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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Business, Labour and Health Professionals all Support Hancock's Smoking Ban

The world of public policy can create some strange bedfellows. The support for Alberta Minister of Health and Wellness, Dave Hancock’s initiative to ban smoking in public and work places is a prefect example of this strange world. It is a perfect example of how people with significant differences can get together on issues and work them out.

Gil McGowan, the President of the Alberta Federation of Labour and Ken Kobly, the CEO of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce are both on side with the smoking ban. Their organizations are on record in support as well. The health and safety issues and even productivity issues are in the front of minds and are what drives such groups and individuals to get involved.

Go to Policy Channel (http://www.policychannel.com/) and watch the various video conversations with each of them and see how they articulate the importance of this public health

The coalition of some 15 different professional, health and advocacy groups are getting going on letting their spheres of influence know this new Minister is pursuing the smoking ban. The Pharmacists and the Doctors are actively reaching out and engaging their members and encouraging them to contact local MLAs to get more political support for the smoking ban. The Dental Hygienists and the Nurses are also significantly into the public policy and lobbying effort. Then we have the heath promotion groups like Cancer, Lung, Heart and Stroke all want to do their part to make this smoking ban a reality in Alberta.

Bottom line is also the bottom line. The health budget in Alberta is up over 10% this year again and now some 40% of the Alberta government’s total annual expenditure. That can’t continue and the politicians know it. The other big selling feature for them then is the smoking ban will result in few cases of smoking related disease. That will help reduce that portion of the tobacco related demands on the health care system…saving money too.

It is a win-win-win and an issue that brings so many different kinds of people together to help. They all want to ensure that Alberta gets into the health prevention and wellness agenda as well as the best acute care and other health services. It is an idea whose time has come.