This letter was published in The Tri-Cities Now on November 6, 2014:
The first line of "Plan to ban cigarette sales opposed" (Oct 21 Now) said, "You could call Bev Harris a rebel."
As a twenty-year friend and colleague of Bev's, I know she's a rebel...and, when it comes to causes, few, if any, are bigger and better than the one we -- and many others -- have chosen to tackle.
Everybody's talking about the ebola crisis. Well, with all due respect to everyone who has been impacted by Ebola: I don't recall when we first started hearing about it this time around, but a very conservative estimate would be one month ago. Globally, about 5,000 people have died from Ebola. In that same month, 100 times as many people -- yes, about 500,000 people, globally -- have died from tobacco use (about 10% of that toll being non-smokers, killed by second-hand tobacco smoke). While ebola may have a small potential to change human history, tobacco has already done so.
A couple of other interesting comparisons: Africa (where Ebola originated) is also a primary target of Big Tobacco, complete with virtually unfettered marketing and advertising to kids of all ages...and, while those fighting to contain/eradicate Ebola are hailed as heroes (as they should be), those of us fighting Big Tobacco are often, at best, ignored; at worst, vilified.
All tobacco products should have been banned from pharmacies (including the retail business of which they are part) decades ago! In fact, given the highly addictive and disease-causing, debilitating and deadly nature of tobacco, it should be sold exclusively from the place where society's other "legal" -- and lethal -- drug is sold: Government liquor stores.
Regarding the six presidents/CEOs/GMs who sent the extremely bullying and threatening letter to the College of Pharmacists of B.C. as a whole, as well as each and every one of the 12 individual Board Members, including Bev, for the 'crime' of considering a motion to get tobacco out of all pharmacies in B.C. (which is currently the only Canadian province/territory to allow such sales): Well, they should be ashamed of themselves.
I won't hold my breath waiting for it, but those 6 top executives -- who, in my opinion, are no better than tobacco executives -- should publicly apologize for their letter and withdraw it immediately. Then, perhaps, B.C. can evolve... and join the 21st century, catch up with the rest of the country and discontinue the sale of the leading cause of disease, disability and premature death in businesses in which caring and high-skilled healthcare professionals work.
Then we can seriously begin the work of ending a crisis that went global decades ago, with no end in sight at the moment.
Again, "Well done, Bev!"
Errol E. Povah
President, Airspace Action on Smoking & Health