Thursday, February 12, 2009

Manitoba Kids: Smoke 'em if You Got 'em! pt.1

[as originally posted 01/23/09 on my formerly free thinking blog ]

One of us has been all over the blogosphere suggesting that Premier Gary Doer's Manitoba Government has been indifferent to taking real action on the anti-smoking file.

"Not true!" said the other, citing the latest news release. "Look here, it says Manitoba is 'a national leader'. The kids are in good hands. Look, Peter Bjornson used to be a teacher; so was the Minister of Health, uhh, Terry what's-her-name?"

"Ozwon't?" came the reply.

"Yeah, her." he said, "So don't fret Fat Arse, the kids are in good hands." Then he pointed to Manitoba's recent move to, finally, ban smoking in all vehicles with passengers under the age of 16. "See," he said, "progress."

But the other wasn't buying it. "More like, pitiful progress," he muttered. And he smokes!*

Then came the usual cascade of expletives as he started throwing (of all things) evidence and statistics about! Including, facts on how bad smoking is for you and how it is the principal risk factor for a whole pile of cancers. On a roll, the habitual dung-tossing smoker also threw these out:
  • There is evidence that school-based prevention programs do not prevent youth from taking up smoking;

  • There is little evidence that youth participation in tobacco control strategies (e.g. SWAT) reduces youth smoking;

  • There is evidence that legislative action to reduce access to tobacco products actually stops children from taking up smoking.
In fact, credible evidence suggests that reducing access to the availability of cigarettes/tobacco is arguably the most effective way to reduce youth smoking rates.

So why not do it?

Given that it is estimated that one of every three children who start smoking will "die from tobacco-related illness," loving parents everywhere cannot be faulted for wondering why government is not doing more. But, hey, here in Manitoba there's no point letting facts get in the way of "Doering".

ow exactly is Manitoba showing 'leadership' on this file? Sad truth: it is not. Manitoba's children continue to have easy access to tobacco products throughout the province.

But, as usual, Doer is sticking to the politically safe path (Doering if necessary - but not necessarily Doering). To-date, he's only moved on anti-smoking legislation after he's been shamed into doing so by political opponents and activists. Only then does Doer act.

But even when he does, his Doering does not go far enough. Doer, simply put, is simply doing too little. For example, other provinces have already banned the sale of cancer sticks in health facilities and drugstores. Manitoba? Not yet.

Hmmm, are the p
olling numbers not strong enough? Still, this is no excuse! Respected anti-smoking organizations such as MANTRA have already recommended such steps - so why the delay?

Are Doer's priorities misplaced? Is he preoccupied? Or, is it, that maybe, just maybe, he sees no electoral upside in tackling the issue? Who knows? Bottom line - Gary Doer is not doing enough! And, in this case, his-less-than-best is unacceptable!

Mr. Premier: Leadership isn't waiting to see which way the winds are blowing and/or what the polls are saying. Sure it makes for easy politics. But let's not confuse it with leadership. It's time for you to act.

*Disclaimer: Fat Arse is a copious inhaler of tobacco; Smart Arse is not. Yet, despite our differences, we both agree the only logical legal vendors for tobacco in this province should be: Liquor Stores, Beer Vendors, Lounges, and Porn Shops! Only where minors are prohibited - nowhere else.


Mr. Nobody said...

I'll be brief.

See Ontario's ban of fruit flavored tobacco.

Manitoba, not even on the radar.

RachelW said...

Nice solution you guys proposed, at the end of this very entertaining rant, er, I mean essay.

We've just got a ban on smoking in cars-with-kids here in the Yukon too, though not with out a whole lot of "it's my right to do what I like in my personal space" sabre-rattling. Two drugstores have now "voluntarily" stopped selling tobacco products (a ban? Goodness me no, that would infringe the rights of business people to get rich while we get sick). Too bad so many other Whitehorse shops still sell cigarettes, including one of the two local bookstores.

Mr. Nobody said...

There is evidence that legislative action to reduce access to tobacco products actually stops children from taking up smoking

No it doesn't. Kids are getting hooked and they have access to all the product they want.

Mr. Nobody said...

"Respected anti-smoking organizations such as MANTRA have already recommended such steps "

MANTRA is a few years behind the times. Sent them an email, About the 4th one in 2 years. Lets see if they get off their collective arses and do something for a change.

"Sorry to inform you but both my sons are now addicts. So are about 20 of their friends.

Whats even sadder is that unlike Ontario, which banned fruit flavored tobacco in less then a month, we Manitobans , as usual are a decade behind and have our heads comfortably shoved in the sand.

I've emailed everyone about my concerns, and yet not one word of feedback.

All these kids got hooked smoking easy to inhale Prime Times. I can understand politicians being weak kneed about attacking this issue. But I don't believe organizations like yours are doing enough.

This issue is as easy as it can get. You have precedence all over the country. Prime Minister Harper has mentioned it. Judy Wasylycia Leis ( sp. ) has tabled a private members bill at the federal level which is stuck in limbo.

But here, nothing. What are you waiting for ?


Smart Arse said...

@Mr. Nobody(1): You misunderstand the point.

Yes, "kids are getting hooked and they have access to all the product they want," which is why *restricting access* (along with economic measures) is the way to go (i.e. versus other interventions).

That's what the international evidence says

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