No Smoking Day 2022: Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock joins protest at Holyrood calling for smoking ban in Scotland
The 53-year-old, who started his career at Millwall, said he had quit cigarettes by vaping and said his children were happy he had stopped.
“If you’ve got two smokers in a household, that’s £5,000 a year. That’s a massive holiday, that’s a new car, that’s your rent paid or your mortgage paid for a year,” he said.
Joining a protest organised by Edinburgh-based vaping retailer VPZ outside the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, the centre back joined their calls to ban smoking north of the border.
The ex-player started smoking when he appeared on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here in 2004 and from then on he continued the habit.
“If you smoked you got 10 fags, if you didn’t you got no fags,” he said. “They were saying when you have a fag it takes the hunger pains away, so I went in and said I smoke.
“So they gave 10 fags, the first one (I felt) dizzy, and within 10 days I was hooked.”
It was when he appeared on television programme Harry’s Heroes, where former England players faced off against a German Legends team, he discovered he had a heart issue.
“I was running around and not feeling the best, feeling light headed and I had a dodgy heart,” he said.
“My heartbeat was 135 resting, it’s meant to be 60 or 70 , but I didn’t know. I wasn’t out of breath all the time. I wasn’t feeling ill.”
The former athlete then went through a procedure where, he said, they “killed me, stopped my heart” and then re-started it to bring it back down to the proper rate.
“So I gave up smoking for about six months, then I started smoking again and the same happened again,” he said. “My heart rate shot through the roof again and it’s down to smoking”.
Doug Mutter, VPZ director, said the “recent rise in smoking rates is a public health tragedy and we are currently set to miss our smoke free ambitions by at least two decades”.
He said the firm wanted to push the Scottish Government to develop a timeline to ban smoking completely and insisted that vaping was essential in doing so.
“We have petitioned the Scottish Government calling for an outright ban on smoking and a progressive strategy for vaping and it is disappointing that we have been met with silence and the petition is yet to be published.”
Mr Mutter said vaping was already a regulated market, and said the consultation running in Holyrood to ban promotion and advertising of vaping is “contrary to the scientific evidence that continues to build” that “vaping is at least 95% safer than cigarettes”.
“In VPZ every customer that comes in is coming as a smoker looking for vaping products so we can easily spot underage children, people who aren’t smokers, because of the one-to-one approach we take,” he said.
“The issue is garage forecourts, convenience stores, that are throwing out disposable products to children.”
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