Implementation of smoking restrictions on BC Ferries

Commencing with the 12:45 p.m. sailing on June 13, from Duke Point (Nanaimo) to Tsawwassen (Vancouver), those B.C. ferry passengers wishing to go out on the outside decks for a breath of fresh air could, for the most part, do exactly that...for the first time, without any concern about a smoker lighting up upwind of them!

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.).

Read more: Implementation of smoking restrictions on BC Ferries

New "target markets" for smokeless tobacco products

The target markets are the U.S. and Canada, and that makes the target you and your children.

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.

Response to May 25 Province editorial

Dear Editor:

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'.

Read more: Response to May 25 Province editorial

Canadian tobacco farmers offer surrender terms

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.

Tobacco Famers in Crisis site

Congratulations, Gar Mahood, "O.C."!

The members and directors of Airspace Action on Smoking & Health would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to a world leader in tobacco control, Mr. Gar Mahood.

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

A New Year's message from the President

If the coming year is anything like 2006, 2007 will, indeed, be one of the best years ever for 'our side' in the War on Tobacco.  And we're very proud to tell our members and supporters that your organization -- Airspace Action on Smoking & Health, Canada's leading all-volunteer anti-tobacco organization - was (and will continue to be) at the forefront of many of those victories, both locally and globally.

At the time of this writing (January 1), 2007 is already off to an extremely good start... largely because, right or wrong, this is a date that many jurisdictions choose to implement and/or 'beef up' No Smoking laws... but more on that later.

Read more: A New Year's message from the President

Puffing on polonium

"When the former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko was found to have been poisoned by radioactive polonium 210 last week, there was one group that must have been particularly horrified: the tobacco industry.

"The industry has been aware at least since the 1960s that cigarettes contain significant levels of polonium."

This is the start of an op-ed piece by Robert N. Proctor, published in the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune. You can read the entire article by clicking here.

The Denial Machine

"The Denial Machine" is a documentary about how Phillip Morris and RJ Reynolds hired people to lie for them. Then, the fossil fuel industry hired the same bunch of liars.

This film is being shown by CBC Newsworld in the Pacific time zone at midnight and 4 PM. If you don't get CBC Newsworld, or neither of these times are convenient for you, you can watch the program online by going to http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/denialmachine/.

What's with the smoking patio for restaurants?

A letter sent to, and not published by, the Vancouver Sun.

While I have not yet seen all of the details of the recently-announced provincial No Smoking policy, it appears to be off to a rather rocky start.

In the very first paragraph of "Restaurants allowed smoking patios" (Nov 7), Health Minister George Abbott not only attempts to make some sort of a distinction between designated smoking rooms and patios (they're all smoke pits!), but he completely destroys the much-sought-after "level playing field" that is so absolutely critical to the success of any No Smoking law.

Then he creates a little more confusion by suggesting that there's a link between "ban[ning] smoking altogether" and "make[ing] tobacco illegal," when, in fact, the two are as different as night and day.

Given all that is now known about second-hand tobacco smoke, banning smoking altogether (in all public places and workplaces, including patios and entranceways, in parks, on beaches, on all school property and in all multi-unit housing [apartments and condos], etc.) is completely reasonable. Such bans have nothing whatsoever to do with WHAT anybody does (in this case, smoke); it is solely and exclusively about WHERE they do it and, even more importantly, WHERE the smoke goes. And the government has the right and, in fact, the duty/obligation to protect its citizens from such a hazard.

Making tobacco illegal, on the other hand, is something that neither I nor any anti-tobacco activist I know (and I know dozens of them, from all over the world) has ever suggested. To attempt to make a product that millions of people are addicted to illegal would result in unimaginable chaos... from riots to civil disobedience to smuggling and/or an instant black market, etc.

Many others before Abbott have falsely implied that there's a link between banning smoking and the dreaded 'P' word: Prohibition. What we are trying to achieve, in terms of tobacco control, is not at all like the (not-surprisingly) failed experiment of prohibition, which was clearly intended to rid the U.S. of alcohol entirely.

And finally, I loved the part of (Ivanhoe co-owner) Chris Gock's comment, where he said that, "There are guys who almost live in those smoking rooms..." (emphasis mine) First, it's funny to see the word "live" in connection with a product that is directly responsible for so much disease, disability and premature death; being preceded by the word "almost" makes it even funnier.

Sincerely,

Errol E. Povah

One of the "bullies" reports in

We were wondering who those "bullies" were that John Martin was talking about last week. Well, Councillor Matt Todd of White Rock is apparently one of them. This letter to the editor was published in The Province on November 7:

As instigator of the proposed smoking ban in White Rock, columnist John Martin, implies I am a "righteous bully in a regulatory jihad."

But every person should enjoy the maximum freedom possible.

So what happens when smoking in public causes someone else discomfort or harm?

The common assumption seems to be that smoke outdoors simply disappears -- no harm, no foul. But as smoking diners indulge their nicotine addiction on a patio, the breeze takes their smoke past the faces of others and often blows it into the restaurant's open windows or door.

Perhaps Martin's opinions would be different if he had asthma, a heart condition or understood the proven risk to children and expectant mothers.

Smoke kills over five times as many as the sum of all car accidents, murders and drugs.

Though historical tolerance blinds us from it, nicotine addiction has huge impacts on our quality of life.

Someone's nicotine addiction should not take priority over everyone else's health.

Coun. Matt Todd
White Rock

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