Airspace weighs in on the "BC Crusade"

A letter to the editor published (with some editing) in the National Post on January 25, 2013:

I wish I could honestly say that Jesse Kline makes a powerful argument on behalf of his puppet masters at Big Tobacco, but I can't:  Invalid and illegitimate as any and all arguments condoning public smoking are, Kline's (in, B.C. crusade seeks more restrictions on outdoor smokers [Jan. 23]) definitely rank among the lamest, least eloquent and  most laughable.

Take, "Three decades ago, when smoking was commonplace in airports, bars and offices, it was almost inconceivable that these areas would one day be smoke free." for example.  Not so many decades ago, slavery was commonplace... and it was almost inconceivable that slavery would ever be eradicated too!

And then there's, "First it was elevators, then classrooms and workplaces..." (emphasis mine).  Can you imagine?  The nerve of "the tireless anti-smoking crusader" (or "anti-tobacco Nazi", as Bruce Allen calls us), wanting to breathe something other than the toxic, carcinogenic residue of somebody else's habit in an elevator!

That said, whether it's Kline's opinion or that of more eloquent and, presumably, better-paid puppets of Big Tobacco, like the Michael Siegel Kline quoted, they all conveniently overlook one minor detail:  Smoking is NOT addictive!

Nicotine is the most addictive drug on the planet, but smoking is nothing more than an albeit powerful habit.  With literally dozens of nicotine replacement therapies now available, there is no justification whatsoever for continuing to allow smoking in any public place, workplace or MUD (multi-unit dwelling, including apartments, condos, townhomes, etc.)... indoors or outdoors.

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

"Pink Shirt Day" again

With the utmost of respect for all victims of bullying...
I will wear a pink shirt (on Pink Shirt Day [Feb 27, 13] and every other day of the week) the day that the most high-profile cheer-leader of the anti-bullying movement -- B.C.'s very own premier, Christy Clark -- publicly acknowledges that her good friends at Big Tobacco are the biggest, meanest and nastiest corporate bullies on the planet.
What's the connection between Big Tobacco and the largest single group of bullying victims:  Teens and pre-teens?  So glad you asked.
The multi-billion dollar global tobacco industry survives and thrives based almost exclusively on its ability to hook and addict generation after generation of illegal/under-aged kids.  And child slavery continues to be a huge issue on tobacco plantations in many developing nations of the world.  Until Clark acknowledges those facts and turns her back on her old pals, her integrity and her sincerity -- whenever she speaks about anti-bullying and/or Pink Shirt Day -- must be questioned.

"New and Improved" smoking ban at Vancouver General Hospital

A story from Global TV's News Hour, November 30, 2012:

Link to Global TV page

A transcript appears below Airspace's commentary.

So often, when we see people smoking on TV, we don't see the entire face of the smoker...we see the lips (we see just enough of their faces to see the smouldering butt coming and going from their lips, often with a "Honest, I'm not really all that stupid!" smirk on their faces) and maybe part of the nose and chin. What I found rather unique and interesting about much of the video in this segment was that it featured so many smokers (2 women together [one of whom looked like staff], a man, then 2 individual women, one of whom, yet again, was smoking just a metre or two from a BC Cancer Agency [this time, the Fraser Valley Centre], then a man and a woman), at VGH...who seemed to be quite well aware that they were being filmed, but didn't give a damn.

The video portion also shows a big (roughly one square metre) 'sticker' on the ground, which repeats the highlighted part of the audio message, above...and features a roughtly one square foot No Smoking sign.  And there are sandwich boards that convey a similar message.
All in all, I'm only slightly impressed.  The stickers on the sidewalk will be trashed in no people walking/cycling/rollerblading on them, the weather and, I'm predicting, a few ignorant smokers, who will, no doubt, put cigarette/bic/match burns into them, spit on them, draw swastikas on them, etc. (and Bruce Allen will no doubt be cheering them on).  In many smokers' minds, an inch or two of snow and ice, covering that sign, will automatically mean that the policy no longer applies.

Read more: "New and Improved" smoking ban at Vancouver General Hospital

Stephen Colbert chronicles “Smokers Rights”

A Daily Show story from December 18, 2003, before Colbert got his own show.

Money speaks louder than words

Blogger Norman Farrell: "While one arm of the BC's Liberal government is paying favourite law firms to plan legal action against the tobacco industry, in fiscal 2012, bcIMC, another arm of government, increased investment holdings in the merchants of death." Here's his article: Money speaks louder than words

BCIMC Holdings

Smokers cloud Surrey cancer centre

Article by Kevin Diakiw in the Surrey North Delta Leader: Smokers cloud Surrey cancer centre

Excerpt: "Mayor Dianne Watts was bothered by the lack of the smokers’ sensitivity and unimpressed with the reaction the centre received from the Surrey bylaw department.

"'I’m very disappointed with the enforcement not taking place, especially in and around a cancer facility,' Watts said Thursday. 'We need to be taking this up with our bylaw officers, and if there’s an issue around staffing, we need to be dealing with that.'

"The City of Surrey has 24 full-time bylaw officers.

"Watts added the smokers should have more common sense.

"'You can’t legislate intelligence and you can’t ticket your way out of a situation,' Watts said. 'People should have enough compassion within themselves to get it.'

"Thiele said he has nothing against smokers, he just wants to be able to access his cancer treatment without running the gauntlet of cigarette smoke."

Supporting editorial: Help wanted

Bev Oda sends another bill to Canadian Taxpayers

Bev Oda - photo by Sean Kilpatrick, CPBev Oda, former Federal MP and Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women, and Minister for International Cooperation in the Harper government, and the tobacco industry's poster girl in Canada, has sent yet another bill to Canadian taxpayers. In 2010, a $250 penalty was added to a hotel bill in Washington, DC for violating the hotel's policy against smoking in room, and the charge was expensed to the Federal government. Here's the story from MacLean's: Bev Oda: Penalty for smoking in a hotel room among expenses MP charged to taxpayers

We can be thankful that she managed to not burn the hotel down.

World No Tobacco Day 2012

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day. For people in British Columbia, the issues that initially come to mind on the subject of tobacco are smoking in multi-unit dwellings, smoking in parks and beaches, and sidewalk litter.

One of the themes for World No Tobacco Day for 2012 is how the tobacco industry has stepped up their efforts to have their way with national governments. A high-profile example of this is plain packaging for cigarettes, which is enacted in Australia, and under consideration in the United Kingdom. You can read more about it here.

Here's another one for British Columbians: child labour. Marty Otañez, a friend of Airspace, has published a paper about the tobacco industry's use of child labour in Malawi, the country that has gotten the most publicity in this regard. The tobacco industry's use of child labour is also widespread in The Philippines, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and India.

This is serious. Children that are exploited like this don't go to school or do other things that children normally do. Children that work in tobacco fields are beaten, sexually abused, and poisoned by the high exposure to nicotine.

OK, so you don't shop at WalMart, or buy cigarettes. Sorry, you're still not off the hook on this. Your Provincial government, through the agency British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCIMC), holds shares in at least seven tobacco companies, at last count. They hold $103 million worth of British American Tobacco (BAT), one of the biggest customers of child labour-produced tobacco. They also hold shares in Sousa Cruz, the Brazilian subsidiary of BAT and another major offender.

BCIMC is supposed to operate at arms length from the Provincial government, and they tend to fly below the public radar screen. However, BCIMC has standards that they are supposed to operate by; you can read them here. Yes, these standards include the fundamental standards of the International Labour Organization. For that reason, investment in the tobacco industry by BCIMC should be an automatic “fail.”

It's time to get your MLA, cabinet ministers, and the Official Opposition interested in this.

A Berlin-based organization,, is taking on the larger issue of tobacco cultivation. Not just the labour standards, but damage caused by deforestation and pesticides.

Tenants fume over invasive second-hand smoke

A published letter to the editor, in response to this article: Tenants fume over invasive second-hand smoke, by Tara Carman

Thank you for this article. As an asthmatic who was forced to move  six times because of smoking neighbours, I never thought I was  lucky. But unlike Ms. Borutski, I at least had the option of escape, even if I had to repeat it a few times.

Although I am currently happy in a smoke-free place, it should not  have taken me repeated nightmare moves to find it. Having to fight  for an obvious necessity such as smoke-free housing is like having  to fight to ban cholera lollipop sales in schools.

Grandfathering sounds fair in theory. In reality it protects only  smokers who already have housing, at the expense of everyone else.  Landlords are saddled with a devalued property that is available  only to people who neither smoke nor mind breathing other people’s  smoke in their own homes.

A recent New York law requires multi-unit housing providers to state  and enforce their smoking policies. There will undoubtedly be some  initial reshuffling. However, unlike what smokers’ neighbours  currently face, these one-time moves will result in smokers finding  places where they won’t bother anyone and everyone else finally  finding a place where they can stay in safety and comfort.

Sera Kirk

The anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic

On the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, a message from the president of Airspace:
On behalf of the Members and the Board of Directors of Airspace Action on Smoking and Health, the world's leading all-volunteer anti-tobacco organization, I'd like to express our most sincere condolences to the families (children, grand-children, great grand-children, et al) and friends of all those who were lost in the Titanic tragedy 100 years ago today.
As tragic as the sinking of the Titanic was, it was an accident.

Globally, at the rate of one death every five seconds, tobacco kills the same number of people - about 1,500 - every two hours. That's every two hours. 

For the record: after the impact with the iceberg, the Titanic continued to float for about 2 3/4 hours.

Tobacco is a Titanic tragedy... every two hours. And that is no accident.
Help Airspace Action on Smoking and Health put an end to the massacre.

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