Responding to both customer and crew complaints, B.C. Ferry Services Inc. is currently implementing the new restrictions on all vessels on all of its major routes (Mainland - Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands, Sunshine Coast, etc.).
Philip Morris is planning to test-market a Marlboro-branded snuff product in the U.S., and BAT (the company that sells Player's, Du Maurier, and Matinee) is planning to introduce a snuff product in Canada. At the same time, U.S. Tobacco, the producer of Skoal snuff products, has stepped up their marketing in Canada with print advertising.
The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, a high-profile U.S. organization, has responded by lobbying for giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products. Click here to read their press release about it.
Airspace Action on Smoking and Health is making a similar effort; we are lobbying the governments of Canada and British Columbia to treat snuff like any other consumer product, which would mean removing it from store shelves.
While I'm quite well aware of the corporate links between the Vancouver Sun and the Province (which, coincidentally, aren't entirely unlike those between Player's and du Maurier, for example), I never suspected that the editors of either paper had the time -- or the inclination, for that matter -- to smoke...I mean, to read...the others' paper. But apparently somebody at the Province has been reading the Sun!
That said, I have no qualms whatsoever about anything Sun reporter Neal Hall wrote in his May 24 article ("Suit filed in condo smoking battle"). It would have been nice, however, if somebody from the Province had taken the trouble to actually interview me, directly (as Hall did), before writing an editorial purporting to know what we, at Airspace Action on Smoking & Health, do or do not 'believe'.
The May 3 and May 10 issues of the Georgia Straight contained ads for “Skoal Long Cut Citrus smokeless tobacco”.
This is a flavoured snuff product. Why flavoured? Because snuff is tobacco that is consumed by putting it in your mouth. Tobacco is a toxic substance, and the natural reaction of anyone who attempts to consume snuff for the first time is to spit it out. Quickly. Giving a cherry or citrus flavour to snuff greatly increases the odds that a snuff user, especially a child, will try it more than once.
Snuff is at least as toxic as cigarettes. Usage of it is not as socially unacceptable as cigarettes, mainly because people who use it don’t make the entire room smell like dead animals. They still get those yellow teeth, though. The tobacco industry would very much like to sell the idea of an alternative nicotine delivery system, and they have a willing accomplice in the Georgia Straight.
The Georgia Straight has a long history of taking the tobacco industry’s money. During the 1990's, when the tobacco industry used sponsorships of motor racing, fashion shows, golf, tennis, jazz concerts, and fireworks displays to evade restrictions on cigarette advertising, the pages of the Georgia Straight were littered with ads for these “products”.During 1996 and 1997, when earlier restrictions on cigarette advertising imposed by Parliament were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, advertisements for “Canadian Classics” cigarettes appeared weekly in the Georgia Straight.
Airspace Action on Smoking and Health has a long history of opposition to flavoured snuff products. We managed to get a private member’s bill introduced in the Legislative Assembly that would have outlawed the sale of such products in British Columbia. It’s time to re-visit this idea.
An organization called "Tobacco Farmers in Crisis" staged a protest in Delhi, Ontario on February 26. The President of this organization is Brian Edwards, who gave up on growing tobacco three years ago.
The protesters were asking for a government handout, but this time, there's a twist. They weren't asking for crop subsidies, price supports, marketing help, or restrictions on imports. Instead, they want the Federal government to put in a slight increase in the Federal tax on cigarettes, and use the revenue to finance the conversion of tobacco farms to other crops. What they are advocating is similar to a program adopted in the U.S. three years ago.
This offer of surrender terms was prompted by the reality that the quotas mandated by the marketing board for tobacco are only 20% of what they were ten years ago, and these quotas might be even lower this year. This doesn't, of course, mean that the sale of cigarettes in Canada has dropped by 80%. It means that the three principal distributors of cigarettes in Canada (this is worded to include BAT [as in Players and du Maurier], which has its corporate offices in London, UK, and now manufactures cigarettes for the Canadian market in Mexico) are purchasing most of their raw tobacco from third-world countries, primarily Brazil.
Now, we could be uncharitable and point out that these same people were complaining ten years ago that cigarette taxes were too high, and that five years ago, they were asking the government for marketing help. That would be a bad idea. The current Conservative government could, for idealogical reasons, respond by abolishing the marketing board. This would bankrupt most tobacco growers, but it would keep a few big ones in business, and they would still have some clout in Ottawa.
The "exit strategy" advocated by Tobacco Farmers in Crisis would be better for just about everyone. Airspace wants the tobacco industry removed from this planet, and this would be a step in that direction. The distributors of cigarettes in Canada would no longer be able to hold these tobacco growers hostage, and the absence of any Canadian content in their product will make these corporations even more unpopular.
Tobacco Farmers in Crisis deserves some credit for being realistic about the tobacco industry's future. Their activities have gotten little attention from the mainstream media. What they are doing deserves to be taken seriously.
After becoming a lifetime member of the world-renowned Non-Smokers' Rights Association about 20 years ago and attending several NSRA AGMs and various and sundry anti-tobacco conferences over the years, I'm proud to call Gar a friend.
Again, congratulations Gar, on having the Order of Canada recently bestowed upon you. You have been, you are and you will no doubt continue to be one of the biggest reasons why the good guys are winning the War on Tobacco.
Errol E. Povah
President, Airspace Action on Smoking & Health