Friday 24 November 2017

Habit remains a heated issue for politicians

Allison Bray

Allison Bray

POLITICS and smoking have always gone hand in hand.

The late US president Franklin D Roosevelt often proudly posed for the cameras with his iconic cigarette holder dangling out of his mouth or poised in his hand.

Another famous American president, Ronald Reagan, promoted smoking during his acting days when he was featured in an ad for Chesterfield cigarettes. But he quit when his brother developed throat cancer.

US President Barack Obama claims he has never been a heavy smoker but concedes he has been trying to quit for years.

Back, in 2006, he told First Lady Michelle that he would quit if he ran for the presidency. However, his first routine medical assessment as president following his victory noted he was "continuing smoking cessation efforts".

At one time, Cuban President Fidel Castro was rarely seen in public without his trademark cigar, although he stopped in the mid-1980s.

Closer to home, some members of the Dail have made no apologies for their habit. Former Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes is rarely seen without a cigarette in his mouth.

Former Environment Minister and committed smoker Martin Cullen got himself into hot water in 2003 when he rallied against his own government's plan to introduce the smoking ban in 2004.

He told RTE radio that the ban was the result of the importation of "US political correctness".

Fellow Dail colleague, former Fine Gael TD and the party's justice spokesman John Deasy (Waterford), was infamously sacked by leader Enda Kenny for lighting up in the Dail bar the day after the ban was introduced in 2004.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen may have raised eyebrows again this week for lighting up inside Croke Park. But he also came under fire just days before the May 2007 election, when he admitted to smoking marijuana as a law student at UCD.

In an interview with 'Hot Press' magazine, he said: "Anyone who went to the UCD bar in the 1970s that didn't get a whiff of marijuana would be telling you a lie."

Irish Independent

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