Smoke-free + Choice = Haven't Got a Clue

Author: Pat Nurse
Article Published: 27 March 2009

Wherever you are, Gian, I hope this puts a smile on your face.

I cannot start my first column since the great loss of Gian Turci without mentioning how very sad I am that he is gone. As someone who will remain a hero and founding father of the pro-choice movement, and forever embedded in people’s memories, he is and will be throughout time,  immortal.

Perhaps he would have found the story I am about to tell amusing. Perhaps he would think it disgraceful. Perhaps both. Maybe he would even be proud. Unfortunately, I didn’t know him well enough to know what his reaction would be. I wish I had.

The other day my sister went to a local supermarket and there were two smoke-free people there dressed in silly suits.

"Can we help you stop smoking?" they enquired as she walked through the door.

"I am a non-smoker," she replied.

"OK, " they said. "Then perhaps you know someone else that we can help to stop smoking?"

My sister, who has never smoked in her life and doesn’t like it, said : "Absolutely not! I’m pro-choice."

"Pro-choice?" they asked, amazed. "What on earth is that?"

She went on to explain and it rather worried them because they still didn’t get it. She also explained how as a lifelong non-smoker, she has had cancer, is not very fit, and yet her sister (yours truly) as a lifelong smoker is in the best of health and can run up a flight of stairs in a way that she cannot.

I said it was a shame that she didn’t tell me right away that these people were there. I would have popped down the road, bought a pack of cigarettes, and stood next to them handing out free fags to anyone — over the age of 18 — who wanted them.

I know of one pro-choice activist in Britain who has done this before. His wife went to get a pack of cigs as he waited outside. Two smoke-free people ridiculously dressed as cigarettes were trying in vain to hand out "quit smoking" leaflets and after 10 minutes, they had no takers.

When the man’s wife came out of the shop, he took her cigs off her, opened the pack, stood near the smoke-free wallys and then began to hand out free cigs. The pack had gone within five minutes. It is an experiment I am very keen to try myself.

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