If there is a single good thing that smoking bans and heavy-handed antitobacco tactics have accomplished in Canada, it’s that they’ve made cigarettes a cheap readily available commodity for smokers and a flourishing industry for natives who earn their living responding to the ever increasing market demand for fair prices. You can’t beat the law of offer and demand no matter how hard you try!
Suddenly the Canadian media is once again heavily reporting on the smoking issue: not to expose the miseries excessive tobacco control is creating in smokers’ lives, not to try to bring some relief to the social havoc unjust laws and anti-tobacco tactics have caused, not to try to find solutions to the problems of the elderly dying of hypothermia when forced to smoke outside in the Canadian winter elements, nor to discuss the discrimination smokers are facing when trying to obtain employment, housing, or health care. Of course not. That would only be wishful thinking.
What the journalists are reporting are the profit losses the convenience stores, the tobacco industry and the antitobacco industry are facing due to natives selling untaxed tobacco products to non-natives. Profit-motivated and politically-motivated parties comprised of the tobacco industry, the antitobacco industry including the Canadian Cancer Society, convenience stores, provincial and federal governments, and journalists piggybacking on the issue, have now all joined in a group hug against the evil smokers and the no less evil natives. The greedy power-grabbers as ever expect to be viewed by the public as health heroes. The public grows wiser all the time and buys cigarettes from fair dealers at fair prices.
There is a war on cigarette prices in the Kahnawake (near Montreal) native reserve that extends to the rest of Canada to greater and lesser degrees in various provinces. While a carton of brand name taxed cigarettes sells for between $65.00 and $85.00 outside the reserve, untaxed native cigarettes that used to sell for $20.00 are now down to $6.00. Some places have even lowered them to $5.00 per carton. Non-native customers buy them openly by the cartons and cases of 50 cartons, with police unable to intervene unless they catch the buyers outside the reserve. It is estimated that as much as 40% of all cigarettes consumed in Quebec and Ontario are now illegally sold by natives to non-natives.
The brilliant and almighty Canadian federal government has found the perfect solution to the problem. They will settle the issue with a two-pronged approach:
a) They will appeal to Canadian smokers’ civil responsibility by educating them on the dangers of buying illegal tobacco because the proceeds sustain criminal activity that destroys communities and even lives.
b) They will work in dismantling all criminal networks in the native communities and disrupt their distribution activities.
Geniuses aren’t they? Except for a few “minor” details. Canadian smokers have been too demonized, stigmatized, isolated and maltreated to give a hoot about the government’s definition of civil responsibility. The only civil responsibility they now adhere to is to defy unjust laws and taxation that have destroyed their communities and lives. Civil responsibility also includes the duty to beat unjust laws through civil disobedience. Canadian smokers have declared war using their wallets.
This is not the only war that authorities may have to deal with. If they enter native territory the First Nations have promised a different kind of war. If the federal government puts their threats into action without the agreement of the native peacekeeping forces, barricades of bridges, heavy-handed protests, and even shootings are not excluded from the consequences the government would have to deal with. Violating treaties is not taken lightly by the First Nations.
They say war is Hell. Antitobacco has been Hell for decades. Whatever it takes to destroy this true evil shall be well worth it.