Smoke 'em if you got 'em

The provincial New Democrats and Liberals don't agree on much. In fact, you don't even want to be in the same room with them if the issue of privatization or labour relations comes up. But both sides of the house seem to agree tobacco sales should be banned in pharmacies. In an interview with The Vancouver Sun, New Democrat Mike Farnworth said "there's something slightly oxymoronic about having tobacco products in pharmacy. Pharmacists are there to help people, to care for people. Tobacco products kill people." And Liberal Colin Hansen backed the Port Coquitlam-Burke Mountain MLA up adding, "The reality is that tobacco is killing people and costing our health system many hundreds of millions of dollars." There's just one little problem though: the MLAs made that commitment two elections and five years ago, back when Mr. Farnworth was health minister and Mr. Hansen was his Opposition critic.

Today, the province is now run by the Liberals. And since Gordon Campbell moved into the premier's West Annex digs, the proposed ban has vanished from the headlines and the government's agenda. In fact, last year, the legislature's select standing committee on health's first report stated the majority of its members "rejected legislating the removal (of tobacco from drugstores) and rather encouraged the College, the pharmacists and the general public to continue to lobby pharmacy chains for the voluntary removal of tobacco products."

This, despite the fact six other provinces have already outlawed or will be outlawing such sales. And the British Columbia College of Pharmacists - the regulatory body responsible for the profession - passed a council resolution in 2000 calling on government to ban tobacco sales in drugstores by 2002.

So what happened? The current health minister, George Abbott, couldn't say why Minister Hansen didn't follow through on the resolution. And Minister Hansen didn't return a phone call seeking comment.

But speaking with Public Eye, former government minister Ted Nebbeling, who describes himself as having been one of the committee's strongest anti-smoking members, said he and his colleagues rejected the ban because government shouldn't be legislating business practices.

"What's next? Are you going to tell people you can't serve farmed salmon in the restaurant? I don't think so!" Nebbeling exclaimed.

Former committee chair Val Roddick added there was a rural-urban split on the committee, with those from constituencies outside metropolitan areas opposing the ban.

Using more aquaculture comparisons, Ms. Roddick said "It's like fish-farming - the urban areas don't like fish farming. But up the coast - in the hinterland or heartland or Interior of British Columbia - the people are more pro-fish farming because it means jobs. Smoking is the same issue."

Ms. Roddick said the British Columbia College of Pharmacists was one of three groups that made committee presentations in favour of a ban. And she said, to the best of her knowledge, no committee members were not lobbied by those opposed to a ban.

But, in an interview, Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores regional director Jim Waters confirmed he has spoken in the past to both Minister Hansen and former Health Planning Minister Sindi Hawkins - urging them not to outlaw cigarette sales.

"We encourage our members to look at the voluntary removal of tobacco from their store shelves," said Mr. Waters - something many independent pharmacies but only a minority of chain store association members have already done. But the association's members oppose a ban because "it would seem unfair public policy."

The reason? "It's a fact of commercial life that our members compete with other retailers - not just for sales but for (customer) traffic which drives sales." And Mr. Waters says cigarette sales drive traffic to drugstores.

But when asked about a pharmacist college study showing the Ontario ban had little impact on pharmacies, Mr. Waters said, "I can't dispute that." Although, anecdotally, he says some rural independent pharmacies are concerned about losing or even going out of business if those sales become illegal.

But if the chain stores aren't impacted, why is his association opposing the ban?

"Simply two words: it's the principle," explained Mr. Waters. "It would be a dangerous precedent our members feel...We keep hearing that obesity is the new tobacco. So who's to say that someone isn't going to be campaigning to move chocolate bars and potato chips out of our members stores. And we don't support that."

Mr. Waters is joined in supporting a voluntary rather than a legislative ban by the British Columbia Pharmacy Association, a professional organization. In an interview, deputy chief executive officer Ken McCartney said has been no evidence proving smoking rates diminish when pharmacies are banned from selling tobacco. Mr. McCartney denied the pharmacy association's position had anything to do with the fact its members include chain drug stores.

But the college remains firm in its position that selling tobacco in a health care setting is both harmful to "the professional reputation of pharmacy" and an ethical concern for pharmacists, who feel uncomfortable dispensing get-well advice in a store that sells so-called sin sticks.

And, in its written submission to the select standing committee, the college notes "when tobacco is sold and displayed in the same manner as vitamins and cough drugs, it suggests a level of endorsement of tobacco" - which, unlike chips and chocolate, aren't safe for consumption in any amount.

"This current government has made the statement that it wants to be the healthiest jurisdiction ever to host the Olympics. And I think (a ban on tobacco sales in pharmacies) would be right in line with that," says college registrar Marshall Moleschi.

And will those arguments sway the Campbell administration's new health minister?

"The issue of how we continue to encourage broader tobacco cessation is under discussion. So I'm not rejecting any option at this point to encourage tobacco cessation," says Minister Abbott.

But if those cessation initiatives include banning tobacco sales in pharmacies, at least the New Democrats and the Liberals will have something to agree on. The following is a backgrounder on the present state of tobacco sale bans in other provincial jurisidictions.

***

New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec

Tobacco sales in pharmacies are outlawed in these four provinces. Ontario was the first, introducing a ban in 1995. New Brunswick followed two years later, Quebec a year after that and Nova Scotia in 2000.

Newfoundland and Labrador

This year, the Newfoundland Pharmaceutical Association put into force ban on tobacco sales in its standards of practice, which are empowered by the force of law. The legislature passed a ban on such sales in 2000 but didn't proclaim it.

Prince Edward Island

Health and Social Services Minister Chester Gillian tabled legislation last year that would ban tobacco sales in pharmacies. The Canadian Cancer Society's Prince Edward Island division's communications manager Amy Wheaton says "when the fall legislature starts up again (in November) we're hoping to see that legislation go through."

Manitoba

According to the National Non-Smoking Week 2005 status report the government has been "urging pharmacies to voluntarily withdraw from tobacco sales." And "failing a positive response" the government will legislate a ban.

Saskatchewan

In 2000, a special all party committee recommended banning tobacco sales in pharmacies - a ban supported by 70 percent of residents in a government poll. But Representative Board of Saskatchewan Pharmacists executive director Brett Filson says, "the discussions we had again last spring did not give us an indication that there was going to be a move to change."

Alberta

In 2002, government caucus members pushed then Health Minister Gary Mar to abandon proposed legislation that would have included a ban on tobacco sales in pharmacies. The caucus members believed a ban would infringe on business rights.

***

Six provinces may have already outlawed tobacco sales or will be outlawing them this year. But those bans, which are supposed to include shops with in-store pharmacies (such as groceries), haven't been a complete success. The reason: those shops have, in some cases, tried to get around the ban by walling off those pharmacies and turning them into separate stores. And others are continuing to sell tobacco at enclosed kiosks accessible via outdoor entrances.

23 Comments

Could Campbell's cosy relationship with Republican owned and controlled companies have anything to do with this?
The record in the US shows time and again that the GOP has blocked any effort to sanction tobacco corporations.
I guess it must be a case of mutual respect among mass murderers.

Does anyone else see the hypocrisy of goverments allowing a poison which kills 45,000 Canadians every year to continue to be sold?

I think you have got it right SWA, the only reason that cigarettes are sold in BC is because of Gordon Campbell's cozy ties to the Republicans. That is some excellent insight into an issue that I thought was very complex but now realize can be explained, like most problems, by saying that Gordon Campbell and George W. Bush are evil.

If you want to talk about hyprocrisy, why does no one bring up that federal and provincial governments in Canada make more money in tax revenue than the cigarette companies make in profits for each pack sold, a lot more, I cannot site an exact figure but it is something close to Taxes = $5/pack, Big Tobacco = $0.50/pack.

No government will change anything to do with cigarettes because they rely to heavily on the taxes which flow into general revenue, and that has nothing to do with your so-called Campbell/Republicans smoking conspiracy - it applies to all levels of government throughout Canada regardless of who is in power.

You obviously didn't read my last statement or Sean's article.

I said

"Does anyone else see the hypocrisy of goverments allowing a poison which kills 45,000 Canadians every year to continue to be sold?"

When I pluralized the word government I was referring to every federal goverment we've ever had.
Now, Campbell's government is reneging on a past pledge to remove tobacco from pharmacies. I ventured that since Campbell is cozy with other Republican companies it would certainly be within the realm of possibility that he is making decisions about government legislation regarding tobacco based on those prior disturbing relationships.

Polkaroo..I like shooting my mouth off too but the difference between you and I is that I do extensive research first and am very careful with context and content.


I'm sure organized crime would love to see all Tobacco sales cut off, it surely would provide them with a renewed revenue stream. Drugs, prostitution, and gambling surely aren't enough to sustain them, with inflation and all.

However this particular decision is a tough one. I really can't stand governments legislating limitations on personal choices, however, I guess there are precedents. We do limit alcohol sales to licensed establishments.

The rural concern is of note though. In some towns, the liquor store and the pharmacy are one and the same and often the only place in town. The competitive aspect is also understandable. This would mean banning tobacco in London Drug's, Pharmasaves, and countless grocery stores who mave multiple departments.

You Dan, like millions of others, can't seem to see the massive hypocrisy in allowing a dirty mass killer like tobacco to be sold legally while one of the least toxic herbs on the planet is persecuted.

Your point about OC is usually the first one governments trot out when pressed on the legality of tobacco. In fact that point is a red herring and the stats back me up. Organized Crime already profits massively from the prohibition on black market drugs. The resulting crime from addicts stealing to service their habit could be lessened by a huge margin if the drugs in question were legal.

Tobacco kills 45,000 a year in Canada. Black market drugs kill 1700 (1992 figures).

Uncle Sam is the driving force behind this hypocrisy and yes...Canadian tax revenues keep our governments complicit in this carnage.

They could start by banning smoking in bars, cafes etc.

Oh, wait... Hansen was part of that delirious crew that overturned the WCB ban against smoking in the workplace.

When tobacco was brought from the New World 500 years ago it was banned everywhere in the Old World by Church and State. In Islam smokers were hung up by their thumbs in the marketplace with their pipe rammed through their nose as a warning to others. Just as in the modern "war on drugs" nothing stopped it. It sold on an international black market for its weight in silver and travelled right around the globe in just 50 years. Governments soon learned that it would bear any amount of tax and it was a State monopoly in most countries until the mid-20th century.
It's interesting that the argument used in favour of recreational drug use, i.e. that people have the right to control what they put in their bodies, should be suspended in the case of tobacco. Alcohol kills at least as many, as do poor dietary and sanitary habits. Is there a case to be made for compulsory teetotalling, vegetarianism and hand-washing?

GVI, I'd rather have it limited to bars than banned in them. I rarely smoke, but I think there must be some allowances for public consumption. However, I'm not familiar with a single cafe in town that still allows it, or any family restaurants. Let gluttons be gluttons if when they so choose, having a society based on bans and limitations must be checked, are only real limits must be when ones freedoms infringe or limit anothers.

"It's like fish-farming - the urban areas don't like fish farming. But up the coast - in the hinterland or heartland or Interior of British Columbia - the people are more pro-fish farming because it means jobs. Smoking is the same issue."

Smoking means jobs? Considering that, to my knowledge, not a single leaf of tobacco is grown in this province, how the hell does that work? If you're talking about retail sales, there's no difference between Vancouver and Fernie. And in any case, it's a poor pharmacy which is reliant upon tobacco revenues to stay in business.

As for the smuggling argument; well, if organized crime is switching from smuggling hard drugs to cigarettes, pardon my ignorance but isn't that a GOOD thing?

One final word on the taxes issue, as well - the last time I checked, the government spent nine times as much treating smokers as it took in on taxes. So there goes the fiscal argument as well. The only reason I can see for the government dragging it's feet on this is the traditional, cozy arrangement between the tobacco companies and the political right wing.

Shannon, I don't think organize crime switches targets, they just diversify.

As for the cost of smokers versus the tax, I have my doubts about that. A pack a day smoker is probably paying nearly $150 a month in taxes, the compound value on that over their life time is quite great, (whats that, about $80-100K over 40 years) and thats in addition to the taxes they already pay. Also, those smokers who pose a drain on the health care system and fall to afflictions, pose a lot less drain on other social services including the CPP, and other assorted health costs. Not that I would want to encourage people to smoke for fiscal reasons...

Grice

Your're so full of it you should go into large scale agribusiness.

Dan Grice...the guy who wants to buy tickets to attend a CPC internal workshop(check out "autographs not included" thread)...the guy who is suckholing for the Republican party to give him a junior G man/snitch badge.

Last year the BC government took in over $450 million in tobacco taxes, a figure which hasn't changed much in 10 years. For Canadians of all ages the leading cause of death is automobiles until they reach the age of 60, at which time heart disease (resulting from too much sitting around and eating badly) becomes number one. This is slow mass suicide on a scale which makes the tobacco threat meaningless.

Steve

Your google is flapping in the breeze

There are approx 4000 deaths from automobile accidents every year and 45,000 deaths from tobacco. Those are both government stats.
Are you going to make a case for auto polution causing disease leading to death? Please do.

It still doesn't diminish the fact that tobacco sales are government/corporate sponsored genocide.

Diseases of the circulatory system accounted for 74,824 deaths in 2001, about 34% of 219,538 total deaths in Canada.
Cancers were responsible for 29% of deaths. Although better treatments and screening tools have reduced the mortality rate, 63,774 Canadians died from some form of cancer in 2001. Lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancer accounted for about half of all cancer deaths.

In 1999, lung cancer alone was responsible for over 120,000 potential years of life lost among Canadians from birth to age 74. Colorectal cancer was responsible for nearly 39,000 potential years of life lost.

Among various selected causes of death (including colorectal and lung cancers, cerebrovascular diseases, strokes and suicides), unintentional injuries, such as motor vehicle accidents, falls, poisonings and drownings, were responsible for the most potential years of life lost before the age of 75, at 203,799 years; next was suicide at 130,715 years.

In 2001, a total of 3,032 Canadians died as a result of accidents involving cars, motorcycles and other vehicles. These fatal accidents often involve young people. Individuals aged 15 to 24 represented only 1% of all deaths in 2001, yet they accounted for 24% of deaths as a result of transport accidents.

Source : http://142.206.72.67/02/02b/02b_003_e.htm

Ah, sleeps, thanks for the cross reference and ad hominem. When you are too incompetent to throw up a decent counterpoint, go after their credibility with falsities. I didn't see that listed in the CPC agenda, so please let inform me which party includes that in their workshops.

My interests in the CPC convention were topical not ideological, and more tongue in cheek than anything. Regardless of your thoughts on the party, as a political geek, their sessions could apply to any party, or independent campaign and look interesting. I do know a number of the presenters, and probably could have snuck my way into it, but alas, although I respect them, my own ideas of the direction for this country and the CPC, (as well as the NDP or Ls) don't lineup enough for me to join them. While I'd pay for a conference, I wouldn't at this point join the party, even if the later was less.

Grice

Your own words in many different threads underlines your dishonesty..intellectual and otherwise. So you like the CPC..so what..just don't try and use weasel words to deny it.
It seems that every time someone makes an argument against anything the political right embraces..you are right there to try and refute it...usually with half baked logic.

"As for the cost of smokers versus the tax, I have my doubts about that. A pack a day smoker is probably paying nearly $150 a month in taxes, the compound value on that over their life time is quite great, (whats that, about $80-100K over 40 years) and thats in addition to the taxes they already pay. Also, those smokers who pose a drain on the health care system and fall to afflictions, pose a lot less drain on other social services including the CPP, and other assorted health costs. Not that I would want to encourage people to smoke for fiscal reasons..."

That bit of mental jerkery realy takes the prize for lame and pathetic. Only a true twit would attempt to argue against the fact of the massive costs, in financial and personal terms that tobacco has caused our society, with the argument that the taxes collected far outweigh the medical costs for treating the resulting disease. I expect you to come back with " Oh my calculator was on the fritz". What about the human cost Dan? Oh no..let's not let 45,000 deaths a year get in the way of the enjoyment of personal freedoms.

But by all means..fill your boots..I can't wait to see what you come up with next.

What dishonesty? I have my issues with the CPC over their stance on social issues, and their desire to run us into an election, when I'm quite happy with a minority government. I'm also getting sick of the messages of tax cuts here, and tax cuts there, when I think debt reduction should be an economic priority. Also, they've pretty much dropped all the reforms of the Manning reform movement, in attempts to pander to Ontario. Currently. I'm more inclined to support the NDP federally, as long as I don't end up with a wacko like Svend running in my riding. Anything to keep the Liberals in check.

As for my statement regarding smoking, yes human costs are a huge loss. And I have no support for Tobacco companies, who have used deceptive marketing for way too long, and who need to be kept in check. But I don't belief that smokers are 9 times the drain on the system either. Fiscally, I try to look at all the numbers.

This does not temper my belief in personal freedoms, which I try not to pick and choose at their convenience. Take a look across the line at things like the Patriot Act, which arbitrarily strips people of their rights, based on the potential loss of life's that a "terrorist activity" could hold.

If we are to limit any freedom's, we must not take an arbitrary line of reason, just because it fits in with our moral code. We must ask ourselves, in exercising our freedom's our we infringing on others freedoms. If so, how do we maximize the ability for both parties to live. This is hard, and I'll admit, on certain issues I'll waiver, or change my mind, as there is no absolute.

However, Sleeps, I'm not trying to win you over and am almost envious about you. For your intellectual world seems much simpler than mine. It must be much easier when you don't try to think for yourself, and when you can draw your personal beliefs strictly on party line. It also must be wonderful to believe the right is a political homogenous organization, and that all corporations are bad. A black and white world where every issue has two sides, with a clear dividing line seperating the evil neo-con way of thinking from everyone else.

fer crissakes..that's more like it dan

you should reread some of the stuff you've written..it's painful

there will be a really great exchanges of ideas or a debate between well thought out POV's and then dangrice.com will interject some half baked, grammatically suspect, typo laden piece of dreck..and yes..you have a propensity to either play devil's advocate when uncalled for or more often you just leap into the breech to back up some morally repungnant piece of right wing propaganda.

Do your self a favour and google until you see the costs of caring for tabacco disease and then get the tax revenue numbers..shannon is right.

bottom line..I enjoyed reading your last post even if I wasn't in complete agreement..because it didn't suck..it was a good piece

Hey, it's Dagmar.

Selling cigarettes at the pharmacy seems to make as much senseas selling 'medicinal marijuana'. And I would be inclined to agree that when you factor in health care costs, it is at best a revenue neutral exercise.

Only the freaky right CPC crowd supports freeing up cigarette sales. Hey, I support business making money as much as the next normal Canadian, but when it is at the expense of everyone else... but it just kills me that the same left-wing freaks here who support making pot and other drugs more available also support restricting cigarette sales. Huh? At least modern medicine has found a way to transplant diseased lungs. But there's no way to transplant burnt out pot brains. Either restrict all harmful substances, or none, in my view.

Hey Dagmar

Speaking of burnt out brains..have you taken the time to go back and read your input on this site?

You remind me of one of those boozy, steroid freaks that hang around in bars and bitch about poor people with your equally moronic buddies.

Union members who have a sense of social consciousness always cringe when confronted with the POV's of losers like you. Only a self loathing whackjob like you or a rabid right winger would go public with an unintelligent and uninformed attack on those receiving welfare.

Your 'view' has been noted..the stench of it lingers.

Hey. It's Dagmar.

I can only hope that you go and get help for your pot addiction. It is making you angry and discombobulated in your thinking.

As for your 'reasoned' attack, condider this: If someone has enough money to buy pot, then buys pot. and then has no more money, is it society's fault that they're out of cash?

Love and kisses,

Daggy

Dagmar, first of all. As for "no way to transplant burnt out pot brains", check out this article. Rather than burning out brains, it actually is found to cause renewal of growth in otherwise placid areas.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20051014.wxcanna1014/BNStory/specialScienceandHealth/

As for the rightwing CPC crowd pushing cigarette sales. What? Do you know the demographics of the average smoker? "Smoking prevalence was higher among adults living below the poverty level (32.3 percent) than those living at or above the poverty level (23.5 percent)." Does this sound like the average CPC member? These issues are not left versus right.

Sleeps, I'll admit I take positions that sometimes I don't entirely belief myself, but often, i'm looking for a good counterpoint to areas I'm unsure of. Tobacco is by no means healthy, should be kept out of the hands of children, and people must be aware of the risks. I'm an occasional smoker, so I've watched the prices on Tobacco double in 10 years, and a number of of legislative actions being taken. I don't think I have a right to smoke wherever I feel like it, but I'm also not sure about legislation than bans establishment from offering me a room in which I can smoke. Even if its an outdoor patio, or a covered awning, I think its nice to choose an establishment where I can smoke if I so desire.

As for the economic costs of smoking, I'm not sure what exact the numbers are. I've googled it and the numbers are all over the board, and I've got a health Canada one that says the cost of treating smokers is twice the amount of tax revenue from smokers, but thats a partial map. I've seen other studies showing that because smoking related deaths often happen in the 50-60s range, there are actual less overall costs, when you take into account lifetime healthcare/pension/social/pharmaceutical costs of a population thats now living much longer after the mandatory retirement age than ever before. I'm sure you will see these arguments come out when the BC Government sues the Tobacco companies. (We don't have the same punitive system as the US, so I doubt the firms will settle like they did down south). This argument is not fluff, but it is simplistic and ignores human costs and suffering, as even I'll admit our society is more than a ledger. So when consequentialist libertarians such as myself introduce arguments like this, its to find the middle road between complete state regulation and complete laissez faire.

hey dagmar

Let's run this one up the flag pole and see who salutes...you spend your free time driving around the DTES looking for trouble then head home to your mate..a rough trick named Butch.
She beats you up again and then you flick on the computer to take out your frustrations on the poor and potheads as Butch lights up another spliff in the bedroom....pot purchased with her last welfare cheque.

Dan

I appreciate the honesty of your stance on tobacco. As a lifetime non smoker I used to be pretty relaxed about what others use of nicotine until I had children and watched one of them as a teenager, then as a young adult struggle with an addictive killer. Then I got mad. You must realize in retrospect that your point about the demographics of smokers doesn't negate my view that right wing parties have an interest in protecting the tobacco industry. Compromising the lifespans of the poverty stricken meshes with the typical POV of far right strategists.

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