An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
‘STIGMA’ IS A POPULAR WORD these days. We’re trying to remove the stigma from all sorts of things. The agreement between B.C. and the federal government to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of certain drugs is an example.
The theory is that if we reduce the penalties, people will be more encouraged to seek help for their addictions. I’m not at all certain it will work, but that’s the theory.
Regardless, there’s been a major push in recent years to “destigmatize” the use of illicit drugs.
But there’s a double standard in play. The federal government has begun a 75-day consultation period to get feedback on developing new tobacco labelling regulations.
Canada has printed health warnings on cigarette packages for a couple of decades but this would take it a step further by putting warnings on individual cigarettes.
Each cigarette would carry its own warning, such as “Poison in every puff.” Presumably, a smoker who’s about to light up would see the warning on the ciggie, toss the tobacco and go cold turkey.
That smoking is a filthy habit, an extremely tough addiction to kick, and a huge health hazard is well-known. Smokers are probably one of the most frowned-upon groups in society. Nobody likes a smoker.
Tobacco kills 48,000 Canadians every year. That’s why cigarette packages have warnings. Graphic photos accompany messages such as “Remember this face and that smoking is killing me,” “When you smoke it shows” and “Your kids are sick of your smoking.”
Ouch. If that isn’t enough, there are also warnings inside the packages. Talk about stigma.
The tobacco strategy is designed to make smokers feel bad about what they’re doing. That, supposedly, will encourage them to quit. So, we’re trying to remove the stigma from illegal drugs, and reinforce it on a legal one.
Yep, what we have here is a stigma double standard. Apparently, some stigmas are bad but others aren’t.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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