Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Great Idea For Stimulating The Economy - Ban Smoking

In my never ending quest to make Canada a better place I offer up yet another suggestion, proposing that we ban cigarettes. Now before all you puffers start screaming, with thoughts of turning me into your own personal ashtrays, let me say this...I'm one of you. That's right, I'm a smoker, in fact I'm a pack a day man. So pull out a dart, light up and draw...and listen to what I have to say before you dash the cancer stick out on my keyboard.

According to Physicians for a Smoke Free Canada, our nation has over 5 million smokers, about 21% of the total population. That's the only statistic I'm going to quote here, I'm not going to go on about cancer rates, cardiovascular diseases, or even the dangers of second hand smoke. We smokers know about all the stats, but that's not why we light up. The bottom line is we smoke because we enjoy it, and what if smoking cuts ten years off my life. From what I understand, its the last ten. So I miss out on dementia and incontinence? Big deal!

As far as I'm concerned the single biggest threat to a person's health is stress. Let's face it, just breathing these days is said to cause cancer. Stress diminishes the body's ability to fight off disease, and cigarettes are just one of the many things in our modern world with the potential to kill us.

But I'm still going to advocate banning cigarettes, not for the health benefits....but rather for the economy. Here in the GTA a package of cigarettes ranges in price from around $6 for a small pack of 20, up to near $10 depending on the brand. Let's assume that in Canada 4 million packages of cigarettes are consumed each and every day. If the average price for a package is at the low end and just $6, that means the buying and selling of ciggies results in economic activity of $24,000,000 each and every day.

And because smokers rarely take a day off....except when we're REALLY sick, that comes to a total of over $8.7 billion per year. Talk about stimulus!!! Imagine $24 million being injected into local economies each day. Its not like we're going to save that extra six or so bucks...we former smokers would be spending it on other things, probably gum.

Okay, I hear some saying our governments can't afford to do without the tax revenue that cigarettes generate. Well not any more, not when Ottawa and the provinces are busy cutting taxes and increasing spending to stimulate us out of this recession. Besides the obvious benefit of more jack in our pockets and purses, the health care system would be able to redirect spending into other underfunded areas.

Yeah yeah, I know some would ignore the law and drag away in basements or other out of the way law is ever perfect. Marijuana is illegal, but plenty of people still toke. And yet we don't hear a ground swell of public support for legalizing the selling of doobs do we? Sure smoking is an addiction, but if packages weren't available from every corner store and Indian reservation the vast majority of people would learn to get by without it.

If Ottawa isn't willing to take the lead maybe there's a progressively minded province that would take charge. Once initiatives like this take hold it isn't long before other jurisdictions follow suit.

I'm CanukGord on Twitter if you wish to follow me and this blog. I'll probably be losing some smoking followers after this post.

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