N.S. mass shooting ‘completely senseless,’ Mounties said. Experts disagree

Cigarettes used to be ubiquitous. Now, if you buy a pack, so are the pictures of the open-mouthed woman, her teeth like crooked, yellow Chiclets in a bed of nicotine-stained gums.“When you smoke it shows,” her label warns, but it’s basically a given that in 2020, you know this.Far fewer people smoke now than did in the 1960s, back when you had free reign to light up at work, in bars and even on airplanes. But the drop from half of Canadians smoking in 1965 to less than 16 per cent in 2018 didn’t just happen.When a federal minister first declared that smoking causes lung cancer in 1963, the industry pushed back. Hard. They said: “This ‘evidence’ was and remains inconclusive, no matter how often it is repeated and restated.”

In 1979, when Canada was discussing whether tobacco promotion should be banned, then-Progressive Conservative Leader Joe Clark called the idea ‘laudable but unrealistic.’

In 1979, when Canada was discussing whether tobacco promotion should be banned, then-Progressive Conservative Leader Joe Clark called the idea ‘laudable but unrealistic.’File photo/The Canadian PressBut it was repeated and it was restated, and by 1979, the debate was no longer about whether smoking was harmful but about whether tobacco promotion should be banned. Then-Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark called the idea “laudable but unrealistic.”Yet, within a week, the World Health Organization was recommending a wholesale advertising ban and a dramatic curtailment of tobacco production. Within a month, Norway tabled the results of its own government-backed anti-smoking campaign, revealing a notable decline in cigarette use — a remarkable example of what was possible if politicians threw their might behind an issue.READ MORE: Feminism met gunfire at École Polytechnique. It’s taken 30 years to call it what it wasFarheen Khan, a women’s rights advocate, thinks of those campaigns — that massive government undertaking to change society’s collective mind — in the aftermath of the worst mass murder in modern Canadian history, one that began with a horrific domestic violence attack that took the Royal Canadian Mounted Police nearly a week to disclose to the public.“In society, when we started to realize cigarette smoking was a problem, a lot of money was put into shifting that conversation,” she says.Story continues below

“Now, in this time, we absolutely know (domestic violence) is a problem. So why is it that we’re not doing the same type of thing? It’s something that we need to make a priority.”***The worst mass murder in modern Canadian history began with a horrific domestic violence attack: the gunman started arguing with his girlfriend at a party in Portapique, N.S., and continued fighting with her back at his home before assaulting her and tying her up. She escaped and hid overnight in the woods.The gunman’s girlfriend emerged from her hiding spot in the woods before 7 a.m. on Sunday, April 19. She called 911, and the RCMP soon realized it was dealing with an active shooter — one with a stockpile of weapons, a Mountie uniform and a look-alike cop car.WATCH: RCMP say no evidence of ‘hatred towards women’ in Nova Scotia mass shooting