Friday, 19 November 2010

The last anti-smoking volunteer walks on



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.

12 comments:

ChrisB said...

A real sign of the public support for anti-tobacco - mirrors the public donations to charities such as ASH.

No one wants the BANS but we're getting them anyway

subrosa said...

Laugh VG? I couldn't see the keyboard for 5 minutes. :)

Anonymous said...

If I had known earlier, and if there was a map of his walk and its progress online somewhere, I probably could have driven by to give him a good heckle. Based on where he's coming from and where he's headed, it isn't unlikely that he walked right through my town.

I'm kidding of course. I'm sure I wouldn't bother, but I can't say that it wouldn't occur to me.

-WS

banned said...

Would be such a shame if he got run over by a truck.

Anonymous said...

Would be such a shame if he got run over by a truck .....

.... delivering smokes!

Or had a heart attack, or developed lung problems from all the traffic fumes he's sucking in, or .....

Mcgraw said...

Laiff iz liku bogsa chocluts ya nevu no watcha gonna git.


Forest Gump did it, for nothing.

LOL.

Anarchyland said...

"Povah said 30 per cent of money raised will go to the charities, while the rest will go to the anti-tobacco lobby group he runs"

Oops!! Taking a little bit too much off the top 'eh Povah?

JJ said...

Watch Out For The Killer Trucker

He’s got the slogan Tobacco Kills emblazoned on the front of his T-Shirt…let’s hope some cigarette smoking trucker doesn’t plough into him – eh?

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine what a terrible shame it would be if when he reached the Philip Morris HQ he got - er - mugged? (snigger ....)

Anonymous said...

ROFLSO

Jay

Anonymous said...

I'm a smoker. i smoke a lot. And i can see and appreciate the irony of his situation. But i can't laugh at it. because i think it's sad. He's suffering from a delusion akin to madness. He clearly has mental health issues.

i agree with the posters who've said his lack of support represents how 'the public' feels about his crusade. but i wouldn't want to see him squashed by a truck.

Anonymous said...

When's the last time any of you loser NICOHOLICS had anything that resembled a VICTORY? Don't hold your breath waiting for one either!