Smoky, Smoky, Naughty, Naughty

A story in the Beeb asks the question; should sports stars be setting an example regarding smoking?

When footballer Wayne Rooney was spotted having a cigarette on several occasions during his break between the World Cup and the start of the Premier League season, there was outrage.

Outrage. My word. Outrage, I tell you. Outrage!!!!!!!

I wasn’t aware of it, so didn’t have the opportunity to be outraged. Still, now I am aware of it. Let me see… Nope, not even slightly miffed, let alone outraged. What Rooney sucks into his lungs is his business as far as I am concerned. And, if I was a follower of football, would it make me want to take it up? Look at it this way, one of my TT heroes was Joey Dunlop and he liked a fag and a pint yet I indulge in neither. I make my own decisions and they are not influenced by sports stars. Which as an aside means that all those sponsors are wasting their time with me.

As a top-flight footballer, he is expected to treat his body with respect at all times, even during the close season.

Again, shouldn’t that be a matter for him? It being his body and all that. If he does something that affects his performance on the field, it will affect his career. But, then, it is his career and that is a matter for him, isn’t it? George Best paid a heavy price for his alcohol consumption. Again, it was up to him. These people are not obliged to ‘treat their bodies with respect’ if they choose not to.

But should they be setting a better example?

No. Next question.

Around 6% of 11-to-15 year-old pupils admit to being regular smokers, and statistics show those who start smoking before 16 find the habit hardest to break.

Pretty much the same when I was that age. But what has this to do with anything? Ah, yeah, of course… They do it because Rooney does… This is a classic post hoc ergo propter hoc. So, what we have here is a logical fallacy dressed up as news.

Jean King, director of tobacco control at Cancer Research UK, said athletes, particularly footballers, are seen as heroes and that this status means they also need to be positive role models.

No, they don’t. They are paid to kick a ball around. In general, I have seen little evidence that they are positive role models and don’t expect them to be. They are fallible as are the rest of us. If they choose to smoke, drink and womanise, well, so be it. It does not follow that their adoring fans will do likewise. Some will, some won’t.

“Some young people will start smoking because they have seen their hero smoking.”

Evidence for this assertion?

We know that children are greatly influenced by the people around them – children growing up with parents or siblings who smoke are 90% more likely to become smokers.

Really? My father’s parents both smoked heavily. He didn’t. I suspect that that 90% figure has been borrowed from the ministry of made up statistics. “We all know…” is code for “we are making it up based upon our prejudices”. Vague generalisms do not make a case.

“We also know that tobacco sponsorship of sport influences children’s smoking. So any negative role modelling, including that by sports stars, could have a detrimental effect.”

Do we? Or are we just making another unfounded assertion?

When I was growing up, smoking was a regular feature in television programmes and films. Indeed, there were adverts for ciggies and cigars on the television. A number of my contemporaries took up smoking in their teenage years. Others of us didn’t. This will always be the case. Any attempt to blame footballers or any other celebrity is blaming someone else for what is a personal decision – like blaming violent films and video games when someone goes out and commits a murder. One is not necessarily a consequence of the other.

And, finally:

However, positive images of smoking celebrities are still widespread in the media.

Can’t have that, now, can we?


  1. Good post. Serge Blanco was the French lnternational Rugby Union fullback who smoked 80 cigarettes a day. Strangely this is now reduced to 60 a day in todays history of him.

    Must really piss off the anti-smokers as he’s still alive and fit.

  2. I started smoking because my favourite literary heroes (James Bond, Biggles and the Saint ) all did, and stopped because I realised it’s a habit that cost me more than it gave back in terms of pleasure).

    Something makes young people smoke, and that something will vary from YP and YP and it is not the job of government (or “society”) to try to identify all of them and eliminate them, for obvious reasons.

    If Rooney is seen smoking the best reaction is a resounding “so what?” and not to make a fuss about it. Probably nobody would notice.

    ALl this stuff is quite pathetic.

  3. Who encourages smoking? It isn’t Wayne Rooney, it’s the righteous. They nag and hector and bully, making it taboo and exciting. The sort of thing that the little Hitlers don’t want them to do.

    And what’s the result? A big “fuck you” to the righteous. This BBC story is exactly the sort of thing that encourages teenagers to smoke because it makes it plain that they shouldn’t.

  4. Outrage. My word. Outrage, I tell you. Outrage!!!!!!!

    I wonder where this outrage came from? Because I had never even heard about it and I wouldn’t care even if I had.

    We know people don’t like smoking. I don’t like smoking (but I would never try to stop someone doing it or scold them!). But can we move along, please?

    Fucking mongs.

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