On February 12, 2007, I issued a call for the total eradication of the tobacco industry from the face of the planet.

In addition to being the top story on the homepage of the Airspace website, press releases were sent out, worldwide. I also repeated the call on several subsequent radio talk shows...and in [published] letters to the editor, etc.

The response: Literally dozens of good, positive and supportive comments...to ZERO negative comments.

In addition, I issued a challenge, to anyone, to debate any and all tobacco control issues, up to and including the total eradication of the tobacco industry. Again, ZERO response!

One would think that our detractors -- including the tobacco industry itself, as well as its many well-paid puppets -- would be chomping at the bit to debate the issue, but not a peep out of any of them! So I decided to issue a few personal challenges. The list of detractors I contacted, directly, is long and...well, not terribly distinguished (in fact, extinguished is much more appropriate). Just a few of the more high-profile tobacco whores I contacted and challenged to debate:

- Nancy Daigneault, former president of mychoice.ca, Canada's biggest "smokers' rights" group, established and funded -- to the tune of at least $2.5 million (that we know about) -- by Imperial Tobacco. Despite initially claiming that she was ready, willing and able to debate the issue with anyone, anywhere and any time, over a period of several months, her office claimed she was "too busy", then she had a child, then she was just "too busy"...again...and again...and again!;

Article by Kelly Sinoski in the Vancouver Sun: Squamish councillors ponder smoking ban.

Excerpt: "The no-smoking bandwagon is rolling toward Squamish, with civic staff told to investigate the feasibility of prohibiting smokers from lighting up at home if children are present.

"The consideration is part of an overall no-smoking motion -- suggested by Coun. Raj Kahlon last December -- that also includes banning smokers from lighting up in vehicles where children are present and in public places such as bus shelters."

Story by Gerry Bellett in the Vancouver Sun: Vancouver woman demands smoke-free housing.

Excerpt: "The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has agreed to hear the case of a woman who claims she has been the victim of discrimination because housing authorities wouldn't provide her with smoke-free public housing.

"Sheila Abraham is on a disability pension for a number of conditions and has been diagnosed with hyper-reactive airway disease, which is caused and exacerbated by second-hand smoke, according to a complaint filed with the tribunal."

Delta's (self-confessed smoker) Joann Hamelin had a letter published in the Friday, Sept. 14 Vancouver Sun entitled, "There are worse habits than smoking.", regarding Vancouver's plan to ban smoking on patios, 6 meters from entranceways, etc.

According to Hamelin, vehicle emissions and obesity are "worse" (she conveniently neglects to provide any facts/statistics to back up her claim)...and all of us "anti-smoking activists" are hypocrites.

Hi Christy:

I'll try to keep this reasonably short and to the point: How about a little on-air debate on the "smoking" issue?

Whether it's Vancouver City Council's most recent efforts and/or absolutely any other aspect of the issue that you might like to discuss, it doesn't matter to me.

It could be just you and me. Or maybe you'd prefer to play the role of "neutral" host in a show with me and your pal Dave "Doom and Gloom" Crown. Or maybe Bruce Allen (who is as opposed to Vancouver City Council's most recent amendment to the No Smoking bylaw as you are, although I'm not aware of any direct links to the nicotine cartel in his case) against me... or snake-in-the-grass Dave Laundy (normally, I'd feel some need to clarify who he is, but I'm sure you and/or your brother/husband know him very well) against me... or the ultimate tobacco whore, Nancy Daigneault, president of mychoice.ca (Canada's biggest and priciest [funded by the nicotine cartel, to the tune of at least $2.5 million that we know about] so-called "smokers' rights" group).

Hell, I'll take on all five of you!

In all fairness, though, before you get too excited, Christy, I should tell you: About 3 months ago, a freelance reporter with Co-op Radio contacted Daigneault's office, "challenging" her to debate me on Co-op Radio. Very conveniently, Daigneault had a rather endless list of reasons why the debate couldn't happen from one week to the next; she was booked solid with interviews, she was just too busy, then she actually had a baby. Then she was "just too busy" again... and, some time after that, her office just stopped responding to phone calls and e-mails. All of this from a woman who has claimed that she's ready, willing and able to discuss the issue, with anyone, anytime and anywhere.

As with Daigneault, I won't hold my breath waiting for you -- or any of the above-mentioned "pro-$moking" people -- to take me up on my challenge.

Errol E. Povah
President, Airspace Action on Smoking and Health

Airspace President Errol Povah sees today's Supreme Court decision -- upholding the federal Tobacco Act -- as a "good news, bad news" development in the War on Tobacco.

"The good news is that the decision was unanimous (9 to 0), clearly indicating full recognition of the uniquely destructive nature of tobacco... and, therefore, a desire on the part of the Supreme Court to send a strong message to both the tobacco industry and society as a whole," Povah said.

"The bad news: The existing anti-tobacco legislation is so weak and full of loopholes that you could drive a stolen semi loaded with contraband cigarettes through it!"

Povah points out that anyone who suggests that there is currently a ban on tobacco advertising in Canada has been smoking something a little stronger (albeit less deadly) than tobacco.

"The vast majority of the magazines on the shelves at any convenience store, library, etc. are American...and many, if not most of them, still run tobacco ads... even in the supposedly Canadian versions of those magazines (most notably, Maxim magazine). Many freebie newspapers have recently been running half-page, full-colour ads for citrus-flavoured Skoal, one of the most popular (and now, tastier/more palatable) brands of chewing tobacco. Power walls -- scheduled to be phased out by Jan 1, 08 -- still exist. Gas stations and convenience stores seem to be engaged in a cigarette price war. Until recently, the price for a package of cigarettes was getting very close to the $10.00 a pack mark; earlier today, I saw a hand-made sandwich board sign advertising them for $5.99. Such signs must be recognized as 'tobacco advertising'...and included in new legislation."

The solution, Povah says, is brand new, meaningful, well-thought-through (with input only from health professionals...and excluding the tobacco industry), no loopholes anti-tobacco legislation.

"The time is long past due for the Government of Canada (specifically, the Ministry of Health) to take tobacco -- the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and premature death... and, subsequently, one of the biggest drains on our "in-crisis" health care system -- much more seriously. It's also time that we lived up to our commitment/obligations to the World Health Organization, when Canada ratified a WHO treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control."

Press release from Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada: New law needed to end tobacco advertising

In 1996, Airspace Action on Smoking and Health exposed a tobacco industry-funded research project conducted at Saint Paul's Hospital in Vancouver by UBC Professor Dr. James Hogg. This research has now become an issue in a lawsuit by the State of Vermont against R.J. Reynolds, and Hogg has refused to testify. Watch this space for more details, but for now, you can read a story in The Province by Susan Lazaruk: UBC profs refuse testimony in U.S..

Commencing with the 12:45 p.m. sailing on June 13, from Duke Point (Nanaimo) to Tsawwassen (Vancouver), those B.C. ferry passengers wishing to go out on the outside decks for a breath of fresh air could, for the most part, do exactly that...for the first time, without any concern about a smoker lighting up upwind of them!

Responding to both customer and crew complaints, B.C. Ferry Services Inc. is currently implementing the new restrictions on all vessels on all of its major routes (Mainland - Vancouver Island,  Gulf Islands, Sunshine Coast, etc.).

The target markets are the U.S. and Canada, and that makes the target you and your children.

Philip Morris is planning to test-market a Marlboro-branded snuff product in the U.S., and BAT (the company that sells Player's, Du Maurier, and Matinee) is planning to introduce a snuff product in Canada. At the same time, U.S. Tobacco, the producer of Skoal snuff products, has stepped up their marketing in Canada with print advertising.

The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, a high-profile U.S. organization, has responded by lobbying for giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products. Click here to read their press release about it.

Airspace Action on Smoking and Health is making a similar effort; we are lobbying the governments of Canada and British Columbia to treat snuff like any other consumer product, which would mean removing it from store shelves.