The Shotgun Blog
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Some laws just don't make sense
Another interesting little fact I forgot to bring up in the last post is that of the government forcing retailers to cover up their cigarettes, which has been in effect in Nova Scotia for the last couple of years. Basically, if you sell cigarettes, you have to put them away in a slide-out shelf and hope your customers know what they want already. It's not the end of the world, but it's a disadvantage for both the retailer and the customer. Do they sell cigarettes? Do they sell the brand I want? These are questions smokers never had to bother asking before, and it would be pretty ridiculous if a store did this with any other product.
The idea is to "protect" kids somehow by attempting to fool them into thinking their local convenience store or gas station only sells politically correct products. We may know more than kids, but most kids are not stupid; they know adults get cigarettes from stores, and they know what a pack looks like. What difference does it make if they come into a corner store for a chocolate bar and see cigarettes on the wall behind the cashier? It's not like the cashier will sell them to the kid (for moral and legal reasons), so who exactly is this law protecting?
Simple answer: the government. It protects their image as a progressive, politically correct administration, and this idea transcends partisan boundaries. These type of laws only still exist because it's hard to stop or hinder politically correct policies - if a politician suggests reversing these laws, they will be labeled as pro-smoking and therefore "against" the canadian people. Do the majority of Nova Scotians actually think hiding cigarettes and taxing them to death is good for well, anybody? Finally, it's funny how blunt wraps (which unfortunately Harper wishes to be illegal) are allowed to be shown in stores but cigarettes aren't. For one they are made out of tobacco just like cigarettes, and secondly let's just say they're not generally used for rolling plain old cigars.
Even as someone who often describes himself as a social conservative, I believe stores should be able to sell anything they wish providing it doesn't harm the public. Some may think showing cigarettes or blunt wraps will hurt the business, but that's their decision to make, not ours, and certainly not the government's. That being said, I really cannot think of any real threat those products pose for children in terms of being in plain sight; if anything, these silly laws make tobacco more appealing to rebellious kids, as they are becoming less and less socially acceptable. Apparently, simple logic doesn't count for much anymore.
[Cross-posted at The Right Coast]
In Alberta it's illegal for the clerk to even tell you what brands they carry. Silly.
Posted by: Freedom Manitoba | 2009-09-02 7:48:26 AM
That's some of the dumbest analysis I've read here in a long time, and that's saying a lot!
"Do they sell cigarettes? Do they sell the brand I want? These are questions smokers never had to bother asking before..."
(1) Not true. I've been in stores on many occasions in the past where customers asked "do you sell..." questions about tobacco products. They sometimes did have to ask these questions before.
(2) Do smokers really have trouble telling which stores sell tobacco and which don't? If I want to buy any product I buy regularly, I know where to go to get it. Furthermore, if I am in a store and still really don't know if they sell what I want, I could look around or I could just ask. Tobacco products have long been placed out of reach so customers have to ask clerks for them anyway, so asking for them is nothing new, nor a great inconvenience. What a stupid argument!
"The idea is to 'protect' kids somehow by attempting to fool them into thinking their local convenience store or gas station only sells politically correct products."
If you really believe that, then you are a moron. No one expects or cares if kids believe that.
"What difference does it make if they come into a corner store for a chocolate bar and see cigarettes on the wall behind the cashier?"
Well, unless you believe that all advertising is completely pointless, especially product placement ads and sponsorship ads, you would know that it is a pretty well established fact that seeing a product often will increase a person's desire to have it. So if kids see tobacco products all the time, they are more likely to want to try them than if they don't see them. Why would Coke pay for all those corner store signs to put their brand name on them if they did not think that seeing the name would help sales? Clearly, you have no understanding of how advertising works.
"What difference does it make if they come into a corner store for a chocolate bar and see cigarettes on the wall behind the cashier? It's not like the cashier will sell them to the kid..."
The plot gets dumber... So you think that the average teenager has no way of getting smokes if they want them? Are you insane? And you think stores never sell to underaged customers? Again, are you insane?
"I believe stores should be able to sell anything they wish providing it doesn't harm the public."
So assuming you have heard of cancer ... which after what I have read seems to assume a lot ... you must be against allowing tobacco sales. Hmmm....
Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-09-02 8:12:44 AM
"Even as someone who often describes himself as a social conservative..."
Why does a "social conservative" have a picture of a person with an (ugly) eye piercing at the top of their blog? That's not right.
Posted by: Cory D. Schreyer | 2009-09-02 8:30:50 AM
Cory: I wasn't aware that social conservatism had criteria for what's allowed on someone's face. That's my girlfriend who happens to have an eyebrow piercing. Oh no! That must mean I'm not a conservative somehow? Give me a break.
"Fact" Check: Sorry to burst your bubble, but you don't get cancer right after purchasing a pack of cigarettes. Obviously I meant things that can instantly harm you, like hand guns, which are usually sold at specialty shops where kids wouldn't be there in the first place.
Also, I never said it wasn't possible for teenagers to get smokes. In fact, I used the words "kids" and "children" on purpose. If I was talking about teenagers, I would have said so. Again, I never said stores do not sell to underage people. However, I have never come across a store that will sell to children. That being said, even for let's say, a 16-18 year old, unless they have a full beard, they will be be asked for ID. Retailers here in Nova Scotia can get into a LOT of trouble if they don't act super paranoid about who buys tobacco.
There is also a huge difference between Coke putting up their logo outside of a store and retailers having their cigarettes behind the cashier for convenience and the benefit of seeing the inventory as a customer (and as the retailer, for that matter). For one, Coke is a lot more socially acceptable than cigarettes - no one is going to refuse a kid a bottle of Coke if he or she has the money. Also, the store would be making a terrible business decision if it displayed huge tobacco company logos all over the place, at least here in Nova Scotia.
I do not believe I am a moron for thinking that the law is to protect children from seeing cigarette packages. What else would the purpose be? Maybe I'm just missing something...
Finally, as mentioned in one of the comments, in some provinces retailers aren't even allowed to tell a customer what brands they sell, so believe it or not it is a nuisance, if not an actual issue. The point is that it's a nuisance created by the government that shouldn't have been created in the first place, if you ask me. I assume if you're taking the time to call me dumb and moronic, then you care what I think (for what reason I couldn't tell you).
Posted by: Dane Richard | 2009-09-02 9:15:39 AM
I'll be really interested to see a future study which shows the results of all this. I highly doubt it will affect cigarette demand (which is pretty inelastic), and has been more a pain in the ass than anything else (I'm thinking here increased wait times and decrease in efficiency at the cash).
Posted by: Charles | 2009-09-02 9:41:04 AM
Dane is correct in thinking the law is supposed to protect children and FC is wrong, since that was the stated justification for the same law in BC. Of course it is silly, just as most laws affecting smoking. What probably makes this particular law perhaps the silliest of all is that it is all about make believe, akin to Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
Posted by: Alain | 2009-09-02 11:13:03 AM
Speaking of laws that don't make sense...
SECTION 13 IS NO MORE! Rejoice, the beast is slain! And I expect that almost everyone on these forums will.
I can't wait to see what Truewest has to say.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-09-02 11:24:38 AM
Dane, when I said "That's not right", I was half-joking; the word "right" has more than one meaning, of course.
Why do some beautiful / handsome people want to mutilate themselves? I'll never understand body piercing and tatoos, even if I live to be 1,000 years old. But that's just me.
However, I would be interested to know what your definition of a social conservative is. To me, it means "tradionalist" (if that's actually a word).
Posted by: Cory D. Schreyer | 2009-09-02 11:48:00 AM
That should be "traditionalist". Whoops.
Posted by: Cory D. Schreyer | 2009-09-02 11:49:44 AM
Thank you for that information. Made my day.
Posted by: peterj | 2009-09-02 12:16:11 PM
"Obviously I meant things that can instantly harm you...."
And that's obvious because.... If you meant instantly harm you, then just say so.
"I meant things that can instantly harm you, like hand guns"
So you think that "stores should be able to sell anything they wish providing it doesn't [instantly] harm the public" and you think hand guns are a good example of something that can instantly harm you, thus you think all gun sales should be banned, right? Hmmm.....
"I do not believe I am a moron...."
That makes one of us.
"Finally, as mentioned in one of the comments, in some provinces retailers aren't even allowed to tell a customer what brands they sell...."
That was a claim made by Scott without a shred of evidence for its truth. Quite simply, he has shown himself to be an unreliable source, so without a link to a credible source, I just don't believe it at all. But even if it is true that in Alberta it is against the law to answer 'yes' or 'no' to someone who goes into a store and asks "Do you have Player's Light?", that is irrelevant to the question of whether putting tobacco out of view is acceptable. One can, believe it or not, think that making it illegal to answer a question is ridiculous and yet still think it's ok to put tobacco out of view. The two do not stand or fall together. But as long as all you have is Scott's unsubstantiated comment as proof that such a law exists, I'd say don't count on it being right.
Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-09-02 12:20:28 PM
"I highly doubt it will affect cigarette demand (which is pretty inelastic)"
I agree that demand is pretty inelastic and that hiding the tobacco will not affect sales much of existing smokers, but the question of how to keep people who have never smoked from starting is a different one. There it makes more sense to think that the less one sees it, the less one will think about trying it.
"Dane is correct in thinking the law is supposed to protect children and FC is wrong"
You obviously did not pay attention while reading my reply. I argued that hiding the tobacco was not only designed to protect children from becoming smokers, I disagreed with his ludicrous claim that the goal was to trick kids into believing that stores don't actually sell tobacco when they do. Try reading more carefully next time.
Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-09-02 12:27:45 PM
"There it makes more sense to think that the less one sees it, the less one will think about trying it."
Maybe. I've never smoked, so I'm not really an expert on the subject. I would say that most people I know began smoking as teenagers because it was "cool" and their friends did it. None of them ever bought their smokes in the store either. I would tend to think that's more important (but that's just speculation on my part).
Furthermore, I do a lot of research on cigarette demand in Canada because of investment considerations, and have not seen any slowdown in demand so far. Of course, that is not conclusive since it comes from just one datapoint.
Posted by: Charles | 2009-09-02 12:40:28 PM
FC: I never said I was against the sale of firearms. What I said was you cannot simply go to your local corner store and buy a gun in Canada. For someone that tells people to read more carefully, you`re terrible for it.
If you want to know my opinion on the gun debate, I think the American system of the second amendment is a lot better than the gun-free mentality of Canada.
Cory: To me a social conservative is one who is pro-life, pro-gun, has strong moral and family values, prefers the tried-and-true over the new and untested, and believes there is a social fabric. Of course there are many other aspects, but you get the idea.
To me one`s opinion on fashion, art, or what someone puts into or onto their body has nothing to do with ideology. I love many so-called liberal art forms, yet I dislike modern liberalism. In terms of piercings and tattoos, I don`t have any myself. I also only think piercings look good on some people and tattoos are only good if they are done by a good artist. There are many tattoos out there that probably shouldn`t exist, but that`s life.
Posted by: Dane Richard | 2009-09-03 4:21:26 AM
"That was a claim made by Scott without a shred of evidence for its truth."
Here you go.
When I was in Alberta, I was told numerous times that they couldn't even tell you what kind of cigarettes they had, becasue that would be "promoting" them. You had to ask for the exact thing you wanted, and if they didn't ahve it you would have to guess and what else they might have, they couldn't show or tell you.
"But as long as all you have is Scott's unsubstantiated comment as proof that such a law exists, I'd say don't count on it being right."
Link provided, you can shut up now.
Posted by: Freedom Manitoba | 2009-09-03 7:57:17 AM
The link you provided goes straight to a section that says nothing at all about it being a violation of the law to say "Yes, we have Camels" when asked by a customer. If you think it does, then you are pathologically delusional. Somehow you have decided, it seems, that answering a question about what the shop has for sale counts as "advertising and promoting". That's complete lunacy.
The same section you link to also tells us that in Alberta stores "may have one or more signs that lists the tobacco products offered for sale and their prices". Yes, they can have publically displayed signs with lists of products and prices. So not only is your claim about what the law is pure fantasy, but Dane's concern about the inconvenience to customers about not knowing if a shop sells tobacco and, if so, which brands is also quite wrong. You, sir, are a complete dumbfuck. Thanks for coming out.
Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-09-03 8:15:35 AM
"(2) Despite subsection (1), a place described in subsection (1)(a) may have one or more signs that lists the tobacco products offered for sale and their prices if the signs comply with the requirements prescribed by the regulations."
I really hate legal jargon, but doesn't this imply that a convenience store can list the brands and their prices so customers may see them? If so, wouldn't it follow that a clerk can tell their clients that they have the products without necessarily promoting them?
But honestly, it seems to me there are a few good arguments against legislation like this. You'd think libertarians (not sure Dane is a libertarian), would start with property rights (i.e. the right to run your business any damn way you please).
Posted by: Charles | 2009-09-03 8:36:20 AM
"That's complete lunacy."
Yes, it is, so go to Alberta and see what it's like. I travel there often, and that is the way the law is being interpreted and enforced. If you don't like it, blame the law makers and the police that enforce the law.
"You, sir, are a complete dumbfuck."
Yep, name calling, the mark of true intellect. I am done responding to any posts you make.
Posted by: Freedom Manitoba | 2009-09-03 9:30:32 AM
Charles: I am a former member of the Libertarian Party of Canada, but I still support property rights. The difference now is that a libertarian would argue that there shouldn`t be tobacco laws in the first place. I guess my point was less on the property rights argument, which to me is an easy and all too obvious argument. I wanted to emphasize the progressivism that is plaguing many small aspects of our lives, including tobacco laws that don`t make much sense. Not selling to minors to me makes sense.
Posted by: Dane Richard | 2009-09-03 9:59:49 AM
Thw whole"hide the cigarettes" thing is just a dumb policy foisted on the merchants by even dumber people. Reason ??.
The minute you tell teenagers that they can not have something, they want it twice as bad. Often they want it ONLY because they can't have it. They know the smokes are in the store
We were all teenagers once and whether it was smokes, booze or whatever...we always managed to get it if we wanted it.
We also enjoyed it a lot more if we were'nt supposed to have it.
Posted by: peterj | 2009-09-03 3:51:27 PM
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