??? The expected
life enjoyment of Canadian tobacco smokers has dropped quite a bit over
the past few months. Last November, our government announced a comprehensive
anti-tobacco strategy, including tax hikes, anti-smuggling initiatives
to counteract the tax hikes, and Bill C-71, The Tobacco Act.
??? The Tobacco
Act makes Canada’s tobacco laws among the toughest in the world. It places
restrictions on advertising and event sponsorship, and increases government
power to monitor and control the labeling of toxic ingredients in cigarettes.
Mr Butts Speaks Out?
??? In voicing
the tobacco industry’s concerns over Bill C-71, Robert Parker, President
of the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers’ Council, stated, “We acknowledge
that there are health risks associated with smoking.” No small acknowledgement
when you consider that tobacco prematurely ends the lives of about 41,000
Canadians a year, and that about twenty-one per cent of all deaths in Canada
are attributable to smoking.
continued, “For that reason we believe the decision to smoke, or not to
smoke, is one for informed adults to make.” Bob has a point, but to date
this argument hasn’t worked for cannabis smokers.
??? He continued,
“No factual evidence has been given… to explain how this Bill will accomplish
its announced objectives.” Again, Bob has a point. Norway banned tobacco
advertising and sponsorship over twenty years ago. Sales fell initially
but later rose. Unfortunately for the tobacco industry and event organizers,
Canadian policy-makers have never paid much attention to evidence from
Europe, and a lack of evidence explaining how a Bill would achieve its
announced objectives didn’t stop C-8.
??? Many Canadian
cities are banning indoor smoking outright, and Vancouver’s pub and restaurant
owners are not pleased. Sixty percent are opposed to the total ban on public
smoking and 87% say businesses should be free to work out seating arrangements
that accommodate the needs of both smokers and non-smokers.
??? The public
seems to agree. Last summer a survey by Macleans magazine stated that more
than two-thirds of Canadians surveyed do not favour any legislation to
don’t think the new Act goes far enough and have taken the law into their
own hands. A British Columbian anti-tobacco activist, charged with mischief
for throwing a paint ball at a Players’ cigarettes billboard, was given
an absolute discharge after calling expert witnesses to testify about the
perils of smoking.
Hard Core Reality
??? Health Minister
David Dingwall admitted not everyone would be pleased with the reforms
but he said it was the most comprehensive package the government could
hope for after the Supreme Court of Canada judgment in 1995 that upheld
the tobacco companies’ right to advertise.
??? “I would
have loved to be able to ban the product, but the hard-core reality is
we live in a real world,” Dingwall told a news conference. “The fact of
the matter is 7 million Canadians are addicted. If you want me to ban the
product, you are going to have smuggling and racketeering like you’ve never
seen before.” Though amazingly hypocritical, Dave has a point.
Cocaine, Heroin, Nicotine
??? The imaginary
line between tobacco and other recreational drugs is becoming more obscure.
Researchers from the University of Cagliari in Italy reported in the journal
Nature that nicotine acts on the brain in a similar way to cocaine and
heroin, and could be just as addictive. The scientists said experiments
on rats showed that nicotine stimulated the release of the neurotransmitter
??? Is this
news? Not really. A 1972 internal memo from Philip Morris conceded that
nicotine is chemically similar to cocaine and people smoke primarily to
get the substance into their bodies. The memo went on to suggest “Kool”
cigarettes were considered by focus groups to be the best “after marijuana”
smoke to maintain a “high.”
The War on Tobacco
??? Now the
War on Tobacco is borrowing tactics from the War on Drugs. The US Food
and Drug Administration just approved a urine test that can identify tobacco
users. The test is called Nic-Check, and it detects the level of nicotine
in a person’s body by exposing a chemically sensitive paper to a person’s
??? The BC
and Ontario provincial governments have been hiring teenage decoys to entrap
tobacco retailers who sell to minors. In BC, Health Minister Joy MacPhail
told a news conference that over 150 retailers have been convicted of selling
cigarettes to minors. “Selling cigarettes to youth is selling an addictive
substance to our children, a substance which causes disease and early death,”
Mr Butts, Meet Mr Christie
??? So how far
should our government go to protect our children? A cookie a day increases
your risk of heart disease by 1.49 per cent, whereas second-hand cigarette
smoke increases your risk of fatal heart disease by only 1.20 per cent.
A factor of 1.0 per cent is considered no risk at all, and the possibility
of lung cancer from second-hand smoke poses a risk factor of 1.19.
their scientific grounding, when Philip Morris ran advertisements in France
comparing the dangers of breathing in second-hand smoke to that of eating
cookies or drinking milk, a displeased French court called the ads “very
harmful” to the interests of French cookie makers.
The US Surgeon General’s office,
which puts warnings on cigarette packs and liquor bottles, recently announced
that sloth and obesity cause as much cancer as tobacco.
They’re Coming For You
??? Where will
it end? Calling exposing children to second-hand smoke a form of child
abuse, an Ontario Medical Association policy paper called for banning second-hand
smoke in homes. An Ontarian alderman has suggested a ban on smoking in
private vehicles containing children.
??? First they
came for the pot smokers, and I didn’t speak out because I don’t smoke
pot. They then came for the tobacco smokers, and I didn’t speak out because
I don’t smoke tobacco. Then they came for the people who eat red meat,
and I didn’t speak out because I’m a vegetarian. Then they came for me,
but by that time there was no one left to speak out.