Forces' Review Of The Forest Guide To Smoking In London


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Britain has always had a high proportion of smokers -- and a tradition ofpeople smoking anytime, anywhere. Still fairly hospitable to tobacco users, Britain has nonetheless felt the cold, clinical hand of the smoke police. The result has been an energetic smokers' rights movement, and one of its most delightful fruits is a new book directed to tourists wanting to know where to light up in London.

The Forest Guide to Smoking in London, edited by James Leavey of The Humidor,leads the reader through the streets of one of the world's great cities, stopping at smoker-friendly (and sometimes not so friendly) spots along the way.

The good news is that London has plenty of places to light up. It also has an exuberant and longstanding smokers' culture, which Leavey celebrates with humour and verve.

Puffers who pack this volume needn't worry about a blind-side encounter with the professional pinched-faced air-sniffers of London's health nannydom. Armed with this guide, smoking travellers can save those encounters for when they're in the mood to make a statement -- and spend the rest of the time simply enjoying their visit.

Here you'll find indispensable information about where smokers can feel comfortable in locations as varied as airports (in most of them, smoking is still allowed at least somewhere on the premises), hotels and bed-and-breakfasts, theatres, clubs, pubs, restaurants, and sports venues. Leavey has even found several fitness clubs that allow smoking in their facilities!

There are excellent tips for the smoking consumer who wants to make a statement in the market- place, such as Leavey's advice on how to find(or perhaps instantly create!) a smoker-friendly cab ride.

The section on smoking etiquette is welcome. In an era when manners have increasingly gone out the window, it's especially important for smokers to remember to fly high the flag of tolerance and courtesy -- and to insist on courtesy from nonsmokers.

But the real fun lies in the book's chronicle of smoking culture, past and present. London has several smokers' clubs, and Leavey lists them. Readers are told where to go for the largest selection of snuff in England, where to have a good quality lighter repaired, where serious smoking collectibles are bought and sold, which famous British actor had a cigarette brand named after him, where the debris of clay pipes from centuries past might be found, and the location of Sir Walter Raleigh's statue. There's even a section on the most famous pipe smoker of all time, Sherlock Holmes. The book is sprinkled throughout with entertaining factoids, anecdotes and quotations (did you know that an official snuff-box is kept at the door of the House of Commons")

Photographer Jan Olofsson has roamed the city's pubs, parks, railway stations and stopped by at a few parties to illustrate the book with shots of smokers enjoying their indulgence. A veteran chronicler of London's sixties scene, he has dug into his archives for a couple of "period" shots of sixties celebrities -- they're puffing, of course.

The Forest Guide to Smoking in London will enhance your trip -- and make you a more interesting conversationalist when the subject of smoking pops up. Leave room for it in your suitcase!


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