Addicted to novelty since 2001

Smoking Advocacy

Tonight I watched a news piece about how the American Lung Association was lobbying the MPAA (Flash and evil ahead) to consider smoking in movie ratings. This is an idiotic notion, but that’s not what I wanted to write about.

During the piece, I learned about MyChoice.ca:

mychoice.ca is a Web site committed to restoring common sense, balance and civility to the way Canada’s adult smokers are treated by their federal, provincial and municipal politicians.

First off, who was the nice young woman talking on the news, and how can she actually stomach being a tobacco lobbyist? Surely there’s a special level in hell for people who advocate for the tobacco industry.

Regardless, no one will ever actually consume the content on MyChoice.ca because it’s a usability nightmare. First you’ve got to check a box to confirm that you’re nineteen. Then, to access most of the site’s content, you’ve got to wade through a terms of use and conditions statement and register.

Once you’re in, you’re greeted by the president’s message inciting smokers to become activists. As it turns out, the aforementioned nice young woman is the president herself, Nancy Daigneault. You don’t have to register to read her bio. She’s apparently got two kids–I wonder if they’re smokers yet?

10 Responses to “Smoking Advocacy”

  1. Chris

    Disclaimer: I am a non-smoker (of tobacco, at least), and have never smoked (tobacco).

    I don’t think tobacco is biggest scourge on the planet or anything. Marketing to kids? Yes, that’s bad, and should stop. We’ve come a long way – 40 years ago Fred and Barney were pitching Winstons to kids. Hating the whole industry is a bit overkill, though.

    Do you think that cigarettes should be illegal? If my MP supported a bill to criminalize tobacco, I’d be writing letters and sending email to voice my disapproval. Government nannying is not what the country needs.

    Now, a popular Canadian argument is that since we have public healthcare, the Government has the right to infringe on choices. My counter is that cigarettes are VERY highly taxed, and that this money should go directly to treating smoking-related illness, and nothing else (tobacco tax contributed ~$8 billion in federal revenue last year). There’s no reason that smokers should be subsidizing anything else besides their own health care.

    I agree with indoor smoking restrictrions, and that people shouldn’t smoke in the car / enclosed spaces with their children (smoking rooms in houses, perhaps?), but I absolutely think that people should have the right to smoke.

  2. Darren

    I agree, people should definitely have the right to smoke. I just can’t imagine ever actually being a smoking advocate. Clearly there are plenty of people willing to lobby our government on the behalf of unhealthy things–tobacco, alcohol, firearms–but I’ve never met such a person.

  3. jo

    In principal I agree with the rights of smokers, but in practise, not so much.

    Perhaps I’m getting more sensitive in my old age but I’m offended if people smoke in the car beside mine and smoke wafts in my car. Another pet peeve is running in public spaces where there are smokers, if I’m expanding my lungs I’d prefer not to have them filled with smoke.

    I think the final word should be wrt the impact that smoking has on the health care system. I think the toll that this places on a publically funded system is beyond unfair.

    In case you’re wondering about my smoking status: I’m one of the ‘lucky’ ones who can have a puff once or twice a year and as long as I don’t go above that I’m able to resist the temptation of full-time smoking.

    Would I resent being told not to smoke? Probably, but then again I railed against mandatory seat belt legislation and I now live with that without giving it further thought.

  4. Chris

    The unfair toll that smoking puts on the healthcare system should be offset from taxes collected. If not, increase the taxes.

    You can’t do away with everything that offends you. If someone is smoking in the car beside you and you don’t like it, roll up your window. The same advice holds if they are listening to music that really annoys you, if they have a car full of a smelly food that you don’t like, or if they’re wearing too much perfume. The very brief exposure you receive from this scenario is not a health risk, just an annoyance, and the “right not to be offended” does not exist (nor should it).

    And Darren, you’ve never met me (though you’ve met my girlfriend, I think, and I comment here every now and then), but I’ve helped lobby the government over an unhealthy thing (marijuana – not as unhealty as cigarettes or alcohol, but not exactly a vitamin either). I’m not the president of an organization or anything, but I’m a member of NORML, I’ve signed many petitions, and I’ve attended many rallies. I’ve also written term papers on drug legalization (which could be seen as a form of protest, I guess).

  5. Sue

    I don’t think anyone should have the RIGHT to smoke. It’s not really what I’d consider to be a basic human right, although I know there are many who would debate that. I can’t see smoking falling in with the whole “life, liberty and security of person” mentioned in section 7 of the Charter. It doesn’t gibe. That of course is open to interpretation.

    I believe we should all have the PRIVILEGE to smoke. However, with any privilege, there will always be someone with the right to revoke the privilege. Whether and when the privilege gets revoked should be the issue of debate.

    As for advocacy… well there’s something where you’ve just got to shrug your shoulders, y’know? Everyone’s got that right to expression, and you can’t always pick what floats the other guy’s boat.

  6. Darren

    Chris: I should have been more specific. After all, ‘unhealthy’ is a relative term. Also, the battle over marijuana is over decriminalization, a battle that tobacco, alcohol and (to some degree) firearms producers have already one. Also, unlike tobacco and firearms, marijuana’s unlikely to kill you.

    It’s funny that you should mention NORML. I saw a NORML spokesperson on the news tonight (I forget the context) and said to my wife, “now there’s the sort of marijuana advocate they need”. Basically, too many of the marijuana lobbyists I’ve seen on TV have been way too bohemian in their appearance and manner to be effective spokespeople. That may sound trivial or shallow, but it makes all the difference when you’re trying to convince the average Canadian. I’ve felt for several years that the marijuana movement needs fewer (less? are they countable?) dreadlocks and more suits and ties on TV.

    For the record, I’m fully in favour of legalizing marijuana, and then taxing the heck out of it. Our healthcare system could apparently use all the help it can get.

  7. ainge

    holy paternalism, batman.

    sure, smoking’s not integral enough to be a capitalized-for-emphasis RIGHT but i dont know that i’d relegate it to capitalized-for-emphasis PRIVILEGE status, either.

    im definitely with the tax them to (inevitably premature, tsk tsk) death crew on this one. people should be free to poison themselves as they please as long as they subsidize the repercussions of their lifestyle.

  8. Mike

    I wonder about the common perception that some have – which jo mentioned, but I don’t want to pick on her (?) specifically – that smoking outside is bad because others might inhale the smoke. I did some thinking about this several months ago (posted to my LiveJournal if anybody cares to look) and while I’m no doctor, I’m pretty sure inhaling car exhaust on a run (or walk) is much more dangerous than the minute amounts of cigarette smoke one might accidentally inhale. I see a lot more cars than I do smokers on the streets.

    I agree with you in principle, Darren, that raising taxes on smokes and also legalising and taxing marijuana is a good idea. The problem is, though, that the people who can most afford the taxes aren’t generally the smokers. Smoking is an affectation of the poor, generally. Look at the regional statistics: the greatest percentages of smokers live out east, which is generally poorer than central/western Canada. I knew lots of smokers when I lived out east; I hardly know any here. Most of the smokers I knew had jobs in the $8-10 an hour range, if they were lucky.

    I’ve never smoked myself, but I’ve known enough smokers to know that the common reaction of “well, they should just quit then” is a non-starter. (And why do we, as a society, seem to feel free to tell smokers “just quit then”, when we don’t seem to feel the same freedom to say the same thing to alcoholics and other drug abusers?)

    Just some blathering on a vacation day…

  9. joke

    I never know what to think about smoking issues. I absolutely abhor smoking, and have had, maybe, three cigarettes in my life. I hate being in smoky bars, but the libertarian in me has a hard time justifying banning it. The principal argument — that it is for the health of the workers — seems pretty reasonable, but I think you could also design a bar so that the non-smoking section is seperate (there’s even been talk of having non-smoking sections with no service).

    They’ve banned smoking in bars and restaurants in NYC and, more recently, Dublin. Despite fears to the contrary, apparently you can’t keen the Irish from their pints.

  10. Chris

    Well, I’m not quite at full “activist” level, but I’m the type of person you want to see out there. Clean cut, university educated software engineer. When I get high, I do math. Down with stereotypes!

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