Thursday, February 01, 2007

Albertans Resoundingly Approve Smoking Bans

The Canadian Cancer Society and Smoke-Free Alberta today released the poll results I mentioned in this Blog the other day. As I speculated there is little difference in the support legislation restricting tobacco use in workplaces, public establishments and sales in pharmacies and the use of so-called “power wall” displays of tobacco products in retail establishments.

The support levels are the highest since such surveys have been conducted in Alberta. The new political reality is that the support between the rural and urban Albertans is statistically the same. An impressive 80% of Albertans want a complete ban in the workplace and public establishments and 78% say the products should not be sold in pharmacies, and I understand there is no disagreement by Pharmacists on this. The scientific poll is even stronger than the 74% support in my little blog site survey on the issue.

Premier Stelmach during the PC leadership campaign completed a survey and sent a cover letter to Smoke-Free Alberta saying “Let me be perfectly clear in my disapproval of smoking. It is a tremendous cost to society in terms of health care.” Ed is also a democrat as he went further to say that he “…recognizes the value of all points of view, I will encourage my caucus to debate further measures to reduce smoking and to support and champion their collective decision.”

This kind of initiative has failed before due to Ralph Klein’s opposition. Now we have a leader on side but that still means it will be a caucus decision and my bet will be a free vote this coming session. Hancock and Stelmach will make a great tag team on this initiative and in the process will dispel any myth that there is a rural-urban split in the Stelmach caucus. Champions are handy but they don't guarantee a win in a free vote.

Replying to a pollster is one thing – making your elected representative know your wishes on this issue and to make those wishes the law of the land will take more effort. If citizens sit back and do not press this issue, I can’t see it passing successfully through the political process, regardless of leadership changes. Citizens have to make it happen!


  1. jonathan sharek3:37 pm

    I worked in the hospitality industry for a few years in university. When the Edmonton ban came in 2005, I applied for a job again, and guess what: it's wonderful working in a smoke free environment.

    I would appreciate a workplace ban as I share a break room with smoking staff. If the customers can go outside, I think employees should too.

  2. Here here. Are you going to set up an online petition?

  3. Good thought re on line petition - I think I will.

  4. I'm disappointed, Ken.
    From previous comments you've made on this blog, I'm certain you understand that self-selected sample is a non-probability sampling - and therefore cannot validly be used to infer from the sample to the general population.

    (For those who might not be familiar with these terms, a simplified explanation - "self-selected" generally means that the persons who are contacted by the survey company are free to refuse to participate. This makes the persons who do agree to participate, a SELF-selected sampling. "Non-probability sampling" means that the chance of being "selected", from within the population as a whole, is unknown or unknowable. If the probability of being selected cannot be calculated, the sampling cannot be trusted to represent a genuinely random slice of the population and therefore the data gathered by the survey can only be said to represent the people who actually participated in it)

    This is true of ALL telephone survey opinion polling,(not just the ones whose results are inconvenient for me in some way) - even telephone survey opinion polls that seem to validate my own opinions cannot validly be extrapolated to the population as a whole. Unfortunately.

    I've worked in the telephone survey business, including for Ipsos-Reid. The rate of outright refusal to participate (termed "the refusal rate") has been climbing almost exponentially for years and is now so high that the whole industry has become a bad joke. That is on top of these sample spoiling practises; calls are only made between 2pm and 9pm on weekdays (unless the target sample is businesspeople), businesses (and therefore business men & women who work those hours) are excluded, cellphone numbers are excluded, and "valid" responses (i.e. the participant says either "yes" or "no" to a yes-or-no question) cannot be screened out by the surveyors even if the participant makes other, extraneous, statements during the interview that indicate he/she is a minor who lied about their age, or is giving sarcastic responses that represent the opposite of what they really think, or even confess during the call that they despise pollsters and give random responses without thinking about them just to get off the phone as fast as possible.

    For the same reasons that it is deceptive and false to claim the "results" of this survey, (or practically any other telephone survey), necessarily reflect a similar percentage of ALL Albertan's opinions - I cannot prove that it does not, either. It might, or it might not.

    Ultimately, the opinions of many persons on these subjects are demonstrably based more on emotion than reason or fact, and on a steady diet of Tobacco Control's deceptions and falsehoods in the mass media.

    For example - if people believe that the current, aggressive, "push" to have ASH's agenda enacted ASAP is motivated by concern for people's health, they would be mistaken. The truth is this - the national Tobacco Control conference for 2007 is taking place right here in Edmonton (in October), and Les Hagen and many of his associates and supporters will die of embarassment if Alberta does not have THE most oppressive anti-smoker legislation in Canada before the conference happens.

    The current "push" is about ego, saving face and bragging rights within a tiny community of technocrats, not about any spectacularly pressing public health need.

  5. Hi "son of gaia." I have missed you. Have to say that your disappointment in me is ill founded.

    I agree with everything you say in your comment above about opinion polls. In fact I did an interview on Policy Channel, our affiliate site linked to this Blog that underscores your comments on polls.

    The Link is

    Polls are not gospel but they are informative and can be enlightening within their obvious limitations. Their reliability , conclusions and implications have to be constantly questioned.

    That said my "son"...if you have any poll results to rebutt these findings on Albeertan's support for a ban on smoking in public spaces please forward them...and the details on who did them and how they were done too obviously.

    Any politician who makes policy and setting direction based primarily on polls, to my mind, is lacking in the necessary leadership skills and the required wisdom to govern effectively.

    Steve Harper on the environment is one example of that shortcoming that comes to my mind. Clearly his nimbleness in changing his direction toward the green agenda is poll driven.

    We will have to wait and see if his eco-conversion is authentic or merely politic.

  6. I withdraw my expression of disappointment.

    I'm under a lot of stress in my life right now. So are some of my family and closest friends. Under such life circumstances, I tend to lash out at people and/or organizations that seem to (mistakenly) believe that intentionally inflicting MORE stress on us - making our lives MORE difficult - would somehow be "helpful", and who refuse to hear the voices of people whose lives have become "collateral damage" generated by those persons & organizations relentlessly myopic pursuit of their agendas.

    T'was nothing personal.

  7. ken chapman4:06 pm

    Never thought it was personal my"son." NOT to worry.

    These are not easy time for many people in Alberta, regardless of the media hype on how "rich" we are all supposed to be!

    We have a huge focus on the economy and new attention on integrating the environment with it. A critical connection for sure but it means more reality to cope with. It is adding more complexity and challenges on us to be precautious, purposeful and meaningful in our lives. But we know it has to be done.

    The area of our society that is getting virtually ignored these days is the social side. We have our social service agencies and human service branches of government, like social workers, understaffed, underpaid, overworked, and in decline.

    They are trying to do their jobs but without competative pay levels. The dedicated workers in these areas find they have to forego their work (a calling for many) to seek other jobs at wages that will be sufficient to support a family.

    The disasterous impact this trend is having on the most vulnerable of our citizens that this sectos serves is terrible. Someone in government with clout has to step up to the plate and champion for these folks and the people in their care...and damn quick if you ask me.