For the first time that I can remember politicians are actually making a decent attempt at fighting the tobacco industry; which is a shocker since the industry generally likes to keep them well paid to make sure they stay quiet on the topic of smoking, but now flavored tobacco may be a thing of the past. There is a bill being proposed to remove flavored tobacco products from stores in Alberta based off the idea that they are more likely to attract teens and get them hooked. Although statistics do not necessarily prove this to be the case, I for one would tend to agree with this being someone who used tobacco in high school, and has since quit. I was a hockey player, and among me and teammates, chewing tobacco had become relatively popular, and in most cases the “rookie chewers” would begin on flavors such as apple, citrus, or berry. Until they eventually moved on to straight or “original” flavorings as they began to get a stronger stomach for the stuff. Yet unsurprisingly a tobacco industry representative had this to say about proposed bill 206.
“Bill 206 is an example of very bad public policy on tobacco, because Bill 206 is effectively leveraged on what are tantamount and outright lies. The issue is the assumption that those youths are more likely to start or continue tobacco use because of flavors in tobacco” which he claims are lies. “There’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that if not for flavors in tobacco, kids wouldn’t start or want illegal access to tobacco products.” He continues on to say.
While there may be no conclusive evidence or statistics documenting this, to me this is kind of a common sense thing, and honestly if you have to “water down” your tobacco to be flavored because you can’t handle the natural taste, tobacco probably isn’t for you anyway. Not that anyone should really be using the stuff, since there’s 300+ added chemicals in the average cigarette, and several carcinogens in chewing tobacco as well. Alternatively teens have started smoking E-Cigs or hookahs instead of store bought cigarettes which have a dark cloud around them these days.
I’m going break it down for you the way it is, if a teenager wants access to tobacco, they can get it. There is absolutely no way, in free society, that you can stop them. Anyone who thinks otherwise is oblivious to reality. I do however think with the information available today, a lot of teens are second guessing the decision to start using tobacco, and I strongly agree that removing flavors from tobacco would assist this, but at the same time I don’t believe it’s going to have a great enough impact to be taking the choice away from legal adults, just out of fear for the teenagers. Those teens are going to be consenting adults soon enough anyway, and adding this restriction is going to anger a lot of people, whilst giving minimal results in return.
In a free society I think anyone should have the freedom to do as they wish, and if those actions have consequences on their health, that for them to deal with. It’s not the governments place to dictate what can and cannot be ingested into the body, as I think everyone should have sovereignty over their body and mind. So although this bill may have minimally positive results, I believe it is only a restriction of freedoms towards those who are of legal age, and consent to the poisoning of their body. Freedom also includes being able to make your own mistakes, instead of having the government baby sit you and tell you what you are allowed, and not allowed to use.
Another bill being proposed is bill 33, which would not allow anyone to be smoking in a vehicle with someone aged 16 years or younger, and this one I completely agree with. I believe if someone is fine by poisoning themselves, that is their decision and theirs alone. However, once your habit starts to affect others, who most likely do not smoke themselves, this is where it becomes a problem for me. So to summarize, I’m fine with both these bills being passed, as neither affect me, although I believe bill 206 won’t be very effective, and like I said, will most likely anger people as it’s a restriction of choice. bill 33 is definitely a no-brainer for me though. Second hand smoke can definitely hurt others. It’s not so much the smoke being exhaled that’s the problem, but the fact that the smoke and all the added chemicals will stick around in clothing, or furniture, and from there it becomes in contact with the skin, and is absorbed by your body. To conclude, it’s good to see Alberta cracking down on the tobacco industry, but I think Albertans need to really take into consideration the lasting effects of each bill, and I believe only bill 33 will have lasting positive effects.
In other places around the world, for instance – New York City, the age at which you can buy cigarettes have gone from 18 to 21. Which again is an understandable change, and I see why people would push to have this passed, but if someone is old enough to strap on some olive drab camo, and pair of boots to head off to war, I think they’re old enough to not have personal freedoms restricted like tobacco or alcohol use. The government is kind of contradicting themselves saying that someone is able to defend their country but not old or mature enough to be in control of what they choose to do in their personal time. They’re definitely old enough to make an informed decision about their own health, and understand the risks involved, so I really don’t like legislation coming in like this, it’s counter-productive in my opinion. Bottom line is as an adult you should have sovereighnty over your own body and what you choose to do with it so I hope this eventually gets reversed, and that smoking flavored cigarettes do not become a thing of the past.
By Brandon Webb