Veteran British actor Jeremy Irons has come under fire after he called for smokers' rights to be protected like those of "handicapped people and children".
The Die Hard with a Vengeance star took aim at New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg after the politician banned smoking in city-owned open spaces.
Irons tells, "(I) turned vigorously against the mayor because of the new law (banning) smoking in parks or on the beach, which I think is ludicrous and a terrible bullying of a minority that cannot speak back."
He added that smokers deserve to be protected like "handicapped people and children".
The remark has upset officials at the National Organization on Disability, which helps students and adults with disabilities.
A spokesperson for the group has described Irons' comment as a "very inappropriate comparison".