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Law and Disorder #4
Posted By Senator Elaine McCoy Sep 15 2009 02:47PM


So, what exactly are the facts behind Bill C-32? Proponents of the bill insist that smoking cigarillos leads children to increase their cigarette addiction. Yet Health Canada’s own research fails to support their allegation. According to the latest Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (CTUMS), the trend line for cigarette smokers under 18 has remained virtually flat over the past four years (see graphic to the left). In actual numbers, 45,000 fewer children were smoking in 2008 as compared to 2005.

As to cigarillo consumption, specifically, Health Canada only has two years of data and therefore trend lines cannot be reliably discerned as yet. However, the latest survey clearly demonstrates that most Canadians who buy and consume flavoured tobacco products are of legal age to do so. The other incontrovertible fact that CTUMS reveals is that 12,100 fewer children smoked cigarillos in 2008 as compared to 2007. And although cigarillo consumption increased overall, the only age cohort which escalated its usage in this time period was young adults between the ages of 20 and 24.

Call me a level-headed legislator, if you like, but I must say I prefer to base my decisions on evidence. The redoubtable social analyst, H. L. Mencken, once said "there is always an easy solution to every human problem – neat, plausible and wrong." From what I've managed to learn so far, Bill C-32 precisely fits his prescription for easy solutions. It is, quite simply, wrong. 

Posted On Sep 17 03:49PM   
Cynthia Callard

Sadly, the Senator's analysis is wrong.

The reason CTUMS does not show an increase in youth smoking as a result of the increased use of cigarillos is because cigarillo smoking is not included in the CTUMS measurements of smoking prevalence.

In 2007, Health Canada added separate questions to CTUMS to measure cigarillo smoking.  The resutls showed that if the number of young people who smoked cigars were included in the results, the rate of youth smoking increases from 15% to 20%. An explanation is available at:

Rudolf Virchow, the great German pathologist, noted that “There are two causes of disease, one is pathological, the other… political.”

Posted On Sep 17 09:47AM   

Thanks for all your comments.  When I hear from citizens like yourself you feel compelled to break the law or abandon democracy, then I'm convinced we need to listen!

Posted On Sep 16 10:07PM   

Both Federally and Provincially I am increasingly worried that I have no voice dealing with matters that impact on my way of life.  I don't want nor do I need a politician, I am desperately looking for a leader.  I have no representation at any level of government, as all of the elected representatives have to vote along party lines, without listening to the people they took an oath to serve.  It may well be that Mr. Ignatieff is not getting any support for an election because he fails to come across as a leader (as do all of the other politicians who are the leaders of the other parties), just another politician.  It is a pleasure to hear someone question the foundation of Bill C-32, based on facts rather opinion from self serving groups, even though it is not a popular side to take.  Thank you for providing some hope for rationality, a realistic thought process and for listening to a large part of the population who take the time to speak openly about their concerns.

Posted On Sep 16 07:16PM   

I am currently employed by a small business that sells flavoured cigarillos and flavoured tobacco wraps.  Although the business is not dependant on the sale of these items like many other businesses are, they are a product that many of our repeat Customers have come back for time and again, and have helped to introduce new Customers to the business.

There have been many changes to tobacco laws over the past few years.  As a business in Ontario, we fully comply with all the new policies and regulations that have been introduced.  We have Tobacco Enforcement agents, secret shoppers and Officers who enforce and educate about all the new policies.  We complete our due diligence - and more - with our staff and fully train and monitor the sales of tobacco products within our establishment.  More recently, all tobacco products have been required to be removed from view as a deterrent to youth.  Again, we complied without protest to the new laws even though we have seen drastic losses in sales of tobacco products.

We are only one of many, many businesses out there who sell tobacco products who have been more than cooperative and compliant.  We pride ourselves on being responsible retailers who do not sell to the youth.  Yet, although we have done everything that has been required of us, we are being punished by tighter and tighter legislation.  I can easily say that I don't encourage underage smoking by any means, but I believe flavoured cigarillos are the least of the governments worries.  The focus should be on contraband tobacco which is far too available to the youth, or the retailers who are disregarding age laws.  As well, the big tobacco companies are not going to be heavily affected by this new law as many of them do not produce "flavoured products" - or do they?  What about menthol flavoured tobacco? Yet menthol flavoured tobacco does not fall under this new legislation??? Why is this? 

The assumption is also being made that flavoured items are specifically targeted towards youth.  This is completely unfounded - of course adults enjoy flavoured cigarillos too!  As well, with all flavoured tobacco being hidden from view of the youth, and strict ID regulations, the issue SHOULD NOT be about the flavoured tobacco, but more so about the retailers who are selling to underage buyers.

There are many other arguments against this new Bill such as the fact that buying "in bulk" will be too expensive for legal adults who should be able to make their own choices, as well as many tobacco items will go stale if bought in larger amounts but not used within a certain period of time.  But really, what it boils down to is that the government should be spending its time and money policing and punishing those businesses and sellers of contraband who are making tobacoo available to the youth, not punishing those businesses who are professional, responsible and compliant.

Posted On Sep 16 04:54PM   

I don't particularly enjoy smoking these so called "cigarillos", but I know they are pretty popular. People that don't smoke cigarettes enjoy the taste, even. I myself, prefer cigarettes. So what's next? Ban anything that tastes good because it's bad for you, and your children might be enticed into it? What ever happened to free will? I could honestly care less if kids want to smoke, it's their own decision, and it'll more than pay for new roads thanks to the extra high provincial taxes on all tobacco related product.

It doesn't take a genius to know that kids these days are rich beyond belief, thanks to living off mom and dad and getting high wages, They've got the money to spare. So, if said children want to spend their hardly earned money on a delightfully tasty cigarillo, Who the hell is anyone to stop them? This is getting rediculous.

Let me be blunt about this: We (and this includes myself) know that tobacco is harmful. The government has been cramming that into our brains since as long as I can remember. I choose to smoke, I like to smoke, and I've been smoking long before I was legal age to do so. Quitting is not in my future. Why can't the government leave us poor smokers the hell alone, and bother someone else's vice for a while? Honestly, smokers are treated with about as much respect as a serial rapist these days, when there is far worse than lighting up.

Conclusion? It's absurd to say flavoured things are directed at children, as if we all somehow lost pleasure in things that taste like candy at the age of 18. You know what they say about assumptions, don't you? I raise my one fingered salute to the government for yet another useless bill, and I ask the general public just how long we are going to stand politely by and let them play with our freedoms. 

Posted On Sep 16 01:11PM   

Senator, we do not always agree, but on this one we do!

One question and one only.  If this legislation were implemented  today, how would things look different tomorrow,?  Because for the life of me, I cannot remember the last time I saw a cigarette add or other marketing directed to adults OR children.  So how will this change things?

Posted On Sep 16 09:07AM   
Killer Bonsai

We better watch out, or the next thing will be pipes and shishas, because obviously their aromatic flavours are geared to entice kids, not for the pleasure of adults who consume them! (It bothers me that the anti-tobacco lobby is trying to suggest that flavoured tobaccos were manufactured to entice youth).


While I agree that we should be doing our best to deter kids from assuming bad habits, trying to legislate trends (which is what this is a trend, and in 1997, the trend was Players Light cigarettes) is faulty at best.
And onto the topic of labelling, given how many people die in a car accident, I suggest mandatory labelling on all motor vehicles with WARNING signs and graphic images of car accidents....

Posted On Sep 15 03:08PM   

...not so much wrong as based on a hypothesis or two (for which they don't YET have data): that big tobacco MAY use ads to target young people, which would INCREASE smoking rates, and THUS to prevent this, the legislation is required.

I think these hypotheses are not completely unfounded; evidence LIKELY exists (I'm guessing here, not having looked into this) that sweet, fruity alcoholic drinks (fizzy drinks) had similar studies/issues raised about them. 

The "precautionary principle" is likely hard at work here (where Health Canada is concerned). 

So the real debate may be more about whether one feels the precaution is worth the curtailing of rights.  I'm fine with it, myself. 



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