The Long March to Prohibition

Until the 1980s there were around 10,000 specialist tobacconists in Britain. These were like Aladdin’s caves, not because of mythical glitzy packaging but because of choice.

Many smokers just stuck with major brands but these specialist tobacconists stocked a vast range. They even used to prepare and sell their own blends. So much of the best and most (locally) popular tobacco was in largely unmarked jars. Cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, rolling tobacco. Varieties from the Middle East, the Orient,  America and Africa all contributed to the fragrant aroma that infused the whole shop.

By 1990 almost all of them were gone.

Three things put them out of business. Firstly, of course, the rabid anti-smoking lobbyists with their hatred and propaganda. Secondly, the big tobacco companies who took over all their smaller competitors and rather than adding the smaller brands to their own range, simply eliminated them to remove competition (and choice). Thirdly, the supermarkets which from around 1980 started undercutting the real tobacconists whilst only selling the most profitable brands. Brands that were almost indistinguishable from each other aside from the packaging and which were uniformly bland.

The big tobacco companies also moved to using expanded tobacco to reduce costs and began using additives such as ammonia to provide at least some semblance of taste.

My contention is that the big tobacco companies have been key players in this long march to prohibition. Particularly since the MSA. The global anti-smoking industry probably gained numerous major footholds in the tobacco companies, using entry-ism, principally at board level where they could be a major driving force.

Electronic Cigarettes and heat not burn devices in many ways represent the end game. The world’s largest tobacco company, Philip Morris, openly boasts about its plan to eliminate tobacco altogether.

Meanwhile, unfortunately, a majority of smokers have been their own worst enemies by capitulating to this at every stage. Some of them even wax lyrical about e-cig vapour with its sickly (to my taste) sweet, artificial flavourings. Maybe they’ll love ‘heat not burn’ too (or even ‘scratch n sniff’). If these devices were additional choices there’d be no grounds for concern but many devotees actually adopt anti-smoking propaganda to support their preference and actively campaign against smoking.

It has taken decades to wreak such destruction and it is truly shocking that so few people have any inkling of what has been lost. The best way to explain this is probably by analogy with alcohol which is heading rapidly down the same path.

Consider the wide variety of wines, whiskies, brandies, vodkas, beers and ciders to name just a few. Imagine these being reduced to a few generic options. At first you’ll still get alcoholic drinks with a choice of wine, beer or whisky flavours. Then, diluted (expanded) alcohol would predominate through cost. Then the generic flavourings would be phased out and replaced by a single bland flavour. Vaguely reminiscent of the whisky, wine, beer (insert your personal preference here) of old. All of them at once that is.

A pretence of choice would remain in the form of branded packaging but this too would be banned in time.

In the final days of the alcohol industry, a substitute would be introduced. No pretence of the flavours of old but instead, artificial flavourings such as cherry, raspberry and mint. Wine cellars and the like, would have to be fumigated to eliminate any lingering aromas.

Ultimately, even this alcohol substitute would only be available on prescription. A system that would be phased out as the last of the sad addicts died.

At least that appears to be the prohibitionist’s plan.

But their predecessors of a hundred years ago overreached and their whole empire came crashing down. They were reduced to making grovelling public apologies to all for the harm they had caused. They were lucky that prosecutions did not follow that time.

This time, with any luck, the end of their long march will be in a court of law followed by a quick march to jail.

More background here:

A video on the modern cigarette manufacturing process:

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Looking Back, Looking Forward, a New Year Review

March 26th saw the 10 year anniversary of the United Kingdom’s first draconian smoking ban in Scotland brought about by the ‘Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005.’ This was put in place based on the myth of “second hand smoke” with the urgent need to create smoke free pubs that non-smokers would come flooding into. Since the ban Scottish towns and cities have been forced to adapt to a Mediterranean style terrace culture in freezing cold weather. Sheila Duffy, chief executive of Ash Scotland who campaigned for the ban described the law as a “real victory.” Is that a victory in the sense that the ban was successfully enforced, resulting in the closure of over 1200 pubs across Scotland? She also said, “There is still a long way to go on Scotland’s journey to being tobacco free but the success of smoke-free public places should inspire us that we can get there.” In other words, she will not be satisfied until there is total prohibition on tobacco, which gives away it was never anything to do with “second hand smoke” to begin with, only the end goal.

April 11th is the day Britain leaped further away from the civilised world. That was when Cardiff Prison began the introduction of a full smoking ban due to be phased in prison by prison, starting in Wales then followed by England and Scotland. Previously prisoners could only smoke in designated smoking cells or an assigned smoking room. Despite the public misconceptions, prisoners were never exempt from the smoking ban as those areas are not public spaces but are residential. There is another public misconception that only “bad” people end up in prison while the rest of the public are completely immune. While it could be argued that premium cigarettes are a luxury, rolling tobacco is not. As is well known, prisons offer a few incentives to bring order, good behaviour and rehabilitation. Without tobacco those incentives are as useful as beds of nails made from the finest gold. The purpose of a prison is not just to punish but to rehabilitate, using the carrot and the stick. With no reward to take away there is no deterrent and with no deterrent there is a prison population with nothing to lose. It is not just an issue of how inmates behave while in prison but how they will behave after their release. It is thought that around 70% – 80% of inmates are smokers in Britain.

May 20th saw the introduction of the new EU Tobacco Products Directive, making it law across the EU for all combustible tobacco packaging to be covered in graphic warnings that take 65% of the front and back. This is accompanied with the UK introduction of standardised packaging for all cigarettes and rolling tobacco. A one year transition time has been allowed up to May 20th in the new year, so some branded cigarettes are still on the shelf for the time being.

On June 23rd, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Concerning tobacco, this could mean an end to EU tobacco legislation, though not for UK tobacco legislation. Tobacco could become duty free in EU countries, though available in much smaller quantities. Whether on that day you were in celebration, in despair or unmoved we must all endeavour together to attain our liberty.

On December 5th under the ‘Smoking Prohibition (Children in Motor Vehicles) (Scotland) Act 2016’ Scotland joined England and Wales by banning adults from smoking in all private motor cars while in the presence of anyone under the age of: not 12, not 16 but 18, despite the legal age of smoking (not purchase) being 16. Those caught smoking face a fixed penalty fine of £100, which is double the amount of England and Wales. Let us not forget, like the home, the family car is a completely private domestic space where government has no right to intrude on such trivial matters and that children belong to their parents, not the state or anyone else. Parents should be free to choose how their family unit is run, including whether or not it is ok to smoke in front of their children.

Recently, on December 17th, we held our Freedom2Choose Annual General Meeting in London. Many things were discussed including the need to up the game. It is noted that some members feel we may have lost our way. Though it has been a difficult year for Freedom2Choose, the year ahead is more promising. There we welcomed two new members to the committee. It has also been agreed that Freedom2Choose will pay for the development of a brand-new website during the coming year. This would not have been possible if it was not for the support our members and followers have given us over the years and for that we are very thankful. It is vital that we keep pushing back on our infringements on liberty as this goes a lot deeper than just the right of choice to smoke or not to smoke, because if we lose those rights then we lose the rights to everything else.

To all our members, followers and supporters we wish you all a very happy new year!

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F2C AGM 17th December 2016

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Freedom2Choose’s AGM will be held on Saturday 17 September at the Pavilion End Pub, Watling Street, London, EC4M 9BR. The formal meeting (members only) starts at 2.00pm and will be very short, maybe 10-15 minutes. There will be informal and lively discussions afterwards and friends and supporters are welcome to join us. Do come along and look for us round the pub (or outside if you’re a smoker ) if you can make it – we haven’t bothered to book a room for 10 minutes. The pub closes at 8.00 pm and some of us may then drift elsewhere…

Map here (the nearest tube station on a Saturday is Bank and the pub is 5 minutes walk):
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Bullying, Confusion and Partial Prohibition

Today marks the United Kingdom’s introduction of larger and more grotesque graphic health warnings on standardised packaging for cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco, with the banning of some cigarettes. This is the toughest set of anti-tobacco control measures since the United Kingdom smoking bans from 2006 – 2007 (2008 Isle of Man) though cigars and pipe tobacco are exempt.


Tobacco packaging health warnings were first introduced in the UK in 1971 on the side of cigarette packs, followed in 1991 with EU regulations that transferred the health warnings to the front and back of tobacco packs in large font, making it clear and visible to all consumers. By 2003 those warnings were replaced by much bigger and bolder warnings taking up 40% of the front and 50% of the back of all tobacco products, warnings that were more than clear to even the most long sighted of people. Though, in 2008 it was felt that smokers were somehow not understanding the warnings so the bold font on the back of tobacco packaging was replaced with grotesque pictures, just in case adult consumers misunderstood the implications of health problems. Surely by this point there could be no debate about the possibility of any tobacco consumer, new or regular, not understanding the messages. Now EU health warnings are going from stern, to bold, to then a little abusive, to now just the ridiculous, as they will now have to cover 65% on both the front and back of cigarette and hand rolling tobacco packaging, plus 50% on the side of cigarette packs. Not only are these new warnings basically the packaging itself, but they also have to be even more grotesque picture warnings, front and back. Cigarette packs sides will now read “Smoking Kills Quit Now” which is not a warning, but a command. This gives away what this new legislation is really about, which is not to inform or warn consumers but to shout obscene abuse at them. Yes we all know the dangers of smoking, but most actions carry danger including driving, eating, drinking and even exercise, and most actions in life are not necessarily a bad or good thing but just a thing that comprises both good and bad effects and it is up to the individual to judge how to achieve the correct balance through their actions, not the state.
This European tobacco legislation is accompanied by British tobacco legislation, which takes control of the remaining 35% on the front and back of cigarette and rolling tobacco packaging. This remainder is now filled in with dull olive green, with the exception of the font. Although brand names are allowed they all have to be in the same standard off white font. Even cigarettes will have to have a standard appearance. By default this makes the “health warnings” the new branding. The so called justification behind this, is it may prevent one or two children a year from taking up smoking, even though there are already laws to stop children from smoking. We could also prevent a few accidents by putting speed bumps on the M1, let cars go no faster than 10 mph, have a curfew from dusk till dawn and a ban on DIY and cooking. Who this will really affect though, is the adult consumer who needs that branding to get a feel for the product before purchasing. Also, like it or not, we like to identify with brands, from the clothes we wear to the cars we drive and it should not be any different for tobacco which is a legal product. Nobody would accept it if they go to watch a film at the multiplex but the posters only said the name and genre of the films, so why should smokers be treated differently.
If these two measures are not enough, by law from today, production of flavoured cigarettes and 10 packs for the UK market will cease today. Menthols are due to be banned in 2020. This will mean a reduction in consumer choice or, a better way of putting it, the introduction of partial prohibition. 10 packs have been very handy to the hard up and the occasional smoker. 10 packs can also help encourage those who are trying to cut down. Flavoured and menthol cigarettes have given smokers consumer choice. Not everyone wants the same meal every day and not every smoker wants the same smoke every day.
So how did this happen and what will the implications be? Part of this legislation was first put in the pipeline by the previous Labour government to be implemented in their next term if they were to win the 2010 election, but they did NOT, so the proposal was abandoned. In a democratic society that would mean the public have voted, marking the end of the matter. The problem is fundamentalist groups never know how to take no for an answer or even compromise. So with the tyrants throwing all their toys at the government a U-turn was made for a parliamentary vote on the legislation. The Conservatives were split, only two “Liberal” Democrats voted no and just three Individual Labour MPs voted no, achieving a yes percentage that would put third world dictatorships to shame. All of UKIP voted no and the one and only Green voted yes. Though the legislation starts from today, retailers will be allowed an extra year to clear their branded tobacco stock, so the grotesque packs and pouches will not reach consumers instantly. Despite the legislation at present having minor effects on consumers the long term implications will hit smokers very hard directly and indirectly. Awareness for public health is the official reason given for the radical legislation but the reality behind it is to use the grotesque packaging as the new yellow badge Star of David, designed to intimidate, humiliate and dehumanise its consumers in public. Smoking levels may drop a little in the long term, but it would be for all the wrong reasons, which in no way could be classed as a success when bullying and intimidation is involved, because public health with a great big stick is in no way healthy.  We already know this is nothing to do with health. They are trying to ban anything that even looks like smoking or anything that provides any freedom of choice.


Only when they have been shut down and tolerance and reason restored, can health improve naturally. While still allowing choice for smokers.
Article edited on 24th December 2016
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Carol Ann Cattell 1948 to 2016

It is with great sadness that we have to report that Carol Cattell passed away quietly in her sleep on the 4th April surrounded by her family. Her children Sam and Jo paid tribute to their mum by saying “We were incredibly privileged to have this wonderful woman as a friend and our Mum. Thank you for everything.” One can only begin to understand the pain that they are feeling.

Carol had been a member of Freedom To Choose (F2C), for over six years. A true supporter of choice in lifestyle choices, her presence was always an inspiration to F2C. Carol lived in both Greece and Yorkshire and the only complaint I ever heard her voice was the oppressive Greek summers! Although their far more relaxed smoking attitudes was a big positive!

I met Carol a number of times and she was a warm, intelligent and hugely entertaining lady. I will never forget when she popped in to visit my partner and me as we went through numerous bottles of red wine and the obligatory packet of cigarettes.

We are all heartbroken. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sam and Jo.

Rest in peace Carol for you have touched so many of us.

Dave Atherton

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Campaign against Smoking Bans in Psychiatric Units


As some of you will know, over the years full smoking prohibition has been creeping its way into mental hospitals. We covered this creep from its first case in the United Kingdom in 2008 when Rampton Mental Hospital banned patients from smoking at all. Resident patients defending their human rights took their case all the way to the Court of Appeal, but very unfairly lost. This completely biased ruling set the precedent for full smoking prohibition. Now due to a demand from ‘Public Health England’ (PHE) and the ‘National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’ (NICE) NHS mental hospitals across the country have taken full advantage by completely banning smoking on their grounds, effectively forcing patients to quit against their will. This pointless and sadistic policy has also been fully encouraged by anti-smoking “charity” ASH and “mental health charity” Mind.

There is good news though. Just when the likes of ASH and so called mental health charity Mind thought they had got away with it, a new backlash has come about in the form of ‘Campaign against Smoking Bans in Psychiatric Units’ (CASBIPU). We fully back this campaign all the way because the issue of smoking is not just about choice and leisure; it is also about the human rights of a person knowing what’s best for them. While many smoke for enjoyment, many also smoke because it is therapeutic in alleviating anxiety, which is especially true concerning mental health issues. Obviously ASH absolutely hates the idea that tobacco is used as medication, as that truth would destroy their relentless crusade to get tobacco banned outright. ASH and Mind are desperately trying to argue the case “it’s for their own good”: not only is that insulting to those with mental health problems, it is also a completely pathetic argument in every sense.

Obviously this policy will greatly amplify patients’ symptoms on arrival to hospital, in turn keeping them locked up longer, further amplifying their symptoms. They will probably smoke twice as much when they get out, just to recover from the trauma. This will also lead to increased violence on wards and increase the chance of ward suicides. Understandably those suffering a mental breakdown will now avoid seeking help. Another interesting point is that in convention III, article 26 of the Geneva Convention it states “The use of tobacco shall be permitted” which means mental health inpatients are being treated worse than prisoners of war.

Moving on to Mind, they are a “charity” too big for their boots which instead of helping people with mental health issues bullies them, which is not surprising considering some of Mind’s origins stem from advocating eugenics. Ironically Mind with the slogan “For better mental health” promotes the Human Rights Act 1998 on its own website, which includes prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, right to liberty and security, respect for your private life and family life, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression and the right not to be discriminated against, but fail to mention it does not apply to them. They also state “Our policy work influences government so that people with mental health problems can get the support they need and the respect they deserve”. What Mind deserve, along with their allies, is an end to their government funding, a complete boycott from the general public, followed by their own incarceration.

Meanwhile we applaud SANE, a genuine mental health charity, for speaking out against this sadistic measure.

So why should the general public be so concerned about this? If they can do it to innocent people who happen to have mental health problems, they can do it to you. ASH is just using this sadistic and evil experiment, to then bring it onto the masses. It is quite clear from this that ASH and their supporters want full tobacco prohibition at any cost and if they do get what they want, they will not stop there. It is said that, when you trade liberty for security you lose both, or liberty for health in this case. We have always been criticized for calling the anti-smoking movement a bunch of Health-Nazis, which is a bit unfair on them, as they are not really Health-Nazis, but just Nazis. The fact is, using the most vulnerable to experiment on against their will, does resemble eugenics. Let us not forget that the original Nazis were also very anti-smoking based on their eugenics program of building a super race. Even the modern anti-smoking movement has slipped up openly stating that smokers should be refused treatment and left to die, a Dr Mengele culture that is also resonating against drinkers and obese people. You can support CASBIPU by signing their petition linked at the bottom below.


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F2C AGM 5th December 2015

Freedom2Choose’s AGM will be held on Saturday 5 December at the Pavilion End Pub, Watling Street, London, EC4M 9BR. It’s the same venue as last year.

The formal members’ meeting starts at 2.00pm and will be very short, maybe 10-15 minutes. There will be informal and lively discussions afterwards when friends and supporters are also welcome to join us. Do come along and look for us round the pub– we haven’t bothered to book a room for such a short time. The pub closes at 5.00 pm and some of us may then drift elsewhere…

There is a thread on the forum here for paid-up F2C members only.


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Nightlife Keeps Closing its Doors to More

Following on from my last article (Nightlife Burning Out) nine months have gone by. But nothing seems to have changed for the better concerning the nightlife industry with still ever more bars and nightclubs going out of business. Historically this industry has always had the image of being on the edge of legit and ethical and little seems to have changed to the present.

Ironically there is one small meaningless law that is still enforced by the book with no ifs or buts. Yes you’ve guessed it, that nanny state smoking ban! While it is claimed by our politicians, councillors and many that this is part of a new progressive and fairer society, nothing exposes this lie more than your average nightclub. Yes it is true that getting roughed up in the nightclub back alley, courtesy of the ex-con bouncers, is “generally” a thing of the past in this country, due to the now mandatory security licensing. Other than that little else is enforced for the benefit of the customer.

The biggest issue going now is on the door discrimination, which is rife. Although there has been the introduction of the Equality Act 2010, which makes it illegal for any business to deny service to a customer on grounds of prejudice, the nightlife industry seems to have immunity from this law while it is being disproportionately abused on small businesses. Despite this law, it only covers a few minorities status, meaning it is still perfectly legal to deny entry and discriminate for anything else including your weight, wealth, social status etc, or even just down to whatever mood the security and management are in. So are local authorities, police, politicians doing anything about this? In fact no, they are actually encouraging it by adding further conditions and restrictions to enter a nightlife establishment including fingerprinting, breathalysing, and more thorough body searches, which fits in line with the so called progressives.

Freedom2Choose has always exposed the hypocrisy of those behind the smoking ban who claimed it was part of bringing in a better and more caring society. This has been more about degrading the individual, as well as to evolve a fascist health agenda on the masses which would lead to anti-drinking, anti-sugar, anti-fat along with many other sides to it. So what is to blame for the mass closure of nightclubs? While the smoking ban may now be playing a small part, it was still the catalyst, but if that was not enough, nearly all clubs and bars have gone even further to ban vaping indoors. Even though local authorities are as well to blame for playing their part, a lot of the nightlife industry, though not all, is putting their personal ego first, before making money, let alone company ethics, by using what freedom they have left on its own customers seeing them as little more than cattle.

To conclude, progressiveness means change, but it does not always mean change for the better.

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Charity Funding Petition

Now and again something crops up that normally would be outside of the remit of Freedom2Choose, in this case it is the Kids Company scandal. Most smokers have children and contrary to the belief of ASH and the Department of Social Services they love their children as much as any other parents do, some are willing to love children who are not their own too but are denied permission to help children in need of good homes by DSS because they choose to smoke, while at the same they protest that there are not sufficient parents willing to foster.

That aside the Charity Kids Company, a government paid charity (just like ASH) are in trouble due to allegations of child abuse.  As a result HMG rightly stopped the KIds Company’s funding while Scotland Yard conduct their investigation.

In response to this scandal a petition has been launched to end government funding for all charities, as seen below:


A “charity” which receives taxpayer funding is simply not a charity. In light of the Kids Company scandal it is fair to say that a symbiotic relationship between gov. and charities is unhelpful and inappropriate. Taxpayer funding turns charities into unaccountable Quangos. This is morally wrong.

Freedom2Choose would like you to consider supporting this petition, why you ask, would we want to deny all charities government funding?

It is not because we are anti charity, far from it, as an organization we contributed to a charity which sent D-day veterans back to Normandy so that they may pay their respects to fallen comrades, it was the right thing to do, after all they fought so hard for our freedom and lost many brave friends doing so.  Taxpayers are forced to make contributions to charities that in the normal course of events they would not choose to donate to, an inappropriate use of taxpayers money.

Nor is that the only reason, Government funding of charities makes them quangos, as a direct result they are immune from Freedom of Information requests, in other words you cannot find out what they spend your tax money on! This is morally wrong.

Any organization which has “charitable purposes” in law (which are strictly defined legally and not always the same as what are commonly understood as “philanthropic”) and an income of £5,000 or more a year, currently has a duty to register as a charity.
There also has to be  demonstrable public benefit.

There are some charities that claim to work for the public good,  I ask you is it for the public good that a charity was responsible for and played an active role in forming legislation that has put thousands of single mothers with their dependent child(ren) on to the dole queue because their legislation destroyed the livelihood of their pub landlord employer? Or Pensioners became prisoners in their own homes because the places where they socialized cannot allow them to smoke and as a consequence closed adding more people to the already overstretched dole queues. How about inmates in mental hospitals who self medicate with tobacco to relieve their stress in their everyday lives? Some Psychiatrists believe that forced abstinence does more harm than good to these unfortunate human beings.

The Trustees of a charity have a legal duty to ensure that it sticks to its purposes, refrains from political activity, that its financial affairs are conducted transparently and prudently, and that it reports truthfully and promptly on its activities to the Charity Commission.

As stated above some charities have become politically active, they formulate legislation, advise committees while  being paid by the taxpayer, a violation of the rule that says a charity should refrain from political activity.

This is wrong, it needs to be stopped, you can help stop it and see your tax money used appropriately by signing this petition, as the anti-smoking lobby keep reminding us “It’s for the children” in this instance,  by signing it would truly be, in part, for the children.

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Colin Grainger 1962 – 2015

I am sad to report that Colin Grainger has passed away. One can only begin to imagine the pain his family and friends are feeling. Colin was a former Chairman of Freedom2Choose, soon after our inception in 2007. Tributes have poured in to celebrate the life of a man who fought for the freedom of others, these are typical.

Gruff ‏@gruffdiver 3h3 hours agoWill miss you @CaptainRanty RIP Farewell Colin, you will go down on the right side of history

Anna Raccoon ‏@AnnaRaccoon1 4h4 hours agoRIP @CaptainRanty – A long time good friend to me. An original Libertarian.

Old Holborn ‏@Holbornlolz 5h5 hours agoWell, that’s some shit news. RIP @CaptainRanty So long Colin. And thanks.

A man who pioneered F2C as a presence in the media and steered us into the mainstream. I always remembered us working on a letter to Jeremy Clarkson asking for his support. Clarkson did not reply but in his Sun column he referred to us as a “half arsed organisation, which I hope are fully arsed soon.”

Colin worked in Africa in sales. He was always posting pictures of bars where smoking was allowed, making me envious.
Colin had a marvellous sense of honour and humour. An intelligent and thoughtful a man who immediately earned your respect though never made you feel in debt because of it. A good friend, a powerful colleague and sorely missed already.

Colin will not only be remembered for his fine work but also his wonderful family. His lasting legacy is our respect and those who would control our lives had much more to fight.
Freedom2Choose would like to pass on our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends to a quite magnificent man.

RIP Colin Grainger 1962 – 2015

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