What we saw and heard at the Forest EU launch
797,634+ views in media coverage, 105 cheerful guests, 5 passionate speakers and a sunny evening made a great launch party.
On Wednesday 31 May 2017 in the evening, the Forest EU campaign was officially launched in Brussels.
More than 105 guests attended the launch party at The Staff 42, a restaurant opposite the European parliament in Brussels.
Guests included journalists, EU Perm Rep staff, EC staff, parliamentary assistants and consultants.
Most importantly, guests included smokers and non-smokers alike. If the launch party proved anything, it’s that smokers and non-smokers can live and have a good time together, en bonne intelligence.
Short speeches were given three speakers from three EU countries, all from the civil society.
Jonathan Siksou, a French journalist and author of Le Tabac Passionnément;
Dick Engel, former executive member of Smokepeace, the first pan-European smokers’ rights organisation (now defunct), from The Netherlands;
Also talking were Simon Clark, Director of Forest, and Guillaume Périgois, Director of Forest EU.
Pictures of the event can be seen on the Forest EU Flickr account here.
A video of the event can be watched on the Forest EU Youtube channel here and below.
The video contains interesting testimonies, including:
“I’m made to feel like a leper because I choose to smoke. I know the risks but I also feel I shouldn’t be made to feel ostracised.”
“I’m not a smoker but I stand for smokers’ rights because it’s about freedom of choice and equality.”
“Ever since I started smoking I’ve always felt bad about the fact that I’m a smoker. So for me, being in an environment where people are like, ‘No, you should be allowed to smoke’, it’s very interesting. It’s given me a different perspective on my habit as a smoker.”
“Here we are all adults, we know the risks, and if I want to light a cigarettes please let me do it.”
Last but certainly not least:
“An organisation like this speaks for me, as a smoker.”
Forest EU Twitter posts received more than 60,000 impressions for the event which was coincidentally organised on World No Tobacco Day.
This is how Politico Europe, a news organisation in Brussels, reported the event:
Over cigars and mojitos at a Brussels restaurant (with terrace, for smoking), smokers rights’ campaigners vowed on Wednesday evening to revive the fight against anti-tobacco rules. “We accept and we totally understand the health risks of smoking, we embrace harm reduction products such as e-cigarettes, but we are passionate about freedom of choice and personal responsibility,” said Simon Clark, director of the Freedom Organization for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (Forest), which launched its EU wing on Wednesday.
Clark deplored the disappearance of a dozen smoking rights groups across Europe in the last decade due to lack of funding. He hopes that Forest EU will galvanize support again to oppose smoking bans in public spaces such as parks, or the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive. Helped by a €150,000 grant from Japan Tobacco International, Forest EU wants the European Commission to justify any future measures against tobacco.
Apart from Politico, the event and Forest EU received 797,634+ views in media coverage, including three appearances on Belgian TV RTL-TVI. We debated smoking bans at 12:35am in its Pour ou Contre show.
Since 1979, Forest has been the leading voice in defending the rights of tobacco consumers and tolerant non-smokers.
EU countries are among the most regulated places on earth in which to smoke. Smokers have generally accepted the many restrictions and punitive measures – including smoking bans, display bans, extreme health warnings and excessive taxation – with good grace, but enough is enough.
As an advocacy campaign, Forest EU will be informing consumers about issues that affect them in the European Union and engaging with stakeholders so the views of informed adults are taken into account within the EU’s decision-making process.