On May 31, 2010 - the World Health Organization's 23rd annual World No Tobacco Day - 30-year anti-tobacco activist Errol E. Povah and his Support Crew will embark on the world's first JOURNEY for a TOBACCO-FREE WORLD, a 6,300 kilometre "run, walk or crawl, from Victoria to Montreal." Time, energy and resources permitting, the Journey will then head south to New York City; those two destination cities being chosen specifically because they are home to the head offices of Canadian and American tobacco companies, where large anti-tobacco protests will be held to coincide with the JTFW's arrival. At the rate of 42 km per day, 6 days a week, the Journey is expected to take about 6 months.

The purpose of the JTFW: To raise awareness about largely-forgotten, replaced-by-obesity-etc. tobacco, the tobacco industry and the anti-tobacco movement, as well as to raise funds to 'ramp up' the War on Tobacco. Note: A total of 30% of the funds raised will be divided equally among BC Children's Hospital Foundation, Variety the Children's Charity and Toronto's SickKids Hospital Foundation.

"Globally, society is losing the war on tobacco, big time. Forty-six years after the first U.S. Surgeon-General's Report on the hazards of smoking, one would expect the death toll to be dropping, fast...and nearing zero. But tobacco continues to be the leading - and most easily and cheaply preventable -- cause of disease, disability and premature death in Western society," Povah said.

Here's an expose by Jon Wiener in The Nation about how the tobacco industry uses the judicial system to prevent historians from publishing material that reveals how the tobacco industry deceived the public about their product. Big Tobacco and the Historians.

Excerpt: On the stand [historian Robert] Proctor began to explain racism in tobacco marketing. He started to say that the companies had marketed products called Nigger-Head Tobacco and Nigger-Hair Tobacco--brands that existed as late as the 1960s. But a Philip Morris attorney, objecting that Proctor had injected racial slurs into the courtroom, demanded a mistrial--and got it.

... and Barbara McDougall's bloody hand is on the flush handle!

Canadian PM can either stand by and do nothing OR he can throw us some life-jackets! So far, he's doing a great job of the former.

For the last 5 weeks, an ongoing drama has been unfolding around the world, with a focus on Africa...specifically, Senegal.

A 3-day meeting is scheduled to take place in the West African nation's capital, Dakar, starting on April 20, 2010. The two main participants:

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC), an international aid organization which describes itself, at , as "...a Canadian Crown corporation that works in close collaboration with researchers from the developing world in their search for the means to build HEALTHIER (emphasis ours), more equitable, and more prosperous societies"; and

The African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA), a network of 40 anti-tobacco groups from 26 African nations.

Trips were being planned, flight tickets were purchased, hotel reservations were made; anti-tobacco activists from all over Africa and elsewhere were looking forward to fruitful, productive meetings, as well as a chance to 'see the sights' in and around Dakar.

Everything was fine, until a bombshell was revealed: On March 5, it was discovered that the Chairman of the Board of the IDRC is...wait for it, A TOBACCO EXECUTIVE!

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:

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.

For almost a year and a half (Aug, 2008 to Jan, 2010), Airspace Action on Smoking and Health conducted a poll on its website: “Do you support Airspace’s call for the total eradication of the tobacco industry from the face of the planet?”

Of the two possible responses (YES or NO) – and with all due respect (and thanks!) to the 76 people who voted “YES” – Airspace President Errol E. Povah wasn’t terribly interested in ‘the reasons’ for the YES votes. Why? Because those ‘reasons’ most likely would have been something like, “It’s the ‘decent’/’common sense’/’right’ thing to do... and it’s long overdue!” Or the comments probably would have, in one way or another, reflected the statement on which our call -- for the total eradication of the tobacco industry from the face of the planet – was and is based: Given what is now known about both tobacco and the tobacco industry, there is no justification whatsoever for any civilized nation fo the world to allow that industry to continue to exist or operate within its borders.

However, Povah was – and still is – extremely interested in hearing ‘reasons’ from those 105 people who oppose the eradication idea.

Frankly, the only people we can think of who might oppo$e the idea are tobacco executive$ and the $mall army of well-paid puppet$ (including $ome of the be$t politician$ and lawyer$ money can buy [former Prime Mini$ter Paul Martin being one of the be$t example$]) the tobacco indu$try own$. The rea$on$ for their oppo$ition $hould be very obviou$!

This invitation is open indefinitely... to those 105 poll responders and anyone else.

To be clear: It’s a free country! It would be naive in the extreme for us to think that everyone should agree with us! You have every right to disagree with us... and to oppose our call for the total eradication of the tobacco industry from the face of the planet. But please, have the courage to tell us, in your own words, exactly why you oppose the idea. While you’re at it, perhaps you could tell us something good about either tobacco or the tobacco industry.

Click here to send us your response.

The 2010 Olympics were advertised as being "sustainable". They aren't. They were also advertised as "smoke free", and this has turned out to be false, as well. A letter to the editor of The Province:

What a great suggestion by The Province - let's do away with designated smoking areas for 17 days, because some coaches and officials smoke.

Well why stop there? Is it really reasonable to expect these busy, important people, our guests, to always drive sober or to pull over to the side of the road to text message or make a phone call just because a few retentive, fun-crushing individuals have made that law to save a few insignificant lives? Let's review all our laws and suspend any that may prove inconvenient for coaches and officials for 17 days. It won't kill anyone if The Province says it won't.

Yes this is an event for which athletes have spent years adhering to careful fitness regimens to do the best they can in representing their country. Yes there are a few thousand people who have saved for years and gone to all kinds of trouble to attend and support these games or volunteer at them, people who maybe care about their health or perhaps have respiratory or cardiac disabilities. Blah blah blah. The Olympics aren't about any of them.

What is really important is the few who have chosen to become smokers must under no circumstances be in any way inconvenienced, because they are the only ones who matter. Far better that athletes compete for a chance at glory in a haze of secondhand smoke, asthmatics be hospitalized and risk long-term respiratory complications, and a few people with weak hearts die than that a handful of smokers be required to find a smoke-free way to get their nicotine hit.

Nice values, Province. Reminds me of the joke about how a smoker changes a light bulb - he holds the bulb in place and waits for the world to revolve around him. Don't you have anyone with a clearer grasp of the concept (and of the medical significance of breathing) to write your editorials?

If we can, without fear of causing an international incident, ban bringing dangerous objects like bananas and cheese sandwiches into venues on the grounds that they might explode, I think we may safely send smokers, with their lighters and matches, to designated outdoor areas well away from athletes, volunteers, and supporters - where they belong - without fear for our city's reputation.

Sera Kirk
Vancouver, BC

Story in The Province: Olympics no longer 'smoke-free'