11 OCTOBER 1975, Page 5


Sir: At least Barbara Reid does not Pretend concern over the health of millions of strangers; but, with the magnanimity of a firing squad granting a man a last cigarette she feigns a toleration that would allow us to smoke on our own premises!

As distinct from the aversion of a non-smoker who does not like the aroma of tobacco — a smell which is no worse than that of BO, most perfumes, Petrol fumes, boiling onions or beery breath — the militancy of the crusading anti-smoker is directed, one suspects, not at the smoke as much as at the smoker. For the crusader suspects, albeit unconsciously, himself to be the victim of a purposeful infliction, and resents an imagined contest of rights to control the surroundings.

The truth is that we all inflict ourselves on others. As well as being contestants for the limited space and wealth of the planet, most of us are either garrulous bores, dog-owners, germ-carriers, noise-makers, or eyesores. Just plain tolerance towards life's minor irritations is preferable to a belligerency towards millions of people Which can be assessed only as neurotic.

0. Matthews 71 Cranbourne Road, Northwood Hills, Middx.