Montreal

Smoking defended by Quebec doctor

A Quebec psychiatrist has sparked controversy with a new book that comes to the defence of smokers and even promotes some benefits of smoking.

A Quebec psychiatrist has sparked controversy with a new book that comes to the defence of smokers and even promotes some benefits of smoking.

In Écrasons la cigarette, pas le fumeur, which translates as "Crush the cigarette, not the smoker," Dr. Jean-Jacques Bourque said there is too much pressure put on smokers to quit.

In the book, to be released Wednesday, Bourque, a smoker himself, is critical of the warning labels that must be printed on tobacco packaging, saying they go too far.

The former president of the province’s Association of Psychiatrists said smoking can be helpful for those suffering from deep depression.

"Sometimes antidepressants aren’t enough — it is an individual approach for everyone," Bourque said in an interview with Radio-Canada.

Bourque said the concerns about the dangers of second-hand smoke are overblown.

"The idea that is promoted by the Quebec government, that second-hand smoke is more dangerous than the smoke inhaled by someone who is smoking, is completely off the rails," Bourque said.

The psychiatrist said he is not encouraging people to smoke, but believes further efforts by the anti-tobacco lobby to cut back on the number of smokers would be futile.

Critics fuming

Anti-smoking activists are calling the book irresponsible.

"Smokers are indeed the victims here — they are the victims of an industry, of its products, they need to be made aware of the harms that smoking does," said Flory Doucas, co-director of the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control.

The decision to release the book right after the new year, when people are often trying to change their lifestyle for the better, is especially unfortunate, said Doucas.

"It is very hard to quit smoking and often smokers will procrastinate," Doucas said. "This kind of book kind of consoles them and gives them the false assurance that they don’t need to quit right away.

"Actually, every cigarette does you harm and so it is important to quit now," Doucas said.

now