Category Archives: Canada

Mandating plain packaging on cigarettes doesn’t work

The Trudeau government’s plan to force tobacco companies to use plain packaging on their products is a paternalistic, nanny-state policy that will fail to reduce smoking rates.

Introduced by Julia Gillard’s Labor government in Australia, plain packaging is the public health lobby’s latest attempt to reduce smoking rates by stigmatizing tobacco products. Under such a policy, tobacco products are sold in specific, government-approved packages designed to minimize their appeal. All product branding is made illegal, with the various brands of cigarettes only distinguishable by the specific font and size of the text on the package. In Australia, the government mandated olive green packages, with health warnings prominently displayed.

The hope that this will reduce smoking rates is based on the absurd, and highly paternalistic, idea that smokers are unable to resist the lure of colourful boxes. Public-health experts assume that, given the universally accepted fact that smoking is bad for your health, smokers must be incapable of resisting the tobacco industry’s marketing.

Yet there’s no evidence to support this. In fact, a study by the European Public Health Association found “no significant association between design and marketing features of tobacco products and an early initiation of regular smoking.”

But what about evidence from Australia? In a peer-reviewed econometric study, economists Sinclair Davidson and Ashton de Silva said there was “no empirical evidence to support the notion that the plain packaging policy has resulted in lower household expenditure on tobacco than there otherwise would have been.” There was even some evidence to suggest household expenditure on tobacco had increased. This may be due to the increased sale of counterfeit tobacco, which is harder to distinguish when plain packages are used.

Indeed, the number of counterfeit tobacco seizures by Australia’s border protection agency increased by 60 per cent from mid-2011 to mid-2013 (a time frame covering the introduction of plain packaging laws). British newspaper The Sun even reported that Indonesian counterfeit tobacco smugglers were cheering when the U.K. decided to follow Australia’s lead.

Ironically, the same public health organizations advocating for plain packaging — despite the evidence it doesn’t work — are completely opposed to e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking. All evidence shows e-cigarettes are a far safer alternative to smoking, but Health Canada still warns Canadians not to purchase them.

Read the full article at the National Post.

Meet the Quebec Libertarian Who Could Beat Prime Minister Trudeau

His name is Maxime Bernier and he has all the great qualities of a small-town politician.

He makes a point of visiting every part of his constituency while he’s in office. He saves resources by not printing up posters at election time, and he gets elected with higher and higher margins each time, even if his party is losing on the vote nationwide. He even put out a 60s-style jingle to entice voters in his riding of Beauce, Quebec.
He’s no ordinary small-town politician, though.

Bernier is also a principled Conservative with a penchant for a political philosophy that favors small government, lower taxes and more individual freedom.

He quotes free market economists like Frédéric Bastiat and Friedrich Hayek in Parliament, and never shies from offering lessons in economics to the NDP and Liberals.

And he’s not just all talk.

Read the rest on the PanAm Post, here.

Why Anglosphere countries top the World Giving Index

Just in time for the holidays, the Charities Aid Foundation released its annual World Giving Index for 2015, ranking countries according to their charitable giving, volunteering, and willingness to help those in need. The report seems to confirm a common source of guilt among developed nations of the world, that the wealthier you become, the less generous you are, with almost no rich countries represented at the top. Instead, the most advanced economies of the world performed relatively poorly, with one glaring exception: the Anglosphere.

In the index, the top spot is occupied by Myanmar, a Southeast Asian military dictatorship that is one of the most impoverished countries in the world. Economic prosperity does not necessarily translate to increasing generosity. In fact, only a handful of wealthy countries made it to the top twenty spots in the World Giving Index of 2015, much less the top ten. But they are not just any handful. The performance of Anglosphere countries is striking: the United States takes second place, while New Zealand, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Ireland fill out the rest of the top ten. All six countries belong to a unique family of nations formerly associated with a single colonial empire, and all share threads of a common cultural heritage.

From the authors’ discussion of key findings, however, you would never guess that there was such a clear pattern sticking out in the report. They appear to be more preoccupied with pointing out the influence of Theravada Buddhism on the performance of Myanmar, or of the timing of the survey during the month of Ramadan to explain the strong showing of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. At one point – at last – they begin to explain that the cultural heritage of a country can also impact on giving behaviors, but do not hold your breath. They are only referring to the discontinuation of the Soviet-era weekly volunteering policy of ‘Saturday subbotniks’ in Turkmenistan. It seems that some truths are so obvious, only experts can deny them.

Read the full article at CapX.