Italy: New Far Right Health Minister Moves Against Smoking Restrictions

Friday 29 April 2005


MEDIA ADVISORY: Friday 29th April 2005
Italy: New Far Right Health Minister Moves Against Smoking Restrictions

The tobacco industry and its front groups have responded with enthusiasm to news that Italy’s new health minister wants more public smoking areas, recently sharply reduced under new legislation, and has slammed what he called a trend towards obsessive health policies. According to US “smokers rights” group FOREST, the Minister “appears to understand that in free societies Government coercion has no place”.


“There is a real threat that we are heading towards a therapeutic society … a medical tyranny of doctors and a minister who are the only ones allowed to say what constitutes ‘good living’,” said Francesco Storace in an interview with Corriere della Sera.


A smoker himself who is “trying to quit”, Storace said he would consider boosting the number of smoking areas, which were slashed under the smoking ban imposed on bars, restaurants, offices and other public places that took effect on January 10. He has already discussed with Deputy Prime Minister Giulio Tremonti whether “there is the possibility in the law to increase the areas for smokers.”


Storace was brought into the new cabinet after losing his post as president of the Lazio region around Rome in regional elections earlier this month, in which right-wing parties suffered heavy losses.


The tobacco lobby is rather coy about Storace’s party affiliations however. He is a member of the National Alliance (AN) led by Gianfranco Fini. The AN was set up in 1994 as the successor party to the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI), the political heirs of Benito Mussolini. AN is now the most right-wing of the three parties in Silvio Berlusconi’s coalition (the others being Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the Northern League). In 2003, while president of the Lazio region, Storace attacked Fini for attempting to move the AN away from its fascist roots. Storace has also previously called for Italian history textbooks to be rewritten to remove “Leninist” influences, specifically celebration of the Italian anti-fascist resistance.




CONTACT:              Ian Willmore          020 7739 5902 (w)  07887 641344 (m)