Grim Reaper at Terry Fox Run, Sept. 18, 2005 A few days prior to the 25th Anniversary Terry Fox Run (TFR), held September 18, 2005, Airspace Action on Smoking & Health learned that, among the celebrities scheduled to attend and/or participate in this year's Terry Fox Hometown (Port Coquitlam) Run were Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell.

It just so happens that Airspace President Errol E. Povah is a huge fan of Terry Fox, and has run in more than 20 previous TFRs... and has volunteered (picked up Canadian Springs Water, returned the empty jugs afterward, etc.) at a couple others. He proudly wears his rather vast collection of TFR t-shirts throughout the year.

And so it was that, with some trepidation, even after a great deal of soul-searching and wondering (right up to the last minute) if we were doing the right thing, etc., we decided to "move forward" (one of Gordo's favorite expressions... even when he is, in fact, going backwards) with our plan to conduct an Awareness and Educational display at the 2005 Hometown Run.

We are a small group of very sensitive and caring volunteers who have dedicated a huge chunk of our lives to the extremely worthwhile and rewarding anti-tobacco movement (we are NOT anti-smokers!). While we recognized that some people might be offended by our presence at the TFR - and some were - of those who expressed an opinion, the vast majority gave us huge thumbs up! To those who were offended, we suggested they vent their anger toward both Paul Martin and Gordon Campbell... and toward those (albeit few) individuals -- presumably spectators, as opposed to run participants -- who were smoking at the site! I don't care whether they're outside or not, nor how addicted they might be: Anyone who smokes anywhere near a TFR site, on run day, is disrespectful!

You see, Terry died trying to find a cure for cancer.

The specific type of bone cancer Terry had is called osteogenic sarcoma. All bone cancers, combined, currently kill about 150 Canadians each year.

Just for a moment, try to imagine that there was one single product out there - available virtually 24/7, from your local grocery store, 7-11, pharmacy, gas station, corner store, etc. - that caused 85% (or 128) of all bone cancer deaths. How long do you think that product would be allowed to retain its legal status, and remain on the open market?

In terms of the number of deaths caused by a specific form of cancer, lung cancer tops the list. Just a few years ago, it surpassed breast cancer as the leading form of cancer death in women; and for every man who dies of prostate cancer, five die of lung cancer. Lung cancer currently kills about 20,000 Canadians each year.

Now, just for a moment, try to imagine that there was one single product out there - available virtually 24/7, from your local grocery store, 7-11, pharmacy, gas station, corner store, etc. - that caused 85% of all lung cancer deaths - that's right, about 17,000 prematurely dead Canadians, each and every year!

Okay, now stop imagining... because such a product really does exist. It's called tobacco... and the deadly combination of the most addictive drug known (nicotine) and a toxic soup of more than 4,000 chemicals (40 of which are known human carcinogens) is conveniently delivered -- via cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, etc. - 24/7 from virtually any store near you.

And, as if that isn't bad enough, the "Lung cancer is the biggest killer of smokers" myth still persists: Smoking-induced heart disease kills more smokers than lung cancer... currently, at the rate of about 21,000 Canadians per year!

As stated earlier, Terry died trying to find a cure for cancer... his cancer, any cancer, ALL cancer!

Paul Martin and Gordon Campbell are not only doing little or nothing to make Terry's dream come true, other than throwing a few million taxpayer dollars at the problem (I don't know about Gordo but, according to the Vancouver Sun, Martin couldn't even be bothered to walk more than about two blocks of the PoCo event, after which he chatted with the media, then left) but, in terms of tobacco, they are, quite literally, promoting cancer!

Big business rules, in both Ottawa and Victoria, and few businesses are bigger than Big Tobacco! Martin and Campbell are nothing more than puppets of the nicotine cartel... and as such, it is their job to very aggressively promote cancer!

We have dealt with Paul Martin's very direct links to the cartel on many previous occasions, most notably in the Summer, 04 issue of our newsletter, the Breathers' Digest (available online: Unrepentant Tobacco Executive Elected Prime Minister).

Gordo's connections aren't quite so blatant: Unlike Martin, Campbell was never a tobacco executive, but you wouldn't know it by his actions/inaction. One of the first major acts of the Campbell government was to, within a couple of months of first being elected in May 2001, gut the WCB No Smoking Regulation. It was not part of their pre-election platform, nor did they have any mandate whatsoever to do it but, in a precedent-setting move, then-Labour Minister Graham Bruce - for the first time in the 87-year history of the WCB - interfered with and over-ruled the WCB by gutting the No Smoking regulation... most notably, by allowing servers to spend up to 20% of their shift in a Designated Smoking Room (DSR). That decision was based on no medical or scientific evidence whatsoever: There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke, period! But whatever figure they chose, it really didn't matter, just so long as it ultimately achieved the government's desired objective: Render the regulation useless and, at the same time, turn back the clock on tobacco control by 15 to 20 years.

Again, whether by action or inaction, the tobacco connections in the Campbell government were - and still are - very deep. In addition to Graham Bruce, here are just a few examples:

  • Minister of State for Mental Health and Addiction Services (emphasis ours) Brenda Locke, who previously served as a long-term Executive Director of at least one bar/pub association, was one of the most vocal opponents of any/all smoking restrictions;
  • One of Lorne Mayencourt's more high-profile campaign workers was Barwatch and Granville Entertainment Group (a couple of tobacco industry front groups) big-shot Vance Campbell, who predicted vast "the sky will fall" doom and gloom if smoking was banned in bars and pubs. Despite a few childish resistance games in the early stages, Campbell's smoke-free pubs are now doing a booming business;
  • Val Roddick, chair of the Select Standing Committee on Health, dedicated 3 full pages - of a 64-page report - to tobacco. At first glance, that sounds pretty impressive but, given the fact that tobacco is, by far, the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and premature death in this province, it really wasn't much. To add insult to injury, within those 3 pages, there was not one single word about anything that the Campbell government had done, in terms of tobacco control. There was lots of history (regarding how the percentage of smokers has declined over the years, etc.), lots of stories about what's happening in tobacco control in other jurisdictions around the world (most of whom are now light years ahead of us) etc. but again, nothing about what the Campbell Liberals have done... or intend to do, in terms of tobacco control; and
  • Then-Health Minister Colin Hansen stood by and said/did absolutely nothing as Bruce, with Gordo's blessing, gutted the WCB No Smoking regulation. And he did nothing else, positive, in terms of tobacco control either. Shame on him!

Think all of this is just Airspace propaganda? Not! The Canadian Cancer Society recently conducted a study, clearly showing that, over the past 4 ½ short years (among all Canadian provinces and territories), B.C. has fallen from first to ninth in tobacco control. And Canada, under Paul Martin, fell from top spot long ago.

Airspace will continue to do anything and everything it can to bring public attention to these extremely disturbing high-level political connections to the Merchants of Death at the Nicotine Cartel... and if that means the Grim Reaper has to attend Terry Fox Runs carrying his 5-foot "SICKARET" and a placard that says, "TERRY FOX DIED TRYING TO FIND A CURE FOR CANCER" on one side and, "MY OL' PAL FORMER(?) TOBACCO EXECUTIVE PAUL MARTIN CONTINUES TO PROMOTE CANCER" on the other, then so be it.

Shame on Campbell and Martin!

Another account from former Airspace President Robert Broughton: The Grim Reaper attends the Terry Fox Run

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