Montréal, le 16 mai 1998
Numéro 11
(page 5) 
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    LE QUÉBÉCOIS LIBRE sollicite des textes d'opinion qui défendent ou contestent le point de vue libertarien sur n'importe quel sujet d'actualité.   
    Les textes doivent avoir entre 700 et 1200 mots. Prière d'inclure votre titre ou profession, le village ou la ville où vous habitez, ainsi que votre adresse électronique.   
     « Aujourd'hui, nous ne sommes pas foutus de faire un pas sans que l'État se pointe et nous prenne par la main.  
     Pas de pub de cigarettes, car tu vas te mettre à fumer! Pas de films de guerre, car tu vas te mettre à tuer! Pas de filles en bikini, car tu vas développer des réflexes sexistes!  
     Si nous sommes si cons et si influençables, bordel, pourquoi nous accordez-vous le droit de vote? »   
Richard Martineau
by Ralph Maddocks 
          Quebec's favourite Health Minister thinks himself a living example of Milton's phrase and yesterday he introduced a law, complete with its own « Fumacious Fuzz », imposing upon the owners of restaurants the installation of costly ventilation systems. This will presumably take place when he has completed his project to destabilize the remains of a once reasonably effective health system.  
          Being totally unconcerned about the rights of the citizenry as expressed in Articles 10 and 15 of Quebec's Charter of Rights, he will probably succeed, because it is considered to be politically incorrect to object. For the curious, Article 10 forbids discrimination and Article 15 says that public places shall be accessible to all. It doesn't say all except smokers. Of course, the Canadian Charter had similar Equality rights but that didn't stop Mr Mulroney et al. from banning smoking in federal buildings etc. 
          Smoking has now been banned in Quebec's hospitals for some twelve years, except in areas called « fumoirs »; places which are either windowless or where the windows won't open. Even if they would open, it is forbidden to open them! The authorities whine on about second hand smoke, but expose patients and others to it anyway. Their concern for the rights and health of the smoking patient is such that this is doubtless why we see so many patients having a quick drag outside hospitals, even in inclement weather. Some hospitals, whose administrations may be ignorant of Quebec's Charter of Rights, or who simply don't believe in people having any rights at all, have persuaded their docile personnel to agree to ban all smoking inside their premises.  
Once there was a time... 
          It may interest readers to know that protests against smoking are not exactly new. In 1604, James I of England wrote a Counterblaste to Tobacco calling smoking a « custom lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs. »  James I's Lord Chancellor, Sir Francis Bacon, observed, « In our times the use of tobacco is growing greatly and conquers men with a certain secret pleasure, so that those who have once become accustomed thereto can hardly be restrained therefrom. » Johann Michael Moscherosch, the 17th-century polemicist, called smokers « thralls to the tobacco fiend. » And  Louis XIV's court physician, Fagon, described the tobacco habit as a « fatal, insatiable necessity. . . a permanent epilepsy. » 
          It wasn't until some three hundred and twenty odd years later that some scientific evidence began to emerge about the possible hazards of smoking. In the 1950's, the pace increased and the US Surgeon General got into the act. Labelling began and the anti-smoking lobby started to make its first strident intrusion upon our ears. 
          Why then are we treated to dissertations about the addictive nature of tobacco being so strong that smokers cannot stop smoking? These assertions are so devoid of common sense that it is frightening to hear politicians and the anti-smoking lobby saying such things with a straight face. The US experience shows that ex-smokers now equal the number of smokers, almost all of whom gave up the weed by stopping « cold turkey. » The Canadian experience cannot be much different. 
Now that smoking is a disease 
          Current anti-smoking theology holds that smoking is a « pediatric disease » and efforts are to be made to prevent our youth from taking up the habit. The argument holds that most smokers start to smoke as teenagers. But more than 90% of smokers are adults. Smoking may increase the risk of certain diseases (at least for certain smokers) but smoking is not itself a disease. Interestingly, the US Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, noted in his 1984 speech calling for a « smoke free society », smoking is a « voluntary act: one does not have to smoke if one does not want to. » A statement which supports the above contention. 
          Another shot in this endless war, where facts may not intrude upon the sweeping expression of unctuous emotion, is the assertion that secondhand smoke causes cancer. The World Health Organization (from whom the good Doctor Rochon once drew a pay packet) recently issued, after trying to please its US funders by suppressing it, a summary report which shows that not only might there be no link between passive smoking and lung cancer but that it could even have a protective effect! Earlier, the US Environmental Protection Agency had to lower their confidence levels from 95% to 90% in order to classify Environmental Tobacco Smoke as a Class « A » occupational carcinogen. Even at that unscientific level, only 11 studies showed a very small correlation. 
          The lengths to which members of this anti-smoking jihad will go to deform the truth is little short of astonishing. When a study doesn't support their preconceived conclusions they condemn it as « garbage science ». 
          Our group of grandstanding, largely left wing, politicians need to keep their names in the news and what better way than to interfere with smoking in our restaurants. Charters of Rights are unimportant, the individual liberty of the restaurant owner to choose his clientele, or the right of the client to choose his or her restaurant, is unimportant. The ultimate hypocrisy is that if they were really concerned about our health they would ban the sale of tobacco completely; they don't do so because they like the tax monies that smoking brings. To say nothing of the smoking voters who are likely to be less than delighted by further assaults on their rights. 
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