Fog, Smog, and Smoke

Author: Elio F. Gagliano, MD
Article Published: 2009/01/05

A Philippine journalist criticizing road traffic complains about exhaust ... from tobacco smokers!

All I know about Marvin A. Tort (also known as "Sway") is that he is a journalist at BusinessMirror, a Philippine newspaper published in English. I came across his column entitled "A tale of two Makati cities" in which he writes about the heavy and chaotic traffic that chokes areas around Makati city, where he lives.

There is nothing unusual about that, as that problem is not exclusive to Makati; what I found amusingly ridiculous is his "Swaying" between the crush of cars, unruly drivers, and pedestrians, including municipal workers: "their undisciplined crew men [in charge of towing illegally parked cars] linger and loiter in the area, smoke and eat and, at times, relieve themselves as they pass time", generating the dreaded passive smoke.

He apparently dreads evanescent wisps of tobacco smoke — not the fulsome exhaust from tailpipes — of course not!  Didn't you know that the exhaust systems of Philippine motor vehicles expel only aqueous vapour? They run on steam engines stoked up by solar energy!

Oh, Marvin, how can you be so damn silly?

Well, seeing his address at the end of this alternately routine and loony report, I wrote him as follows:

Dear Mr. Tort,

I read your article on BusinessMirror: "A tale of two Makati cities" (stored) as I am aware of the chaotic city traffic that reigns in the Philippines's cities (as in many other cities all over the world.) I found the article a perfect mirror of the reality and your comments and criticisms very appropriate, even when you say: "... it is the pits (perhaps you wanted to say 'it is a pity') when it comes to anti-littering and cleanliness." But I was shocked when I arrived at your closing paragraph, where you state: "It is difficult to walk along Ayala Avenue without significantly increasing one’s risk of lung cancer due to passive smoking or secondhand smoke."

I asked myself how a man of culture can come up with such nonsense.

Unless someone else added that last paragraph, can you actually believe that the filthy air produced by the various cars, Jeepneys, taxis, scooters, and other strange vehicles do not harm your health? Don't you see that what appears to be fog on the road is actually smog that you are breathing? Or do you think that "fog" is produced by the people smoking?

Now, you cannot be out of your mind, if you are the same person who wrote the main part of the article. And if you do not have loose screws in your brain, the explanations are among the following:

1. The antismoking campaign, mainly hinged on the passive smoke, brainwashed you along with the featherbrained crowd.
2. You are an intolerant little-minded person.
3. You receive a compensation for contributing to brainwashing people.
4. You are forced to write such foolishness by your boss.
5. You are financially and/or politically involved with the puppet show-man of the moment.

Have your pick, Marvin.

With no hard feeling,


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