15/03/09 In Memory of Gian Turci

This week notes the sad passing of a giant of the pro-choice movement: Gian Turci.  Sadly, I never got the chance to speak to Gian personally, but I was aware of him and had so many things I wanted to ask. Because I did not talk to him, I will not disservice him by attempting to write a piece on him, but instead will leave it to those who did know him instead: Colin Grainger and Andy Davies.

Andy Davies:

“I warmed to Gian the moment I met him.
He instantly commanded my respect and admiration.
He is an icon of our movement, and was a mentor to many of us within it.
Unmatched and irreplaceable, he will always be a true hero.”

Colin Grainger:

Today we report, with unspeakable sadness, on the tragic and sudden loss of our friend and mentor, Gian Turci.

Gian suffered a massive brain haemorrhage  followed by the systematic failure of his major organs and he died last night.

Gian was my mentor, and we spent many hours on the phone together. Mostly with me listening and him talking. He was a brilliant man, and a fantastic teacher. His background was in Engineering but when he moved back to Genoa from Canada he became a translator. This gave him the freedom to complete his contracts and also give superhuman effort to the cause. Thankfully, he used his great intelligence and his wit, to wonderful effect against those liars that he had spent the last 12 years fighting. His ethics were of a standard I couldn’t hope to match, and because he set high standards for himself, he wanted the same from his enemy, the anti-smoker cultists. Within hours of a new “study” emerging, Gian would dissemble it. He hated junk science with a passion, and would spend thousands of hours explaining why it was junk to thousands of others. Gian was for many years the CEO and President of FORCES International. He and his team rightly struck fear into the hearts of the zealots. Gian knew that they lied years ago, and continue to lie to this day about not only second hand smoke, but smoking itself. With infinite patience he explained to us why, using his black and white engineering mind. He knew that if an experiment could not be repeated with the same results each time then it is trash. Gian explained to me and many others why this is the case particularly with second hand smoke.

Despite Gian’s disgust for the anti-tobacco crowd, he was very well respected by people on both sides of this war. In turn, he was respectful to them. That isn’t to say that he did not have some stunning fights with them. And it wasn’t only the sycophants that suckle at the teat of Big Pharma that he fought with. Gian told me about a couple of humdingers he had with Big Tobacco too.

I could write all day about this great man, but I won’t. If you knew him or talked to him, then you know exactly what I am feeling, and, like me, you will probably be remembering his fantastic sense of humour. With Gian, you were never more than 60 seconds away from a laugh and a joke.

Many years ago I was going through a spiritual phase. You know, the old “What’s it all about? What’s the purpose of it all?” routine. My self-search led to to some great books and I recall reading that when we are born, the angels weep, and when we die, they rejoice because we are returned to them. I kind of like that. Although I fear a little for their peace and quiet now that Gian is home.

Death, of course, is the final price we pay for having lived. To Gian, and to me, it was all about quality of life, not quantity. If more people grasped that simple concept we would all live far happier lives. If the very best you can do with yours is to interfere with the pleasures of others, be prepared to answer for that one day. I, and millions like me, want nothing more than to be left alone. We harm no-one. Gian fought for over a decade to get the truth out to as many as he could. He did not need faith, he did not have to believe. He knew. He knew that anti-tobacco is a house of straw. I am just so very sad that he won’t be here to see it destroyed, totally and utterly.

When people die, we should not mourn their death but celebrate their lives. A fine theory but I am going to ignore my own advice and mourn the loss of my friend. Our thoughts, the thoughts of many, many thousands of people, are today with Gian’s wife Anne. We grieve with you Anne. We send our love, our thoughts and our prayers. You know, more than any one of us, just what a great man he was.

We will remember him always.

Goodbye, old friend.

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