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!