16/01/2014 12:18 GMT | Updated 18/03/2014 05:59 GMT

Jennifer Saunders Can Smoke If She Likes, The Fact That She's Had Cancer Is Irrelevant

I'm not a smoker (apart from the odd drag when I'm very drunk) nor have I had cancer (thankfully), but I still feel the need to wade in against the uproar over pictures of Jennifer Saunders 'caught' smoking earlier this week.

Jennifer has never wanted to be publicly defined by a disease that has been and gone (she got the all-clear from cancer in 2010), whether as a cancer-fighting poster girl or otherwise.

So the fact that the cigarette-smoking Ab Fab star has had cancer is completely and utterly besides the point.

jennifer saunders smoking

Rather than sell her cancer story to OK! magazine, Jennifer has always sought privacy.

And yet, despite hopes for discretion and respect, she is still lambasted as a shining example of How Not To Live Your Life After Cancer.

While the pics would no doubt upset some people. It's important to remember that the photographs are paparazzi shots - she didn't Instagram herself with a dog end hanging out of her chops.

This is simply the work of a surly photographer imposing into another celebrity's private life; the photograph was taken on a backstreet while Jennifer was shopping with a friend, she didn't spark up live on stage or television.

Celebrity or otherwise, how Jennifer deals with her post-cancer recovery is her business. And hers alone.

I walk past a cancer specialist hospital every morning on my way to work and see people smoking outside.

Whether suffering from cancer themselves or accompanying a loved one, the fact that they are puffing away on a fag outside the hospital front doors does not sit well with me - but then, I find it baffling that people, faced with health warnings and back-breaking price points, continue to smoke at all.

But as long as people are presented with the health information the To-Smoke-Or-Not-To-Smoke dilemma is, frankly, up to them.

Jennifer is not alone. People smoke, period. People smoke before cancer and people smoke after cancer; they smoke when they're young, old, in front of their children, alone. But to put the weight of a bad habit (that 10million Brits are also guilty of) onto one woman's shoulders is unfair.

Should Jennifer be smoking? No, she shouldn't. But, frankly, neither should anyone. And if we're taking a stab at the nation's vices: we shouldn't drink so much, exercise so little or eat such junk food.

Jennifer Saunders is no more at fault for her lifestyle choices than anyone else. Celebrity or not, cancer or not, she's only human. Give the woman a break.