Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Smokers are dumb; Businesses that support Smoking are POOR

In late April, my spouse and children and I were in Ottawa for a week. While there we had a lunch and a dinner at D’arcy McGee’s, a busy, popular pub just a block south of Parliament. While in there one afternoon, we noticed a troupe of seven kids come in – and stay – which prompted a question to our server: how was it the kids could come in and stay in a pub?

It was because the place was smoke free! Ottawa is smoke free! Bars, restaurants, businesses, you name it, it’s smokeless. We were aghast, particularly when the server told us that after a small decrease in clientele – for less than a month -- business was not only good, it was far better than it had been when smoking had been allowed. I understand businesses in both Vancouver and Winnipeg have had the same experience.

Here are some known facts:
· Non-smokers tend to have more years of education than smokers
· Due to that higher education, among a few factors, non-smokers have higher incomes; some estimates say 30% higher
· Non-smokers have more disposable income
· About 70% of Calgary’s adult population does not smoke
· Smoking is a huge contributor to lung and other related cancers
· Smoking is very likely to leave a person sick with avoidable illnesses
· Smoking is cannot in any way be considered good for children – to do, to see or to be around
· Smoking-related illnesses cause a large, avoidable strain on an already burdened health care system!
· Second hand smoke also causes smoking-related illnesses
· Yes, people have the right to smoke. NO, they do not have the right to force unwilling others to consume the by-products of their habit
· Smoking patrons are an occupational hazard to people working in establishments that allow smoking
· Smokers standing around entrances to businesses are a deterrent to non-smokers entering due to the stink among a few things
· Discarded cigarette butts at the entrances to business and ashtrays dumped in parking lots are a deterrent to anyone entering said businesses

So, based on those ‘facts’ why would any Calgary business maintain a smoking environment that limits its access to the entire market rather than opening their business to all possible patrons in the market? It makes economic sense to attract the larger, perhaps wealthier portion of the population in addition to those who already come.

We spoke to several people – smokers – in Ottawa about that city’s non-smoking policy: all of them said they were glad for the change; as much as they were unwilling or unable to give up their habit, they were glad to not have to suffer other people smoking while eating or at a bar, and to not come home reeking of second hand smoke. None of them found it a bother to not smoke while they were out or to go outside if necessary. The bottom line is that a non-smoking environment does not limit patronage or negatively impact revenues; extensive evidence from Winnipeg, Vancouver and Ottawa shows the reality is quite the opposite.

In my educated opinion, that 70% of Calgarians who don’t smoke, and a good portion of those who do, would gladly accept clean air restaurants and bars and other public places. Seriously, if it works and in Ireland, where the change is wildly popular, I am positive it will work in Calgary.

I really hope the current hold-outs on council will consider the economic benefit to people, families, kids and businesses and ultimately the city by making Calgary smoke free in 2006. January 1st 2006 would be a GREAT date.

Think about this: Assuming $9.50 per pack, smoking 1 pack a day for one year costs something like $3,468.00

  • That is more than 3000 litres of gas at $1.14 and almost 3500 when gas is under $1.
  • Assuming a mid sized car with a 60 litre tank, that’s enough to drive to Vancouver and back about 20 times. It is also enough to drive across Canada – Calgary to Halifax and back – five times.
  • That’s books and half a year’s tuition at MRC.
  • That’s nearly half a year’s worth of mortgage payments assuming $800/month and that’s about a year’s worth of car payments on a really decent lease (Ok, not for a Bmer or anything…).
  • That’s enough to put two kids into hockey or three kids into dance lessons for a year.
  • It is enough to build a new fence on a normal inner city lot; it is enough to repaint and carpet the interior of a bungalow.
  • It is enough for a new roof or furnace.
  • It is enough for a certain amount of lipo, if that’s on a person’s wish list.
  • It is enough to go to London, England for about 10 days, with money left over for shopping (Discount Travel Warehouse /Easy Jet).
  • It’s enough to rent a houseboat for 10 for a week.
  • It is almost five months of groceries for a family of four assuming $200 a week.
  • It is enough for annual subscriptions to all of Theatre Calgary, Theatre Junction, ATP, OYR and a bunch of independent theatre companies.
  • It is enough to stage a whole play for some of those small companies!
  • It is almost the 5% required for a down payment on $70,000. There are still places to buy in Calgary for that amount.
  • Putting that $3470 smoking money aside for two years is pretty much the 5% down payment on a $138,000 condo.
  • It is enough for about 4 years of monthly bus passes.
  • It is enough for a really excellent road bike (a la Lance Armstrong).
  • It is enough for about 5 years’ gym membership – or nearly 10 years’ membership to the gym at MRC or U of C for alumnus.
  • It is a huge, beneficial donation to STARS or the Children’s hospital – and provides a nice tax break. Making the donation to STARS or Children’s hospital rather than smoking might keep a person out of either of those places.
  • In a family of four, using that $3470 for something other than smoking might also prevent two kids from taking up smoking, destroying their health and having a further $6940 per year spent on a nasty habit.
  • It is more than enough for annual family passes to all of The Zoo, Heritage Park, the Science Centre and Lindsay Park and for nosh at those places.
  • It is a TON of skiing and rentals at COP and it is lots and lots for lessons and gear for a season at the big 3.
  • It is about enough for two years’ seasons passes too.
  • It is enough for a family of four to go to the movies over 80 times.
  • It is enough for a huge TV, cable for two years, a VCR and DV player and a lot of popcorn and movie rentals.
  • It is enough to take 10 - 12 continuing education courses at either U of C or MRC.
  • Giving up smoking for 5 years at today’s cost would provide a person enough money to get an undergrad degree at U of C or an applied Degree at MRC.
  • It is enough to learn five languages through Berlitz.
  • It is twice as much as most people get back from their tax refund – and speaking of tax, what is the tax on $3470 worth of cigarettes, keeping in mind a person is paying for those cigarettes with after-tax income! Twice the tax for an unhealthy habit. NOT smart.
  • It is enough for about 57 oil changes.
  • It is enough to put about 7 new energy-efficient windows in an older home.
  • It is enough for four winters worth of shovelling services and four summers of lawn care services.
  • It is enough for about 100 taxi trips from the airport to downtown.
  • It is enough for 2 or more kids to ride the school bus to school and home during the school year for over 15 years!
  • That’s a two week holiday to Disneyland for a family of 4 and it is a really nice trip to Mexico for a couple.
  • It is a nice RSP contribution.
  • It is enough for a lovely engagement ring or anniversary ring; it is also enough for some decent clubs and many rounds of golf.
  • It is enough for a bouquet of roses every week for about 2.5 years.
  • It is enough for a couple to have 25 gorgeous meals (about $150 a pop) at the Chicago Chop House or 135 meals at Peter’s Drive-In for a family of 4.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You are welcome to leave your comments on the SUBJECT here; personal attacks and insults will be deleted.

Please feel free to discuss the issues. The stability or mental health of the blog writer is not considered a discussion issue....