Alex Higgins’ love-hate affair with tobacco
Alex Higgins couldn’t give cigarettes up completely — even after contracting throat cancer.
Despite having no urge to quit, he famously railed against the snooker authorities for allowing tobacco companies to sponsor major events — including the Embassy World Championship which he won twice.
Diagnosed with cancer in 1998, the 80-a-day man chose to appear on the BBC1 documentary, Tobacco Wars, in July 1999.
Speaking in a whisper caused by many treatments of radiotherapy and an operation to remove a cancerous lymph node in his neck, Higgins raged that he felt “nothing but disgust” for the industry.
“The tobacco companies and snooker were as thick as thieves,” he claimed. “Obviously I think that they have got their advertising for a song for 25 years. Cigarettes are everywhere in snooker. Freebies everywhere. Most players were given free cigarettes.”
At the time he appeared on the programme, he had a court case outstanding against snooker's governing body and was about to instigate proceedings against the tobacco industry itself.