Thursday, October 21, 2010

Anti-smoker zealots neither normal nor legitimate

Ontario's anti-smoker zealots are calling for dramatic new initiatives intended to force smokers to give up the habit. These measures include smoking bans in multi-unit rental buildings, smoking bans on bar and restaurant patios, in city parks, licensing and limiting the number of retail outlets permitted to sell tobacco products, and a host of others draconian initiatives intended to denigrate, demean and “de-normalize” those who choose to use tobacco products.

“I think we’ve gone as far as we’re prepared to go right now,” said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, in response to a 44 page report prepared by TSAG. “There’s only so much government can and should do.”

Margaret Best, Ontario's Minister of Health Propaganda, echoed the premier's sentiments to some degree; "We are not looking at any further bans with respect to smoking at this point in time. " However, she noted that, although the proposal to extend smoking bans to patios, doorway areas and rental units is not likely to become a reality, the government is willing to consider the report's other recommendations.

The less than enthusiastic response by the premier and the health propaganda minister is likely due to the fact that a provincial election is scheduled for October of next year. McGuinty and his crew have acquired a reputation for their attempts at socially engineering personal behaviour. They aren't anxious to antagonize a sizable part of the electorate, Ontario's two million smokers, with yet another draconian exercise in behavioural control.

A government-appointed advisory panel called TSAG (Tobacco Strategy Advisory Group) compiled the report entitled “Building On Our Gains, Taking Action Now: Ontario’s Tobacco Control Strategy for 2011-2016.” The panel included representatives from the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco, Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, Non-Smokers' Rights Association, Ontario Medical Association, Ontario Lung Association, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario and the Ontario Public Health Association among others.

The advisory panel notes in their report: “It's time to renew and extend Ontario's tobacco control strategy with a focused, aggressive campaign to 'de-normalize' and 'de-legitimize' the tobacco manufacturing industry.” Uh-huh.

Does this mean that tobacco farmers are not to be considered normal or legitimate? How about convenience store owners who rely on tobacco sales for a substantial portion of their income? Are the working men and women employed directly by the tobacco companies no longer paying their taxes and contributing to the economy? How about those employed on the periphery of the industry; the paper manufacturers, printers, truck drivers, wholesalers, etc. Is it really acceptable to discard these workers as not normal or legitimate?

If the tobacco industry is neither normal nor legitimate, what should we make of provincial and federal governments who profit so handsomely from the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products? According to Physicians for a Smoke-free Canada, the federal and provincial governments confiscated 6.97 billion dollars in sin taxes for fiscal 2007/2008. That's actually down from the record high of $7.65 billion set in fiscal 2003/2004. Compare those numbers to estimated health care costs nationwide of $4.36 billion, also estimated by Physicians for a Smoke-free Canada, for 2006.

Should we consider the politicians who support these usurious levels of tobacco taxation abnormal or illegitimate? Should we not save some public vitriol for these governments who make many times more money from the sales of tobacco products than the tobacco companies themselves earn in profits?

And let's not forget the anti-smoker cartel.

The advisory panel also wants increased tobacco control funding, noting that the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines recommend a jurisdiction of Ontario's size spend at least $100 million. The province currently spends $42.8 million on tobacco control, down from $60 million annually in both 2007-2008 and 2008-2009.

In effect, the anti-smoker parasites want to feather their own nest with money extorted from smokers well into the forseeable future. Further increases in price can potentially decrease the harm caused to the health of Ontarians and provide a source of dedicated revenue for a comprehensive tobacco control system.”

The hypocritical bastards want to de-normalize the tobacco companies, and by extension those who use tobacco products, while at the same time demanding that smokers pay their often exorbitant salaries and fund activities intended to denigrate and demean those they claim they want to help; those they claim are the victims of the tobacco companies.

They hype the alleged death and destruction caused by tobacco use, and whine about the associated health care costs, while demanding, and as often as not getting, their cut of the action.

Hypocritical bastards.

And, they admit that their efforts to date have had little or no real influence on tobacco consumption.

“Until recently, smoking rates declined in all age groups in Ontario. This is no longer the case. After years of decline, according to the 2008 Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey, there has been no statistically significant change in the percentage of current Ontario smokers aged 15 years and older since 2005.

The prevalence of smoking dropped substantially during the 1980's, and while it continued to decline in the 1990’s, the rate of decline began to slow. In recent years, smoking rates have stopped decreasing across North America, and have even started to rise for the first time in some population segments.”

They refuse to acknowledge that their draconian smoking bans and punitive tobacco taxes are part and parcel of the problem, despite a wealth of evidence to the contrary.

"Tobacco control measures such as advertising bans, public awareness campaigns, and point-of-sale display bans have had the cumulative effects of denormalizing traditional cigarette brands, stripping them of the social significance they once had. As big tobacco company brands have been denormalized, there has been growth in demand for 'no-name' cigarettes and discount brands. This bourgeoning demand has been filled by the contraband market through baggies [clear plastic bags of loose cigarettes] and Native brands of cigarettes."
The Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, Anti-Contraband Policy Measures: Evidence for Better Practice, June 2009.

But, rather than follow a more reasonable, more pragmatic course of action, they demand more and more money for law enforcement to contain the contraband problem which they and their political cronies created.

According to the anti-smoker fanatics, the tobacco manufacturing industry is neither normal nor legitimate. The money they generate, on the other hand, is as pure as the driven snow. Ask any politician or anti-smoker zealot.

Did I mention what a hypocritical bunch of bastards they are?

No comments: