SMOKING LAWS 6
Nancy Daigneault, president of Canada’s largest smokers’ right group, mychoice.ca, said it best. “The government clearly sees smokers as an easy revenue target.” While the government depends on the taxes (over 68%) collected on the sale of tobacco, it is doing its darndest to kill its golden goose. Daigneault says there have already been financial losses on charities, bingo halls, legions, bar owners and provincial gaming revenues in jurisdictions which have banned private clubs and designated smoking rooms.
A recent study conducted for Windsor officials by Toronto-based UrbanMetrics Inc. suggests the southern Ontario city that borders Detroit will lose $225.2 million in annual tourist dollars and some 2,700 jobs because of the new anti-smoking rules. In 1999, nearly nine million American tourists visited Windsor, more than any other destination in Canada. That number has dropped to five million last year. Some 80 per cent of visitors to Casino Windsor are from the United States.
Windsor St. Clair MP Dwight Duncan said he believes any drop in business will be temporary, but promises to monitor the effects of the new legislation. “The government relies on that casino and its revenues as part of our budget and it will be important to us that it continues on; that’s why we’re investing $400 million to keep it competitive.” I don’t know what world Duncan is living in, but a $400 million hotel with no guests is a white elephant. The casino owners know this and that is why they haven’t invested a dime in this cockeyed scheme. All the money came out of the pockets of Ontario taxpayers.
Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis said border cities such as Windsor are going to need some assistance to get through the transition period. He wants the same kind of multimillion-dollar campaign for American tourists that it launched to promote the province during the SARS medical scare in 2002. Of course, most of that money went to Toronto and as every good politician knows, Ontario stops at London. So what chance does Windsor have? Windsor’s tourism industry has been hit hard over the years by the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, followed by the SARS medical outbreak in 2003 and now, a high Canadian dollar that reduces the loonie’s appeal for Americans at foreign exchange kiosks. Francis believes the province has so far fallen short of advertising the benefits of its non-smoking environments to U.S. visitors. Probably because there is no benefit to it other than trying to make smokers pariahs. An act to prevent smoking from being imposed on non-smokers is one thing, but this act goes far beyond that and actually seeks to impose non-smoking on those who are smokers.
Health Promotion Minister Jim Watson said 16,000 people die annually as a result of smoking, 2,000-3,000 of those are due to second-hand smoke. Unfortunately, other than Heather Crowe, a suspicious example at best, he can’t name one. Not one study confirms second- hand smoke causes lung disease. Not from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, not from Health Canada, not from the World Health Organization in Geneva. You will find a study of 17,000 people over 35 years, all non-smokers who lived/worked with smokers. This study, published in the Lancet (British Medical Journal), showed no statistical difference in the rates of lung disease between the study group and the general population. Therefore there is no medical support for the health and safety claims supporting anti-smoking legislation.