Press Release: Original Hockney art published in new book about smoking

10 January 2014

Smoking has little public cost and there is not much evidence passive smoking is harmful, according to a new book published by the University of Buckingham Press containing illustrations and a forward by smoker and celebrated artist David Hockney.

Unlucky Strike, by John Staddon, claims the medical case for third-party harm from passive smoking is weak.

In the Preface he writes: “I grew up at a time when almost everyone smoked. I did not see smokers falling from their perches all around me and, as it turns out, most of the smokers I have known have lived to pretty good ages. My tipping point occurred when I found out that despite massive publicity to the contrary, smoking has no public cost. It puts individual smokers at risk. It does not put the public at risk.”

In his forward David Hockney writes: “Life is a killer, we all get only one lifetime and there is only ―now. This is my excuse for smoking, but do I really need one if I enjoy it? I have read the cigarette packets (and you can easily get out of the habit of reading them) and all the warnings etc. I accept fate as part of my life and tend to think that to aim for longevity is life denying. I have smoked for 60 years so why stop now?

“I know all about the anti-smokers as my father was one; how relentless they are trying to get rid of smoking which they will never do, as there are now more smokers in the world than ever. Adolf Hitler was the great anti-smoker, and that says it all for me.”

Hockney also illustrates the book with original paintings of ash trays – including a glass one with the words “in case you had forgotten – next to it – and a picture of him standing next to a wall sized image of himself smoking.

The book has sections on the history of smoking, the perils of smoking, the cost of smoking and the law and politics of smoking Staddon writes: “Smokers themselves, health-obsessed like everyone else, are embarrassed by or even afraid of their habit, hence raise only feeble resistance to attempts to tax, restrict or penalize it.”

John Staddon is James B Duke, Professor of Psychology and Professor of Biology and Neurobiology, Emeritus, at Duke University, North Carolina. His experimental lab has studied interval timing in animals and people, choice behaviour and simulated detection of landmines. He has written and lectured on public-policy issues such as evolution and education., smoking, ICQ and traffic control.

The book is published by the University of Buckingham Press and priced at £15.

For more details contact Diana Blamires on or +44 (0)1280 820213.