Two weeks ago Smokles told us the tragi-comic story of Errol Povah (above). Povah is a very rare breed— a genuine unpaid anti-smoking activist. The 57-year old Canadian set off on a coast-to-coast run/jog/walk intending to raise $47,000 for his nutty pressure group and "put the entire smoking industry out of business."
Povah's ambitious plan involves arriving at Philip Morris's New York headquarters later this month where he no doubt intends to carry out some sort of protest (yes, he's one of those who dresses up as the grim reaper). As Carl Phillips pointed out, the choice of route holds certain problems since Philip Morris moved to Richmond (400 miles away) several years ago. And his problems don't end there...
Originally, he said, he wanted to raise $540,000 - a dime for each of the world's 5.4 million people who die from tobacco annually. But money has been tight.
This is so true. As of today, Povah has raised a little over ten percent of his reduced target, and when we last heard from him, the dearth of donations was becoming a burden.
“It’s a huge struggle,” Povah said from Ottawa Tuesday, adding the lack of support crew or sponsors is a major disappointment.
Forced to travel alone, Povah has had to conduct his marathan journey in a highly unsatisfactory, half-arsed manner:
Because he has to bring his van along, and has no one helping him, he has to walk forward a certain distance, then go back for his van. At the end of the day, having advanced 26.2 miles but having walked twice that, he drives the van another 26.2 miles forward to account for the miles he had to walk in the wrong direction.
Alas, things have only got worse in the last three weeks...
"I literally can't afford to buy new shoes," he said, after finishing a 26.2-mile walk on Tuesday from Warrensburg to Glens Falls. "I'm flat broke at the moment. I have to get some money organized."
This pitiful tale provides a stark reminder—especially to him—that the anti-smoking "movement" has not been funded by voluntary donations for a very long time. Aside from one or two sugar daddies (Povah hopes to rope in Mike Bloomberg when he gets to NY), it is funded by the state and Big Pharma while the public looks on in apathy.
Far from bringing down the tobacco industry, Povah's quixotic expedition is an embarrassment for anti-tobacco because it highlights the lack of support it has from civil society. If the public was supportive, they'd get their hands in their pockets and not let this man have to go back and forth to his van every day. You'd think the billion dollar anti-tobacco industry would throw him a few thousand dollars just to spare their blushes.
Instead this chump jogs his way towards an early grave to raise the kind of money that professional anti-smokers wouldn't bother to pick up if it fell in the street, while quack researchers pick up millions of dollars to sit around conjuring up voodoo science in California.
You'd need a heart of stone not to laugh.