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On May 31 it will be World No Tobacco Day, encouraging smokers to abstain from tobacco for just 24 hours. World No Tobacco Day was started by the UN’s World Health Organization in 1987, and each year there is a new theme: this year it is “Raise taxes on tobacco”. Should you wish to celebrate No Tobacco Day by giving up smoking, information and support can be gained from a number of government and community services.
The number of Australian smokers has dropped dramatically since World War II. In 1945, about three-quarters of men and a quarter of women smoked every day. Today it’s 16% of men and 13% of women, with numbers continuing to fall, making us one of the most successful countries at reducing smoking in the English-speaking world. That can be attributed to vigorous public anti-tobacco campaigns running since the 1980s.
Australia’s campaign against smoking began with William Cotter Burnell Harvey, a distinguished thoracic physician who devoted his lengthy career to the study and treatment of tuberculosis after his father (also a doctor) contracted the disease. Harvey had the satisfaction of seeing TB become less common, due to better testing and treatment, but over time he became concerned at the growing incidence of lung cancer.
In 1965 he helped found the Australian Council on Smoking and Health as part of his campaign against smoking, and was its president from 1966 to 1975. This didn’t make him popular with some, especially tobacco companies, who continued to deny there was any link between smoking and disease. However, William Harvey had been a POW during World War II who continued caring for his patients even as disease threatened his own life. He didn’t believe in giving up.
He visited schools and sporting bodies, he wrote to the newspapers, and he persuaded other doctors and medical organisations to join him in his campaign against tobacco. One of his achievements was the banning of cigarette vending machines in hospitals. Progress seemed slow, but he persisted, saying that he had great faith in “the inevitability of gradualness”. A devoted family man, Harvey was a keen gardener and surfer into his twilight years, and played golf, tennis and bowls. He passed away suddenly in 1981 at the age of 84 – a good advertisement for a life of healthy non-smoking.
William Harvey didn’t live to see the big government campaigns against smoking of the 1980s, but their existence and determination owe a great debt to his dedication and energy. And if I can reveal my hand, I have friends and family members who have given up smoking, and as a result I have got to spend many more years with them, or seen them live happier, healthier lives. Every one of them was convinced to give up by anti-smoking campaigns, so from the bottom of my heart, I thank you William Harvey.
Harvey is an English surname, and one of the earliest recorded. It is derived from the Breton personal name Huiarnuiu derived from the Old Breton name Huiarnviu, meaning “blazing iron”. The Gallic form of the name is Hervé, and St Hervé (or St Harvey) is one of Brittany’s most popular saints.
Hervé was born blind, and was a 6th century hermit and bard known for his humility. According to legend, he had the power to cure animals, and was always accompanied by a wolf. The story goes the wolf had eaten the ox that the saint used for ploughing, and St Hervé made such an eloquent sermon that the wolf volunteered to pull the plough instead, in penitence.
One of the followers of William the Conqueror during the Conquest was named Hereueu, another form of the Breton name. Use of the name as a surname followed almost immediately after the arrival of men with the first name, and is first found in Norfolk, where the Harvey family were granted lands for their services at the Battle of Hastings.
In Ireland, Harvey was used to Anglicise the Gaelic surname O’hAirmheadhaigh, meaning “grandson of Airmed”. Airmed is a goddess from Irish mythology, known for being a healer during a great battle. As she wept over the grave of her brother, who had been slain by her father, all the healing herbs of the world sprang up, watered by her tears. Airmed gathered them into her cloak, but her father scattered the herbs, so that no person can ever know all the secrets of herbalism – only Airmed. Her name is identical to a word meaning “a measure of grain”, although I’m not sure if that is the origin of the name.
Harvey was also used to Anglicise the Gaelic surname Ó hEarchaidh, meaning “son of Earchadh”. Earchadh is an Irish name that I have seen translated as “noble warrior”. By the way, William Harvey was very proud of his Irish Protestant heritage, so his surname was Irish, although most likely of English origin rather than Gaelic.
The name Harvey was #167 in the 1900s, and peaked in the 1940s at #141 – perhaps because of a family of cricketers from Victoria with the surname Harvey who flourished around this time. Harvey disappeared from the charts from the 1960s to the 1980s, but made a comeback in the 1990s when it ranked at #581.
Interestingly, this was the time when retail chain Harvey Norman, co-founded by maverick businessman Gerry Harvey, became a “superstore” business, with massive expansion. The name Harvey zoomed up the charts to make #314 for the early 2000s and #243 for the late 2000s. Harvey peaked in 2010 at #149, and then began dipping the next year – this coincides with Gerry Harvey’s unpopular campaign to make consumers pay Goods and Services Tax on items bought online from overseas websites.
Although Harvey is in the 100s in New South Wales, it is a Top 100 name in Victoria. Harvey entered the Victorian Top 100 in 2010, debuting at #100, and last year made #64. If you are in Victoria you probably think of Harvey as a popular and rising name, while in other states, Harvey may seem fashionable but underused. It is not clear at present if other states will follow Victoria’s lead, but as Harvey is Top 100 in the UK, and rising in the US, international trends suggest Harvey’s popularity here may be increasing.
Harvey is a cute, spunky name for boy, but there’s also something strong and masculine about it. This retro name has been underused for most of its history, and is now making a comeback – in at least one state, it is more popular now than at any other time. This may give some parents the jitters. Although it has only ever charted as a boy’s name, I have seen Harvey on a few girls in birth notices, and the Irish goddess does give this some legitimacy as a name for both genders.
Thank you to Vanessa for suggesting the name Harvey be featured on Waltzing More Than Matilda.