This smoking stuff is getting absurd now. I am not a fan of smoking, and I was borderline in favour of the smoking ban (actually, I would have preferred some kind of licensing arrangement).
But one thing is for certain: It is completely nuts to attempt to airbrush cigarettes out of history as governments appear to be doing.
In France, tobacco sponsors on photographs of Formula 1 cars have to be airbrushed out. You might notice that despite having been a Formula 1 fan since I was young, I am not a smoker — yet governments still feel the need to do this sort of thing. Check out this picture from the Renault F1 website. Orwellian or what?
Tobacco advertising in Formula 1 as a whole is dying a slow death, which I’m not particularly bothered about. But model collectors won’t be able to add a Lotus with the classic John Player Special livery to their collection — because the JPS branding has been replaced with the words ‘Team Lotus Special’. These models are meant to be replicas of historic Formula 1 cars — but they’re not.
Then there was the recent hoo-ha about Mel Smith being unable to accurately portray Winston Churchill:
I am all for a smoking ban in bars but not to have an actor smoking while he represents a character in history who did smoke is absurd.
Yesterday it was announced that Tom & Jerry cartoons are to have smoking scenes edited out after an investigation by Ofcom found that the scenes were unsuitable for children. (Meanwhile, the manic violence goes ahead uncut.) This just reminds me of that episode of Itchy & Scratchy where they are reduced to making each other lemonade: “I made it ’specially for yooou!”
Now English Heritage have decided to censor photographs containing people smoking at a re-enactment of the Battle of the Somme:
While the cigarettes – even the filterless ones which one “soldier” scrupulously smokes as period detail when in uniform – have been airbrushed out of history, images of machine guns and rifles with bayonets have been released for public consumption.
What is going on? On stage and in history, smoking has its undeniable place. But quangos are sticking their fingers in their ears and rewriting history.