stood up successfully for smokers for many years. We aim to provide balance and good sense in the ongoing debate on regulating tobacco and other consumer goods.

That means taking a careful look at the smoking bans, packaging rules, vaping restrictions and tax hikes that characterise policy making, as well as the unintended consequences that arise from them. The growth of smuggling and associated crime. Easier access to counterfeit tobacco for children. The closure of rural and community pubs and cafes. All of this must be taken into account by policy makers and it’s our job to make sure they are.

We’ll be talking to MEPs, officials, think tanks, journalists and opinion formers across Europe, presenting the evidence and making the case for liberalism and reason in tobacco control.

Come along and find out more (while having a great time) on May 31st in Brussels. Please register by clicking here.


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