Article by Jon Aspiri at Global News:  BC Ferries to ban passengers from staying on closed vehicle decks during sailings starting in October (includes video)

A few comments...from a 30-year employee of B.C.Ferries who retired, as a Second Officer, almost 9 years ago.

First, I was really quite amazed:  Of the two/simultaneous announcements (yes, the 'official' start dates are different but...), it seems to me that the 'ban on people in their vehicles on enclosed car decks' got far more coverage -- and seemed to be more "controversial" -- than what appears to be a very sweeping and comprehensive smoking ban.  

For the sake of 'balance', I guess they had to interview one whining woman (I wonder how long it took them to find a smoker) who seemed to think that the existing smoking areas are small enough and, of course, "they don't bother anybody" (especially those smoking areas that are directly outside the kids play areas, much to Big Tobacco's delight, on both of the Spirit class ships... with supposedly smoke-free areas aft of those smoking areas).

Second, the smoking ban has been in the works for at least a couple of years, I believe... and went through a few stages (for example, the version that existed about a year ago did not include the terminals).

For me, personally, the smoking ban is bittersweet.

From my day one at BCFS -- almost 4 decades ago, in July of '78 -- I fought the battle for the total ban (incrementally, of course) virtually every day of my career... telling both passengers (including a Hell's Angel) and crew (including a couple of ferry Captains) -- and anybody/everybody in between -- to butt out (unless, of course, they were in a designated smoking area).

To Health Canada:

Please forgive me if I don't seem very appreciative of Health Canada's so-called tobacco control efforts.

Personally, I believe that Big Tobacco -- not just in Canada, but globally -- should be completely run out of business... and there are not just one, but two completely legal ideas to achieve just that.  Obviously, the toppling of Big Tobacco won't happen overnight, but it would be 'phased out', over a period of 20 or 30 years.  All that's required, ultimately, is a little (or perhaps a great deal of) political will. 

Again, forgive me... but after reading just the one-page "Consultation on amendments to the Tobacco Reporting Regulations", I had neither the time nor the inclination to proceed any further.  That said, I had a quick look at the TRR... and, with the utmost of respect, it seems to me that one would have to be a lawyer to 'interpret' much of that document.  And, as I'm sure you well know, when it comes to lawyers, few are better paid and more successful than those who are part of Big Tobacco's small army of lawyers.  However, I digress... 

Dear Editor:

Re:  Canada should adopt plain packaging rules despite what Big Tobacco says (by Andre Picard, September 22,2016)

In my humble opinion, one's position on anything and everything tobacco-related ultimately boils down to one's knowledge -- and opinion -- of Big Tobacco.

If you believe that BT is just another "Good Corporate Citizen" out there, simply trying to get by in the dog-eat-dog business world, I would, with the utmost of respect, suggest that you know absolutely nothing about BT...and your opinion isn't worth the paper it's written on.

If, on the other hand, you're Andre Picard -- or a lifelong anti-tobacco activist, as I am -- you KNOW (or at least you have some small sense of) just how sleazy, wicked, mean and nasty BT is... and just how deep its pockets are.  The success or failure of BT's efforts, globally, depends almost exclusively on how many politicians it can 'buy'.

Think Big Oil is bad?  Big Sugar?  Big Food?  Big Pharma?  Or any other Big Bad corporate behemoth?

Big Tobacco is the great grand-daddy of all of them...and, frankly, Big Tobacco's "opinion" -- on any and all tobacco issues -- doesn't count!

If I may paraphrase Andre Picard, everything Big Tobacco thinks, says and does -- and produces -- is "utter rubbish"...tragically, extremely toxic and deadly rubbish!

The headline should've said, "Canada should adopt plain packaging rules because of what Big Tobacco says!" because, ultimately, what is good for society is bad for BT... and vice versa.

Errol E. Povah
President, Airspace

A message to Health Canada from Airspace:

I'm guessing you don't get a lot of requests, from Canadians, urging you to watch YouTube videos.  Well, welcome to your (possibly) first such request.  Warning:  this 18-minute video (about 1 year old now) contains some coarse language and (very brief and mild) sexual innuendo.

I would never seriously expect government health policy (specifically, in this instance, plain packaging legislation) to be based on a YouTube video or two but, after watching them -- and notwithstanding the humour -- I think you'll agree that the videos highlight just a few of Big Tobacco's immoral, unethical, sleazy and despicable tactics, globally.

June 19, 2015 -- marks the first anniversary of what Airspace commonly refers to as "THE LETTER".
One year ago today, the Presidents/CEOs/GMs of six major Lower Mainland companies sent an extremely nasty, bullying and threatening letter (click here to see it) to the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia, in response to the College's efforts to get tobacco out of pharmacies in B.C.  "THE TOBACCO SIX" -- Clint Mahlman (London Drugs), Frank Scorpiniti (Rexall), Michael Lund (The Medicine Shoppe), Chuck Mulvenna (Safeway), Darrell Jones (Overwaitea/Save On Foods) and Jim Dores (Thrifty) -- are, clearly, much more interested in private wealth than public health.

Interestingly, The Medicine Shoppe does NOT sell any tobacco products (smoking cessation products, yes...cigarettes, chewing tobacco, etc., no).  Many efforts to contact Michael Lund/The Medicine Shoppe/McKesson Canada were unsuccessful in getting an answer to the obvious question:  Why would The Medicine Shoppe so vocally support the sale of tobacco from pharmacies when it does not sell tobacco itself?
One educated guess is that perhaps The Medicine Shoppe subscribes to the dreaded "slippery slope" theory; tobacco today...pop, chips and chocolate bars tomorrow.  But that's kind of bizarre too, given the fact that during a recent visit to a Medicine Shoppe, I did not see any pop, chips and chocolate bars?!?

My knowledge of the process by which dozens, perhaps hundreds of government bills make their way through the Canadian House of Commons and/or the Senate each and every year is limited to not much more than this:  I know that the bill numbers are 'recycled'.  They have to be, otherwise it would become way too cumbersome.
When I first heard about Bill C-51 -- the current, extremely controversial (and, dare I say, anti-democratic) anti-terrorism bill -- I thought, "Hmmm, Bill C-51.  That rings a bell."  Vaguely recalling that it had something to do with tobacco, I googled "Bill C-51 tobacco"... and, sure enough, up popped a few links -- from 1988 -- to Bill C-51, which later became the Tobacco Products Control Act.
What a coincidence that, 27 years later, a so-called "anti-terrorism" bill would bear the same number.

More than a quarter of a century ago, anti-tobacco activists across the country, including Airspace, celebrated the enactment of the TPCA.  Sadly, the party was short-lived, as (probably intentionally-created) loopholes -- big enough to drive tractor-trailers loaded with contraband cigarettes through -- were soon discovered.

This letter was published in The Tri-Cities Now on November 6, 2014:

Dear Editor:

The first line of "Plan to ban cigarette sales opposed" (Oct 21 Now) said, "You could call Bev Harris a rebel."

As a twenty-year friend and colleague of Bev's, I know she's a rebel...and, when it comes to causes, few, if any, are bigger and better than the one we -- and many others -- have chosen to tackle.

Everybody's talking about the ebola crisis.  Well, with all due respect to everyone who has been impacted by Ebola:  I don't recall when we first started hearing about it this time around, but a very conservative estimate would be one month ago.  Globally, about 5,000 people have died from Ebola.  In that same month, 100 times as many people -- yes, about 500,000 people, globally -- have died from tobacco use (about 10% of that toll being non-smokers, killed by second-hand tobacco smoke).  While ebola may have a small potential to change human history, tobacco has already done so.

A couple of other interesting comparisons:  Africa (where Ebola originated) is also a primary target of Big Tobacco, complete with virtually unfettered marketing and advertising to kids of all ages...and, while those fighting to contain/eradicate Ebola are hailed as heroes (as they should be), those of us fighting Big Tobacco are often, at best, ignored; at worst, vilified.

A letter sent from the Health Officers Council of BC to individual board members of the College of Pharmacists: Click here to read the PDF.

Excerpts: "The sale of tobacco in pharmacies is now recognized as an unacceptable ethical and professional contradiction."

"Many institutions within British Columbia have advocated for the elimination of pharmacy tobacco sales, including the Canadian Cancer Society, the BC Lung Association, Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC and Yukon, and the Health Officers Council of BC. Regulation is overdue and we hope that you will continue to proceed down this path even in the presence of open hostility and opposition from pharmacy (tobacco) retailers and their threats of litigation."