British Health Leader Says Poor Should Be Allowed to Smoke in Bars

Britain’s Health Secretary, John Reid, favors education to encourage smokers to quit rather than a ban on smoking in public places. Reid called a smoking ban “an obsession of the learned middle class,” the Daily Telegraph reported June 9.

During the Labour Party’s “Big Conversation” public meetings, Reid, a former chain smoker, voiced his concerns about a smoking ban. “All I say is be very careful that you do not patronize people. As sometimes my mother would put it, people in lower socio-economic categories have very few pleasures in life and one of them is smoking,” he said.

Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair said the government may decide to allow local governments to prohibit smoking in public places, rather than have a nationwide ban.