Media Relations: What the papers say - Reid attacked by anti-smokers

Health secretary John Reid's opposition to a blanket ban on smoking in public prompted a debate that encompassed the class system, civil rights and the nanny state.

Downing Street was said to be furious, and the opposition parties and anti-smoking lobby had a field day. 'Health Secretary under fire for "let poor smoke" quote,' noted The Times (9 June), while letters columns bristled with the views of health professionals.

ASH's 'Let them eat cake' soundbite positioned Reid as out of touch, and its MORI poll showing a majority in favour of a smoking ban added to the debate.

What was less clear was why Reid said it. Left-leaning media offered no clues: 'We're fuming' blasted the Daily Mirror (10 June), while The Sun, BBC and Evening Standard carried the views of single mothers, who said Reid was patronising them.

Support came from The Daily Telegraph, which congratulated Reid for his 'rich vein of common sense' (10 June).

Political gaffe, or a deeper political agenda? Reid's motives are hazy.

- News analysis, p20

Analysis conducted by Echo Research from data supplied to PRWeek from NewsNow.

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