Helmut Schmidt and his wife Loki enjoy a cigarette at a New Year event in Hamburg
Helmut Schmidt, former German chancellor, former minister of defense and co-publisher of the influential weekly newspaper Die Zeit, was accused of breaking the law for violating Germany's new ban on smoking in public places.
It all started at a New Year reception at the famous Hamburg theater Komödie Winterhuder Fährhaus on Jan. 6, where the Schmidts were the guests of honor. A member of staff, knowing the couple's fondness for tobacco, placed an ashtray at their table, and the Schmidt's lit up.
There was only one problem: Smoking in public buildings had been banned in Hamburg since Jan. 1, 2008.
However, he could use the Marion Barry argument that he was set up as someone placed an ashtray near him.
Helmut Schmidt declared: "This story shows me how nonsensical the anti-smoking crowd has become. I quit smoke 20 years ago after 18 years of smoking. But the hysteria over second-hand smoke may get me back to smoking."
Many smokers remain defiant, like an unrepentant Loki Schmidt. "I've been smoking since I was 10", she told Bild. "I won't stop."