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7 Sep, 2022 12:20

UK’s cigar-loving health secretary admits 'I'm not a role model'

Therese Coffey acknowledged her appointment may put off people concerned about her lifestyle choices
UK’s cigar-loving health secretary admits 'I'm not a role model'

Therese Coffey conceded that there was some validity in criticisms of her appointment as Britain’s new secretary of state for health and social care. She is known for having some unhealthy habits in her personal life.

The issue came up on Wednesday in an interview with the radio station LBC. Host Nick Ferrari quizzed the new secretary about her well-documented fondness for cigars and alcohol and suggested jokingly that both of them “could do with losing a pound or two.

“My focus is on how we deliver for patients. And I appreciate I may not be the role model,” Coffey said, adding that “Chief Medical Officer [Chris Whitty] and others, I am sure, will continue being role models in that regard.”

“I’ve been a patient in the [National Health Services] too. I’ve had some brilliant experiences and I’ve had some experiences that could have been better,” she continued on a more serious note. Improving the healthcare system will be the focus of her work in the cabinet of Prime Minister Liz Truss, she pledged.

Lifestyle choices and body mass index are not the only things about Coffey that some critics objected to after her new role was revealed to the public on Tuesday. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service said it found “deeply concerning” her voting record on abortion issues.

A devout Catholic, Coffey has voted according to her faith on issues such as abortion and gay rights in the British parliament, where she has represented her constituency of Suffolk Coastal since 2010.

This year, for instance, she voted against giving permanent access to pills for at-home termination of pregnancies to women in England and Wales. The drugs were made available as an emergency measure during the Covid-19 pandemic. Commenting on the criticism, Coffey told the BBC that abortion access will not diminish while she is in office.