Virtual Library of Newspaper Articles

Ruling rightly blames adults for teen addictions, says Linda McQuaig

The Toronto Star, LINDA MCQUAIG, Oct. 9, 2005

The tobacco industry and its supporters have long insisted that smoking is simply a matter of "individual choice."

They note that the dangers of smoking are well-known, and yet people choose to smoke anyway — just like people choose to drive cars even though they realize many die in car accidents, and people eat junk food even though they know that can cause heart problems.

But cigarettes are in a class by themselves when it comes to their sheer killing power. Fully half the people who take up smoking on a long-term basis will die from it. That can't be said of driving cars or eating potato chips.

FurtherRead More it meaningful to talk of "individual choice" with a product notorious for its addictiveness?

Many a child made the "choice" to become a lifelong smoker at the age of 13 or even younger, when offered a cigarette in a schoolyard or hanging out at a mall, long before he or she could possibly appreciate the consequences to be faced 30 or 40 years later.

A recent Canadian study showed more than 90 per cent of adult smokers say they regret their decision to start smoking.

Getting young people hooked on smoking has long been the bread and butter of the tobacco industry.

Companies have gone to great lengths to present smoking as the symbol of coolness and rebellion — something highly seductive to teenagers. When governments have blocked marketing and selling to teenagers, the industry has figured out other ways to get their logos in front of young eyes; like sponsoring music and sports events.

Internal tobacco company documents have shown that targeting teens has been a key industry strategy.

So the notion of "individual choice" in becoming a lifelong cigarette addict is dubious.

Even more obvious is the notion of "individual choice" when it comes to paying the $4 billion health-care bill of smoking-related diseases, which kill 47,000 Canadians a year.

Clearly this financial burden isn't shouldered just by individual smokers, but by all Canadians, whose taxes pay for our public health-care system.

So it's encouraging that the Supreme Court of Canada has unanimously upheld a B.C. law allowing the province to sue cigarette makers to recover smoking-related health care costs. The court saw evidence showing that for decades the tobacco industry actively covered up its own research showing how lethal smoking is.

The ruling could direct some badly needed cash into our health-care system.

More importantly, it could pave the way for far-reaching reforms that would make it difficult for cigarette manufacturers to profit from hooking young smokers. One option urged by Non-Smokers' Rights Association would be to penalize tobacco companies based on the number of customers under the age of 19.

Ultimately, the court ruling clarifies that the blame for the nation's overflowing cancer wards belongs not on uninformed 13-year-olds, but on the well-informed adults mapping out marketing strategies in the boardrooms of the tobacco industry.

Linda McQuaig is a Toronto-based author and commentator


Smoking and Relationships

more than Half (56%) Would Not Date A Smoker

Six in Ten (61%) Say a Dates Smoking Would Decrease Their Attractiveness

February 9, 2005

Canadian Press logo

Smoke-free apartments in Winnipeg

Canadian Press
 September 20, 2006

WINNIPEG -- Smokers in search of an apartment in Winnipeg will soon have fewer buildings to choose from now that one of the city's largest landlords has opted to go smoke-free.

Globe General Agencies, which manages about 5,000 units across the city and thousands Read More ..ross parts of Canada, will ban smoking for all new tenants moving into its 75 buildings as of Oct. 1.

Existing tenants who smoke will be allowed to continue, but the company sees the policy as a first step toward making all its buildings entirely smoke-free, said president Richard Morantz.

"Really this is just all part of providing a safe and healthy environment for our tenants," Morantz said Tuesday.  Read More ..

The Globe and Mail

Parents abuse children by smoking, group says

The Globe and Mail
January 21, 2003

Exposing children to second-hand smoke is tantamount to child abuse, the Canadian Lung Association says.

In a controversial statement released Monday to mark Non-Smoking Week, the venerable charitable organization called on parents to stop smoking in the home because they are endangering the health of their children.

"Children who are exposed to second-hand smoke are victims in their own homes - the very environment that is supposed to be safe and protective," said Noel Kerin, an occupational and environmental medicine specialist and medical spokesman for the lung association. The century-old charity was formed to combat tuberculosis, but has turned its attention to a variety of lung issues, including smoking.

"Second-hand smoke is damaging to a child's health and is tantamount to child abuse. The evidence is too compelling to present it in half measures or to worry about political correctness. We have a significant social and health problem that needs public attention and the associated pressure of public intolerance to correct it."   Read More ..

Toronto Star logo

Smokers - the new deviants

The Toronto Star
Aug. 20, 2006

Smokers need not apply," ran a classified ad for a job in Ireland this past May.

"Why not?" asked Catherine Stihler, a British Labour party MEP, who posed the question on behalf of one of her constituents. Should women not apply, either? Or homosexuals? Muslims? What about high-functioning alcoholics, or fat people?

The answer, from the European Commission that oversees anti-discrimination legislation in the EU, came back to Stihler this month: Smokers are fair game for discrimination.

Family Court Rules No Smoking Allowed in Family Home or Cars

The Canadian Children's Rights Council has seen numerous cases like this in most provinces or territories.

August 18, 2006

While the children are under the primary care of the petitioner, she shall not permit the children to be exposed to secondhand smoke. Specifically, there shall be no smoking within the family home at Fort St. James nor the family vehicle.   Read More ..

Smoking Case

Muskoka, Ontario

Superior Court of Justice

COURT FILE NO.:  153-03
DATE: 2004-04-27
N.C. smokes tobacco products.

The father of the children, S.S., smokes tobacco products.  N.C.'s mother, D.C., also smokes tobacco products.  The public health nurse stresses that the children were born premature and that tobacco smoke is an aggravating factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, otherwise known as SIDS. 

When father resided with the family, he and N.C. did not agree that tobacco smoke was hazardous to health of the children.  They continued to smoke tobacco products.  This was evidenced by full ashtrays being observed in the residence when workers attended.  In addition, N.C. openly said to the public health nurse that she did not believe that second hand smoke was hazardous to the health of her children.  Read More ..