le 16 mai 1998
Now that smoking is a disease
LE QUÉBÉCOIS LIBRE
sollicite des textes d'opinion
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Aujourd'hui, nous ne sommes pas foutus de faire un pas sans que
l'État se pointe et nous prenne par la main.
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!
nous sommes si cons et si influençables, bordel, pourquoi nous accordez-vous
le droit de vote? »
ABOVE THE SMOKE
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
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.
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
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.