Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Alberta's Smoking Ban is Working

Nice to see some creative pubic policy working. Cigarette sales are dropping in Alberta. This is said to be as a result of a recent positive move by the Stelmach government to ban smoking in public and workplaces.

Full disclosure - I worked on this lobbying effort with a consortium of health advocacy groups and professional organizations.

The second positive contribution to this positive preventative health trend is the tax increase on cigarettes in Alberta. Recent pronouncements by Premier Stelmach that there will be no tax increases while he is in charge have to be rethought in circumstances when they can produce positive health benefits like this.

Taxes are one of the most effective ways of dissuading kids form picking up the addictive smoking habit. Glad to see the positive results coming in about reduced tobacco sales. Now we have to keep up the momentum with further tax increases and programs to pay for things like the patch to help people to quit.


  1. Anonymous6:54 pm

    These people are living in La La Land. Black markets are increasing everywhere, and they don't even check IDs.

  2. Taxes should be equally effective in preventing kids from picking up a lifelong alcohol addiction. 90% of all drinkers began drinking before legal age.

    Equalizing the tobacco alcohol taxes could go a long way toward reducing the numbers of drunk children. Tobacco is now being taxed at 50 cents a gram. I propose an equal tax on alcohol. A one-liter bottle of 80 proof vodka has 400 grams of alcohol so that would work out to a fairly nice $120 before manufacturer's charges.

    Think of all the children that would be saved! Who could possibly object?

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

  3. Thx for the Comment Michael but our Premier thinks a lower liquor tax for a cold beer on a hot day is part of the solution to the recession. Hence lower booze taxes. Thank God he asked for some advice on tobacco before he amended the Budget unilaterally for a second time.

  4. Anonymous6:24 am

    I would take my blinders off and have a closer look at the illegal sales and the taxes the government is losing if I were you, since smoking prevalence hasn't gone down one bit across Canada ever since the heavy artillery anti-smoking campaigns, bans and tax increases. As a matter of fact for some age brackets (15-24) we are now observing an increase.

  5. Xylog7:47 am

    But then lower booze taxes will enable children to take up a lifelong adiction to alcohol. So you are all for this blatant advertising of Alcohol to children?

  6. Actually Ken, if you read the economic analysis I did with Dave Kuneman several years ago at:

    you might be surprised at the extent to which smoking bans (not to mention taxes) may have actually contributed to the recession. Multiplier effects can be a nasty economic surprise.

    - MJM

  7. Anonymous9:25 pm

    Ken Chapman clames that taxes is "one of the most effective ways to dissauding kids from picking up the addictive smoking habit".
    Yet, His answer to Michael J. McFadden post, Ken Chapman tells Us what the "Premier thinks" about a lower liquer taxes.
    What does Ken Chapman think about the issue?

    Surely, Ken Chapman is not suggesting that those same kids are not deserve to be protected from picking up the addictive drinking habit?

    Further tax increases and programs to pay for things like the patch?
    What is the failure rate for Big Pharma produced "quitting aids". like the patch?

  8. Anon 9:@% (why anonymous?) My earlier response to Michael McFadden's comment on this blog contained my sentiment perhaps not as clearly as it could have.

    I think the reduction and rationalization for the removal of the liquor tax was wrong, stupid and ultra viries ofthe Premier.

    Wrong because high taxes dissuade youth from starting to drink.

    Stupid because the stated rationale was the benefits of a cold beer on a hot day in a recession as public policy speaks for itself. It was sound bite policy and not a good sound bite at that.

    Ultra viries because the tax increase is the law of the land passed in the Budget and only the legislature - not the Premier - can and should be empowered to change change it.

    Clear enough? Next time post using you name and add even more credibility to your comments.

  9. "Ultra viries" eh? LOL! You got me with that one Ken. :> And with only 600 Google hits I'm not surprised. That makes monopsony look like 3rd grade vocabulary!


  10. Anonymous11:36 am

    Did not respond before,just returned from a trip and have a policy to stay away from the net while on a pleasure trip.

    Why anonymous?
    It is one of the offered choices and simply made a use of it.
    Did attempt to look up "ultra viries" on my Webster's dictionary, No luck. Granted it is a 1987 edition.
    Having said that, Your position is clearer on the issue of taxes on alcohol although would be interested to hear more about Your lobby effort concerning that $120+ bottle price in order to protect the children.
    Surely, Your present connections as well as Your consulting company puts You in the position to keep raising that issue.
    Noticed that You failed to answer my question about the failure rate for Big Pharma produced "quitting aids", like the patch You mentioned in the article. Interested because the further tax increases mentioned by You to pay for it.How about the issue of addiction, health concerns, side effect and availability to children of some of those Big Pharma produced "quitting Aids" You endorse in that article?
    Any comment about the black market issue raised by others also posting as "anonymous"?

    Alex Herman

  11. If I were to spell ultra vires correctly you may have had more luck - it means outside of scope or power. Have had nothing on the rest of your questions - focused on other stuff these days.

  12. Anonymous2:37 pm

    Yes, did assumed correctly the meanings of the spelling error but thanks for the clarification.
    Somewhat disappointed with the lack of response to the rest of my questions from a person who is a lobbyist and owns a consulting firm where many clients listed represents tax dollars. After all, You are calling for tax increases and even mention a known product from Big Pharma.
    It is a shame that some people who are responsible for creating a black market which is now allowing children to have easy acess to cheap cigarettes pretending that such a "side effect" is a suprise and or does not exist.
    Much like the issues concerning the Big Pharma produced "quitting aids".
    Smoke and mirrors.
    On the lighter side; did Ken Chapman read the poll about the group of people Canadiens trust the least?
    Can't recall if politicians, consultants politicians use, lobbyists or lawyers finished first.
    Input from anybody?

  13. Anon @2:37 - the least trusted professions are always "fun." I know that nowbody likes lawyers but they do like thier own lawyer.

    Partly this is because tough decisions have to be made and these are the people who make them or influence them.

    I only have so much time to devote to this blog and the issues that interests me, especialy those outside my current work. So I am sorry I can't satisfy your agenda and priorities for how I should spend and use my personal time.

  14. Anonymous6:49 pm

    ''So I am sorry I can't satisfy your agenda and priorities for how I should spend and use my personal time.''

    Spending ''your personal time'' lobbying to affect the way others choose to spend their's, puts you in a position where you owe it to the ones in disagreement to debate them. If you can't stand the heat and don't have time for it, get out of the kitchen and spend your ''personal time'' minding your own business.


  15. My health is my business and second hand smoke is proven to imperil my health - so get off it.

    As for "owing" it to those who disagree with me on this to debate them you have not bee a very long reader of this blog. Research posts back in the day when I was working on the lobby effort and you will see I was actively contributing to the success of having a law passed so smoking is banned in work and public places.

    I was also rebutting every insipid argument by those who were opposed. I debated you guys ALL THE TIME. You lost. I am moving one. Bye!

  16. Anonymous8:09 pm

    Why should all adults pay higher taxes just because some 'bleeding hearts' want to prevent teens from smoking.
    Or maybe that could be just a 'smoke' screen for raising taxes on smokes

  17. Steve Richards2:12 pm

    Correlation does not equal causation. There is a direct inverse relationship between the smoking rate and the use of text messaging over the past 5 years. Therefore, subsidize text message phone plans and no one will smoke. Sorry, faulty logic with the aforementioned premise, AND that of taxes and bans having an effect.

    The anti-smoking lobby continues to mention that their main concern is children's access to tobacco - children cannot buy tobacco, or even see it in stores. Bars and casinos do not allow children to enter, only adults. Specifically, only adults who choose to enter such a place - this includes the workers because contrary to public misconception on this issue, we have a free-market economy where people choose where they want to work, unlike a command economy where you're told where to work.

    At the end of the day, I demand new legislation that requires:

    1. Any food with over 30% fat be labelled with warnings covering 1/2 the packaging that depict, grotesquely, obese people with diabetes, heart disease, etc etc,. Furthermore there be a full ban on any advertising of these products, and they be hidden from view in stores so that children don't pick up the obesity habbit.

    2. Require that anyone entering a church must be 18 years old.

    3. A total ban on political parties, and party solidarity in particular. Representitives should be accountable to the people who elected them, and not a party manifesto or whip.

  18. Anonymous8:54 am


    Reading through all the above I have to shake my head. As a retailer it is already illegal for me to sell tobacco to a minor, period. Make it illegal for a minor to posses tobacco and all this debate become null and void and apply that to liquor as well and we remove the whole "minor" issue from the discussion. Then it becomes and adult choice whether to drink or smoke and no group or organization should have the right to pass judgment on whether an adult decides to smoke or drink. Educate - yes, but pass laws -NO!

    I do agree on protecting non-smokers from second hand smoke, though, but that does not need to lead to all these ridiculous extremes that are being taken against smokers.

    It amazes me that in this age of political correctness that smokers are actively discriminated against like few others in this modern age.

    I would like to remind people that while we abhor everything to do with Nazi-Germany, the government and anti-smoking groups not only embrace some of those Nazi policies, but are actively promoting them like never before!

    (Nazi Germany initiated a strong anti-tobacco movement and led the first public anti-smoking campaign in modern history! ).

    Read "Velvet Glove, Iron Fist" by Christopher Snowdon.

    Dare is say it? The Anti-smoking movement = Nazi'ism..........