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News > OP updates > Put that light out!

Put that light out!

Smoking at PGS
2 Dec 2022
Written by John Sadden
OP updates

In the lead up to the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, the Health Education Council initiated a campaign to discourage children from smoking. Here we see Lower School pupils looking at one of the posters. It highlights the fact that every single member of the England squad claimed to be a non-smoker. Cards could be collected that featured individual players, like John Barnes and Glenn Hoddle.

Fifty years earlier, professional footballers would catch the same bus as fans on match day, and share a smoke. Children were incentivised to take up smoking by tobacco companies. They issued cards in cigarette packets, including those of leading sportsmen like the England cricketer Wally Hammond OP. At school, Masters and Headmasters could often be seen with a pipe, cigarette or snuff. Their Staff Room decor would share a sepia patina found in pubs. A toxic smog would billow out whenever the door was opened. 

From Victorian days, the Old Portmuthian Club regularly held "Smoking Concerts" which continued to be popular up until the 1950s. Pupils, of course, never smoked because it was against School Rules.

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