First of all as Chairman of Freedom2Choose, I hope you had a good Christmas and can I wish you a prosperous New Year.

2018 has been another interesting year for the nation’s hard done by smoker. You would have thought a group that contributes over £11 billion in direct taxes, and through the 70,000 employed directly or indirectly in the tobacco industry, another £10 billion, we should be held on a pedestal by the rest of country. But the nanny state never sleeps.

Smoking rates in the UK have reduced dramatically to around 16% of adults. Largely due to electronic cigarettes, it seems a real alternative to smoking tobacco that suits many, but not all.

Us smokers warned back in 2007 that the nanny state would not stop at smokers. Fizzy drinkers and a sugar tax, in Scotland minimum priced alcohol, which led to Scots drinking more, energy drinks to be banned for under 18s, menu and foods to have strict calorie limits, all bearing down on the hapless consumer.

Smokers have led the fight back and it is our job in 2019 to carry on waving the banner of freedom. I do now think that the tide may have turned and we are gaining the support of a clear majority of people.

We have all to play for in 2019.

So now is a good time to celebrate the New Year with a beer and a cigarette.