Friday, December 3, 2010

Anti-smokers boost tobacco sales promotions

Just what in hell gives NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) the right to intrude on the affairs of legal business concerns? Who gave them the right to dictate what choices will be available to adult consumers? And, why should their lobbying activities be funded with taxpayer dollars?

Earlier this week, a CBC news report suggested that Imperial Tobacco, Canada's largest tobacco company, had initiated a “price war” for cigarettes in the Maritimes.

Apparently, Imperial Tobacco has introduced a discount program, called the expansion preferred pricing program, to some retailers in Nova Scotia. As a result, some Imperial cigarette brands are being sold for as much as 50 cents less per package in some stores across the Maritimes.

But, what has some people riled is that the Imperial program is not open to all retailers across the region. Sid Chedrawe, a convenience store owner in Dartmouth, N.S., told CBC news: "You are only given the opportunity to join this program by invitation and there's just something that seems at odds with fair competition rules that we have here in Canada."

JTI-Macdonald Corp., one of Imperial's competitors, advised its retailers that the program may contravene Canada's Competition Act, warning: "You will lose those adult consumers seeking the lowest-priced cigarettes unless you drastically reduce your own profit margin in what is the fastest-growing segment."

And, they may have a point. Certainly, those retailers who have been offered a chance to participate in the program will have an advantage over those who weren't provided the same opportunity. If some retailers can sell for 50 cents a pack less, then they will likely attract more business. And, since the discounts will be available only on Imperial products, Imperial will gain a bigger market share.

But, although some retailers and competing tobacco companies may be upset, it is an issue for those involved. If Imperial's actions contravene the Competition Act, there are legal remedies available to injured parties.

But, why is the Canadian Cancer Society involved in the dispute. They don't even have a horse in the race. Yet, the CBC article saw fit to include comments from this “charity” which receives a significant amount of funding from Canadian taxpayers.

"The Canadian Cancer Society supports a total ban on all promotional measures put forth by the tobacco industry that are intended to increase tobacco sales and thus consumption," said Maureen Summers, executive director of the Nova Scotia division. "We will be working with our national public issues office to move this issue forward to see what we can do with provincial and federal governments in terms of strengthening the Tobacco Act and legislation that would restrict this kind of activity and promotion from the tobacco industry."

So, the Cancer Society wants to ban all promotional activity by the tobacco industry, but they're opposed to banning tobacco?

The tobacco industry, like all other legal business enterprises, exists to make a profit. If the damage caused by tobacco is so great, then the society should be moving to ban it. Anything less is hypocritical bullshit.

But, at least the Cancer Society didn't base their objections to Imperial's promotion on a need to “save the children”.

In the US, CTFK ( Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids) has attacked a new sales promotion by RJ Reynolds, the makers of Camel, one of the bigger selling brands in the US.

Matthew L. Myers, President of CTFK, claims in a statement: “It is deeply disturbing that RJR is using the good name and hard-earned reputation of these great American cities to market deadly and addictive cigarettes, especially in a way that blatantly appeals to children.” Huh.

Myers is referring to an RJ Reynolds promotion for Camel cigarettes, called the Break Free Adventure. The sales promotion, scheduled for December and January, involves specially designed cigarette packs bearing the names of US cities and landmarks. The campaign apparently offers “Thousands of Prizes”, under conditions which aren't exactly clear.

And, the reason the conditions aren't exactly clear is that I can't get into the Camel website to find out what it's all about. To get into the site, you have to provide personal information such as as name, address , zip code, email address, birth date, etc., for age verification purposes.

But, not to worry, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids provides the graphics for the campaign on their website, without all the rigamarole. In fact, their web site and the news media in the US are doing a far better job of advertising the promotion than the tobacco company.

But to Myers, the new Camel promotion points to a need for more money for NGOs like his own to combat the evil influence of the tobacco industry.

“This campaign also underscores the need to step up the implementation of proven measures to reduce tobacco use. These include effective regulation of tobacco products and marketing, including the graphic cigarette warnings unveiled this week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs nationally and in every state; higher tobacco taxes; and smoke-free workplace laws.”

How strange. Not a mention of banning tobacco.

The call for tobacco prohibition will come . . . eventually. But, for now, anti-smoker groups are content to extort all the money they can from the tobacco companies and smokers. Then, they'll simply find another target.

Yeah, I know. You don't believe in the slippery slope argument. Have you heard that San Francisco has banned giving away free toys with “unhealthy” happy meals?

1 comment:

bannedsmoker said...

But, why is the Canadian Cancer Society involved in the dispute. They don't even have a horse in the race. Yet, the CBC article saw fit to include comments from this “charity” which receives a significant amount of funding from Canadian taxpayers.

Good point.

I think it's something like a story I read some time ago about how they were proposing more ridiculous tax hikes on tobacco.

The NON-SMOKER'S RIGHTS ASSOC was in there spouting this, that and the other thing.

Like really, what does tobacco taxation have to do with non-smokers' rights?

Are they trying to say they pay tobacco taxes?

Since when?