BC NDP calls for stricter regulation of cigarillos

A press release from the B.C. New Democratic Party:

Victoria – New Democrat health critic Adrian Dix is calling on the Campbell government to implement stricter regulation of cigarillos, including the banning of flavouring and the sale of singles.

Physicians for a Smoke Free Canada have said that cigarillos are the new cigarettes for kids,” said Dix. “Despite having similar health risks, cigarillos are not regulated in the same way. For example, cigarillos can be sold in singles and the packaging is not required to carry health warnings. It is time for that to change.

“The various flavours available, including chocolate and raspberry, make cigarillos attractive to youth,” said Dix. “They are also sold individually, making them more affordable. In fact, they are comparable in price with candy bars and soda pop.”

Dix will introduce a Private Members’ Bill in the next legislative session to make cigarillos less attractive for youth by banning flavouring agents and prohibiting them from being sold in packages of less than 20.

Dix also wants to ensure that cigarillos include the same health information, health warnings and toxic constituent information that are on cigarette packages.

According to Health Canada, young Canadians use cigarillos at three times the rate of adults. “This is clearly a youth phenomena, and the way the product is being marketed reflects that,” said Dix.

“We all know the risks associated with smoking,” said Dix. “Tobacco products should not be allowed to mask their harmfulness in tasty flavours and attractive packaging. If we are really committed to keeping youth away from smoking, then including cigarillos as a fully regulated tobacco product makes sense.”

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Click here for a backgrounder from the NDP.

CKNW Orphans' Fund

It's Friday, Dec 5, 2008... and Airspace Action on Smoking and Health president Errol Povah has pledged $20 to the 31st annual CKNW Orphans' Fund Pledge Day (virtually all regular programming on CKNW has been pre-empted by the fundraiser).

Povah challenges all of those good corporate citizens at the tobacco industry to meet or beat his pledge, and do something for the orphans you've created.

Despite the industry's best efforts to maintain a very low snake-in-the-grass profile, the industry does have offices in the Greater Vancouver area (Imperial Tobacco [makers of Players and du Maurier] is in Delta, while Rothmans Benson & Hedges [now owned by Philip Morris International] is in Richmond).

We all know that the tobacco industry loves kids...both teens and pre-teens. Kids are the very lifeblood of the tobacco industry; without kids, the tobacco industry would be out of business in very short order.

So come on Benjamin Kemball (pres and CEO, Imperial Tobacco)... Catherine Doyle, Karen Bodirsky, and David McCullach (Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers' Council)... Arminda Mota (pres, smokers' rights group mychoice.ca)... et al. Show the world how much you 'appreciate' kids, get your wallets out, pull out some blood-stained cash and contribute to this very worthwhile cause.

Tenant seeks injunction to stop neighbour smoking

Article by Keith Fraser in The Province: Tenant seeks injunction to stop neighbour smoking, or click here for a PDF.

Mina Erian Mina, a retired actor living in Vancouver's West End, has suffered various health problems, including respiratory injuries, bronchospasm, reduced chest expansion, chest tightness, aggravation of coronary artery disease, loss of sleep, fatigue and anxiety due to a smoking neighbour.

How to get away with smuggling

Article by William Marsden for the Center for Public Integrity: How To Get Away With Smuggling: Canada’s Billion-Dollar Deal for Big Tobacco, or click here for a PDF of the article.

"The police could’ve walked in and handcuffed everybody at Imperial Tobacco. But the government didn’t have the guts of a field mouse." — Paul Finlayson, former Imasco executive

More "disenchanted" than ever!

I've never been quite as disenchanted with "mainstream" political parties as I am this time around.

Over the last 3 decades, I've very actively campaigned (as a volunteer) on behalf of City Councillors, MLAs and MPs of all political stripes, depending mostly on their individual and/or party platforms. Okay, there's one exception to that rule: I've never worked for the Liberals, provincially or federally. Why? Simple: The Liberals are very commonly referred to as "the tobacco party." Just a couple of quick examples: Former Finance Minister [and Prime Minister] Paul Martin is a former tobacco executive...and virtually nothing was achieved in terms of tobacco control measures during his watch. Provincially, one of the first major actions of the B.C. Liberals (shortly after they were first elected, in 2001) was to gut the WCB No Smoking regulation, rendering it virtually useless (certainly for bar and pub workers). That 'gutting' was NOT part of their pre-election platform, nor did they have any mandate whatsoever to do it, but they did it...and, presumably, were well paid for it! And so-called Health Minister Colin Hansen stood by and said/did nothing!

Fast forward to 2008: A few short weeks ago, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper called an election, breaking a promise -- and legislation -- regarding fixed election dates...notwithstanding little technicalities/loopholes (where would governments be without those?) about the law only applying to majority governments...or whatever.

Read more: More "disenchanted" than ever!

Conservatives give pre-election gift to tobacco industry

According to Paul Finlayson, a retired Imasco executive, the recent settlement agreement between the Government and the tobacco industry was "chump change"; the $600 million paid by BAT/Imperial Tobacco insignificant compared to the $600 million to $700 million per year that BAT/Imperial Tobacco made from smuggling in the late 1980's and early 1990's.

Article by William Marsden in the Vancouver Sun: Ottawa caved in to big tobacco, former Imasco executive says

Where there’s smoke

Letter to the editor published in the South Delta Leader:

Dear Editor, thank you for your Aug. 22 ‘Readerpoll’ question: “Has the recent car fire aboard a B.C. Ferry made you question the service’s safety?”

As a 30-year B.C. Ferry employee (currently a Second Officer), I would suggest that there’s no need to question the service’s safety, certainly not as a result of this particular fire, or the majority of shipboard fires, for that matter. The crews are very well-trained to deal with any and all emergencies, including those (fires, and, if they get out of control, abandon ship procedures) which result from the use of a product which management refuses to take seriously and address effectively.

Whether or not the Aug. 15 fire was caused by a smouldering cigarette (personally, I’m not aware of any mattress that has ever spontaneously combusted), cigarette-ignited fires are the leading cause of shipboard fires, yet B.C. Ferry Services stubbornly refuses to ban smoking, entirely, aboard all B.C. Ferry vessels and on the terminals, as our neighbours to the south—Washington State Ferries (WSF)—successfully did years ago. In fact, despite my suggestions to do so, nobody from BCFS has even bothered to pick up a telephone and call WSF and discuss any and all concerns BCFS may have about implementing such a ban—and how WSF dealt with those issues!

BCFS’s justification for not banning smoking, entirely? Two extremely weak/false arguments: 1) We’re a public transportation system, and we have to cater to/accommodate all of our passengers; and 2) How would such a ban ever be enforced?

BCFS could—if “safety” truly was its number one priority—in conjunction with a complete smoking ban, provide one or more of the dozens of nicotine replacement therapies (nicotine gum, lozenges, rubs, inhalers, etc.). Problem solved: Smokers get their hit of nicotine and all the rest of us enjoy a smoke-free environment, indoors and out, with a dramatically-reduced risk of fire!

To the second argument: the “enforcement” red herring has been raised prior to each and every smoking ban that has ever occurred; most notably, bar and pub smoking bans. And, in each and every case, it turns out that enforcement is not an issue at all (since the vast majority of smokers are good, law-abiding citizens, assuming, of course, that the law is well-advertised, clearly posted, etc.), yet “enforcement” continues to be one of the most persistent tobacco industry-perpetuated “doom and gloom” myths associated with smoking bans.

Tragically, terrorism is a very real threat nowadays, 2010 is fast approaching and barbed-wire fencing is now being installed at BCFS terminals. If recent history is any indication, I think smoking on board ferries is a much bigger threat than terrorism ever will be. And if enforcement of the No Smoking law means arresting, charging, fining and/or jailing smokers, as has been done on many occasions on airlines), then so be it.

And, speaking of terrorism: smoking kills more people worldwide every six hours than were killed in all of the 9/11 attacks. Sort of makes you wonder who the real terrorists are, doesn’t it?

Errol E. Povah,
President, Airspace Action on Smoking and Health,
Delta

Thank you, Project A.B.L.E. donors

With just one month to go until lifetime Airspace member Tamina Gurd and her two daughters (ages 10 and 13) embark on a huge humanitarian aid effort in Malawi (Africa), Airspace would like to publicly thank all of the individuals/families who have so very generously donated to Project A.B.L.E. (A Better Life for Everyone) thus far.

Unfortunately, the need for further funding still exists. Please continue to support Airspace...and Project A.B.L.E.

Just a few of our more recent successes, as well as some ongoing efforts:

- Just a few weeks ago, Airspace played a pivotal role in getting Susan Ivey, President and CEO of Reynolds American (one of the biggest tobacco companies in the world) kicked out of the White Ribbon Alliance... in just 3 days (the WRA's current campaign focuses on reducing/eliminating the horrendous death toll of women in childbirth);

- Airspace also played a big role in persuading pop star Alicia Keys to give the royal boot to the tobacco company ("A MIld") which -- until just a week prior to her July 31 concert in Jakarta, Indonesia -- was the main sponsor. Just days after putting that fire out, we became involved in the effort to get the Eraserheads to scrap the "Marlboro" sponsorship of their August 30 reunion concert in the Philippines;

- We helped tobacco farmers achieve their $300,000,000 exit package (announced August 1), via collecting signatures on a petition and lobbying Members of Parliament. Unfortunately, that is $300 million of taxpayers' dollars, whereas our plan called for a levy (of anywhere from a nickel to a quarter, per package) on cigarettes, which could have raised a billion dollars (the original target) in very short order, at little or no cost to taxpayers...at least, that vast majority of taxpayers who do not smoke. In any case, with virtually no tobacco farming occurring in Canada now, all levels of government have no excuse whatsoever for continuing to treat the Canadian tobacco industry with kid gloves. It's time to end the long-standing slap-on-the-wrist policies...and start treating the industry like the sleazy, despicable, predatory and rogue industry that it truly is;

- Airspace President Errol E. Povah is largely responsible for Canada's -- possibly the world's -- first 100% smoke-free condominium. The 42-unit Oliva, in the Tsawwassen area of Delta, B.C. opened in June, 2007. It took several phone calls over a period of a couple of months (while the project was still under construction) but, since the president and CEO of the company was very interested in making it a 'green' building (with many of the materials being recycled and/or otherwise 'environmentally-friendly', etc.), Povah managed to persuade him that "100% smoke-free" would be a perfect fit. We continue our lobbying efforts, provincially, for legislation that will provide 100% smoke-free living in ALL multi-unit dwellings (apartments, condos, townhomes, duplexes, basement suites, etc.).

- We are stepping up our efforts to get Canada to comply with both the intent of (if not the letter of) existing federal anti-tobacco legislation, as well as a World Health Organization treaty -- the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control -- which Canada ratified a few years ago. One of the most blatant local offenders is the Georgia Straight, Vancouver's so-called News and Entertainment weekly... in which it's not uncommon to see 3 or 4 full-page full-colour tobacco ads (for both cigarettes and snus/chewing tobacco).

Again, thank you so much to ALL of our members and/or donors, past, present and future...but an especially big THANK YOU to those who have already so generously donated to Project A.B.L.E.

If you would like to donate, please send your cheque to: Airspace Action on Smoking and Health Box 18004, 1215c 56th St. Delta, B.C. V4L 2M4 And please be sure to write "Project A.B.L.E." in the "memo" space.

You can also contribute to us with PayPal (click button below).

For more info about Project A.B.L.E., please contact Tamina Gurd via e-mail, at taminac AT shaw.ca.

No butt ad in the Georgia Straight? This is blasphemous!

What? No butt ads in the August 7, 08 Georgia Straight...Vancouver's news and entertainment weakly? This is blasphemous!

After all, the tobacco industry and the GS have been very proud partners -- in promoting the #1 leading addiction... which, in turn, is responsible for the leading causes of disease, disability and premature death -- for decades! They haven't had a falling out, have they? Or perhaps one of the senior staff at the GS has developed smoking-induced lung cancer? Or -- and I'm really going out on a limb here -- perhaps the GS has found its conscience!?!

Whatever the problem might be, I'm sure it's just a temporary glitch; nothing that tens of thousands of blood-stained dollars won't fix!

While there may have been a few brief breaks in the butt ads in the past, the GS has been consistently running tobacco ads for years... both chewing tobacco/snus ads and butt (cigarette) ads. Recent issues have contained as many as four full-page ads for one 'new and improved' butt or another.

As far as that pesky federal law that outlaws tobacco advertising, who cares? It's so full of loopholes that you could drive a stolen semi loaded with contraband cigarettes through it! While the GS may not be violating the letter of the [very weak] law, it is blatantly violating the intent of the law. And then there's the small matter of a World Health Organization treaty -- the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control -- that Canada ratified years ago. Whether it's provincial or federal law -- or the FCTC -- tobacco-friendly governments clearly don't give a damn, regarding beefing up existing legislation or, where necessary, creating new legislation...and, of course, when required, enforcing the law.

Here's one more theory, regarding the noticeable absence of butt ads in the August 7 issue: Maybe it's because the cover story has the words "crisis" and "genocide" in it ("crisis darfur: On the eve of the Beijing Olympics, Mia Farrow is highlighting China's contribution to genocide").

With all due respect to everyone in Darfur, nobody...NOBODY...does 'crisis and genocide' -- not to mention rape and pillage --quite like the tobacco industry!

Lowering the Tobacco Industry's reputation

Cartoon by Gable in Globe and MailA letter to the editor published in the Globe and Mail:

Funny as your Aug. 2 editorial cartoon was - likening tobacco executives to sewer rats - it truly is an example of art imitating life. Just a day earlier, after the $1.15-billion fine was imposed on Canada's two leading cigarette manufacturers, Imperial Tobacco spokeswoman Catherine Doyle told CTV, "We realize ... we're going to take a hit to our reputation because of this."

She should be fined another billion dollars by the irony police for that statement. When your industry pushes products that lead 45,000 Canadians to an early grave every year (according to Health Canada), what reputation do you have for anyone to hit?

Stan Shatenstein
Contributing Editor, Tobacco Control

Errol E. Povah
President, Airspace Action on Smoking and Health

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