Monday, March 10, 2008

Banning "power walls"

Stomping on convenience stores Beginning on May 31, 2008, the “power walls” (of tobacco displays) behind the cash register in convenience stores will have to be removed. Convenience store owners will no longer be permitted to display legal tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco in their stores. This is being done to conform to the Smoke Free Ontario Act passed several years ago in the province of Ontario.

According to the tobacco prohibitionists, these displays are given their prominent position behind the cashier’s counter to entice young people to take up the habit and ensure the future profitability of the tobacco industry. The “fear” of the prohibitionists is that even the sight of a cigarette package could encourage young people to start smoking. And, since the tobacco manufacturers pay convenience stores to “list” (carry) particular brands, they are being accused of targeting young people with “illegal” advertising.

So the anti-smoking fanatics will get back at the big, bad tobacco industry by laying a little inconvenience on convenience store owners. It’s just one man’s opinion, but has anyone considered any other reason the tobacco display might be behind the cash counter?

The outrageous prices, created by confiscatory taxes, make cigarettes a prime target for theft. Is there anywhere else the owner of a store could display tobacco products without encouraging “snatch and run” or other type thefts? The reasoning put forth by the prohibitionists, that the tobacco wall encourages young people to start smoking, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Take this little piece from the Ottawa Citizen on Oct. 29, 2003. “A Health Canada survey finds that more 12- to 19-year-old Canadians smoke marijuana regularly than use tobacco, putting use of the drug at the highest level in 25 years.” I’ve never seen a “marijuana power wall” in a convenience store. How about you?

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