Tag 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.

About-Face: Canada’s Shift from Peacekeeper to Bomb-Dropper

“Canadians want to live in peace,” declared Prime Minister John Diefenbaker to the nation in 1960 in the midst of the ongoing Cold War.

Those were difficult times. The United States and the Soviet Union were divvying up the world and expanding their influence. Proxy conflicts, spy games, sanctions, and the threat of nuclear war reverberated in headlines across the world.

Yet, despite the pressure from its southern neighbor, Canada kept a cool head and stood firm in its commitment for peace. It avoided the pitfalls of the Vietnam War, struck a friendly relationship with Cuba instead of signing onto the US embargo, and deployed thousands of peacekeepers to United Nations missions in the Suez Canal, Congo, Syria, and elsewhere.

Now, 50 years later, even after avoiding so many disastrous wars throughout the decades, Canada finds itself strategically bombing pieces of the Iraq held by the Islamic State. Ironically, Canada was reluctant to lend soldiers and bombs to the first effort led by the United States in 2003. Now it’s taking center stage and flexing its bombing muscle.

Canada’s UN mission website boasts that “to date, over 125,000 Canadians have served in close to 50 UN missions.”It’s a far cry from the “peacekeepers first” mentality formed by nearly five decades of Canadian foreign policy.

One of the most notorious was the mission in genocide-era Rwanda, headed up by Canadian General Roméo Dallaire from 1993-94. Since that time, however, Canada has slowly shed its peacekeeping prowess for a more dirty role in world affairs.

According to the United Nations, Canada has substantially dropped its number of peacekeepers deployed from the high of 3,336 in 1993 to just 113 today, mostly as military police in war zones across the African continent. In the last decade alone, that number has flatlined.

In the era of Canadian muscle, the military, not the peacekeepers, receives the first call.

Such was the case for Operation Athena, Canada’s support mission for NATO in its occupation of Afghanistan. It began with a few dozen Special Forces commandos in 2001, and expanded to thousands of Canadian soldiers governing the entire provinces of Kandahar and Helmand from 2003 until the withdrawal of combat troops in 2011.

The last Canadian soldiers returned home from Afghanistan in March 2014, after nearly three years of an “advisory and training role,” according to the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Read the rest at the PanAmerican Post…