Friday, June 25, 2010

My emission on tobacco prohibition--And the paid help answers.

A tale of two letters.

Every so often, when frustrated by one or another of
the government's behaviour modification schemes, one is forced to rail against the Ontario government's wrongheaded plan to tax cigarettes out of existence.
Of course, Mafia Miltie always has other ideas....A thriving black market cigarette trade at an eighth the cost of overground cigarettes.
And so I sally forth in the TorStar chain of local newspapers:


The current witch hunt over illegal cigarettes gives me images of Keystone Kops
Our governments have, over the last decade, tried to tax cigarettes out of the market.
The predictable result, is,instead, this has created a black market that delivers cigarettes to Canadians for the price of a song.
The RCMP says these imported black market cigarettes are available for sale on our streets and around our schools.
It is estimated they account for more than 30 per cent of Canadian consumption and much higher than that in Ontario and Quebec.
I would say this points to the government's lack of commitment to enforce and contol the distribution of illegal cigarettes.
This was entirely predictable based on the previous attempt 15 years earlier, when taxation was tried as a way to encourage smokers to quit.
The result, then as now, was smuggling increased.
Astronomical legal tobacco prices have encouraged higher smoking rates among young people by tolerating the proliferation of cheap, black market cigarettes.
Premier Dalton McGuinty, be at least as smart as former prime minster Jean Chretien, and cut tobacco prices by half.
You'll find tobacco tax revenue to be about the same as now, with fewer smugglers.


To which the paid help from the Canadia Cancer Society replies:

Re: High tobacco taes behind illegal smokes, letter to the editor by Ivan Prokopchuk, June 10

As a leader in the fight against illegal tobacco, I can tell you you're fundamentally wrong in saying higher tobacco taxes encourage higher smoking rates.
Numerous studies have shown increasing the price of cigarettes if one of the best ways to encourage young people to stop smoking, and prevent young people from starting to smoke.
If the price of tobacco is increased by just ten per cent, consumption will generally drop by four per cent--more for youth.
Ontario has the lowest tobacco tax rate in Canada, almost half that of other rovinces.
For years, the Canadian Cancer Society has led the fight against illegal contraband tobacco at the provincial and federal levels.
We encourage everybody to go to, join the fight and take action on contraband tobacco.


Myself, I can hear Al Capone laughing out of his grave.


benjibopper said...

ha, very interesting little debate. In my own experience as a campaigner, the most effective behaviour modification technique (what a phrase!) is education plus enforcement. But, of course, it only works if the law side of the equation is reasonable, and the education side is believable. [Well, with the exception of all those propagandizing fascist regimes.] said...


That is so well said!

the walking man said...

smoke if you got 'em. No matter the source. Hell grow your own tobacco, Southern Ontario used to be the Virginia of Canada. Just make sure you mingle the wicked weed in the middle of your marijuana plot because you know they would never destroy that medicinal herb.

ivan@c said...


Southern Ontario indeed used to be the Virginia of Canada.

But now the commerical growing of tobacco is banned. And now it's almost verboten in Virginia itself.

Seems that Mr. McGuinty, in his political correctness has succeeded in all but destroying Ontario agriculture, as tobacco was its mainstay.
Farmers milling around Leamington like Afghans with their crops destroyed as a PR gesture,wondering how now to pay the bank.
And all because of a medical orhodoxy that might change in twenty years.
It is statistically true that smoking causes some cancers, but not causally true. It is the way we live and real poisons around us in the air, in the ground and in the water.
I sometimes think Ontario is becoming a fascist state, if the virtual martial law in Toronto this weekend over G-20 is any example.

Charles Gramlich said...

Vices are not easy to get rid of. That's why they're vices. I hated it when my son took up smoking and have tried to get him to quit. I didn't realize for over a year that his mom as aiding and abetting his habit and helping him hide it from me.

TomCat said...

What's the going price now (real and black market), Ivan? I remember 48 years ago, Canadian smokes cost twice as much as US smokes, but were so much better in quality that they were worth it.

They're using the same technique here in the US, but at the same time, subsidizing the tobacco industry.

ivan@c said...

Real price for a top brand like Rothman's is about eleven dollars for a pack of 25.
Black market price for usually uncured Reservation tobacco is three dollars. If you buy a pack on a reservaion with a government seal on it, cost you four dollars. said...


When I went to Mexico as a rogue professor, I was told that in that dangerous and sometimes volatile country there were three means to a sense of personal security. A woman, a bottle-- or a pack of Delicados for a dime a pack.
I took all three, and that is how I got to be the way I am. :)

EA Monroe said...

Ivan, I heard on the local radio the other day that the US federal government has banned Candy Cigarettes!! I think bubble gum cigars are still legal though. ;-)

Apparently, Candy Cigarettes promote smoking.

Liz said...


They'll be after my potful of candied yams next. Think I might smoke them--which I might!

TomCat said...

Here a pack of Pall Mall 100's is $4.50 - $5.00. said...


That's about what you'd pay on the Reservation. But the smokes are not made on the reservation.
Likely made in China from floor scrapings if the rice paper is any indication...Almost unsmokable. These things will give you cancer for sure!
...And all the kids are smoking them because of simple economics. Why pay double and triple to satisfy the government's greed?

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