Strong letter against Smoking by MR Manche in The Times - 22/4/2004

Prevention is better than cure
Alexander Manché, Zebbug.

I refer to Quote Unquote by I. M. Beck (April 17). I am thankful for his kind words regarding my playing at the BJ's marathon.

Perhaps the term "avoidance" rather than "boycott" would have better described my position regarding a certain aspect of this event, namely that of passive smoking. I tried, in the end unsuccessfully, to avoid this while at the same time showing my support for Fr Hilary as organiser and Philip Fenech as sponsor of this worthy cause. I say unsuccessfully because the cigarette smoke still reached me from one lone smoker in spite of the expensive purification system, this at my chosen time of 3 p.m. when BJ's was practically empty.

I, like Daphne Caruana Galizia, am indeed het up about the stand Mr Fenech has taken in his role as hospitality and leisure representative of the GRTU. Thanks partly to him we are all now waiting for the installation of purification systems which we know to be ineffective and which are a "con trick - a dishonest way of misleading people", in the words of James Appleyard, the president of the World Medical Association.

The "theory" of the inherent evil of tobacco is accepted by all smokers I come across. Sadly their reluctance to overcome their addiction at times prevails over their respect for fellow non-smokers. This is why laws are sometimes necessary, even those "badly written, badly researched and badly premised" and we can now appreciate this in cinemas, airplanes, places of work as well as restaurants and bars in certain countries abroad.

The prospect of smoking cessation is not as hopeless as some are led to believe. From a seven-year study I have conducted in Malta I have found that 50 per cent of people stop smoking after a heart attack and two-thirds of the remainer after their bypass operation, all in the interests of avoiding further trouble after the event.

Would it not be kinder for smokers to give up earlier? And would it not be more humane if we allowed non-smokers to breathe clean air?

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