For a non-smoker it is a tough call to lean in the direction of tobacco companies, but the latest fad in Canada—sue the tobacco companies to pay for the health costs of their products—seems, well, a tad hypocritical and smells of more than just smoke.
Now I know hypocrisy is virtually a political pillar, but this time it is so bleeding obvious that it’s creating sympathy for the merchants of addiction, and that’s surely a sign that it is not just lung cancer, emphysema and heart disease victims who are not well.
Hard on the heels of the Canadian
Now it has to be said that
Also to one side is the enormous problem of
The tobacco companies Quebec, Ontario, and British Colombia (way back in 2000) have set their sights on are not, however, operating illegally. In fact so legal is their trade that the
The government creams such a profit from the sales of the legal product, how on earth can it justify suing its own partner for the health damage supposedly caused?
Experience of course shows that governments can justify finding new sources of revenue most of the time, but particularly so when their own budgets are in free fall as is certainly the case now.
The multi-billion dollar question is, therefore, why pick on the tobacco companies?
Why not sue all the other ‘legals’ that so often lie beneath untold misery to individuals and families, and add mega dollars to health costs province and country wide? You know, the alcohol companies or the gambling casinos or the plethora of artery-clogging, waist-ballooning, fast fat food joints?
They are all legal. They all present potential social and health mayhem. They are also tax cash cows for governments. Why have they not been asked to, in a word, cough?
Listening to Quebec’s Health Minister justify the suit, it seems one of the big differences between the tobacco companies and the purveyors of booze, fat and debt is that they need to be punished for all those years when they hid the known consequences of their products from their hapless consumers. In that respect there have been a number of mega payouts to people in the
While it pains me to say this, it would appear that the tobacco companies are a convenient monster.
They have been kicked around for some time, and rightly so in terms of hidden addictive elements, hidden known health risks and the like. Few people are going to put their hand up and say leave off the poor little tobacco industry. For most they are seriously unlovable.
But boy are they rich and,
So here’s the hypocrisy. The governments can afford for that vulnerability to go only so far. It would be a fiscal disaster if the tobacco companies packed up and chugged off out of town because that would be the end of the lucrative tax grab. It would not be the end of ailing smokers who seem to be able to access
If the government cares so much for its inhaling and unhealthy citizens it would damn well ban the product outright. Instead it has exposed itself as being just as addicted as they are to the peddlers of nicotine, and is just as incapable of a cold turkey solution even though it knows doing otherwise contributes to a burdensome health budget.
Trying to smoke out the cash from the goose that lays a rather large golden tax egg will not do one thing to stop more Quebeckers dying of lung cancer. Yes, it is a good message to see big tobacco challenged. However doing it this way will leave the government stinking of hypocrisy, and, rather more embarrassing, lying face down in a large ashtray that is legal, regulated, and arguably no more evil than the facilitators of alcoholics, coronary victims and compulsive gamblers.