In the fabulously funny ‘Yes (Prime) Minister’, which takes on more of a documentary feel than a piece of fiction, there is an episode that was first broadcast on the 23rd January 1986, called "The Smoke Screen."
It is about Sir Humphrey Appleby, the astute and manipulative civil servant who is fighting tax cuts proposed by Jim Hacker. However while getting tipsy as a guest of the mythical British Tobacco Group and persuading them to sponsor one of Sir Humphrey's pet likes, the opera, he is very sympathetic to BTG.
The Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Thorn, informs Jim Hacker about his anti smoking plan and that there is extensive academic support already received for it. He threatens to resign if it is not adopted. Sir Humphrey becomes the big shill of Big Tobacco and has this exchange with Hacker:
Jim Hacker: "Humphrey, we are talking about 100,000 deaths a year."
Sir Humphrey: "Yes, but cigarette taxes pay for a third of the cost of the National Health Service. We are saving many more lives than we otherwise could because of those smokers who voluntary lay down their lives for their friends. Smokers are national benefactors."
The story ends when Dr. Thorn is promoted to the more prestigious Treasury, Hacker gets his tax cuts and Appleby keeps his opera.
On the same theme of ‘Yes Minister’, Angela Harbutt and Amul Pandya of the 'Hands Off Our Packs' campaign have devised a short film: please take a look at this well observed and pertinent video release.
No Minister, and it is not going to work...
Smoke Ban Review
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