The following is my response to a National "we-[especially-Terrence-Corcoran]-would-never-accept-a-dime-from-the-tobacco-industry" Post article entitled, “Shaming smokers makes it harder to quit: study.”

In short, the smokescreen, pardon the pun... I mean, the article... is about a study/report by a group of UBC researchers. The very first sentence of the article sets the [bullshit] tone: “Years of anti-smoking laws and campaigns have amounted to a public shaming of smokers... ” (emphasis mine, throughout). And the crap continues...

One study subject whined, “You really are labeled as a bad person if you smoke.”

And Kirsten Bell, lead author of a paper just published on the issue, joined the chorus of whiners, claiming, “People are made to feel really, really bad about their smoking and are treated quite badly...”! In her very next breath, however, Bell provides a very small glimmer of truth when she says, “They [smokers] feel really negatively about themselves...”

Bell goes on to suggest that there is some sort of a contrast between “how smokers are treated and the NON-JUDGMENTAL, ‘harm-reduction’ approach now widely applied by public health to people with other addictions.”…the clear -- and FALSE -- implication being that we (anti-tobacco activists) and/or “public health” people are ‘judgmental’ toward smokers.

My point, as alluded to by Gar Mahood (Non-Smokers’ Rights Association, Toronto): Whether it be the ‘OPINIONS’ of smokers themselves, their drug [nicotine] dealers (the pushers in pinstripes at the tobacco industry) or any of the industry’s well-paid (albeit with blood-stained money) puppets, ‘the tobacco-control movement has NOT tried to stigmatize smokers, individually or collectively.’

As smoking bans continue to expand, many smokers (and even some non-smoking ‘sympathizers’) – especially those who belong to so-called “smokers’ rights” groups – have developed a major “Woe is me!” (or, “Woe are we!”) mentality. They are whiners who want all of the “freedoms”, “choices” and “rights” that were once thought to be part of the smoking ritual, but none of the responsibilities that normally go along with all such freedoms/choices/rights. NONE WHATSOEVER!

Support Errol Povah in his Journey for a Tobacco Free World: http://tobaccofreeworld.ca/

I would also suggest that many smokers have a serious love/hate relationship with smoking, cigarettes (often thought of as their ‘best friends’... always there for them, through good times and bad, blah, blah, blah) and, ultimately, themselves! Deep down inside, many of them desperately want to quit, but won’t/can’t…for one valid -- or, most likely, INVALID -- reason or another.

Bottom line: No legitimate anti-tobacco activist that I know – and I know many of them, from all over the world – is the least bit interested in the “public shaming” of smokers…or has ever ‘labeled’ any smoker as a “bad person.” Nor has anyone I know ever “treated [any smoker] quite badly” or in a ‘judgmental’ way…unless, for some warped reason, you somehow consider reasonable and ever-expanding smoking bans to be part of treating smokers badly.

False accusations of “stigmatization” – along with all of the “public shaming”, “labeled as a bad person”, “made to feel really, really bad” and “treated quite badly” blah, blah, blah CRAP – is nothing more than... wait for it...

SELF-LOATHING...

AND SELF-FLAGELLATION!!!

In addition to accepting responsibility for their filthy, stinking addiction and habit, smokers also need to accept full responsibility for the way they feel... about themselves!

If you feel bad, if you feel guilty, if you feel that smoking around your kids makes you a bad parent, etc., etc., etc., STOP LOOKING FOR SOMEONE ELSE (i.e., your nearest anti-tobacco activist) TO BLAME! Instead, LOOK INTO THAT SAME MIRROR THAT YOU LOOKED INTO A FEW DECADES AGO (when you got sucked into believing that smoking was cool, sexy, glamourous, etc.), AS YOU TRIED YOUR FIRST CIGARETTE! Which hand should I hold it in? Which fingers should I hold it between? Should I stick it in the middle of my mouth…or to one side or the other? While in my mouth, should the cigarette be horizontal... or drooping a bit... or tilting upward? Do I take little puffs…or long, deep drags? Blah, blah, bloody blah!

TAKE OWNERSHIP OF – AND ACCEPT FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR -- YOUR FEELINGS!

Having said all of that, let me tell you about the REAL stigmatization that occurs around tobacco..

Those of us who are trying to do something to reduce/eliminate the tragic tobacco toll (the current death toll, globally, is 5.4 million annually…and, believe it or not, that number is actually expected to double over the next 10 years!) are mocked, made fun of, threatened and called a wide range of both inaccurate and derogatory names.

I’m not going to waste any time or energy listing the derogatory names, but I do want to say a few words about the most inaccurate name that we are often called: “Anti-smokers.” I absolutely despise that term, because again, it FALSELY implies that we dislike or hate smokers…and that is not the case at all! Among other things, it’s the deadly second-hand smoke that we have a huge problem with and, even more than that, it’s the common enemy of both non-smokers and smokers – the tobacco industry -- that we absolutely despise!

Yet, no matter how many times I spell that out to our opponents (so-called “smokers’ rights” people), they stubbornly/ignorantly continue to call us “anti-smokers”. I can only guess that, in their nicotine-riddled minds, thinking of us as “anti-smokers” helps them to justify their hatred of us. It also gives them an opportunity to, much to the delight of their puppet-masters at the tobacco industry, move the focus away from the real issue – tobacco – and instead, turn it into personal attacks…a skill, I might add, that they have truly perfected.

To a lesser degree, we’re also stigmatized by the general public…and by politicians. In the minds of most people, the tobacco problem has been solved…most of the public places they visit are smoke-free, their workplaces are smoke-free and their homes and cars are smoke-free, therefore tobacco is no longer a problem (WRONG!)... and anyone who continues to push the anti-tobacco agenda is a “radical”, “fanatical” whatever who needs to get a life, etc.

Well, I can’t speak for any of my colleagues, but personally, I have a great life, thank you very much! And a big part of what makes it so great is my deep involvement in an extremely worthwhile cause as I try, in my own unique way, to do my small part to make the world a better place.

There’s only one thing funnier than all of this ‘stigmatization of smokers’ BULLSHIT... and that’s the underlying implication that we anti-tobacco activists are somehow trying to ‘force’ smokers to quit!

Attention all smokers and smokers’ rights activists, which includes way too many apparently-ashamed-to-be-a-non-smoker non-smokers! I’ve said it at million times, I’ll say it again.

With the exception of those under 19, the REAL ISSUE here has NOTHING – I REPEAT, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WHATSOEVER -- to do with WHAT you do (in this case, smoke); the REAL ISSUE is solely and exclusively about WHERE you do it!

If you’re 19 or older, I don’t give a damn if you chain-smoke…24/7, 365! As long as you are isolated somewhere where your smoke won’t affect anyone else, child or adult…and with or without their consent, then I say, “Smoke your brains out!”

The minute you think you have the ‘right’ to expose ANYONE (again, of any age…and with or without their consent) – no matter how briefly or how diluted you might think your second-hand smoke is – I have a huge issue with that…and will fight for legislation to end that exposure, no matter where it might be…even on the street, in parks, on beaches, etc.

The bottom line really is this: SMOKING IS NO LONGER SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE!

Accept that fact, and we’ll get along just fine. Reject it and…well, we have a problem! Get used to the idea of smoking alone, at home…unless, of course, you have the ‘misfortune’ of living in one of the many -- and rapidly increasing number of – 100% smoke-free multi-unit dwellings (condos, apartments, townhomes, duplexes, basement suites, etc.)

Meanwhile, my advice to Kirsten Bell and her cohorts: Take your ‘stigmatization of smokers’ crap... and stick it! And don’t spend all of that blood-stained money – from Imperial Tobacco – in one place!

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