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Advice from Dr Borenot
  1. 1 Victoria Terrace, Laytown
  2. County Meath, Republic of Ireland.
  3. dr.fhowell{at}

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    Know smoking. Simon T Bryant. Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Middle Way Publishing, 1997. ISBN-0-9681456-0-4, pp 220, $Can 21.61.

    Simon Bryant is a family doctor based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. In his work he has gained quite a lot of experience in dealing with smokers, their families, and the effects of smoking on individuals. He became aware that people appreciate being told the facts about smoking and the tobacco industry in a way that is relevant to them. He also learnt that humour is a much more successful tool to use compared with lecturing and preaching.

    Know smoking endeavours to tell the truth about smoking and perhaps more importantly, about quitting. Bryant uses a fictional setting in which an ambivalent heavy smoking senior tobacco industry executive (Mr Joe K Hamel!) consults a doctor with skills in helping people stop smoking (Dr Borenot). Over the course of 15 consultations, Dr Borenot takes Hamel through many of the issues involved: facts about smoking, why people smoke, nicotine and nicotine replacement, secondhand smoke, stress management, stages of change in smoking cessation, gender, weight gain, advertising, and of course, quitting and staying smoke free.

    During these consultations a significant amount of easily digestible information is made available to the reader in a user-friendly manner. Each chapter/consultation is between 10–16 pages long and can be read quickly. The book is primarily aimed at smokers, especially those who are thinking of, or trying to quit. It should prove useful to those who actively counsel smokers on smoking and the benefits of quitting and staying smoke free, and should be helpful as well to smokers themselves. I suspect that after reading this book, those involved in counselling smokers will be loathe to pass on their own copy of the book to their patients.

    However, the book also has an audience outside this narrow group of people. There are many healthcare professionals, and indeed the general public, who would benefit from reading this book. The information about smoking is provided factually, concisely, and in a manner that is easy to take on board. Given that smoking is such a significant public health problem worldwide, Know smoking is an excellent “info-novel” in laying the foundations for more detailed reading on this important subject.

    Know smoking can be ordered by mail from Middle Way Publishing Inc., PO Box 70008 (BPO), Calgary, Alberta, T3B 5K3, Canada, or by email (sbryant{at}

    The top sign is from the Tobacco Institute and the bottom one is from the California Department of Health Services. We don’t see the difference, except that the Tobacco Institute’s sign is clearer and stronger. Tobacco control advocates should worry when their programmes so closely resemble those of the tobacco industry. (Photo of a door at a San Francisco petrol (gas) station by Edith Balbach—submitted by Stanton Glantz.