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COLOGNE, Germany – Anti-smoking groups have attacked German public broadcaster ARD for allowing former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt to smoke on-air throughout an interview on one of the country’s leading talk shows. The 92-year-old politician, chancellor of Germany from 1974-1982, is a notorious chain smoker and is rarely seen without a cigarette on his lips.
Schmidt cheerfully puffed his way through an on-air interview broadcast by ARD Sunday night. He even commented on his habit, attributing his mental fitness at such an advanced age to “lots and lots of cigarettes.”
For Germany’s anti-smoking lobby, that went too far. The group Forum Rauchfrei have filed a formal complaint against ARD director Monika Piel, accusing her and her channel of violating anti-smoking legislation, which forbids smoking in the workplace. The group claims Schmidt’s puffing put the health of the studio crew and audience at risk.
This isn’t the first time Schmidt has been targeted by anti-smoking groups. Shortly after smoking was banned in public buildings in Germany, the ex-chancellor was charged with bodily harm for smoking at an event in a theater in Hamburg. The charges were later dropped.
ARD has said it fully supports Germany’s anti-smoking legislations and that the Schmidt interview was a one-time exception.
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