Re: Whose rights and health deserve protection?, The Record, July 20.
While I missed the editorial to which change-the-subject, traffic-pollution-death expert Dave Nicholson refers in his rambling diatribe, I had to laugh at the all-too-predictable self-deprecation, self-flagellation and self-loathing.
Nobody is trying to "stop" you from smoking, Dave, we're only trying to make you do it responsibly - i.e., in a way in which it does not affect anyone else around you, including not littering.
(Despite the fact that only 15 per cent of the population smokes, smoking-related litter is the No. 1 form of litter, by far. Why? Well, a big part of it, in an interesting twist of irony, is that smokers don't want to stink up their own cars, homes, etc.)
And perhaps you could explain to all us of exactly how tobacco became legal: Virtually everyone, including "Big Tobacco," acknowledges the fact that if tobacco was discovered today, it would never - in a million years - be allowed on the market. It is legal only by what I describe as a fluke of history.
Nicholson whines about tobacco products being "heavily taxed and regulated."
For those taxes to match the health-care costs directly attributable to smoking, the price of tobacco products would have to double, bearing in mind that, while obviously not the only disincentive, higher tobacco prices are a win/win/win situation for everybody.
The government gets more money (that tobacco tax money should be dedicated exclusively to effective anti-tobacco programs), children are less likely to start smoking and existing smokers are more likely to quit - something that many smokers have told me was the best/toughest thing they ever did; starting to smoke being the stupidest.
Furthermore, there are all sorts of "legal" products which have good, common sense restrictions on when, where and how they are used; dynamite, guns, asbestos and loud stereos - especially at 3 a.m. - being just four of them.
I have no idea what the death toll from traffic pollution is, but I can assure you that it is nowhere near the six million (annual global) deaths caused by tobacco (five per cent to 10 per cent of whom are innocent bystanders - non-smokers).
And that six million toll? Almost 50 years after the first U.S. surgeon-general's report on the hazards of smoking, that figure is actually rising - and fast, primarily because of the tobacco industry's program in developing nations, most notably in Africa and, as always, targeting children (go to YouTube and search "Sex, Lies and Cigarettes.") Now there's an industry we should all support, right, Dave?
Our effort has nothing whatsoever to do with "picking on," "targeting," "shunning," "shaming" or "looking down on smokers," and we have not "forced" you anywhere; your addiction to nicotine - and your choice to use the dirtiest delivery method for that drug - has forced you to where you are.
By the way, Dave, smoking is not addictive. While nicotine is the most addictive drug known, smoking is nothing more than a powerful habit.And I, for one, appreciate your offer to share the residue of your deadly habit with me but I'll pass, thanks. And if you insist on sharing, you won't mind if I sprinkle a little bit of another Class-A carcinogen - asbestos - on your dinner, will you?
One last thing: Despite all of the problems associated with traffic, the transportation of people, goods and services is essential, while there is absolutely nothing essential about tobacco. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Errol E. Povah, president, Airspace Action on Smoking and Health