Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The making of a criminal

Bob Gee has been in the tobacco business for over thirty years. He doesn’t grow tobacco leaf or manufacture cigarettes; he sells tobacco products. He’s a tobacconist. He is the owner of a business called Mader’s Tobacco Store in Kentville, Nova Scotia.

He’s not a criminal; not really. But, he’s in trouble with the law.

Bob holds the dubious honour of being the first person to be charged under a Nova Scotia law requiring retailers to keep tobacco products out of sight.

Gee is charged with the improper display and storage of tobacco products, an offense which makes him liable to fines which start at $2,000.00 and increase to $10,000.00 for a third conviction.

Says Bob: "If we comply, we'll not be able to show our products and we'll look like an empty store and a business out of business; all I want is to operate my business in a normal, peaceful manner without unnecessary restrictions".

And I suspect even non-smokers (as opposed to anti-smokers) will understand that it’s kind of stupid to force a shop that sells only tobacco to hide their entire product line.

Nova Scotia’s law was passed, as all such laws, to protect the children. The anti-smoker fanatics were concerned that the kids would become hopelessly addicted to the demon weed by the mere sight of a pack of smokes. They were immersed in the fear that the prospective juvenile delinquents would rush home, break into their piggy banks and start scouring the streets for a pusher.

But, hey, wait a minute. Just why in the hell would kids be in a tobacco shop anyway? They can’t legally buy tobacco products until they’re 19.

Bob Gee is ready to challenge the anti-smoking rules in court. A trial date has been set for Oct. 29, 2008.

Nova Scotia isn’t the only province to approve such asinine anti-tobacco legislation.

On May 31, 2008, a similar anti-tobacco law went into effect in the province of Ontario. Like Nova Scotia, the new legislation bans the display of tobacco products in all retail outlets, including Ontario’s many convenience stores.

Cigarettes, and other tobacco products, now have to be hidden from view. In fact, retailers cannot display signs outside the store to notify customers that cigarettes are available for sale inside the store. For that matter, they can’t display signs inside the store to tell customers there are cigarettes for sale. You have to ask.

However, once you’re inside, you can be fairly certain that a store sells cigarettes if there is a big blank wall behind the cash register. Then, provided you know what you want, you can make your purchase and go outside to light up.

Now, where was I again; inside or outside? Never mind.

Governments earn big bucks off the sale of tobacco. In fact, they make more than the tobacco companies and yet . . . these puritanical politicians see a need to pass lunatic legislation “to protect the kids”?

Just who in the hell do they think they’re kidding?

And, as for Bob Gee and his tobacco shop, I wish him the best of luck.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

First time I saw this, I thought the store was going out of business!

Everyone in there with me agreed that it was the stupidest thing they've seen...perhaps the gov't should listen to the people before wasting shopkeeper's money?