By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 0 Comments
Homeowners risk coughing up big bucks if they’re also smokers, according a survey of…
Homeowners risk coughing up big bucks if they’re also smokers, according a survey of Ontario real estate agents and brokers.
The survey found that smoking in the home can reduce the value of the property on resale by up to 29 per cent.
The study was sponsored by Pfizer Canada, a pharmaceutical company whose products include a smoking cessation medication.
It estimates a potential loss of up to $107,000 on an home in Ontario, where the average price is currently around $369,000.
The study found that an overwhelming majority of 401 real estate agents and brokers in the survey agreed that it is more difficult to sell a home where owners have smoked.
By Colby Cosh - Monday, April 1, 2013 at 10:55 AM - 0 Comments
Colby Cosh on why the government needs to take a deep breath
I had cigarettes licked once. One day in the autumn of 2008, I went to a local clinic complaining of a persistent low-grade headache and, within a matter of a few confusing hours, I was looking at a CT scan of my very own bouncing-baby brain hemorrhage. A CT scan isn’t very compelling: it’s all white and grey blurs. The MRI photo taken later was much more impressive, a true wonder. In that photo, it looked as though I had inhaled a medium-sized cashew into the left lateral ventricle of my brain.
It was literally a small but urgent crisis, one requiring a few days of bed rest and groovy chill-out drugs while the doctors and nurses battled my blood pressure. When I left the hospital, I actually got less of a lecture about smoking than one does at a typical checkup. But it occurred to me that I had already been chemically quick-marched through the hardest part of quitting nicotine. It seemed like both hint and opportunity. For the first and only time since I took them up, I decided to try living without cigarettes.
Any writer-smoker can guess what came next. The first time I tried to rap out a column, I was helpless. Ideas for material receded beyond the fixed stars. Finishing a complete sentence was out of the question. One shopping trip later, I was smoking—and writing. I’m smoking right now. I call cigarettes “idea sticks” and I am as serious as a bullet about that. With them, I’m voluble and useful. Without them, I’m a slow-tongued, ham-thumbed mass of flesh whose most marketable abilities involve party tricks. Nicotine is a business input to me, as essential as drilling mud is to an oil well. I should probably be able to deduct it from my taxes.
By macleans.ca - Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 6:00 AM - 0 Comments
Another way of looking at the week
In sickness and in citizenship
Ottawa is cracking down on the use of fake marriages as a means of gaining Canadian citizenship. New rules require newlyweds with no children to stay in a relationship for two years before foreign spouses get permanent resident status. If they fail to “cohabit in a conjugal relationship” for the 24-month period, they will face deportation. It’s a sensible measure that doesn’t put any undue hardship on legitimate applicants. Fraudsters, however, will now be less inclined to seduce Canadians into sham relationships—faking a happy marriage for two years is no easy feat.
Never too late
A major study of more than one million U.K. women shows that quitting smoking early enough in life can erase most of the fatal side effects. Writing in the journal The Lancet, researchers report that kicking the habit before the age of 40 avoids more than 90 per cent of the excess mortality from smoking and stopping before 30 avoids more than 97 per cent. That’s no reason, of course, for young people to keep smoking: death rates for all smokers are still higher overall. Continue…
By Geoffrey Lansdell - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 9:41 AM - 0 Comments
About a month ago, Ottawa quietly announced it was slashing $15 million from Canada’s Federal Tobacco Control Strategy, one of the many cuts to the federal budget. Haven’t seen it in the headlines much? It might be because this is far from the first time the federal Conservatives have swung the axe at the national tobacco control budget. Over the last six years, funding for the FTCS has shrunk by nearly 60 per cent, down to $28 million in fiscal 2012 from $68 million in 2006.
This year’s cuts include $16 million in grants and contributions that used to help fund over 70 national and regional anti-smoking NGOs. As a result, the government is now planning to spend only 0.9 per cent of the $3 billion in annual tax revenues it collects from tobacco sales on measures to educate Canadians about its health hazards and monitor the industry. That works out to roughly $0.81 for every Canadian. To put that in perspective, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends government spending of $12 per capita to sustain a comprehensive tobacco control program.
Health groups and tobacco control advocates, naturally, are appalled. “Consider who wins by this decision: the only winner—and they are big winners—is Big Tobacco,” says Garfield Mahood, founding executive director of the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association. “By slashing funding to health groups, the Harper government has virtually assured that tobacco companies will have the upper hand in influencing federal policy decisions.”
Unperturbed, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq noted in a press release about the forthcoming cuts that “Canada is a world leader in tobacco control,” adding, “our government is proud of the work we have done.” Most of the country, the document continued, seems to have kicked the habit: Time to spend our money on other things. (Aglukkaq did, however, concede that smoking rates are out of control among aboriginal populations. The government’s efforts, she promised, would zero in on them. Perhaps the minister meant the government will finally issue that new strategy it promised in 2006 after it “suspended” $10 million in annual funding for the First Nations and Inuit Tobacco Control Strategy.)
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 30, 2012 at 10:56 AM - 0 Comments
The Federal Tobacco Control Strategy is being cut, trade consulates will be closed, a coalition of organizations that deal with homelessness in Montreal won’t receive funding, neither will six groups studying women’s health, seafood inspection is being moved, regional development auditors are being eliminated, economists at Statistics Canada will have to compete for their jobs and StatsCan will start surveying less. David Pugliese wonders why Defence Research and Development Canada is being cut.
Kevin Page puts the short-term situation in perspective.
Ottawa’s ongoing planned restraint and 6.9 per cent cut in departmental spending will reduce its share of the economy from 7.3 per cent in 2010-11 to 5.5 per cent in 2016-17. That will have a direct impact on the economy, Page’s report stresses. It projects the spending restraints and cutbacks will reduce economic output by 0.3 per cent this year, climbing to 0.88 per cent in 2014.
Canada’s economy, subsequently, will grow by only 1.6 per cent in 2013, eight tenths of a point less than forecast by the Bank of Canada and the private sector consensus. On the jobs front, restraint will result in about 18,000 fewer jobs this year than had there been no restraint, climbing to 108,000 fewer jobs in 2015. Most of the losses are due to Ottawa’s actions — including a reduction of 43,000 stemming directly from March’s spending reductions — although provincial restraint is also a factor. Unemployment, currently at 7.2 per cent, will climb to 7.9 per cent in 2013, the report predicts.
By Leah McLaren - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 6:02 PM - 0 Comments
There’s a Marriott that offers smoking rooms at half the price just across the river from the Grange
Just when you think the Bev Oda expenses scandal couldn’t get any more, well, odious–it does. Now it turns out that in addition to her lust for luxury, another factor may have been at work in her decision to upgrade hotels at taxpayer expense: addiction.
The bare facts alone are bad enough. Last summer, the Minister of International Development was attending a conference on international immunization at the five star Grange Hotel St. Pauls in London, England, when she decided the conference accommodations–which included a swimming pool, full spa and luxury rooms with king-size beds–were simply inadequate. So she left her staff to suffer in the conference hotel and booked herself into the ultra-swanky Savoy up the road, a hotel favoured by Hollywood celebrities and Saudi royalty. As if that wasn’t enough, she also hired a car and driver, at the expense of roughly $1000 a day, to ferry her back and fourth, even though the Savoy is just four subway stops away on the London tube (that’s a journey time of under twenty minutes and a cost of less than five bucks each way). When her abuse of power first came to light on Monday, Oda was utterly unrepentant. She accused her critics of being “extremist” and grudgingly paid back the difference in hotel bills but not the cost of her car and driver. Then yesterday, she thought better of that, and offered a “full and unreserved apology,” for which she received a standing ovation from her fellow Tories in the Commons. It’s a sad day for Canadian politics when all it takes to earn the adulation of your peers is to reluctantly apologize for ripping off taxpayers only after you’ve been caught in the act. But wait, it gets worse. According to a theory floated yesterday in the House by Liberal MP Scott Andrews, the real reason Oda switched hotels was not just about luxury, but “her not being able to get a smoking room on site.” The minister’s press secretary refuses to elaborate on the reason why Oda switched her reservation, but, as everyone in Ottawa well knows, she enjoys any excuse to hack a dart.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 10:31 AM - 16 Comments
Chris Auld debunks the notion that encouraging healthier lifestyles will decrease public health care costs.
The evidence suggests that unhealthy lifestyles tend to increase health care use at any given age and reduce life expectancy, so more is spent per year but for fewer years. For example, statistical estimates from a well-known 1997 paper are displayed in the graph. The lower two lines show that if we compare a smoker and a non-smoker who are the same age, we should expect to find that the smoker consumes more health care. But the top two lines show that health care costs for non-smokers eventually become much higher than those for smokers simply because smokers on average die sooner than non-smokers. This study estimated that if every smoker were to spontaneously quit, demand on the health care system would first fall, as the quitters become healthier than they otherwise would be, but eventually rise by 7 per cent in the long run as smokers live longer.
By Rebecca Eckler - Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 8:40 AM - 312 Comments
They may say they’re going out for milk, but secret smokers go to great lengths to feed their habit
The first rule of the Secret Smokers Mother’s Club is that you don’t talk about the Secret Smokers Mother’s Club. At least you don’t talk about it to anyone who is a non-smoker and especially to mothers who are non-smokers.
Like Alcoholics Anonymous, none of the mothers who secretly smoke are willing to share their names. It makes sense, since many of them have kept their secret for years. “I never smoke in front of my kids. Never. No one in my life knows I smoke, except for one person and that is my husband. But no one else,” says one member.
According to reports, one in two smokers hides their habit from friends, family and colleagues. And, boy, do these women go to great lengths to keep this secret from their children. “If Noah is watching television and my husband is with him, I’ll take out the garbage, then run around the house and hide in the bushes, because I don’t even want my neighbours to see that I’m a mother who smokes. I feel disgusting about it,” she admits.
But that hasn’t stopped her from smoking, even after two children, and she has no plans to quit. “Because you know people judge smokers anyways, but mothers who smoke? To non-smokers, they’d consider that worth stoning me.”
Club members end up doing a lot of unnecessary chores to get their fix. “I’ll run out to the all-night grocery store,” says one mother. “I’ll tell my husband we’re out of milk, but usually we are anyway. And this store is not close. I don’t go to the store near my house, because I worry I’ll run into people I know. I go to another grocery store that takes me about 30 minutes to get there, so I get a couple of cigarettes in before I go back home.”
But do they notice the smell? These mothers resort to more subterfuge to mask the lingering aroma of smoke. “As soon as I come back from smoking, I wash my hands, my chest, I brush my teeth, and I have clean shirts all over the house, so I can immediately change into one of them,” says one mother.
Another member’s purse could be mistaken for an Avon lady’s kit because she has so many supplies. “I keep a small tube of toothpaste and toothbrush. I have a big bottle of body lotion that smells like vanilla. I have face cream that I rub all over my face. And I have a body spray from Victoria’s Secret that I spray in my hair and all over my clothes.”
This mother also got a great tip from a makeup-artist friend who sometimes smokes. She now carries around Downy April Fresh or Bounce sheets meant for the dryer. “I rub it on my hair and it works amazingly well. Also, they are really small to carry around, which makes it easier.”
If it takes so much energy to keep smoking a secret, why not just quit? These women know the health risks and they have children they’d like to see grow up. “It’s the one last thing of my old life,” explains one. “It’s mine and it’s all mine.” Another adds, “Because I sometimes like to be bad, and as a mother you can’t be bad.”
Then there is the dark side of the addiction. “I really love smoking so much,” says one. “I sometimes find that I’m waiting for my kids to take a nap so I can go smoke. And as awful as this sounds, I’m excited my son will be going to daycare in the afternoons this fall.” Another admits that when she’s having a nicotine fit, she loses her temper with her children more often.
But even though they puff away in secret, they look down on mothers who smoke openly around their children. “When I see a mother smoking, all I can think is, ‘You disgusting wretch,’ ” says one. “When I see a mother smoking and pushing a baby in a stroller, I’m horrified. But who am I to judge? At night, I’m in the bushes putting out my cigarettes in a beer bottle.”
By Jaime Weinman - Monday, August 29, 2011 at 10:20 AM - 1 Comment
Characters on ABC’s new show will be flying high—but they won’t be able to light up.
You can show anything on network television these days—except lighted cigarettes. The producers of ABC’s new show Pan Am, about stewardesses in the 1960s, have announced that the network will not allow them to show the characters smoking. Producer Thomas Schlamme told Entertainment Weekly that this is “the one revisionist cheat” in a show that will otherwise try to get period detail right. Though TV characters on shows like Two and a Half Men are sometimes shown smoking cigars, cigarettes have become taboo on broadcast television due to what Schlamme calls the “impressionable element,” the fear of influencing viewers. (It doesn’t help that, unlike liquor, cigarettes can’t be advertised on TV, so the networks can’t make money plugging the products.) But shows on cable have no such fear of bad influence: the characters on Mad Men light up all the time. Of course, it helps that hardly anyone is watching.
By Nancy Macdonald - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 8:35 AM - 4 Comments
Cigarettes would only be available with a prescription
When it comes to draconian anti-smoking rules, no country has considered going as far as Iceland. This fall, the country’s parliament will debate a radical new proposal that would outlaw the sale of cigarettes outside of pharmacies, where they would only be available with a prescription. The bill, sponsored by former health minister Siv Fridleifsdottir, aims to “protect children and youngsters,” she says, and to stop them from ever taking up the habit.
Iceland, however, is not alone in throwing up new barriers to smokers. In Australia next year, cigarettes will be sold in plain, brown packaging, prohibiting the use of tobacco industry logos, colours or brand imagery. In Sweden, surgeons refuse to treat smokers; patients are given blood tests to ensure compliance. Finland, meanwhile, is hoping to ban smoking entirely by 2040.
The Icelandic proposal also suggests treating tobacco smoke as a carcinogen, restricting it the same way the country does other known cancer-causing agents. The bill, however, may never see the light of day. A spokesperson for the Icelandic Ministry of Welfare said the proposal, although “very serious” and backed by the Icelandic Medical Association, has little chance of passing.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 1:46 PM - 0 Comments
Exposure can nearly double their risk of hearing loss: study
A study of more than 1,500 U.S. teens aged 12 to 19 suggests that second-hand tobacco smoke can greatly damage their ears, the BBC reports. While it isn’t clear exactly how much exposure incites damage, they say smoke can increase the risk of middle ear infections and could harm blood supply to the ear. The greater the exposure, the greater the damage, they say. In the study, about 40 per cent of 800 teens who were exposed to second-hand smoke had detectable hearing problems, while about 25 per cent of 750 teens did who weren’t exposed. Even so, less than a fifth of them knew they had a problem, because mild hearing loss is often not noticeable to the individual.
By Julia Belluz - Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 6:09 PM - 0 Comments
The Statement: “These labels are frank, honest and powerful depictions of the health risks of smoking, and they will help encourage smokers to quit, and prevent children from smoking.” (Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. secretary of health and human services, 06/21/2011)
On Tuesday, the FDA ramped up its war on tobacco by introducing nine new graphic warning labels for cigarette packages. This means that after decades of having only text caveats, America’s smoke packs will feature soot-stained lungs, rotten teeth, cadavers, and crying babies.
By macleans.ca - Monday, June 13, 2011 at 3:37 PM - 10 Comments
Even non-smoking kids are susceptible, study shows
Non-smoking preteens who are exposed to secondhand smoke may exhibit symptoms of nicotine dependence, according to a new study from Concordia University and the University of Montreal. Tweens who often observe a parent, sibling, friend or neighbour smoking cigarettes are more likely to smoke as adolescents, because they don’t perceive the habit as unhealthy. This is one of the first studies showing that increased exposure to secondhand smoke leads youth who have never smoked previously to report symptoms of nicotine dependence, like craving cigarettes and finding it hard to go without them.
By Claire Ward - Monday, May 23, 2011 at 9:10 AM - 3 Comments
A smoking ban is not that high on the list of Iraqis’ priorities
Just days after hundreds gathered in downtown Baghdad to demand better services and jobs from their government, the Iraqi parliament sat to consider a ban on smoking in many public places. The measure would also force companies to print harsher warning labels, not unlike efforts in many Western countries.
The bill, first introduced and subsequently dropped in 2009, seems to be particularly out of step with the desires of Iraqis, who can buy a pack for just 25 cents. “I don’t think you could overstate how many people smoke in Iraq,” says Jason Whiteley, a 34-year-old soldier from Houston, Texas, who spent a year in Iraq working in governance. “Every 10 metres there’s a fold-out table with people selling cigarettes.” Surely car bombs, regular power outages and widespread unemployment are more pressing.“The Iraqi hierarchy of needs hasn’t yet reached the point where they are talking about luxury regulations like this,” Whiteley told Maclean’s. “It seems like a bit of a reach that it’s an Iraqi idea. It smells a little bit colonial, to be honest.”
By Julia Belluz - Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 9:40 AM - 0 Comments
Australia steps up its war against smoking
In Italy and France, it’s Marlboro. Norwegians puff on Prince and Bangladeshis favour John Player. But by next year, Australians won’t be able to easily tell one brand of cigarette from another. The world leader in the war against smoking will now become the first to enforce plain packaging for cigarettes. “The only thing to distinguish one brand from another,” said Health Minister Nicola Roxon, “will be the brand and product name in a standard colour, standard position and standard font size and style.” That means logos are gone, and all cigarette packs will be a standardized olive green (the least attractive colour, according to research) with health warnings. The industry won’t go brand-free without a fight, though. Tobacco companies claim the measures infringe on trademark and intellectual property laws, and that they will not curb smoking. For Roxon, though, “the glamour is gone.”
By macleans.ca - Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 11:15 AM - 8 Comments
Women in developing countries are smoking more, researchers say
An analysis of 74 countries has found that men are more likely to smoke than women in countries that have lower rates of female empowerment, like China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Uganda. In countries with high female empowerment, like Canada, Norway, Australia and the U.S., the gap is smaller and women smoke almost as much as men. The tobacco epidemic is expected to worsen in developing countries as women’s rising economic and political status leads them to smoke more. Tobacco kills up to half of those who use it, and the World Health Organization has called it “one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced.” In China, 61 per cent of men are current smokers, compared to 4.2 per cent of women, but that is expected to change.
By macleans.ca - Friday, February 11, 2011 at 1:46 PM - 39 Comments
Workplaces are increasingly adopting tobacco-free hiring policies
In the U.S., hospitals and medical businesses are increasingly turning away job applicants based on whether or not they smoke as a move to boost worker productivity, cut healthcare costs and promote healthy living, the New York Times reports. These rules treat cigarettes like an illegal narcotic, warning applicants of “tobacco –free hiring.” They are asked to submit to a urine test for nicotine, and anyone caught smoking might be fired. Even anti-tobacco groups are debating these policies, wondering if they set a precedent of employers placing limits on employees’ private lives. More than half the states have laws against bans on smokers, but even so, businesses are adopting them anyway. For example, hospitals in states including Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Texas stopped hiring smokers, even though about one in five Americans smoke.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 12:54 PM - 3 Comments
Tobacco-related illness accounts for 60 per cent of gender health gap
According to World Health Organization figures on death rates, tobacco-related illness makes up about 60 per cent of the gender health gap in most countries, the BBC reports. After smoking, alcohol makes up about 20 per cent of the difference, according to the journal Tobacco Control. While some experts have suggested women live longer because of biology, or since they’re more likely to visit doctors than men, this suggests smoking is actually the main factor. Across 30 European countries, deaths from all causes were higher for en than for women, it said.
By macleans.ca - Friday, November 26, 2010 at 11:44 AM - 12 Comments
One-third of those killed are children
According to the World Health Organization, passive smoking causes 600,000 deaths each year—one-third of them among children, who are often exposed to smoke at home. The WHO study looked at 192 countries, and found that passive smoking is especially bad for children, putting them at higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome, pneumonia and asthma, Reuters reports. It also causes heart disease, respiratory illness and lung cancer. The lungs of kids who breathe in secondhand smoke might also develop more slowly than those of kids who grow up in smoke-free homes.
By Cameron Ainsworth-Vincze - Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 8:40 AM - 0 Comments
Munich’s Oktoberfest, which was launched in 1810 to celebrate the royal marriage of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen, has become a must-see event for anyone yearning for a good sausage and some tasty beer. The 200th edition of the festival, however, had a few royal mishaps worth forgetting. More than 30 people were injured in fights where the famous one-litre beer stein was used as the weapon of choice. One Canadian tourist was clocked in the head after getting into a fight with a 20-year-old Munich resident. Officials say the good weather was partly to blame, attracting a record number of visitors, and with so many people being intoxicated, “things can naturally increase,” said a spokesperson with Munich’s district attorney’s office.
Others complained about the new smoking ban that prohibited visitors from lighting up in beer tents, and one brothel grabbed headlines after accusing a competitor of paying taxi drivers upwards of $170 to bring customers to its establishment. The club’s manager, who said the competition tried to spread the word that his girls “were the ugliest in town,” said he’ll be better prepared next year.
By Tom Henheffer - Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
Nearly half of Halifax retailers sold smokes to 17-year-olds
Nova Scotia is the place to be if you’re 17 and want smokes. According to a recent study by the Canadian Cancer Society, a third of retailers in Nova Scotia are willing to sell cigarettes to 17-year-olds, by far the worst record of any province (Alberta was the second biggest offender).
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 11:03 AM - 15 Comments
The Alberta senator insists on applying fact to the great cigarillo debate.
So, what exactly are the facts behind Bill C-32? Proponents of the bill insist that smoking cigarillos leads children to increase their cigarette addiction. Yet Health Canada’s own research fails to support their allegation. According to the latest Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey, the trend line for cigarette smokers under 18 has remained virtually flat over the past four years … As to cigarillo consumption … the latest survey clearly demonstrates that most Canadians who buy and consume flavoured tobacco products are of legal age to do so…
Call me a level-headed legislator, if you like, but I must say I prefer to base my decisions on evidence.
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
Chinese schools were told to buy 140 cartons or else
Everyone must smoke! That’s the edict a Chinese county government seemed to issue recently when it ordered state employees to puff their way through 23,000 cartons of locally made cigarettes over the coming year.
To make sure every bureaucrat complied, Gong’an county, located in the central province of Hubei, even set out a monthly consumption plan. Most departments were ordered to smoke 400 cartons monthly, and schools received a 140-carton quota. At $29 a carton, the plan was slated to force workers to buy $670,000 worth of cigarettes this year. Organizations that failed to reach their target would have their budgets cut, while fines of $170 would be levied against functionaries caught puffing unapproved brands, reported the ChuTian Metropolis Daily.
By John Geddes - Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 5:40 PM - 3 Comments
There’s been a bit of discussion of the poem read at Barack Obama’s inauguration by Elizabeth Alexander. I wasn’t moved, and haven’t heard from anybody who was (although I have to guess Jack Layton liked her line about “the figuring it out at kitchen tables”). Still, I think it’s great that a poem was read at all.
By Cathy Gulli - Wednesday, October 22, 2008 at 3:56 PM - 8 Comments
Researchers at the University of Missouri have determined that the most effective…
Researchers at the University of Missouri have determined that the most effective anti-smoking ads either induce fear or disgust—not both. When the two reactions were elicited simultaneously the viewer was overwhelmed, and the ad backfired.