On this, the 10th anniversary of my "Mischief Under $5000"/"billboard bombing" trial (the trial transcript can be found on this site: The Crown vs. Errol Eric Povah), I find myself in complete awe of both 1) how much progress the anti-tobacco movement has made in ten short years and 2) despite the aforementioned progress, how much still needs to be done, as the malignant cancer (that is the nicotine cartel {formerly known as the tobacco industry]) continues to spread and grow, especially in Third World countries.

And, like all cancers, the nicotine cartel itself must be eradicated! That's right, eradicated!

As I said in my statement to the court, near the end of my trial 10 years ago (quoting a doctor with the World Health Organization [WHO]): "There can never be a peaceful co-existence between the tobacco industry and the world health community." One of them has to go... and let me assure you, the world health community isn't going anywhere.

Ten years ago, I had no idea that, three short years later (after much lobbying of [and threatening to sue] the B.C. Workers' Compensation Board (WCB), by former Airspace president Heather Mackenzie and myself), I'd be able to go into a bar or pub and have a smoke-free meal and/or a drink. And the mere thought of 100% smoke-free multi-unit housing (apartments and condos where smoking is prohibited in all suites... and on all balconies!) wasn't on any anti-tobacco activists' radar screen; today, it's a reality... and one that's spreading faster than a cigarette-ignited forest fire! Again, Airspace Action on Smoking and Health has been instrumental in that huge victory. On the global scene... Ten years ago, I hadn't even heard of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a WHO initiative designed to reduce/eliminate the world-wide tobacco pandemic. Of the 168 countries that have signed the treaty, about 140 have now ratified it (including Canada, of course)... and are in various stages of implementation. The FCTC tackles many aspects of tobacco control; most notably, smoking bans (in all public places and workplaces), youth smoking prevention programs, restricting/banning tobacco marketing and advertising, etc.

Ten years ago, I had no idea that, 9 long years later, the nicotine cartel would still be getting away with murder on such a grand scale. Specifically, I refer to Emerging Tobacco Markets 2005; a cartel convention -- attended by about 2,000 Merchants of Death (formerly known as tobacco executives) from all over the world -- that was held in Kuala Lumpur in November, 05. The primary objective of the convention? To figure out how the cartel could best further exploit (read, rape and pillage) Third World countries... as usual, with the main focus being on children... teens and even pre-teens! The world health community should have been outraged... and Malaysia -- which had ratified the above-mentioned FCTC just a few months earlier -- should not have allowed the convention to take place on its soil! But it went ahead... and the only visible opposition was about a dozen of my Malaysian colleagues and I (dressed as the Grim Reaper), protesting at the front doors of the host convention centre, KLCC. Again, you can read more about this on this site ( News reports on the Grim Reaper in Kuala Lumpur) and grimreaper.org.

The nicotine cartel, with its bottomless pit of blood money (and the best lawyers that money can buy), continues its fight to get the legislation -- that outlaws tobacco advertising and tobacco sponsorship of sporting and cultural events -- overturned. Let me state, right here and now, publicly and for the record: If the cartel is successful -- and tobacco billboards once again become the severe blight on the Canadian landscape that they once were -- I will resume trashing them!

Airspace Action on Smoking & Health, Canada's leading all-volunteer anti-tobacco organization, has been at the forefront of much of the above-mentioned "progress" in tobacco control, both locally and globally. With your generous support (via memberships and donations), we will continue that vital work.

Thank you...and have a safe, happy AND SMOKE-FREE New Year!

Errol E. Povah

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