A colleague sent me an article (PDF) from the current issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal and, frankly, I'm in shock (and, after 35 years of anti-tobacco activism, I'm not easily shocked).  I actually checked the calendar, to make sure it was NOT April Fool's Day.  And I double-checked the date on the article; there does not appear to be a typo in "2014".  Still not convinced it was true, I went to the CMAJ site and searched for the article.  In addition to the above-mentioned article, my search revealed a similar CMAJ article, from [coincidentally] April 1, 1992 (that's correct; 22 long years ago!) entitled, "Antismoking MDs use fighting words as they take aim at tobacco sales by pharmacies."  22 years ago!!!

With the exception of the comments made by Paul Billings, Jack Boomer and Simon Chapman, the current article is a joke...a very, very sick joke!

When Terry Lake became Health Minister almost a year ago, I had very high hopes that B.C. would join the rest of the country -- the 9 other provinces and 3 territories (and, dare I say, much of the rest of the 'civilized' world) -- and finally get tobacco out of pharmacies.  Today, after reading the CMAJ article, I'm reminded, yet again, that the B.C. Liberal$ are very much in bed with Big Tobacco.  Let me provide a little background.

 In 2001, when the B.C. Liberals first came to power, B.C. was #1 among the 13 Canadian provinces and territories...in terms of tobacco control.  One of the first major acts of the Gordon Campbell government was to gut the WCB No Smoking regulation, most notably those sections of it that applied to bar/pub workers.  Not surprisingly, after just 4 short years of Liberal rule, B.C. plummeted from first to 9th in TC.

I won't go into details here but, suffice to say, Premier Christy Clark carries Big Tobacco's torch even higher and prouder than Gordon Campbell did.

What has Lake been smoking:  Selling tobacco in pharmacies is a "sort of harm-reduction strategy"???  I'd love to know exactly how he "came to $ee" that notion.  And I have no idea who those "Some" are (who Lake refers to, who have, apparently, argued that tobacco should be sold ONLY [emphasis mine] in drugstores), but my guess would be tobacco executives and puppets of Big Tobacco, including most of the big pharmacy chains (London Drugs, Shoppers Drug Mart, etc.).

And Lake, in typical pro-tobacco fashion -- and after clearly implying that B.C. is right and the rest of the country/world is wrong...and that, by maintaining the status quo on this matter, B.C. will achieve better results (as opposed to good optics) -- misplaces the onus/burden of proof with his ludicrous, "If someone can show me evidence that taking tobacco out of pharmacies will reduce smoking rates, I'm willing to look at that."

It's 2014, Mr. Lake!  Will taking tobacco out of pharmacies, ALL BY ITSELF, reduce smoking rates?  Maybe not.  But as part of a comprehensive, wide range of anti-tobacco initiatives?  Absolutely!  By the way, I think you misheard those "Some"; when suggesting that tobacco sales be limited to one business, the only one I've ever heard is government LIQUOR stores (where society's other 'legal' [and often 'lethal'] drug is sold), NOT DRUG stores!

Notwithstanding my comment above, about "a comprehensive, wide range of anti-tobacco initiatives", Mr. Lake, I confess:  I can't prove to you that getting tobacco out of pharmacies will reduce smoking rates.  I, personally, also can't prove to you that the earth is round.  But it is!

Big Tobacco has a very long history of misplacing the onus:  Rather than proving that their products are safe (that seems to be the way it works for virtually every other product on the planet), Big Tobacco puts their addictive and deadly products out there...and then challenges the world to prove that those products are harmful.  Can you explain that phenomenon, Mr. Lake?

Big Tobacco is a Big Problem...and unless you reverse your decision in very short order, Mr. Lake, you are very clearly demonstrating that you are part of the problem, not the solution.  You should resign.

I hear Big Tobacco has a few positions available; both you (and many of your B.C. Liberal colleagues) and London Drugs' John Tse (and many of his big drugstore chain colleagues) would be shoo-ins.

By the way, Mr. Tse, how many smokers have quit smoking as a result of reading those 250,000 pamphlets that London Drugs has distributed?

Errol Povah, President
Airspace Action on Smoking and Health

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