Wednesday 16 February 1994

Tobacco Control Act, 1993, Bill 119, Mrs Grier / Loi de 1993 sur la réglementation de l'usage du tabac, projet de loi 119, Mme Grier

Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers' Marketing Board

Albert Bouw, chair

George Gilvesy, vice-chair

Alnasir Moolani

Coalition for a Smoke-Free Lindsay

Dr Peter Petrosoniak, chair

Derek Abdalla

Peter Tomala; Jim Bishop

Ottawa-Carleton Council on Smoking and Health

Carolyn Hill, president

Julie Shouldice, college student

Jagdish Dattani

Keith Pratt

Rebecca Liff

Graham Stebbings

Carolyn Burpee

George Georgewill

Pamela Newton

Don Jones

Raj Gandhi

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, Ottawa-Carleton region

Elinor Wilson, director, public affairs

James Howith, high school student

Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, Ottawa branch

Dr James Walker, representative

Allergy/Asthma Information Association, Ottawa chapter

Lois King, activator


*Chair / Président: Beer, Charles (York-Mackenzie L)

*Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Eddy, Ron (Brant-Haldimand L)

Carter, Jenny (Peterborough ND)

*Cunningham, Dianne (London North/-Nord PC)

Hope, Randy R. (Chatham-Kent ND)

*Martin, Tony (Sault Ste Marie ND)

*McGuinty, Dalton (Ottawa South/-Sud L)

*O'Connor, Larry (Durham-York ND)

*O'Neill, Yvonne (Ottawa-Rideau L)

Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre ND)

*Rizzo, Tony (Oakwood ND)

*Wilson, Jim (Simcoe West/-Ouest PC)

*In attendance / présents

Substitutions present / Membres remplaçants présents:

Dadamo, George (Windsor-Sandwich ND) for Ms Carter

Haslam, Karen (Perth ND) for Mr Hope

Winninger, David (London South/-Sud ND) for Mr Owens

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

O'Connor, Larry, parliamentary assistant to Minister of Health

Sterling, Norman W. (Carleton PC)

Villeneuve, Noble (S-D-G & East Grenville/S-D-G & Grenville-Est PC)

Clerk / Greffier: Arnott, Doug

Staff / Personnel:

Boucher, Joanne, research officer, Legislative Research Service

Gardner, Dr Bob, assistant director, Legislative Research Service



The committee met at 0934 in room 151.


Consideration of Bill 119, An Act to prevent the Provision of Tobacco to Young Persons and to Regulate its Sale and Use by Others / Projet de loi 119, Loi visant à empêcher la fourniture de tabac aux jeunes et à en réglementer la vente et l'usage par les autres.


The Vice-Chair (Mr Ron Eddy): Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. The first presentation will be made by representatives of the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers' Marketing Board. Welcome to the committee.

Mr Albert Bouw: My name is Albert Bouw, chairman of the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers' Marketing Board.

Mr George Gilvesy: I am George Gilvesy, vice-chair of the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers' Marketing Board.

Mr Bouw: I believe we've distributed a copy of our little document. There is a little further information in the back of it that you probably will be able to look at at your leisure at some other point: the Mackenzie Institute report. If I may, I'll proceed with our short presentation.

In general terms, we, as producers of the primary product, have concerns that future regulations will jeopardize the viability of our industry and contribute to a growing social problem. It has been recently recognized by the federal government we have a serious contraband problem. Years of excessive taxation and anti-smoking regulations have resulted in a huge market for underground tobacco and the criminal distribution networks to supply it.

Last March, when we made a submission to the Ontario Ministry of Health committee responding to the discussion paper on this proposed bill, we told the committee members an estimated 20% of the tobacco products in Ontario were contraband. Today, this market share has increased to 40%.

It is unlikely that the limited action taken by the federal government to reduce tobacco taxes will break up the firmly established black market distribution, the networks that exist in Ontario. Further legislative restrictions on the sale and use of tobacco will serve only to increase black market demand.

The primary goal of the proposed control act, as we understand it, is to attempt to curtail tobacco use by minors. We wholeheartedly agree with this goal, but believe the method is flawed.

This proposed legislation would restrict sale of tobacco products to minors but does nothing to ensure that legal outlets are the only source of tobacco. In a column in the Toronto Star recently, a grade 13 student, Elliot Johnson, pointed out the hollowness of age restrictions in a market with a growing black market problem. He writes:

"One easy way around this problem for many teenage smokers has been to buy the cigarettes illegally where the vendors are unlikely to ask for proof of age since they are already breaking the law." I think that's a very critical point.

We also quote an independent report written by the Mackenzie Institute. The report states:

"Whatever the importance of discouraging smoking on the one hand and gathering taxes and duties on cigarettes on the other, the facts revealed in this report point to less obvious but potentially graver dangers to our nation's health. Through a combination of factors relating to cigarettes, a section of the traditionally law-abiding population is being conditioned to break the law on a daily basis" -- I think that's very, very serious -- "a new criminal class is being mobilized on the reserves, and the old criminal class across the country is arming itself as though for guerilla warfare."

I think we're seeing more and more and hearing more about that every day in newspapers and on radio, and so on. I think we all have to be very, very conscious of that fact. I think what these two things are pointing out is that the accessibility of cigarettes to minors is very readily available today through the non-legal channels and that's what has to be stopped.

The proposed restrictions on who could legally sell tobacco products will end up playing into the hands of those involved in the illegal trade. Pharmacies are legitimate retailers who are likely to carefully abide by the regulations concerning the sale of tobacco products to minors. What better place than a drugstore to monitor who they're selling cigarettes to? There's probably no other place that would scrutinize it any closer than a drugstore.

Fewer legal outlets means more people will turn to illegal outlets. Further requirements on other merchants who wish to sell tobacco, such as specific retail licensing, will put yet another burden on small retailers struggling to compete with a black market already holding all the competitive cards. Again, that cry has been there for a couple of years by retailers that have been going out of business and continue to go out of business because cigarettes are available at many, many places other than those regular legal outlets.


The legislation's other proposed measures, such as legislated package sizes and package warnings, that differ from federal standards will not be effective and will put even more pressure on the legitimate market. In our opinion, and obviously we're not specialists or experts in the fields of advertising and promotion and those types of things, but we are ordinary Ontario and Canadian citizens, and in this particular province in this particular country, if you've been alive the last five years and can hear and see, I don't think there's a person around who isn't aware of the so-called tobacco hazards. Whether you put it in five-inch letters, in brown packages, in our opinion it will make no iota of difference as far as consumption.

It should be pointed out that tobacco remains a legal product. Such measures as this proposed act add to a résumé of social engineering measures which, as the Mackenzie report points out, are partly to blame for the existence of a black market. I think we all know that year after year of increased taxes has led to this underground economy, crime and so on.

The point is clear: A control act cannot work if the marketplace is out of control. Persuasion and education could reach the desired results much more effectively than dictatorial methods of social engineering. I think we here were all teenagers once upon a time too. We all love the challenge of the things we're not supposed to do. When Dad says, "Don't smoke, don't drink, don't do this, don't do that," you know darned well, we all tried it; they will all try it. The more we dictate to our teenagers, our young kids -- I'm not so sure if that's the right answer.

The underground trade also has serious economic implications for our 1,500 producers. Ontario accounts for 90% of Canada's tobacco growing industry, with a farm gate value of over $300 million and an economic spinoff estimated at $2.4 billion in this province. Contraband, what we lost, cost us as growers last year an estimated $25 million, because contraband does not necessarily have Canadian tobacco in it. So it's a total loss to us as growers and as farmers. Increasing restrictions threaten the future of these producers. Canadian smokers are no longer smoking Canadian product, and this is directly affecting our production levels, as I have stated. It is estimated that 45% of contraband seizures since 1992 have been of foreign manufacture, ie, the UK, the United States, China, Mexico and so on. That's 45% of contraband seizures. You've heard a lot about the three manufacturers in the last couple of weeks, but very little was said about this part of it and it's growing tremendously.

Our producers are also under pressure from the criminal element. We have witnessed an increase in theft of raw product from our farms. Our producers are also being approached to sell leaf outside our regulated tobacco marketing structure; in fact, to the tune that we've asked both the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Agriculture Canada to supply us with investigating police services, whatever they're called, on a full-time basis. We've had no response to this point, but we do need one or two people on a full-time basis to deal with this problem.

Agriculture in Ontario without tobacco would have a major void. Alternate crops have been the focus of concentrated scientific attention and are simply not feasible. There are success stories, but more failures. The environmental, social and economic sustainability of the regions involved in tobacco production would be drawn into serious question without this significant crop. In any language, a $300-million farm gate is still big dollars.

Again, thank you for the opportunity for input, and we'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Mr George Dadamo (Windsor-Sandwich): Always comprehensive, always more than what you need to give to us, and we appreciate that. Thank you very much. I guess you're caught between a rock and a hard place. You're running a business where you're trying to make money. You understand that smoking cigarettes can become very hazardous to one's health. This government is struggling to pass legislation which will ban the vending machines, which will keep cigarettes away from minors, because you know, I know, the committee knows that if they don't take up smoking in their early years, before 19 or 20 years of age, likely they're not going to smoke because perhaps they will know that it's going to be bad for them and they won't do it. Should we perhaps take them away from many stores, from the corner stores, and put it in the hands of government stores, as they do in some European countries? I understand that in places like Italy it seems to run okay.

Mr Bouw: In Italy they also have a huge smuggling problem. I think it's the result of exactly what you're talking about. If you were to do what you're suggesting, you would create an even greater underground problem. You really would.

Mr Dadamo: I think it must be said that the downside to selling them in government stores, and it happened in Italy last year, was the fact that if they go on strike, then they can't get cigarettes, thus the contraband coming through the borders. I'm sure that you get all sorts of things that happen. But what do we do to take it away from youth? We don't want kids smoking.

Mr Bouw: Obviously we haven't seen any details, but we don't like how they're sourcing the money, with the initiative that the federal government has taken and the announcements made by the Prime Minister that let them take $200 million away from the manufacturers. We don't agree with how they're getting the money, but what he's going to use it for, for educational purposes, we feel that is the right thing to do. We support that; we always have. Ultimately, if at the end of the day the message that education puts forward doesn't work, I'd suggest then that the educators' information isn't the proper information; it's not working. My suggestion would be to change the information, whatever those packages say today, and I'm not privy to that.

Mr Dadamo: Should we cease selling them in pharmacies?

Mr Bouw: No, I don't believe so at all. We think the control in drugstores, pharmacies, is greater than in any other outlet. When you go to the local drugstore and you see these people in little white gowns standing around, it has much more of an impact on young kids or anybody than the guy who's standing with a dirty old sweater behind the counter in a Mac's Milk store at the corner. The drugstore lives under different criteria. Leaving cigarettes in the drugstore, as far as controlling is controlled, will do a much better job than any other place.

Mr Dadamo: I just don't get it. I'll be very brief. Medicine and cigarettes, I don't see how they mix together: Trying to make people well, and selling cigarettes, which doesn't make people well.

Mr Bouw: I think there are a lot of arguments against that. I mean, over here they're selling drugs, here they're selling cigarettes and in the middle they sell Nicorette.

Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): Thank you, gentlemen, for your presentation. I'm not here, and I don't think anybody should be here, intent on assigning blame. I think the important thing here is for all of us to assume some responsibility. Tell me a bit more. What does $300-million farm gate value mean?

Mr Bouw: That's what I as a producer, when I sell my bushel of apples -- in our case tobacco -- get when I take it to my marketplace.

Mr McGuinty: So you're telling me the industry in Ontario annually sells its product for $300 million?

Mr Bouw: Yes. There's no value added or anything. That's what that merely means: it's just off the farm gate.

Mr McGuinty: Are there any government assistance programs right now for tobacco growers?

Mr Bouw: Right now? I don't think so.


Mr McGuinty: All right. Is there any assistance in order to help you diversify?

Mr Bouw: There was some of that and then there was actually a program announced, it would be three years ago now I guess, but it never was put together. I think it was $33 million. It was for Redux. I don't know if you're familiar with that term. It was an exit program which we had for about four years. A lot of tobacco farmers left the industry. That was one side. The other side was AIE, alternative initiative enterprise. There have been dollars spent on that over the years. Those programs ran out. A new one was announced by Mr Buchanan. This will be the third year I think.

Mr Larry O'Connor (Durham-York): The buyout or crop diversification? Which one are you talking about?

Mr Bouw: It was a combination.

Mr McGuinty: So that program is still in place now?

Mr Bouw: No, it never was put together. I don't think anybody ever went to treasury board.

Mr O'Connor: Were there any takers?

Mr Bouw: There were takers -- oh, go ahead.

Mr McGuinty: I was going to say I think it's important, if we as legislators are intent on addressing this problem, that we provide some positive incentive to get those who happen to be growing tobacco into another area. So there's no money there today, you're telling me.

Mr Bouw: I don't know what happened to that money, to tell you the truth. It never was taken away but it was never put there. I mean, it's one of those government things: "Here's $33 million," but nothing --

The Vice-Chair: A proposal.

Mr Bouw: You could call it that, but in the last budget we were cut $3 million. Like, when they did all the budget cuts for Agriculture, they took $3 million out of that program, although we never really had the money.

Mr McGuinty: If I'm a tobacco farmer, what do I need to get into another line of work, another crop? What is it going to take?

Mr Bouw: A lot of us have tried to get into other crops; ie, ginseng. There's a lot of ginseng in our area.

Mrs Karen Haslam (Perth): Have you tried nursery stock? Sorry, Mr Chair.

Mr Bouw: I was going to answer this gentleman about ginseng. There have been a lot of acres. Actually, ginseng's been grown in our area for about 80 years, on a very small scale. Since the downturn of the tobacco industry, a lot of tobacco farmers got into ginseng and it's a pretty lucrative business, although expensive to get into. However, I know now, this year, there are already some crops that are not sold.

Mr McGuinty: Is this the root, the herb?

Mr Bouw: Yes.

Mr McGuinty: All right. I've heard that the market has fallen out on that.

Mr Bouw: Exactly; that's my point. It was successful, but like anything else, if we all of a sudden use all those thousands of acres to get into all these other crops that other people were growing -- the vegetable industry was not very pleased with tobacco farmers in about 1985-86, because we were going to grow peppers and tomatoes, and then you come here to the Toronto food terminal and you were very quickly turned back. So you were forced to cut your price, and then you upset everybody, or take the product back home and dump it.

The government said, "Go find something new." A lot of things were tried; ie, rubber plants. In this climate? That didn't work. Both research stations spent about $1 million, by the way, on that. I couldn't understand why both of them had to do it, but they did. That wasn't successful. We had a peanut cooperative. That wasn't successful. There is still a peanut plant in existence. It happens to be about a mile down the road from me, where I live, but the guy is totally vertically integrated and makes it work. As far as peanut farming goes, the US just brings them in here much, much cheaper than what we can afford to grow them for. That didn't work. The hay co-op didn't work. The sweet potato co-op didn't work. Tomato, SOCT, you probably remember that one. That one didn't work.

There are some success stories. There's a garlic association that grows 100 acres of garlic. That's enough for the whole country; we don't need any more garlic. There are some people growing dried flowers. If you grow five acres of dried flowers, you don't need any more. And it goes on.

Now there's a request in, I understand, to grow hemp.

Mrs Dianne Cunningham (London North): What?

Mr Bouw: Hemp, marijuana.

Mrs Haslam: It's not rope, Dianne. They don't grow rope.

The Vice-Chair: Excuse me. Now that hemp has been mentioned, and I understand there are going to be two or three licensed, maybe -- is it the federal government? -- I think it should be explained that the fibre is a very, very good type of fibre that's used for many purposes, very strong, indestructible, and also the seed that's produced is very, very, very low in narcotic. Sorry, just for information.

Mr McGuinty: Just one final question, because I'm sure my colleagues have some as well. Some are easier to buy out than others. Is that at all feasible if I'm a farmer who's growing tobacco? If it is, what does it cost? How do we assess that value?

Mr Bouw: I guess, to go back a number of years when the onslaught really first came, that's what the tobacco farmers said then, "If that's the case, then give us $2 a pound for our quota and we'll say goodbye," and of course that never happened. Personally, I don't want to get out of tobacco farming. It's what I do; it's what I like to do. It's a legal product still. I have a problem with this, and I guess I'll say it, hypocritical attitude towards our industry: on the one hand, "Give me all these tax dollars," and on the other hand, "Get rid of you."

Mr McGuinty: I agree with you, yes.

Mr Bouw: Ban the damn stuff or let us go on with our life.

Mrs Cunningham: I have two or three questions, actually. When you say that Ontario accounts for 90% of Canada's tobacco-growing industry, how much of the tobacco in Ontario is exported?

Mr Bouw: The ratio used to be 70% domestic, 30% export. Obviously we've had to change, so now it's about 50-50, give or take; it varies a little bit from year to year.

Mrs Cunningham: Is one of our greatest recipients the United Kingdom?

Mr Bouw: Yes.

Mrs Cunningham: Because over there many years ago they told me that they knew Ontario for tobacco and soybeans, so I always think of us in that regard.

I'm from southwest Ontario, London. I have a very large riding and spend a lot of time in the other ridings, for obvious reasons, and you don't have to convince me that the tobacco growers have tried alternative crops probably for the last 10 years. It's not new.

Mr Bouw: Yes, that's right.

Mrs Cunningham: My kids have all worked in it to pay their way through school. I'm very grateful for that. I'm happy to know that you export a lot because I guess my concern is the health of Ontario, and I know you care about that too.

I'm interested, though, because we've had other instances where legislation has been applied in the last few years because persuasion and education hasn't worked and we've been told, certainly by the educators, that they haven't been successful in schools. You know that if you talk to anybody in Ontario who tells you not to smoke, it's often a seven-year-old or a five-year-old. It's the success of the early education programs. I think that's why this committee is struggling with the work we've got to do right now. I was very interested in your comments on pharmacists. I happen to agree with you because I think that they are the ones who in fact do ask the questions. At least, we found that out in London. The secondary school students have done a little survey in the last couple of weeks and that's what they've told us, at least in three of our high schools. There at least you're quite correct.

We've been told that a licence would be very important to stop selling tobacco to minors. That's what we're after here. We've been pretty well convinced by a lot of the witnesses that we shouldn't be focusing on people who want to kill themselves but that we should be focusing on people we don't want to smoke. We thought, at least the advice we've been getting is, that licences would be helpful. This is a most interesting brief. You've obviously had some influence elsewhere, but why do you feel so strongly?

Mr Bouw: I guess we're just looking at cost. What are we doing to people every day? With this tax, this licence, this requirement, what are we doing to people? Let them make a living.

Mrs Cunningham: So you wouldn't like it if we sold them an LCBO outlet.

Mr Bouw: Oh, no.

Mrs Cunningham: Well, it was a thought.

Mr Gilvesy: Mrs Cunningham, what licence does an illegal retailer have?

Mrs Cunningham: You're right. We know that, but there are some of us here who are prepared to say this is an illegal product in Ontario.

Mr Bouw: Then it becomes a different issue.


Mrs Cunningham: That's right, and then you'd have something to say to us about that.

I can only speak for myself here. I'm finding this to be a very difficult issue, so I want you to know that I'm not just sitting here being facetious with what you've said. Your work in this province has been important to the economy of this province, and we know that. We're trying to find a solution, but we know that education isn't enough. That's our problem.

Mr Bouw: As I said before, I'm not an educator at all. I'm not a very smart person; I'm just a farmer.

Mrs Cunningham: It's called street sense, which a lot of people are missing, and common sense, which they're missing more.

Interjection: Field sense.

Mrs Cunningham: Yes, field sense.

Mr Bouw: Maybe the programs that are being used aren't valid or proper; I don't know that. But yes, common sense has a lot to do with it.

Mrs Cunningham: I'm not going to ask you how you grow dried flowers, but it crossed my mind. Do you want to tell us?

Mr Bouw: My wife does that.

Mrs Cunningham: I love dried flowers. I didn't know you grew them. I just turn my live flowers upside-down.

Mr David Winninger (London South): Thanks for your presentation. We're hearing that the percentage of smuggled cigarettes in Quebec is as high as 60% and in Ontario somewhere around 35%. This problem has really mounted over the past few years.

I'm just wondering what steps the marketing board might have taken to combat this problem, which obviously imperils your own industry.

Mr Bouw: I guess I mentioned at some point earlier that we've asked for more enforcement. We have several files. We've worked with both the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food inspector, David Sloman, and also an RCMP detachment out of Woodstock, Scott Stevenson. Last year we even offered a $10,000 reward.

Yes, there have been a few arrests and what have you, but we're just too small to tackle the big problem. It takes total and dedicated enforcement to do anything about this problem.

The federal government, it appears, has recognized it now. We're still not convinced, unless they're sincere, that enforcement will work. We're still saying we're not sure that will work, because our borders are huge. It makes you wonder sometimes if law enforcement itself -- I mean, they smoke too, some of them. I know they've been told they shouldn't buy contraband cigarettes, but they do anyway. So how dedicated is the dedication to stopping it? That's my question sometimes.

Mr Winninger: So you're answering the question with a question. That's very political.

The Vice-Chair: The parliamentary assistant has a point he wishes to make.

Mr O'Connor: My understanding was that there was a joint committee, either established or going to be established, and I'm surprised that you wouldn't know about it. My understanding was that it was with the ministries of Labour and Agriculture and Food around the economic review. Is there such a committee and are you part of that?

Mr Bouw: Yes.

Mr Gilvesy: What is your point on that, sir?

Mr O'Connor: My understanding, in questions from Mr McGuinty, was there seemed to be no coordination happening here. I understood that this committee was taking place, and I thought you might be part of that.

Mr Bouw: We're paying to have the study done.

Mr O'Connor: And you're part of that committee.

Mr Gilvesy: Yes, we're a stakeholder in that project.

Mr Bouw: We're not receiving any money.

Mr O'Connor: No, but you're part of that, though.

Mr Noble Villeneuve (S-D-G & East Grenville): Thank you very much for coming and presenting your case. I come from that part of Ontario where Bill 119 to ban legal cigarettes anywhere would not really be very necessary, the way things are going.

However, Bill 119 is a fact of life. We will likely support it, except for that one area where it's causing pharmacists and pharmacies a great deal of concern in that we may be in a situation where some of the larger pharmacies will find a way around the legislation. Those that don't will simply be promoting more of what we have in eastern Ontario, which is the illegal pipeline of tobacco and what have you.

With the $8-a-carton surcharge, is it --

Mr Bouw: Export tax, yes.

Mr Villeneuve: -- export tax -- how does that affect your business pertaining to how things have happened in the past? I'm sorry I wasn't here for your presentation; I was at another 8:30 meeting this morning. But I would like your perspective in a nutshell as to what you see happening to people who earn their living from growing tobacco, which is a legal crop. Some people may not agree that it should be legal, but it is very much legal. It's been a pretty good milk cow for the government.

Mr Bouw: Yes, the $8 export tax that was put on by the federal government not too long ago, February 9, I guess it was, is a little bit different from the last time. However, it'll be exactly the same as the last time if the province of Ontario doesn't roll its taxes back.

The reason I say that is, when the $8 tax was put on two years ago, it really created a lot of these problems that we have today, the 22 new brands of cigarettes that showed up at our borders after that -- 22 new brands showed up in two weeks. That's what created a lot of this stuff. I know there's some misinformation about how the $8 export tax worked in that six- or seven-week period, because what the statistics don't show is there was no tobacco shipped for that period of time, period.

Mr Villeneuve: No revenue for the government.

Mr Bouw: That's why it showed it worked. The simple case was that manufacturers were under, really, the restraint of the law of the government and were trying to work out arrangements, really, to come to some kind of understanding about this $8 tax, that it wasn't feasible. So they shipped no tobacco, no product for six weeks. That's why the stats show that. Unfortunately, a lot of people out there who don't understand this misuse that information.

However, we did manage to get that $8 rolled back. It was a bigger problem then because of the bigger price gap between the US and ourselves. With the move that Quebec has made, lowering the cost of a carton of cigarettes to $23 -- and you can buy contraband for $18 or $20 -- you take the problem away. But Ontario has to follow suit to bring its price down to that. Once they do that, the $8 is not an issue, at least in the short term.

Where we do take issue with the $8 tax, however, is, we're an exporting country. I mean, just the climate of putting a tax on a product you export -- we're an exporting country. What kind of signal do we send to the rest of the world? What will it be next, aside from the issue itself? It's dead wrong.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Bouw, Mr Gilvesy, thank you for your presentation and the information.


Mr Alnasir Moolani: Thank you for this opportunity to make a presentation to you today. My name is Alnasir Moolani and I'm a practising pharmacist and owner of Heart Lake IDA Discount Drugs, which is located at 230 Sandalwood Parkway in Brampton. I have been the owner of this pharmacy since 1986. I'm still indebted to my bank and suppliers for moneys in excess of $100,000. I presently have 10 employees in my store. I am one of the approximately 1,400 retailer pharmacies in the province that sell tobacco.

In June 1991, when the Ontario College of Pharmacists took a vote to remove tobacco sales from pharmacies, I was, like so many of my colleagues, disappointed with the college's decision. When I was contacted by the Committee of Independent Pharmacists to join them and take a position against the college, I agreed to do so.


I think it is well known how our profession in fact reacted to the precipitous and irresponsible way in which the college members voted on the tobacco issue. When the elections were held two months later in August 1991, eight college members who voted for tobacco removal were themselves voted out of office. The college president himself was not re-elected. So the college representation today is very different from the college of 1992.

The mandate of the college is to "serve and protect the interests of the public." No one has explained to us how the public interest will be served by closing down pharmacies.

Just to give you an idea where our profession really stands on this issue, when the Ontario Pharmacists' Association held a referendum on this issue last year, 62% of our membership voted to leave tobacco in drugstores. So please appreciate that we are a profession very much divided about tobacco in drugstores.

However, there should be no doubt about pharmacists' commitment to discouraging young people from smoking. We support the legislation about making it more difficult for minors to purchase tobacco. In fact, we say that if the legislation did not contain subsection 4(2), this legislation would have been passed by the government immediately in January 1993. Instead, you've taken a good piece of legislation and muddied the waters.

I would like to tell you the environment in which I operate. In my small shopping mall, I have one other vendor who sells tobacco. There's a Mac's Milk only five minutes away. They also sell many of the products that have been traditionally sold in pharmacies, like health and beauty aids, cosmetic items and so on. Across the parking lot from my store, literally less than a block away, is Heart Lake Town Centre. In that mall is my major competition, a Shoppers Drug Mart. Because of their massive buying power, their selling prices are often lower than the cost price I pay for some of my products. There are a number of gas stations in the area and all of them sell cigarettes.

In the Heart Lake centre, there are four or five other vendors who sell tobacco. In that centre is an A&P food supermarket, which also sells my core products at cheaper prices than what I pay for them. Just to add to my problems, not far from me is Hy and Zel's and perhaps soon the Wal-Mart chain. For your information, Wal-Mart has been found guilty on a number of occasions in the US of predatory pricing policies. Basically, they go into a town and literally wipe out the local competitors. They are a massive tank getting ready to go into battle.

Until a few years ago, pharmacies were among just a few stores that were open on Sundays. At my pharmacy, we used to do a fair amount of business on Sundays. But now, with all the retailers open on Sundays, our revenue on Sundays has dropped by almost 50% -- literally a 50% drop. Over a year, this amounts to a fair reduction in revenue, but my overheads remain the same. I have to pay the same hydro, rent, cashiers' salaries etc.

A second major impact has been the ODB cutbacks. Now, I realize that all government programs have been cut back. I am a taxpayer and I fully recognize the intense financial pressures facing government today. But please appreciate what has happened to my profession. Unilaterally and without negotiation, the Ministry of Health has drastically reduced our remuneration for providing professional services by removing many over-the-counter drugs from the formulary. The government has eliminated the professional fee on many other drugs, and in terms of the social contract negotiations our professional fee on ODB prescriptions was rolled back 61 cents. By the way, as I'm sure you're all aware by now, we had not received a fee increase since June 1990. Last year we were faced with government Bills 29 and 81, which, although they never went through, have already conditioned us that the Ministry of Health wants to find ways to cut even more money from the ODB plan.

The Ministry of Health effectively has told us that we can no longer rely on the fee to sustain our businesses and that we should rely more on our front shop sales, and then you come along and tell us that we should not sell tobacco, which represents about 20% of my front store sales. Then there are of course the complementary sales. A person buying tobacco will also buy many other items that my competition aggressively sells. Believe me, if there was another product that generated 20% of sales, I would have introduced it years ago. So would the other drugstores. So what you see here today is a small independent community pharmacist desperately trying to make a living and providing employment for 10 other employees. Bear in mind also that I have a lease with its rental based on my sales of tobacco. Here I am shooting arrows at the Wal-Mart tanks, the mail order pharmacies, some of whom are being funded by the New Brunswick government, and I find my own government literally taking arrows out of my quiver. How can I possibly survive with such a piece of discriminatory legislation?

The Committee of Independent Pharmacists commissioned Coopers and Lybrand to conduct an economic impact study, and I'm sure you've already heard the results of their findings. They predicted that about 110 pharmacies will go out of business. Well, ladies and gentlemen, you're looking at one of those.

I am not in a medical centre. I don't have any doctors above my store feeding prescriptions to me. I rely solely on the community, and I try and provide them with all their needs.

In the end, what would you have gained? Less people smoking? You know that won't happen. In fact, by taking it out of drugstores, you will be moving the smoker to less responsible retailers who don't always sell legitimate tobacco and who often don't enforce the age restrictions. In fact, they constantly violate the law. Nor do they pay taxes. We enforce the age restriction so strictly that word has gotten around and I don't get any teenagers coming to the store attempting to buy cigarettes.

I have often heard that it is inconsistent for a pharmacist to sell tobacco. I agree, but pharmacies are not only selling medications and prescriptions. A drugstore today sells a multitude of products. We are in the unique position of being both retailers as well as professionals. In the same way that the federal and the provincial governments raise billions of dollars in tobacco taxes and you have come to rely on tobacco revenues to help your budgets, so have we. You raise your revenues through questionable means, for example, casinos. They have negative impacts on society, yet the government proceeds with more casinos.

I repeat again, please don't punish drugstores, which are the most responsible tobacco vendors in the marketplace. After all, we are accustomed to selling dangerous drugs. We know the implications of selling hazardous products.


I'm sure we all know, in our heart of hearts, or should I say lung of lungs, that tobacco consumption is not going to be reduced by taking it out of drugstores. It may in fact increase consumption due to the fact that smokers will obtain their cigarettes through cheaper contraband sources.

Then, one might ask, why are retail pharmacies being singled out? Why? I urge all of you to think deep. It's not fair to me or my employees.

This controversy has a lot of do with the rights of retailers to sell legal products. We all know cholesterol is a major contributing factor to heart disease. Is the government going to step in and dictate to restaurants as to what kind of food they serve? It looks like McDonald's and Harvey's may have to stop selling hamburgers, as they are a major contributing factor to this problem.

I honestly predict that if your legislation goes through with paragraph 4(2)8, I will be out of business within 12 months after your legislation takes effect, and my 10 employees, who are presently gainfully employed at the Heart Lake IDA Discount Drug store, will be on the government's payroll, UIC, and I for one will have lost all my equity in the business and my life savings.

Please, I urge you to reconsider your position. Thank you again for your patience. I hope I keep my patients. Thank you very much for listening.

Mrs Haslam: How long have you had your business?

Mr Moolani: Since 1986. I've been a pharmacist since 1977.

Mrs Haslam: There are a number of things in your presentation that do not ring with what other people have said around some of your facts. I will look at a couple of them, and then I maybe have a question or two. It's a long report and I'd like to go through that report.

You said, "I think it is well known how our profession in fact reacted to the precipitous and irresponsible way in which the college members voted on the tobacco issue." I don't believe your college feels the same way. You say that 62% of your membership voted to leave tobacco in the drugstores. Actually, the --

Mr Moolani: The OPA.

Mrs Haslam: No, actually, that isn't what it said. It didn't say, "Leave it in." What 62% agreed to was voluntary removal. So I'm sorry, but you're wrong there.

Mr Moolani: They didn't say to remove it from drug- stores.

Mrs Haslam: It said voluntarily remove. You said 62% voted to leave tobacco in drugstores.

Mr Moolani: They did not say to remove it from drugstores. That's what I'm trying to clarify.

Mrs Haslam: It was the voluntary part that --

Mr Moolani: Right. It should be left up to the pharmacist so they can make the decision, but not be legislated by --

The Vice-Chair: I'm sorry. We need one person speaking. Mrs Haslam, would you make your comments and then we'll have a response.

Mrs Haslam: The other thing I wanted to mention was that the College of Pharmacists came in. You talk about what happened and overturning them and getting them out of office. We asked them questions on that, and it became very clear that it was an ongoing process within the college and that in June 1989 they adopted a policy of disapproval of the sale of tobacco products, that in October 1990 they had a motion about this put forward that passed, that they had a task force that came forward and looked at this problem in June 1991, that the report was approved at that time, looking at the amendment dealing with pharmacists respecting tobacco. You talk about August. In January 1993 the ministry put out a discussion paper. The Ontario College of Pharmacists affirmed its policy position -- this is 1993 -- respecting the elimination of tobacco products in pharmacies, and when they presented to us this month, the college concurs with the inclusion of pharmacies as designated places for the purpose of the bill. I asked them about that and they said, "No, this is the position of the College of Pharmacists." That was on February 10.

The faculty of pharmacy came in from the university. They said it is absolutely incompatible for pharmacies, as health facilities, to sell tobacco. That's the faculty of pharmacy. The graduating class of the faculty of pharmacy came in and said, "We're pharmacists, that's what you're teaching us, and we agree with this bill and that it shouldn't be sold."

The medical affairs chair of the Canadian Cancer Society put it succinctly, "This is a bill which shows foresight as a piece of legislation which is about health and not economics, about saving people's lives and not protecting the incomes of individuals or corporations."

So that's what this committee is left with. We have to look at the health issues, and it's something --

The Vice-Chair: Ms Haslam, is there a question?

Mr Moolani: Can I respond to this barrage of statements?

Mrs Haslam: I would like to ask about the lease. On page 8 of your presentation you say, "I have a lease with its rental based on my sales of tobacco." Is this a regulated part of your lease? Is this something that is written into your lease?

Mr Moolani: The lease states that it'll be based on general sales. That will obviously be a state of contention later on if this thing does go through.

Vice-Chair, can I just respond to a couple of statements Ms Haslam just made with regard to us carrying tobacco? You may say all those statements, but on the other hand, you do not remunerate us as health professionals. You allow us a fee of $5. An average pharmacy may do about 60 to 70 prescriptions a day. Do your math. How can you afford to pay rent plus the salaries plus the overhead? You cannot have it both ways.

Mrs Haslam: Is there a change coming to that? I was understanding there were some discussions around consultation being covered under the program.

Mr Moolani: Changes may come, may not come, talk may be here and may not be there, but the point is that as it stands today you do not remunerate us enough to take the other side of the coin away. Do that, and we'll be glad to do that.

Mr McGuinty: I really don't have a question, just a comment. I think there's obviously a tremendous controversy among pharmacists as to whether or not they want to ban tobacco sales within their stores. I think the fact that speaks loudest for me is that out of 2,200 pharmacies that are operating in the province, 1,400 today are selling tobacco products. Let's remove the evil empire from that, Shoppers Drug Mart. There are about 300 of them. So we've got 1,100 out of 2,200 that are selling tobacco products, discounting Shoppers.

Mr Moolani: That's right.

Mr McGuinty: It still seems to me it's a major source of controversy. That's why I am befuddled and confused by the various presentations being made by pharmacists, and I think the general rule is that if we don't have some kind of consensus, we shouldn't act.

Mr Moolani: Absolutely. I think it should be left to the pharmacists to make their own decisions.

Mrs Cunningham: I very much appreciate your presentation. I think sometimes it's very difficult to come before a committee of this Legislative Assembly and make points you know most members won't agree with. So I admire you, because I really think one of the downfalls of the legislative process is that we draw up legislation such as this without having the public hearings first around ideas.

Mr Moolani: Absolutely.

Mrs Haslam: That's not true; we had that.

The Vice-Chair: Do you have a question?

Mrs Cunningham: No, I'm not speaking about this legislation. If you did it, great. I wasn't part of any public hearings before the legislation came up -- in this building. That's where I'm talking about, in this building.

As far as the pharmacies go, you've got your own problems with your own association. I'm very much involved with people at universities and young students, who are idealistic, and when they get out in the real world they too will have a mortgage and will change their minds, I can assure you. So I appreciate your point of view. I'm looking for good information and yours is one small piece, meaning your role and what you sell.

What I'm interested in is, what extent do you go to to make certain that people who buy tobacco in your store are not under the age right now of 18 and, with this law, 19? What extent do you go to? That's what we're interested in here: stopping the use of tobacco by minors.


Mr Moolani: I'm glad you raised that point. Every member of staff, every single one, has been trained thoroughly, and I repeatedly reinforce this point about selling to minors to the point where I've told them: "You do that and I don't want to have you in my store at all. In fact, it's an offence."

I've gone so far that I do not get teenagers coming to my store. In fact, I've lost revenue from that lunchtime traffic that we used to have, teenagers coming into the store. I don't get a single teenager coming in. They all go next door to the convenience store and farther, elsewhere, wherever they go. In fact, I have lost business as a result of enforcing the policy but I'm prepared to live with that because it's something that has to be enforced thoroughly. Every member of my staff does that without question.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you for your presentation. We appreciate you coming before the committee.


Dr Peter Petrosoniak: My name is Peter Petrosoniak. I'm a physician in Lindsay and I happen to be the chair of this organization, Coalition for a Smoke-Free Lindsay.

I really do appreciate your giving me time to come down here and speak to you. I've been making a lot of presentations in Lindsay but it gives me a sense of awe to come down here to a legislative committee at Queen's Park and make this presentation on behalf of the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Lindsay.

I know you have heard a lot of statistics here from OCAT and other health organizations relating to what the reasons for enacting this sort of legislation are, and perhaps even something stronger, and I don't want to go through all that, although probably I should say that this is a major killer and therefore is a public health issue and therefore should be dealt with on a province-wide basis and therefore this legislation, at least, needs to be brought in. What I really want to do is bring out a perspective from a small town and perhaps share some experiences from our situation where I think that enacting this sort of legislation would be very useful for us and I think for other communities like us around the province.

The Coalition for a Smoke-Free Lindsay is an association of groups that have formed in Lindsay to try to promote some local municipal bylaws. We represent The Lung Association, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, our local chapters, interested individuals, some physicians, and so forth and we've received support from our local physician groups and other health organizations to try to help adopt these sorts of bylaws in Lindsay.

There are three bylaws on the books and it's all very apropos that it's all happening at around this time. That's why I thought it would be wise of me to come down and share some of these things while Bill 119 is being discussed here, because Bill 119 is constantly invoked by a lot of people, and they're particularly the people who are opposed to us because they feel that the province is doing all this work to bring this in. So I would hope that what is in here at least goes through, and perhaps there are a few things that may need to be brought in even stronger.

The three bylaws that we are proposing are a bylaw to regulate smoking in public places, which is addressed in section 6, I think it is; a regulation or bylaw to regulate smoking in workplaces, which I think already exists in provincial legislation but probably isn't strong enough; and also a bylaw to license the sale of tobacco in Lindsay. I see that Bill 119 deals with regulation of sales of tobacco, but I think also that it should be strengthened actually to license tobacco. We're promoting to license tobacco sales in Lindsay, but I think really what we should be doing is doing this across the province so everybody is equal and standard and universal. I think then things will be much better. It is this sort of perspective that I want to bring from our community.

The first thing I want to do also is commend the members of the Legislature in bringing forth this bill to the floor. As you know, the health coalitions and health organizations had a lot of concerns that this might not get to the floor, but it was a combination of both the government members and the opposition members that found the political will, the political courage, to bring it to the floor and I commend you all for that. I hope that it does get into place before spring, partly because I'd like to see this bill come through from a personal point of view but also because we are going to be dealing with this in committee in our own town over the next three months and it would be nice if this bill solved the problems for us.

It was just two days ago that I appeared before my own town council and I must say that the atmosphere was somewhat adversarial and probably was quite acrimonious. One of the problems is that this sort of scenario is being played over and over again all around the province, I'm sure, in many communities. Right now I think we counted up 74 communities which have some sort of bylaws and there are many other communities, there are small hamlets, villages, townships and there is a lot of energy being spent by groups like us trying to promote this. If we had one general piece of legislation that would do it, then it would save a lot of energy for us and also make it standardized and universal. One of the problems is that there are a lot of places which never get it done because they're small townships and they don't have a lot of people to promote this sort of thing.

One of the things that was a recurring theme from the people who oppose this was from the business sector, and what they said was, "We do not want any more regulations" -- there's a large body of opinion about that -- "but if the province brings down Bill 119" -- and they've become aware of that because we've been giving that information out -- "or if the government brings up some type of tobacco legislation, then we will abide by it" -- because obviously most people are law-abiding citizens and when it comes from a universal sort of place, if it comes down from Queen's Park, then it becomes a lot more palatable -- "but let's not venture into uncharted waters." Because this is something new in Lindsay it becomes difficult to do, whereas in Toronto it's been done, and we've got bylaws that we've brought to our town council to show them what has been done. This is all from places like Ottawa and small towns like ours, Cobourg, Peterborough; this is all very new for Lindsay.

One of the problems that they say is that they're worried, the business people, about losing business to the surrounding communities. I think that this argument would be played over and over in every community where it starts until all the surrounding communities have gone smoke-free and then of course that argument is lost in the last community remaining. But in Lindsay, for instance, we're the only community that's considering it and there are townships around us and the businesses are saying, "Well, I'm a hairdresser and if I discontinue smoking in my hairdressing shop, they'll go to the next township over," the same thing that's being said of restaurants.

I think that section 9, which is the control of smoking in public places, is a good section but it could go a little further. I think it could take in restaurants. It should really take in all indoor public places, because when we look at the EPA report from 1992 from the United States, and I'm sure you're all aware of that, and some of the information from the 1986 Surgeon General's report, it shows that environmental tobacco smoke is harmful. If it is harmful then we should control it in public places, and that would include all public places; bingo halls especially are notorious, and a lot of other establishments.

The problem is that when we made our presentation we had people from Rotary come in opposition, saying, "We can't survive because if they won't come to Rotary in Lindsay," and this may indeed be the case, "they'll go to Ops township or the next township, Fenelon Falls and so forth." But if we had something that would say, "Let's do this across the province," and that isn't in Bill 119 yet but we would suggest and we would urge you to actually put those things in, bingo halls especially; I know that laundromats are in there and retail establishments, but let's make it a little stronger -- if we had that across the whole province then that argument would be negated. Then they would feel more comfortable and I think a lot of people would buy into this much more. What I'm saying is, let's not have our little groups reinvent the wheel every time in each little municipality, but let's do it across the board. I think that this standardization and universality is the most important thing.


I also think that because it is an epidemic when it kills over 10,000 people -- there are varying statistics -- 13,000 people in Ontario and so forth; it kills 33,000 people across Canada; 330,000 or 350,000 in the United States. That is truly an epidemic. When we had a problem with polio, diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, German measles, all of these sort of things, we enacted legislation to say mandatory immunization is necessary, and that has actually made a tremendous difference to the incidence and therefore to the mortality/morbidity in these diseases. I think that really we should be doing the same thing with respect to tobacco, which is the number one killer. It kills a lot of people.

I wanted to also share with you some experiences as a practising physician. This relates to the sale of tobacco in pharmacies. I did listen to the witness just before me and it was very interesting. I must say I disagree, and I think this illustration, this observation, might just illustrate why I would disagree.

I have a patient who's an asthmatic, very asthmatic, with poor respiratory function and he also has heart disease. I've been after him for years to quit smoking. He's getting worse and worse. He comes to my office and he can hardly breathe but he's addicted to this drug. His wife also has heart disease and has just had a quadruple bypass. She has never smoked but she is definitely a victim of secondhand smoke. She admits it; her husband knows it. He came to my office -- she was in hospital still -- and he said to me: "I'm going to quit. I'm going to quit for my wife. I'm also going to quit because I can hardly breathe." He made a date and I said, "Come and see me a week later."

He came back to see me a week later and I asked him how it went. He said: "I really did well for most of that week but two days ago I went to the drugstore. I had to pick up my monthly prescriptions. As I was walking out, there was the counter with the tobacco sales. I saw it and I didn't want to buy any, but because it was there it was a reflex action. I've done this so many times." I can understand it because this is an addict; it's like sending an alcoholic to a liquor store. He bought his package of cigarettes, he walked out of there and he continued to smoke.

We're continuing to work together on this. But how ironic it is to me that here it is, he came for his lifesaving medications, his life-prolonging medications, because without these things like Ventolin, Theo-Dur -- some of you will recognize some of these drugs -- he could not be alive today. He went there for those medications; he came out with a package of cigarettes. Probably the substance, if he continues, will kill him.

This is not even children, and for children it is even worse. So I say we need to have this: Ban tobacco sales in pharmacies.

I belong to a group called Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada and they've been working in the Ottawa region particularly to try to get pharmacies to stop selling cigarettes voluntarily in pharmacies. It has worked to some degree among the independents but it has not been successful, and this is an ongoing campaign; it's not a negative campaign; it's a positive campaign to try to encourage people not to buy cigarettes at pharmacies that sell tobacco products, but it hasn't worked.

I have a little notation on my prescription that says, "I encourage you to buy your prescriptions at a smoke-free pharmacy." In Lindsay there are a few, but those are the independent ones. I've gone to each of our pharmacists; I know them all. It's a small town. They come together for our medical society meetings. I've said to them, "Could you ban cigarette sales in your pharmacy?" and they all agree with this, but the problem is some of them are bound by contracts with their franchisers or their outlet stores that govern them. The particular ones are Pharma Plus and Shoppers Drug Mart, the big ones, and Maxi Drug is another one.

Perhaps the most poignant illustration of this is the Shoppers Drug Mart scenario. These two gentlemen who own that store -- it was a private independent store called Quinn's in the past -- did not sell cigarettes in their store. Then they had reorganization, a financial, economic consideration, and they combined with or sold their interest or whatever it was that they did with Shoppers Drug Mart and they became Shoppers Drug Mart but they still are the owners, the managers of this store and they had to go and sell cigarettes. Although they themselves do not smoke, they do not want to sell cigarettes, they have to because that is part of their ability to buy with Shoppers Drug Mart. I think that is really the tragedy.

I say, with respect to the witness before me, I understand that. I'm quite sensitive to the business aspect of things. I'm a businessman myself. Because I'm a private practising physician, I understand what he's saying about decreased fees as a physician. I'm sure Mrs Haslam understands this as well. We all are under the gun and we all have felt that our remuneration has not been keeping up, but I think this really has to be dealt with as a public health issue and not primarily as an economic issue.

I think we have to be a bit more creative to find other ways of generating revenue, perhaps, in pharmacies or perhaps pharmacies will have to do that, but I think that selling tobacco in pharmacies is wrong. I also concur with the provision in there to ban vending machines. I think it's the same thing.

I'd just like to end by saying a few words about the provision of tobacco to persons under 19. I'm most impressed, from my practice, that most of my patients that are over 20 want to quit smoking. I would say that 90% of them want to quit smoking. The problem is they're addicted people who want to quit smoking, or the others are those that are dying, like that patient I just mentioned. Maybe he'll quit, but the problem is he has a high degree of morbidity already.

I would say that 95% of the people who started in the practice since I've been in practice, and it has been 13 years in my community, are teenagers. I speak to them before they actually start, and then they come in; they're 14 and they haven't started; they're 15 and they've tried a few; they're 16 and then they smoke half a pack, and 17 they're smoking a pack and by the time they're 20 they come in and they say, "I want to quit."

We have to do something to try to prevent those people from starting. Who wants our grandchildren to smoke? Which one of us here would say, "I do want my children to smoke"? Even those who might be smokers -- I'm not a smoker, obviously, but I think there would be very few of us who are smokers who would say, "I want my children to smoke."

If we don't want our children to smoke, then we have to provide some regulations, we have to provide some legislation, we have to provide some methods to say to people, "Let's not recruit those people into smoking," because I think if we do that, if we're successful with that -- and I know there's a lot of difficulty with that -- but if we're successful with that, then we will indeed perhaps bring in, within the next 10 years, maybe the next generation, a group of non-smokers.

I think we have to do that. I think that raising the age to 19 is absolutely necessary and I think strengthening this is absolutely necessary. I would say that probably this bill should be strengthened to make a provision for licensing. We're pushing that in Lindsay, but what we'd like to see is to have this across the board and then we don't have to do this in our little towns.

In general, that's my presentation. I do thank you very much for your patience in listening to me and I hope this helps to give a perspective from a small town.

Mrs Haslam: I just found it interesting when you talk about no fee increase since June 1990. Dianne and I looked at each other and said, "Well, neither have we."

Dr Petrosoniak: I'm not here to complain about that.

Mrs Haslam: No, no, I didn't --

Dr Petrosoniak: That might be another forum.

Mrs Haslam: It was just really funny that you said that, and we're all in the same boat now. I wanted to thank you, first of all, for your presentation, but I also wanted to thank you for not using the words "level playing field." I think we're all sick to death of hearing it. You talk about universality and standardization and I want to thank you for that.

You talk about the inoculation of children's disease; you're a practising physician. Do you think research will ever come up with an inoculation that we could give our children at a young, young age that would prevent them from starting smoking? Should we be looking at research into that area of medical research?

Dr Petrosoniak: It's an interesting thought, but I've never thought about it and just thinking from a purely scientific basis, I don't know how that would be done because, unless you introduce some sort of substance like Antabuse with respect to alcohol, how you'd do that, I don't know. I think really it is education.

Mrs Haslam: That's where we disagree -- education. Both Ms Cunningham and I have been in the teaching profession and we know education is good, but it's not working as well as we would like to see it. Thank you.

Mr McGuinty: I have no question for you, sir, just to thank you for a very informative presentation. I thought your point was well taken with respect to the ongoing skirmishes throughout the province, the number of different battlegrounds and obviously we can play a role in eliminating that.

Mrs Cunningham: I also want to thank you. Obviously you're working very hard with your own community and I encourage you in that regard. There's a lot of good information on what bylaws municipalities have enforced, and if you have difficulty getting it we'd be happy to help you. I'm from London, Ontario, so I do all the rural communities and I know what you're up against. I also think the smoke-free workplace legislation is nonsensical without ventilated areas; I was on the committee and voted against it for that reason.

We'll be supporting this legislation. My questioning is usually around how do we stop the sale of cigarettes to young people, because I agree with you that the addiction problem is the big one and we learned a lot on that from people like yourself in this committee. I really want to thank you and if we can help you with any of the things I've used as a member of the Lung Association for many, many years, we'd be happy to. Thanks for today.

Dr Petrosoniak: Thank you.

Mr O'Connor: I want to thank you for coming from Lindsay. I live over in Sunderland. In fact, my son was born over in Ross Memorial and it wasn't too long ago this winter when I had a little injury and was into Maxi Drug in Lindsay for a prescription. I appreciate all the hard work you're doing on this issue.

You know the government's very committed to this and we know there are a lot of people out there in the community who are working towards the cessation and what not. As a physician, then, I'd like to ask you -- not me, you're the physician -- is there a way we could help you in the cessation programs?

Dr Petrosoniak: There are a number of cessation programs now started up by groups like Physicians for a Smoke-Free Lindsay; there's a BC group. We use these in our practices. I've gone to a lot of seminars. Obviously, I'm interested in this and there are a number of things I do in my practice. I don't know what I could ask you at the moment. If there were, it would be --

Mrs Cunningham: You could make it illegal.

Dr Petrosoniak: You could make it illegal, yes, and perhaps that's really the way we have to go. I'm sure you've heard this statement before: If this product was introduced today it would never be legal. Perhaps we should look at it in reverse. Should we continue to make it legal? If it's used in the way it's supposed to be used it's a killer, at least causes morbidity and so we should perhaps look at it.

However, I understand the problem with prohibition. We've gone through this with smuggling cigarettes, we've gone through this with the prohibition of alcohol -- way before my time -- although there is a difference, perhaps, because alcohol, if used as directed, can be a perfectly safe substance. As a matter of fact, there's some evidence that it increases HDL cholesterol and so it may actually be a safe substance. It's not exactly the same, but maybe we could make it legal.

Mr O'Connor: Thank you. Mr Chair, I've got a copy of the press releases from yesterday from OCAT around some surveying and polling that it's done and I'd like to share that with the committee, just to table that before we adjourn to go to Ottawa. Thank you for coming from Lindsay. I appreciate that.

Dr Petrosoniak: Thank you very much.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you, doctor. If you notice some of the members have left, it's because of a plane. We have a very short time. But thank you very much for coming forward with the presentation.

We will meet again at 3 pm this afternoon in Ottawa.

The committee recessed at 1054 and resumed at 1501 in the Westin Hotel, Ottawa.


Mr Derek Abdalla: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to sunny, warm Ottawa. My name is Derek Abdalla and I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you today about Bill 119.

I'm a pharmacist and the owner of a Shoppers Drug Mart on Bank Street in the Walkley Centre here in Ottawa. As a retail pharmacist, I have all the business-related problems of any other retailer, plus additional problems unique to pharmacy. As a pharmacist, I differ from other retailers because of my professional training, health care role and position of public trust. Pharmacists must serve as part of the health care team. However, we must also be retailers and must generate revenues and profits. This places us right in the middle of this tobacco controversy.

I have to say right up front, I'm opposed to smoking. I'm a non-smoker. I lost my father to lung cancer; a heavy smoker. So I've suffered personally from the effects of this tobacco. For compassion's sake, and from my own perspective, we must do everything we can do to ensure that not one more young person starts smoking. However, I believe that a pharmacy ban is not the way to solve the problem. It will not make a hill of beans' difference if pharmacies do or do not sell tobacco. I'll return to this concept later.

Smokers must be educated, they must be counselled and options offered that are available for them in today's new pharmaceutical technology and other kinds of audiovisual technology. In this respect, pharmacies may in fact be the best place to sell tobacco. I'll repeat that. Pharmacies may be the best place to sell tobacco. A pharmacy ban will likewise do nothing to ensure that young people do not start smoking. Statistics show that teenagers do not buy tobacco in pharmacies. Taking it out of my store will not help achieve the goal that we all ultimately want to achieve.

My store is approximately 7,500 square feet. I presently employ over 70 people, and we're open every night until midnight. I sell tobacco, which makes up approximately 5% of my sales mix. To put those sales in perspective, it's roughly equivalent to my sales of paper goods or confection.

If I lose 5% of my sales overnight to a tobacco ban, I will obviously have to make up the loss in some fashion. Believe me, it's not easy, particularly in this economy, to replace such a significant sales loss. I will have to pare down my staff by at least an equivalent amount. Hopefully, I can do so by reducing part of the part-time hours, rather than by actual full-time layoffs. Even though tobacco makes up 5% of my sales, it's a low-maintenance product and it doesn't require a lot of staff to stock the shelves and sell the product. So in fact I may be reducing my staff relatively more for the other products that I sell.

I have a study that was done very recently by Coopers and Lybrand. I just received this today. You don't have this but I can provide it for you. The statistics that Coopers and Lybrand came up with, and I'll focus on eastern Ontario, were that in eastern Ontario, there's a potential of 510 jobs on the line. They break it down into 127 full-time and 383 part-time jobs. They also have done an economic impact study which indicates that potentially 22 to 26 pharmacies in eastern Ontario might have to close.

So here I am, located in a strip mall. Across the street there's a gas bar and a convenience store. They both sell tobacco. The convenience store happens to be my chief competitor in my tobacco market. If legislation is passed, I will lose a lot more than 5% of my sales, the 5% that is tobacco. Many of the items that convenience stores sell are pain relievers, cough and cold remedies, muscle rubs and any number of other medicinal products that have non-pharmacy sales status. They are definitely competitors, not only in the tobacco market but in all those correlated markets and those OTC, over-the-counter, products I feel are best suited to sale in a pharmacy, not in a convenience store. What I'm saying is, losing the tobacco availability will draw people to those stores where they won't have the availability of a pharmacist consulting.

Proponents of a pharmacy ban often state that seeing tobacco in a drugstore sends a confusing message to the public. In a sense, they argue, the public thinks that pharmacists are endorsing its use. Where did this idea come from? Selling tobacco in a pharmacy will not influence young people to start smoking. I find the argument logically flawed and it does not reflect the reality of the drugstore industry today.

I have another paper that came out from Environics, Ontarians' Attitudes Toward Tobacco Sales in Pharmacies. I might note that this was done for the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco -- I could just put in brackets "the other guys." I'm just reading the results summary: "A majority of 67% of Ontarians consider pharmacies and drugstores in Ontario to be retail stores that sell a variety of products. Just 24%" -- less than a quarter -- "see them as primarily and only a health care retailer."

The study also indicates that a large majority, 64%, nearly two thirds, say that a pharmacy's decision not to carry tobacco won't affect their decision to go to that pharmacy. That's almost two out of three people say that whether or not a pharmacy stocks tobacco won't change their decision to go to that pharmacy.

When you walk through a typical Shoppers Drug Mart or any other large retailer, you will see roughly 15,000 items, every little widget in the world. You'll see health and beauty aids, a large cosmetics section with lots of displays and manufacturers' promotional material. You'll pass a greeting cards section and a stationery section filled with bright coloured packages designed to draw your attention. I use things called clip strips to merchandise sundry gifts and my ends of aisles are always dedicated to promotional sale of such items as laundry detergent or soda pop. I'm painting a bright, active retailing business.


At the front, in an eight-foot section, behind my cash counter, where we display candy bars and magazines, you'll find the tobacco secluded away. This section is much less prominent than the other areas of my store. It is less influential on the customer than any of the other products that I sell, especially items such as cosmetics and confectionery.

The fastest-growing sector of retail pharmacy business in the last several years has been mass merchandising. We are very similar to other retailers in that the majority of purchases are made as a result of in-store decisions, and almost 40% of purchases are impulse items. Why am I coming from this direction? We need to survive with traffic builders. Tobacco products are definitely traffic builders and there are no other general merchandise items that can generate the sales per square foot that this category can. It's an important category of products that contributes to the viability of my store and the employment of my employees.

On the weekend, an article in the Financial Post talked about Wal-Mart. The Wal-Mart format is heavily emphasizing pharmacy and health and beauty aids, and that makes up a considerable part of its operation. The article described how Wal-Mart uses state-of-the-art technology to distribute its products, strong negotiations and profit-sharing to motivate its employees.

This is what pharmacy is also about today. It's about caring, professional advice and fast and friendly service. It's also about things like in-store satellite communications, point-of-sale purchases, automatic inventory control and state-of-the-art technology.

Pharmacy is no longer only a 1,500-square-foot corner shop with a soda fountain and public telephone. Not all pharmacies are located in medical clinics that have a captive market of doctors and where the majority of the business is prescriptions. Many pharmacies are as large as or even larger than my 7,500-square-foot pharmacy. Many sell a huge range of products as well as health care products. Many are like Zellers or Loblaws or Wal-Mart with a pharmacy as a small department within a huge supermarket or mass merchandising store.

How is it that young people will be influenced by the sale of tobacco in these retail facilities that happen to have a dispensary? Is it inconsistent for Zellers to sell tobacco? Will the consumer be confused if the tobacco is sold up front next to the CDs or pocketbooks or anything else? I think you would agree that the consumer would see no relationship between the CDs and the pocketbooks simply because they are sold in the same retail facility, and so it is in a 7,500-square-foot store such as mine. I might add that in the 7,500 square feet, the dispensary is 80 to 100 feet from the tobacco sales.

The stated intent of the legislation is to prohibit the sale of tobacco in any health care facility. The definition includes pharmacies and any retail establishment if a pharmacy is located within the establishment. What this committee fails to understand is that there are many different types of retail establishments that also have a pharmacy. A pharmacy is not always a drugstore and certainly there are many instances when defining the whole retail establishment as a health facility is absurd. The definition that is used here goes well beyond the stated intent.

Some pharmacies are just a pharmacy with little or no front shop and a heavy reliance on prescriptions and over-the-counter sales. Other pharmacies also have a drugstore component, much like my store. Still others, as I mentioned, like Zellers and Loblaws, have very small pharmacies within a huge mass merchandising or grocery store. They are not health facilities but the legislation lumps them together.

It looks to me as if the legislation is designed specifically to affect pharmacy operators like myself who operate pharmacies within large, standalone drugstores in the Shoppers Drug Mart format or the Pharma Plus format, the Loblaws format, the Zellers format.

We should be free to sell the products at our consumers demand and not to be constrained by the wishes of a vocal minority of pharmacists who freely choose not to sell tobacco. These same pharmacists are not available at 11:30 at night for patient counselling to help you with your child and your child's fever. They're not there. The total mix in my store allows us to remain for late-hour pharmacy service, and it helps finance the extended hours. The total mix finances the extended hours.

Even with the loss of my father, as my own personal experience with tobacco, I still believe it should be up to me to decide whether or not to sell it. It is not something that government should have the right to dictate. I could see the logic if the ban could produce some beneficial results to society. There will be no benefits whatsoever. No one will stop smoking as a result of a pharmacy ban.

Perhaps the best solution is to control the sale of tobacco through the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and Brewers Retail. In that way, although pharmacies would give up tobacco, we would not be at a competitive disadvantage to other retailers, and I think I mentioned the effect that lost tobacco sales on other parts of our retail business has.

It is clearly discriminatory to prohibit the sale of a legal product in one type of retail establishment while allowing its sale in others. If you instead allowed it to be sold by the LCBO, for example, and exclude all others, then it would be not so discriminatory.

I hope I have been able to help you understand the perspective of a pharmacist who also happens to be a retailer; the two-hat syndrome. Please recognize that the pharmacy ban does not take into account the retailers of the drug store industry in Canada, and with retailers such as Wal-Mart coming in, it is going to change even further.

I need to maintain flexibility. I have to provide my customers with the products that they demand and during the hours the require them. The pharmacy is the heart of my business, make no mistake about that. The pharmacy is the heart of my business, but it's not close to a 100% of my business. So I need to be able to sell other products to compete against other retailers. The pharmacy ban will be very discriminatory to me and to my staff as we try to survive in the 1990s.

In conclusion, I do not think that the consumer sees any relationship between the products sold in the front shop and the dispensary pharmaceutical care services I offer in the dispensary. Even though it may be inconsistent to you, it does not automatically follow that consumers will perceive an inconsistency or be influenced by it. This pharmacy ban will achieve nothing except symbolism, but will hurt many businesses and pharmacists in the process.

Mr Jim Wilson (Simcoe West): You've given a very thorough presentation of the facts from a retail pharmacy perspective. It's unfortunate that the government doesn't appear to be budging on this although I think we had some pretty compelling evidence yesterday from Zellers in describing the non-traditional pharmacy and in explaining the retail business to a government that doesn't understand the retail business, in my humble opinion.


I notice on the front page of today's Citizen, as we see the government about to cave in on the cigarette tax, that in this area of the province, when 5% of your sales is tobacco, people must understand what the effect is if you remove that 5% on your companion sales. If there's an area of the province, surely to goodness, that understands it, it's this. It's on the front page of the paper. It's been on the front page of this paper several times in the last few weeks. Here's a fellow talking about his cigarettes sales being down, because obviously people are buying their cigarettes in Quebec. His companion sales are down on things like milk and bread and other things by 25%. It would be the same effect in pharmacy.

I really don't have a question other than to thank you, and to let everyone know that all three parties agree on about 98% of this bill, and we just are bogged down over this. I think you're right to point out that the Environics poll shows that two thirds of people see pharmacies as retailers. I agree that the ban itself will have no effect on reducing consumption or discouraging young people from starting to smoke. Thank you.

Mr Abdalla: Can I just close with one phrase that has guided me in my career? It's from a wise business person. It's simply, are we doing the right thing, and are we doing the thing right? I think we're doing the right thing, but we're not doing it right.

Mr McGuinty: Mr Abdalla, thank you very much for coming in and making a presentation before us here. Your business is located within my riding, and when I think of a pharmacy, I have to confess, I always think of yours, because that's where my wife and I shop.

You've made a very important point here, and that is, it's not our perception of a drugstore that is important here, or our understanding of what it is. I think it's the ordinary person on the street's understanding that's important and that the poll that was released I guess yesterday or the day before confirms what I'd always thought of a drugstore. When I go to your store, I go there -- my wife goes there more often than I do -- but we get shampoo, toothpaste, razor blades, nail polish remover, chocolate bars, maybe chips and diapers. But from time to time we get a prescription filled. That's how I think of your place, and that's how I think a great number of consumers in this province think, and that was confirmed yesterday by the poll. Thank you.

Mrs Haslam: I'll probably be the only one with a question.

The Vice-Chair: That's noted.

Mrs Haslam: I think the problem here is that we are a committee dealing with health issues, and when we have Shoppers Drug Mart people come in, we see your company, your head office company, your parent company, being a tobacco manufacturer, Imasco, which brings up a conflict of interest. We see the college of pharmacy come in, we see the faculty of pharmacy come in and say, "A pharmacist should never knowingly condone the dispensing, promoting, or distributing of drugs which lack therapeutic value for the patient." We see a conflict of interest, because a lot of the Shoppers Drug Mart people and the Pharma Plus people come in and talk bottom-line profits. So we, as a committee, have to look at, is this about health, or is this about the income of one chain or a couple of chains in the drug mart area?

In your presentation you talked about, "We must do everything we can to ensure that not even one more young person starts smoking." I agree with that, because in Brantford, 28% of the young people polled bought their cigarettes at a drugstore. In Thunder Bay we had a 12-year-old come in with eight packages of cigarettes -- 12, not 18, not 16, not 15; a 12-year-old. He bought them at a Shoppers Drug Mart. One of the packages he was able to get at a Shoppers Drug Mart. So I agree with you that it is important that we keep people from starting and that one young person, whether it's in Brantford or Thunder Bay, getting his cigarettes at a Shoppers Drug Mart should be important to us.

So when you talk, "It's not making a hill-of-beans difference if pharmacies do or do not sell tobacco," I'm afraid I have to disagree with you, because statistically in your Coopers and Lybrand, 13% of your tobacco sales are from drugstores, and according to OCAT, Shoppers Drug Mart is a third of that. So I think that we have to take a look at what a drug mart is. Is it a health facility, or is it retail? Everyone's coming, saying, "Well, we're both." We have to decide on this one that it can't be both. So if it's over 13,000 people dying a year, and by decreasing the access points and decreasing the numbers of smokers or the number of starters, it is important that we do that.

In your 5% sales, is that calculated on a profit level, because we know that tobacco is not a profitable product. It is when you have side sales. But as a profit level, considering the time your staff spend uncrating, crating, doing the shelving, I know that it's a cash flow because you don't pay for the products. You get them and then you sell them and then you pay for your products, and the turnover is quick. It's a good cash flow, but profit level, how profitable is it?

Mr Abdalla: It would represent in my business probably $50,000 of bottom-line profit. That's two employees, very well-paid employees, I'm going to have to delete. I'm concerned about that.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you for your presentation and answering the questions. We really must move along.


Mr Jim Bishop: Good afternoon. Thank you for allowing us to present this submission. My name is Jim Bishop. I'm a practising pharmacist in Ontario and have been so for about 27 years. Previous to that, I practised pharmacy in England for one or two years.

Mr Peter Tomala: My name is Peter Tomala. I've been a pharmacist in Ontario for approximately 20 years. I work for a Pharma Plus store but I'm not here to represent them. I'm here as an independent pharmacist. I'm here because I'm basically concerned more about health care. Having two children over the age of 20, I've seen a lot of things. We're here I guess today to address Bill 119, which to us has two main facets, one being financial and one being a health care issue.

As pharmacists, we're health care professionals, but we work in a retail environment -- that's blatantly obvious to anyone who's ever been in a modern drugstore -- and that creates some conflicts. It always has and it always will: conflict between the professional side and the retail side. It's kind of like the conflict between a Minister of Health and a Finance minister when it comes to questions such as tobacco revenues.

I was shocked when I saw the front page of the paper today, I'll tell you. I hope Ruth Grier is holding up; very detrimental to health care.

Mrs Cunningham: You should see Karen Haslam.

Mr Tomala: I'm sorry, I've got my glasses off.

Mrs Haslam: Mr Chair, I'm having much difficulty hearing him. I'm sorry, I didn't hear what he said.

Mrs Cunningham: It was a compliment; you missed it.

Mrs Haslam: I missed it? Boy. Put it in writing, send it over; thanks.

Mr Tomala: Where was I? Yes, we have a conflict because we're health care and retail.

One thing that concerns me, according to the Health Disciplines Act of Ontario, in clause 117(1)(g), a pharmacy is defined as follows: a pharmacy "means a premises in or in part of which prescriptions are compounded and dispensed for the public or drugs are sold by retail."


One of the functions of the Ontario College of Pharmacists is to accredit pharmacies, which, according to the law, are the areas where prescriptions are compounded and dispensed. That's the definition of a pharmacy. Is the legislation in Bill 119 proposing to redefine the definition of what a pharmacy is from the Health Disciplines Act? If it is, I'd sure like to know that beforehand, because I see nothing there.

Further, taking that definition which is already standing on the books, is it your intention to allow interference with a large department store and grocery store outlet such as Loblaws, Zellers or soon-to-be Wal-Mart? Because if that's your intention, to redefine pharmacy, you are not talking about possible job losses or hour losses; you're talking about complete cutoff of pharmacies right there. No ifs, no ands, no buts, no jobs. "Buts" and "jobs" went together well, I thought.

Interjection: Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Mr Tomala: Bad pun, but I'm known for that. It's also interesting to note that the Ontario College of Pharmacists, which is a legislative and regulatory body, not a voice of pharmacy, but an arm of the government, can and does enforce distance requirements for the sale of over-the-counter medications that must be sold by a pharmacist.

In Ontario I do not believe there is a definite distance spelled out. It's done more on a discretionary basis depending on each individual pharmacy and what's considered to be appropriate, which means basically that if I'm selling my Tylenol and my Neo Citran, it can't be 150 feet away. It has to be close to that dispensary so that I'm able to control and counsel in the sale of that product. That's part of the definition that the college uses, which would seem also to infer that a pharmacy is a set part of a retail store. Remember the phrase when we're talking about premises or part of a premises.

In other provinces, particularly BC, there is an actual set distance where drugs must be kept. Also, in Quebec a number of years ago regulations were set up that the pharmacy part could be divided off with a closure -- wrought-iron railings etc. Indeed, the part that dealt with prescriptions and over-the-counter medications could be closed off, leaving the front of the store open when the dispensing area and pharmacist were not there. How is this legislation affecting us there?

If you do amend the legislation to accommodate Wal-Mart, Zellers, Loblaws -- and there are some in Ottawa that have pharmacies in them -- where do you draw the line between what's pharmacy: 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 150,000 square feet? I don't see anything in Bill 119. I hope you will all think about that.

From the situation where I say there'll be an automatic job loss from pharmacy closure in these types of outlets unless the law is changed, I also see the possibility of job losses in what we term a regular retail pharmacy. I'll speak personally on two situations for Jim and myself.

I know there's a Coopers and Lybrand study out that refers to job loss potential and revenue potentials. I won't deal with those that much. I've seen them. The figures look realistic and reasonable to me. I assume they've done their homework.

In our situation, last year in Jim's store, which is not a high-volume tobacco store, he showed a 30% decrease in his tobacco sales. Fortunately, because he's a low-volume tobacco store, he was able to maintain his sales in other areas of the store and didn't have any job losses. However, if he hadn't lost his 30% in tobacco, he's quite sure that he indeed would've hired additional staff.

In my personal case in my store, last year our tobacco sales were down 25%. It resulted in a net loss of $110,000. Again, we're not a high-volume tobacco store, but because of that loss, and strictly that loss, because the other areas of sales were up marginally, as expected, from year to year, because of the direct loss on the tobacco, our manpower was cut 1,000 hours. That's no ifs, no ands, no buts. That happened.

If I were to lose tomorrow my total tobacco sales I had last year, it would result in the loss of approximately 3,000 hours in labour. Both Jim and I feel lucky in a sense because we feel the loss in cigarette revenue, tobacco revenue, was due strictly to the smuggling phenomenon in Ontario and those sales did not go to other competing retailers. It's my feeling and Jim's feeling that had it gone to other retailers we compete with, those losses would have been considerably more.

That's a brief outline of the financial area we are concerned about. I would say, though, that our main concern and our main thrust in being here is to address the health care issues involved with tobacco use.

Mr Bishop: One of the things, having listened to some of your submissions in the past few weeks, that really perturbed me was an attitude of both the committee and people submitting to you that when walking into a pharmacy, drugstore, whatever, one expects to purchase products which are healthy and safe. The reason I'm perturbed is because in actual fact this is a total contradiction of what actually a drugstore's all about.

We as pharmacists are there to control, monitor, advise and disseminate information on drugs and poisons. It is this aspect that creates the retail problem of our health care professional attitudes. This is one of the areas for which we are trained and this is one of the areas where we fulfil our commitment to our community. We have to make sure that these drugs and these poisons are used in a proper way to make them safe and healthy; in themselves, they're not.

In our situation, because we have been sort of separated from the accepted health care professionals like doctors and nurses because of our retail environment, we have normally taken no moral stand on either side of this poison and drug sale issue. We have offered our advice in good faith so that the consumer can make his or her choice. Tobacco use is in conflict with our commitment to health care. Of that there is no doubt. Similar situations have existed in pharmacy and will continue to exist in pharmacy; as an example, the selling of syringes to drug abusers. Do we sell them and therefore encourage drug abuse or do we sell them to prevent hepatitis and AIDS? Some would have us, because we sell condoms, promoting sex in teenagers. Others would have us, because we do that -- we promote safe sex. These are all ethical conflicts, all created in a retail environment.

The college, as such, does not in any way usually help us in these situations; it is left to the pharmacists to decide on their own principles and ethics what they're going to do in a given situation. But because tobacco has -- I believe it was said by Karen Haslam -- no redeeming features, no legitimate use or no -- perhaps I've forgotten your wording -- we take tobacco as an exception and we do consider this of prime health care concern. We also believe that we should be working on a control program to eradicate tobacco use in Ontario. We submit, though, that tobacco is not just a commodity and should not be treated as such, as this committee does and as the majority of the population does.


Let's consider one case. The recommended daily dosage for a nicotine patch is 21 milligrams. The recommended dose of nicotine gum is 20 milligrams. The average smoker who smokes one pack a day can go anywhere he likes and buy 35 milligrams. Accepting this and all other ingredients that are in tobacco, it appears illogical to treat tobacco as a commodity to be sold retail in any and all outlets except pharmacies.

Further to this argument, it would seem that rather than bury our heads in the sand and pass on this problem to convenience stores etc, as a health care professional along with other health care professionals, along with the Ministry of Health and indeed with the government of Ontario, we should embark on a long-term sensible approach to the eradication of tobacco use in Ontario. We think this program should involve an increased anti-smoking campaign, advertising similar to that initiative started by the federal government. We thought it should be legislated less visibility, we feel that there should be generic packaging and many other instances brought up by people making submissions.

We also feel that from a health care standpoint the best place to disseminate this information is at the point of purchase. I make a comparison to responsible drinking and the LCBO.

A further approach would require the availability of counselling, smoking withdrawal methods, general information on dangers and information on drug interactions, pregnancy concerns etc. We do not, as professionals, believe that these objectives can be accomplished at convenience stores, bars, gas stations or grocery stores. We feel that they can only be accomplished at some controlled situation such as the LCBO.

By simply transferring tobacco sales from drugstores to others, we are not, regardless of what the statistics say, addressing the real issues. Furthermore, we are handing tobacco sales over to retail segments which have historically shown, even in the newspapers, a total disregard for the law. They are now threatening to sell contraband cigarettes, which probably is now going to be stopped by the new Ontario government initiative.

That, basically, is our position from health care professionals. We are concerned. We do not feel that putting the age up to 19, first of all, is going to make much difference. Yes, it might make a difference to one or two, but it seems to me that is not broaching the subject. That is making points, as far as I can see it. Not selling tobacco in pharmacies does the same thing. It won't make any difference to anybody. Instead of the 23% buying in drugstores, they're going to go to convenience stores, and I don't see that in itself is addressing the issue. We all want to reduce tobacco smoking in Ontario, and I hand over to Peter.

Mr Tomala: We feel strongly that tobacco use should cease in Ontario. We think that is the ultimate objective. We think the section that deals with banning it in drugstores is a waste of time in that regard. We feel that a long-term approach is needed, involving education primarily and a concerted effort between health care professionals and the Ministry of Health, other trained professionals and indeed the entire government of Ontario to eradicate the problem. If the government is going to interfere in the sale of a legal product, we feel it should do it in a non-discriminatory way and, further, in a way that will result in long-term objectives being reached.

I'd like to thank you all for your time and patience.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you for your presentations. I'm sorry there isn't time for questions.


Ms Carolyn Hill: I'm Carolyn Hill and this is Julie Shouldice. The Ottawa-Carleton Council on Smoking and Health is a volunteer community coalition and we were founded more than 20 years ago. The council's mission is the elimination of tobacco products from Ottawa-Carleton.

The coalition is a member of the Council for a Tobacco-Free Ontario. Our member agencies include the Canadian Cancer Society, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, The Lung Association, Addiction Research Foundation, Ottawa-Carleton regional health department, Non-Smokers for Clean Air, Ottawa Regional Cancer Centre and the heart check centre at the Heart Institute of the Ottawa Civic Hospital.

The council also has a number of interested individuals who've spent many years as volunteers working in the trenches in the war against tobacco. As your first presenter, the council's current president, I am one of those battle-fatigued warriors. I have been a volunteer for more than 20 years, primarily with the cancer society. One of the first acts indicating my commitment to this cause was to insist that a volunteer who arrived for training at an education meeting in Stratford not smoke at a coffee break that we were having in the evening. This was in 1972 when very few organizations had any policy regarding volunteer smoking. It just seemed like it was the right thing to do.

I do not shop at pharmacies that sell tobacco. I try not to purchase foods that are produced by subsidiaries of Philip Morris or RJR Nabisco and I miss my Kraft cheese. I clearly would love to shop at any grocery store that didn't sell tobacco products and I would drive some distance to find that store, if I could find one.

Tobacco use kills more than 700 people in Ottawa-Carleton each year and it is this area's leading cause of death, disease and disability.

The Ottawa-Carleton Council on Smoking and Health supports the targets for tobacco-use prevention adopted by the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton and works with each of our member agencies to assist in the realization of those targets. They are listed in my submission.

The coalition has been very active in the encouragement of the government to draft strong legislation, and submitted a document outlining its concerns in March 1993. The council was very instrumental in organizing a rally in the fall of 1993 outside an Ottawa hotel where the provincial cabinet was meeting. It was the purpose of this rally to urge the government to table its proposed legislation and we like to think that maybe we had a little something to do with it.

As recently as last Friday, we were visible and vocal again as we organized a rally for health: Protect our Teens. This rally was designed to allow the citizens of Ottawa-Carleton to show support for our provincial government, as it had resisted following the federal government action with a provincial tax rollback.

The local council applauds and strongly supports the government's move for introducing the Tobacco Control Act. It is, I believe, the most significant piece of tobacco control legislation introduced in the history of the province. The official opposition and the Progressive Conservative Party are to be congratulated for their support of this proposed legislation and we urge you all to pass it quickly, because the health of young people is clearly a non-partisan issue.

I will speak only to some of the highlights in my submission to allow us some time for questions.

With regard to the prohibition of the sale of tobacco in designated locations, I believe cigarettes should not be sold in pharmacies and we applaud the government for responding to the request of the Ontario College of Pharmacists who have been asking for this provision for over two years.

The council was one of a number of agencies that sponsored an advertisement in the local TV Guide in November 1992 identifying pharmacies in the area that did not sell tobacco products. The number of pharmacies has grown substantially since that time.

A major benefit of the termination of tobacco sales in pharmacies is the elimination of a conflicting message about the risks of tobacco products. That conflicting message we're sending to people of all ages, but especially to our young.


We would suggest that, in addition, tobacco sales be eliminated from educational facilities, child care facilities, government workplaces, public transportation kiosks and convenience and corner stores. Clearly, what our coalition would recommend is that the sale of tobacco be limited to a network of licensed tobacco control outlets.

This action would eliminate the practice of food delivery operations such as pizza sales outlets, many of whom have young drivers, delivering cigarettes to young people at home.

A licensing system financed by licence fees would control who sells cigarettes and to whom the cigarettes are sold. It would provide an effective enforcement system without burdening the police or the courts.

Packaging controls and health warnings will facilitate eliminating the tobacco industry's remaining advertising vehicle: the pack itself. Ontario is in a position to take an unprecedented lead on this issue. A recent study released by the Canadian Cancer Society regarding plain packs makes it clear that teenagers associate a plain pack with wimps and losers. Plain packs make the product less interesting and have an even greater influence on young kids who are contemplating smoking. This is a critical group that we should be trying to affect. Plain packs also make the health warnings much more visible.

Plain packaging can do one more important thing: It can break the link to other advertising and promotions. We know that by connecting advertising for events with the colours and designs used on tobacco packages, the industry effectively promotes its product.

During national Non-Smoking Week, the council visited high schools in the area and we had a question-and-answer board. There was a question that asked, "Is tobacco advertising banned in Canada?" and they all answered the question, "No." They said, "We see signs of what we consider to be advertising every day." Clearly, the loophole in the current act is being used to the manufacturers' advantage.

Since up to a quarter of the population has existing heart, lung or allergic conditions that can be aggravated by tobacco smoke, we strongly recommend that a long list of additional areas be added as prescribed places where no person shall smoke tobacco. That list is in my submission.

Finally, Bill 119 makes no attempt to improve the government's largely ineffective workplace smoking legislation. This is a glaring deficiency and one that needs to be addressed. The current legislation gives virtually no protection to an employee working for an employer who wishes to allow smoking in his workplace. If we are to reach the provincial target of smoke-free workplaces by 1995, we have to have a tougher smoking-in-the-workplace act. As you know, it currently takes up to about two years for municipalities to get enabling legislation. This is unacceptable. It makes it virtually impossible for us to reach our target.

Ms Julie Shouldice: My name is Julie. I'm an OAC student in Ottawa. I want to start out by saying that no matter how many warnings are issued or health classes are taken, high school students repeatedly ignore the dangers they know exist and begin smoking. Ignorance is no longer the issue, as students know the effect their habit has not only on their own health but also on the secondhand smoke they're inflicting on others, yet they continue to light up at an alarming rate. Rather than the number of teenage smokers decreasing, which is what we'd hoped for by this increased education, the number of teenage smokers is actually increasing.

At the high school I attend, almost all of the students have tried smoking at some point, which in itself isn't a bad thing. However, a large proportion of them continue their habit past the first cigarette and smoke for almost their entire secondary school careers. Whether their habit involves a few cigarettes a week or three packs a day, it's important that we begin steps to reduce the number of smokers, especially among our youth population.

There are two problems, as I see it, associated with smoking at the high school level. These are the problems of accessibility and acceptability. The government of Ontario has the opportunity to control the accessibility of cigarettes, and hopefully their acceptability will drop proportionately to their supply.

The first issue I wish to address in the new legislation is the change of minimum age of purchase of cigarettes to 19 years. This is important because it makes buying cigarettes illegal for almost all students at the high school level. This change goes hand in hand with the decision to prohibit tobacco sales in designated areas such as pharmacies or hospitals. The more access students have to cigarettes, the more likely they are to smoke. It's important that there are as few places as possible for students to obtain tobacco products and few of their peers able to buy for them.

Along the same lines, the increased fine for shop owners who sell tobacco products to minors has the potential to decrease the number of underage smokers. There are students as young as 13 or 14 smoking at my school. We would like to believe that these people are forced to ask older siblings or friends to buy their tobacco for them, but the reality is that most of these underage students are able to buy tobacco in almost any store they frequent. By limiting the accessibility of cigarettes and increasing the effort required to obtain them, there will be a reduction in the number of students smoking, because we all know that students are somewhat lazy.

It is equally important to enforce the prohibition of smoking in public places, particularly in schools. Although currently students must be 18 years old to purchase tobacco, when you drive by any high school almost anywhere in the province you can see students of all ages outside having a smoke between classes. The government must make a move to prohibit smoking not only in the school building but also on school grounds. The effect of constantly seeing students smoking every time one enters or leaves the building does two things: first, it promotes smoking as a socially acceptable pastime; second, it encourages younger students to pick up the same habit. It is ironic that, when asked, most students admit they didn't enjoy smoking when they first began. They persisted, however, because it was the cool thing to do and because most of their friends were smoking. When students are inundated at school by peers who smoke, it's only natural that they'll follow suit and begin as well.

I feel the government should also take a further step and ban advertising and promotion, either direct or indirect, of tobacco products. When students hear their favourite sports or entertainment events are being sponsored by the tobacco industry, it once again raises the social acceptability of smoking. It's important that the government send a clear message that smoking is a health hazard and not an essential component of the events they attend.

Students like to be rebellious, which is perhaps one of the main reasons the number of teenage smokers is increasing. However, rebellion is at its optimum state if the source is destructive and accessible. Smoking, without a doubt, is destructive both to the health of the students and to their environment, but it can easily become less accessible. It is important to remember that very few people begin smoking after their teenage years. Most of the years that you get hooked on cigarettes are while you are in high school. If we can limit accessibility, there should be an overall decrease in the number of smokers, which would then lead to a decrease in the social accessibility of smoking.

The Vice-Chair: We only have time for one question. Ms Haslam.

Mrs Haslam: I appreciate your letting me ask the question, because I come from Stratford.

The Vice-Chair: Your hand was up first.

Mrs Haslam: That's because the minute she mentioned Stratford my hand went up. We're fine and we're doing quite well in the anti-tobacco area. I'm doing my cable show this week on the new tobacco legislation and I will certainly mention that to the lady I'm meeting with.

I wondered about a couple of things in the presentation. You're talking about the pizza sales outlets delivering cigarettes to young people. Are you aware of how prevalent that is? This is fairly new to me.

Ms Hill: It's fairly prevalent. I could probably produce six or seven ads that get delivered in your mailbox. They have what you can order in terms of the pizza, but it also says "Cigarettes delivered." It's usually not the regular price; it's usually a little bit of a reduced price. It's just an incentive for kids to call up, order the pizza and say, "And bring me a pack of cigarettes." It isn't just in this area; it's in other parts of the province.

Mrs Haslam: It's a point I don't think we've really dwelt on because we haven't heard too much about it and I appreciate you raising that. I also appreciate you raising, on page 8, the fact that environmental tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals. That's just the environmental tobacco smoke. We received in our package today 11 pages listing the elements in a cigarette and one of them, according to what I was told, included Varsol and the toilet bowl cleaner formulas. I think that's something the young people should be made aware of more.


Ms Hill: We're using a current poster of the cancer society that shows the large cigarette and lists all of these chemicals and says: "This one is in battery fluid. This one is in Varsol." They can't believe that the same chemicals are there.

Mrs Haslam: I have another point and then I'd like to talk to the young person. You mentioned chewing tobacco. We've just recently seen something on chewing tobacco. But you said you want a prohibition on the manufacture or sale of any new tobacco products.

Ms Hill: If there were to be an additional kind of product, such as -- oh, I don't know. I'd hate to think what they could dream up, but we know that if we start eliminating things, these guys are smart; they'll dream up some new product. If they should dream up a new product that you could chew on or whatever, at that time it should not be accepted as a product to be sold. I'm just afraid they'll find another loophole.

Mrs Haslam: We haven't heard that often enough and I wanted to just kind of get an idea about that.

For Julie, I was interested to see that you were talking about access points, which is what we're looking at. Maybe I'd ask the parliamentary assistant to clarify the school grounds for you because I know you mentioned smoking on the school grounds. I think it's important that the parliamentary assistant give you a clarification of that.

But you talked about trying smoking at some point and never getting past the first cigarette. I think that's where we are really concerned, is that nicotine is as addictive as heroin and cocaine, and I know from facts that I have that nicotine from an inhaled cigarette reaches the brain in seven seconds. Would those kinds of messages to young people help?

Ms Shouldice: I think the reality is that most young people have been inundated with facts. They are required to take a gym class in which the information about tobacco is already given. We held an assembly where, once again, we told students what the tobacco issues were, but the reality is most of them frankly don't care. Whether they go to the gym class and they listen, I mean, they already know what the problems are. What we have to do is start limiting, as I said, the accessibility and the acceptability or they're not going to stop. Unfortunately, most students do know how terrible it is for them, but they continue to do it anyway.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you. Does the parliamentary assistant wish to comment briefly?

Mr O'Connor: Yes. Just on the point on the school property that you've got in here, we've used the definition of school from the Education Act, which actually includes the school property. The other thing, two down, is that you've mentioned adult education facilities. My thought is here that I thought we probably covered that off because most often adult education facilities are in schools and they'll use the schools in the evening. But if you can give me something that might say that we're not really covering it off and want to add to that, I would certainly be glad to hear from you on that.

Ms Hill: Okay. We'll provide it.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation. It was very informative.


Mr Jagdish Dattani: My name is Jagdish Dattani. I own an independent drugstore in Bells Corners in Nepean. I thank you for granting me this opportunity.

In my store, there are about 12 people: six full-time and six part-time. I want to make it very clear at the outset that I don't support selling cigarettes in a drugstore. But I feel this shouldn't be mandatory; it should be voluntary. We cannot legislate everything.

Next to my store there's a little corner store, and if you ban cigarettes from the pharmacy, they'll just walk one door more and get it from the convenience store. It feels like you are robbing Peter and giving the business to Paul. I feel there's slight discrimination there.

The other point is that we do sell cigarettes in our store. We don't make much money out of tobacco sales, but the peripheral sales, the companion sales, are a great help, and if we stopped selling that, I think we would lose substantial sales in the peripheral sales, like candy and Kleenex and stuff like that.

Also, when the province was giving us fees for prescriptions under drug benefit, they reduced our fees in the back and told us to make it up in the front shop, but now we are finding that if we take the tobacco from the front shop and if our peripheral sales drop, our profits again will go down in the front shop too. For a small pharmacy like ours, it will make a lot of difference for struggling in these hard times.

The other thing that bothers me is that big department stores and megastores probably will be selling tobacco. What steps are being taken that if they are a pharmacy, they don't sell tobacco? Will this somehow circumvent the legislation? We don't quite understand how the government is going to sort that problem out.

I feel strongly that giving up tobacco is more a matter of education rather than legislation. Government should spend more money on advertising about kids and other people not smoking. It's just like bacon and eggs. We know they are not good for us if we eat them every day, but we don't legislate and say that you can't eat bacon and eggs or that the store can't sell bacon and eggs. We teach people what's right for them and let them make the right decision. So I'm more for public education and I think tobacco sales in the pharmacies should be stopped, but it should not be legislated; it should be voluntary. Thank you, sir.

Mr Jim Wilson: Yes, just to really thank you, sir, for your comments. I think you're into a bit of an uphill battle, as you can imagine, because the deal that was made as this legislation was being put together, at least the deal between some of the health groups and the government, included this ban on the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies. Unfortunately for these hearings, the Minister of Health has never been here to hear your side of the story. She obviously has heard the other side of the story, but she's not been here to hear any of the retail arguments. I just wanted to make that comment.

I was sort of hoping actually that I would have had a chance to ask the young person Julie, the presenter before you, about this because I think that the health care individuals very much feel that if they ban it in pharmacies now, that's a good first step, and that's what they tell us. It's pretty hard to argue against that and it's difficult, I think, to argue against the fact that the other selling point, from the government's point of view, is that pharmacists are health care professionals and they shouldn't be selling tobacco. You would agree with that probably, too.

But you mention you're right next door. In fact, there'll be 120,000 retail stores outside of pharmacies --

Mr Dattani: Especially smaller stores like mine. We are not a Shoppers Drug Mart or a Pharma Plus, like big stores. We are a small store.

Mr Jim Wilson: You're an IDA store.

Mr Dattani: Guardian, yes.

Mr Jim Wilson: So you're not owned by Imasco?

Mr Dattani: No.

Mr Jim Wilson: I just want to make that clear because that comes up.

Mr Dattani: No, I own it myself.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation. We're pleased to have you.


Mr Keith Pratt: Thank you for allowing me to speak to the committee. Just to pick up on the last presenter, my name's Keith Pratt. I'm a pharmacist and co-owner of three independent pharmacies in Smiths Falls, about an hour from here. Smiths Falls has a population of about 9,000. As far as I know, other than my partner, I'm not accountable to Imasco or anybody else. I'm independent.

There are three stores in our small company, three small pharmacies. Our major competition is a major pharmacy chain in our town, as well as several non-pharmacy retailers. We voluntarily stopped selling tobacco three years ago. Coincidentally, we played, I suppose, a political game because we stopped selling in the month of April. We did it during the daffodil campaign and had the cancer society come in. We made some publicity out of it, no doubt about it. Why not? We thought it was good and they thought it was a good idea, too.


Sure, initially our gross sales dropped, I don't deny that, because we were a medium-selling tobacco retailer, if you will. But I want to make the point that we survived. We adapted, we recovered, we didn't lay off staff, we didn't reduce staff, we didn't lose our customer base. I will admit that we laboured long and hard before we made the decision because we were afraid, not only that we were going to lose sales in tobacco, but that we were going to lose companion sales. What we found was that largely our fears were unfounded. The people who were buying tobacco, that's all they were buying. They weren't really shopping otherwise. We didn't lose our customer base. I know that's the fear of a lot of pharmacies, that not only are they going to lose their sales of tobacco; they're going to lose customer base because those people will go elsewhere for other things. In our experience, that didn't happen.

I contend that retailers, pharmacies specifically, but all retailers have to continue to monitor and to continue to have to be adaptive and flexible to the community around them, to society in general, and to prepare to alter product mix, not just tobacco. I would suspect that all pharmacists have to monitor, or should monitor, their product mix all the time. Tobacco, I think, is just one product out of a whole scale of products that should be continually monitored all the time. No pharmacy owner, in my view, should count on one aspect of his or her business to make or break that business.

What I'm hearing is that pharmacists are telling you, the committee, that if this bill passes, this act is going to break businesses. I contend that's a bit alarmist, from my own personal experience, and those people should be -- well, I suppose what they should be doing is adapting now. They should have adapted a long time ago. But everybody has to adapt to the changing environment. I've thrown out things in my store just because they haven't sold. I threw out tobacco because I thought it was the right thing to do at the time.

We haven't sold tobacco products for three years now. Perhaps I missed something, but when we were selling tobacco our margin was no more than 10% or 15%. We stopped the sale of cigarettes. Once we did that, our overall margin went up. Our gross sales went down for a period of time, but the margin went up. In pharmacy, 10% or 15% on an item is low compared to the margins of 25% or 30%-plus that other products bring in.

The proposed reduction in the province's tax on tobacco, which it is speculated that the Minister of Finance is contemplating even now, in my contention is even going to reduce the cash flow that pharmacists are talking about. Cash flow is important, I realize that. But if the actual price to the consumer drops, that means that the actual cash brought in by the pharmacy will drop too; cash flow is gone. Sure, it's not profit to the pharmacy, but still, that will be reduced cash flow, regardless of where it eventually goes.

From our experience, the customers didn't boycott our stores because we didn't sell tobacco. I think if retailers are willing to adapt to a changing market and social conditions, a rapid recovery from the loss of tobacco is easily obtainable. If the loss of tobacco sales actually results in store closures, as has been suggested to this committee, perhaps one wonders if those stores really could call themselves drugstores or tobacco shops.

I don't think it's fair or accurate to blame any impending store closure or staff layoffs on the pharmacy tobacco ban. A quick example: We have a delivery service in our town. It's a free delivery service for everyone, whether they live two doors away from us or five blocks away. My partner and I now are considering having a copay, user-pay, something fee. If the press picks up on this, I'm dead. It's not because we have been suffering because of tobacco sales. It is because our overall sales are decreasing. The drug benefit plan, as many of you know, has chopped a lot of drugs off the plan. There have been reduced drug benefit fees. Our front-shop sales, if not reduced, certainly have been greatly curtailed as a result of competition -- market forces, if you will.

We're not contemplating these service changes because we aren't selling tobacco. We're contemplating them because of overall economic pressures. Maybe I can contend that other people may be doing the same thing. They can blame a tobacco ban but I contend that may not be the true and full reason.

I'll switch into another point. The Ontario College of Pharmacists' role, as I understand it as a pharmacist, is there to protect the public on issues relating to pharmacy. I wonder, is the public being protected by continuing to allow pharmacists to sell -- the old word -- cancer sticks? I certainly don't expect the College of Pharmacists to necessarily act on my behalf. They're there to act on the public's behalf, and that's where this whole issue kind of started.

Many opponents of the bill say they endorse the overall intention of the legislation to stop juveniles from smoking. What about the rest of the population? Could it not be interpreted by the public at large that pharmacists against the bill are sending a message that says, "It's okay to smoke if you're 19"?

We call ourselves health professionals. As such, we read reports and hear about it first time all the time and see tragic results that are caused by smoking. I think we should be taking the lead as pharmacists in sending the message to the public. I think that's the important thing, what the message comprehends. The public's not behind me; the public's out there. They're going to take the lead from, yes, the politicians but also what the health professionals are doing. I think it's a clear message that we can send.

Many pharmacists support the removal of tobacco from pharmacies and they also applaud the government's intention in this bill to curtail tobacco consumption. Some of those same pharmacists also are saying that they shouldn't be curtailed in selling tobacco. I see that as inconsistent. They want to be able to continue selling cigarettes so their businesses don't suffer, but they also want the public to stop smoking.

Sooner or later the public or society is going to continually make it uncomfortable, if you will, for the public to continue smoking. So sooner or later pharmacies, whether it's legislated or whether it's voluntary, are going to stop selling tobacco. I still contend that it's time to adapt, folks; it's time to get on the bandwagon and stop now.

Unfortunately it's true that pharmacy's very divisive on this issue. Otherwise, probably a lot of this committee work wouldn't be necessary. But it's my contention that even if the legislation didn't pass and you let nature take its course, if you will, I'm afraid, from my observation of my colleagues, that there are going to be some diehards out there who are going to be like dinosaurs. Way past the time that society says it's really wrong to smoke, those pharmacies will still be selling tobacco come hell or high water.

My last point: As I probably said before, I agree the legislation won't directly affect tobacco consumption. I also feel that we as health care professionals need to lead the fight. I think in fact this act really is a first step, as has been said before. It probably should be a first step in the eventual elimination of tobacco sales throughout the retail industry, at least curtailed to well-controlled environments.

Thank you very much for allowing me the opportunity.

Mr Dadamo: Mr Pratt, thank you for your presentation. I guess by now you know that there was a press release issued out of Queen's Park yesterday on behalf of the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco. They say, and now I'm quoting from the press release, "`This poll finds that 55% agree with the pharmacy ban.'" It "shows that a majority of Ontarians agree with the ban on the sale of cigarettes in drugstores, which is part of the province's new tobacco control legislation -- Bill 119."

But there was a line that I picked up from your presentation that says, "Why haven't pharmacists begun to prepare for this change?" I've been thinking about this for about a week now. If the trend is that 55% agree that it shouldn't be sold in one particular spot -- and I think we're picking up the fact that it ain't cool to smoke any more. Someone said to me not long ago that there will be two places, probably, in the future that you can smoke, and one will be your home, and your car. If that is to be in the years to come, why haven't pharmacists begun to prepare for this change?


Mr Pratt: I agree. Since 1989 I as a pharmacist have known that at least at the college council level of OCP this has been debated, talked about, suggested, up to where we are right now. Everybody has to adapt all the time. I think it's important.

What my problem is and why I'm here today is listening to pharmacists say, "Something's going to happen if I'm not allowed to sell tobacco." They can voice their objection to you, the committee, but I think they also need to start working on looking at both sides. What happens if it does pass? What's going to happen tomorrow? They have to wake up and face the real world and they have to adapt, but I think they should have been adapting five years ago, not tomorrow or not when --

Mr Dadamo: I said to a pharmacist in Toronto this morning that you sell medicine on this side, you sell cigarettes on that side, and I think you get into the business, you become a pharmacist, because you study hard and you want to help people to get better. Doctors in their offices don't tell you that you should smoke, and they're trying to making you well, so I would assume that you guys think along the same lines.

Mr Pratt: It's a real tough one for a health professional, for anyone, but it's a really tough one because no pharmacist can sit here and tell you there's nothing wrong with cigarettes. Yes, there's nothing wrong with cigarettes as long as they're still in the pack, but as soon as somebody starts there's no benefit out of them. So how can I as a health care professional justify selling them? Pharmacists even try to hide them. It's been mentioned this afternoon that, "We keep them hidden." What kind of message is that to you if I'm telling you that I sell tobacco but I keep it hidden? I have a hard time saying that I sell something when I keep it hidden.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you for your presentation.


Mrs Rebecca Liff: Good afternoon. I've brought a kiddie pack with one cigarette that somebody sent me. It says, "No smoking, good to your life, for your health," and you press and it actually says, "No smoking."

I welcome this opportunity to speak to the standing committee on Bill 119. A to P are attached to support my comments and so are misleading pamphlets on or omitting tobacco by certain pharmacists.

There should be minor adjustments to close any loopholes and this bill should be passed as quickly as possible. There are some weird comments recorded for December 9, 1993, Legislative Assembly of Ontario, after the revealing, excellent speeches by Mr Larry O'Connor, MPP, and Mrs Karen Haslam, MPP.

This fall I drove past a group of boys and girls walking on Ralston, which leads to Randall, where Alta Vista public school is located. Cigarettes were passed by one student to two others and all three lit their cigarettes -- three young teens, well dressed, no more than 13 or 14 years of age. This was the beginning of the lunch break and it means that one of these kids had a pack of cigarettes on school grounds. Is this kid a dealer in contraband cigarettes who's trying to hook someone else's children on nicotine? Where is the core curriculum on smoking for Ontario elementary schools? What are the provincial penalties for underage possession of tobacco products and underage peddling of tobacco?

I recall White Cross pharmacy on Elgin and Somerset having an open, white pack of introductory free samples of cigarettes next to the cash. The cashier left the cash to help a customer and any child from Elgin Street public school could have had free cigarettes easily. I can assure you I will never fill another prescription at that joint. The white pack of this new brand did not go over well and I'm relieved this brand died and did not make the marketplace.

I watch my prices at any store in which I shop. When my husband took me to the Price Club I found very little in the way of bargains, as many items were priced comparably with Loblaws etc. To stock up on cheaper bulk items is stupid when you do not use these items. A store with some loss-leaders and promotional items does not guarantee lower prices on all items.

Do your own price watch, as on page A that I've done for you. You may be charged more for essentials so that pharmacies can sell tobacco at lower prices. Yes, pharmacies have specials on two-litre bottles of soft drinks. I cannot carry heavy bottles. I buy one or two from the supermarket, as soft drinks have a very short shelf life. I buy all my sanitary pads when needed at Loblaws for at least $1 less per pack than at a pharmacy where tobacco products are sold. I have also purchased similar chocolate treats I used to buy at Shoppers Death Mart in packages to give out at Hallowe'en from Sears at lower prices. This past October, Loblaws had the same bars for the same low price I paid at Sears. I no longer buy envelopes, stationery or pens at Shoppers as their prices are much too high, and it really bothers me when I purchase something there, even if it is not a prescription. The shampoo we use is usually more expensive at tobacco-dealing drugstores; so are the prices of the Obus back rest and Obus support roll.

For a period of over 10 years I purchased most of our family prescriptions at Shoppers on Bank and Walkley, but have never done all my shopping there. I've never bought dresses, slacks, milk, bread, chickens, eggs, vegetables etc there and I don't understand how anyone who will purchase tobacco products at a pharmacy will purchase everything else there, as is implied by some tobacco-pushing pharmacists.

The pharmacy that opened in the Blue Heron mall over a year ago was competition for the long-established smoke shop across the street at Bank and Evans. Prices in that pharmacy were high, there was almost no stock variety and soon this tobacco pusher became part of the Guardian Drugs chain, specializing in tobacco sales. That store location is now empty.

My doctor, because of misleading information from Shoppers Drug Mart, sent me to a health devices supply store at Fairlawn Plaza on Carling to have a prescription for wrist splints filled immediately. This is what I'm talking about, for my wrists. What she didn't know was that she sent me to a Shoppers Drug Mart where a nurse tried to fit a mismatched pair of splints on my wrists because a matched pair in my size was not available. Because I had problems with one splint I returned it and replaced it with another splint from Shoppers at St Laurent Shopping Centre, where I was charged tax on that prescription. Of course, when I needed a splint replaced recently I went back to this particular tobacco dealer to fill my prescription and demand my tax refund for the illegal charge.

Because of sidestream smoke, nicotine abuses everyone breathing the air we all share. Caffeine and nicotine are more widely abused in Canada than alcohol, contrary to the claim and special pamphlets distributed by Shoppers Drug Mart to whitewash the nicotine problem. Here's the pamphlet I'm particularly angry about, and this one I obtained at Shoppers at Bank and Walkley years back.

The Shoppers chain will not acknowledge caffeine or nicotine addiction or sidestream smoke containing nicotine and other goodies, probably because they sell chocolates, colas, tea and coffee products as well as tobacco, and that means these pharmacists do us all a great disservice on the number one deadly, poisonous drug, nicotine, that is the plague in our present society. According to their pamphlets, air pollution affects allergies, yet no mention is made either of tobacco smoke that can trigger a deadly attack in some people or the Imasco connection. I'm referring to these pamphlets and the thing on poison; it doesn't mention nicotine as a poison equivalent to cyanide.

Vending machines for the sale of tobacco should be banned. Underage smokers do rely on vending machines as a source of cigarettes. Nicotiana Tabacum describes tobacco as "a gift from the devil" who "disappeared in a grey cloud, leaving behind a nasty, sulphurous smell." It is also a stimulant. Why not regulate to put saltpetre for flavouring in tobacco to deter children, especially teenagers, from smoking?

I said to the Ottawa Board of Education trustees in a presentation that exposure to tobacco smoke on OB property helped to sabotage, at McArthur High School, the efforts of special counsellors and their students who were on a program requested by parents of teenage smokers to help the addicted students to quit smoking. Why not visit McArthur High School in committee tomorrow at lunchtime to see how the smoking policy is being abused? Why not change the name McArthur High School to Designated Ashtray?

The trustees voted to delay the issue of smoking on Ottawa Board of Education property till May 1994, dragging smoking problems for another year. Trustees' excuses were: "There are rooms at the civic hospital where people smoke," and "City hall employees smoke in front of the city hall outside the building." This issue first came up 20 years ago at the Ottawa board's Alta Vista public school. We need Bill 119 immediately, and as you can see in the enclosed letter from Famous Players, direct government intervention is the only way to resolve the smoking problem.


OBE trustees have accused me of making inflammatory remarks, wasting paper, and one trustee even tried to restrict me from speaking at the upcoming open budget meetings. It is not only the Ontario Health ministry that is a mess; the Ontario education system is quite the costly mess. The province won't legislate to amalgamate the Ottawa board with the Carleton board, or disband school boards completely in this province, or develop core curriculums for the province, or set up a special central teachers' registry. I doubt if ratepayers will tolerate another imaginary consortium for another 20 years.

There is unfair taxation of the 70% of ratepayers who have no children in the schools. Not enough is being done to prevent our youngsters from starting to smoke and to have smokers pay for what their smoking will bring in health costs in 20 to 30 years from now. Smoking should be banned on all school property and a special $1 pollution fee should be placed on each cigarette at the manufacturing plant.

Just look at the pamphlets put out by the tobacco-industry-associated drugstore chains, which never mention nicotine as a drug or tobacco smoke as a part of air pollution. These pharmacists are lying by omission. I've suffered eye infections, nausea etc and have even been smoked out of a job here in Ottawa. Pharmacists should be restricted to either a licence to sell tobacco or a licence to dispense other drugs to help people in a single premises. In other words, if a pharmacist wants to sell tobacco, he should get a licence from the city or whatever. Even if the store's five feet away in a separate store, it doesn't bother me one bit, but not where he's selling drugs.

Has the kidney foundation made any presentations to your committee to promote Bill 119? Paul Paré of Imasco was campaign chairman for the kidney foundation's campaign to raise funds from Canada's top 500 corporations, and the kidney foundation gloated that Mr Paré had received the Order of Canada for all his good work in hospitals.

All the tobacco farmers and vending machine operators etc can be retrained immediately as hospital orderlies etc to fill all the jobs in hospitals that are mushrooming thanks to Mr Tobacco and his helpers, the nicotine-pushing pharmacists, the contraband tobacco pushers and now the lowering of taxes on tobacco products.

Note: Victor M. Drury, executive director of the kidney foundation, defended Paul Paré's appointment. Drury once worked with Paré as Imasco's vice-president for public affairs before he joined the kidney foundation. In 1985, more than 900 Canadians died of cancer of the kidney, one third of which were caused directly by smoking.

Paul Martin, the federal Finance minister, has some connection with Imasco. He has a conflict of interest with tobacco taxes, as he is our federal Finance minister. He should resign from cabinet. Why did he not lower or eliminate the GST?

I've enclosed samples of pizza-joint flyers. These tobacco pushers will deliver cigarettes with pizza to youngsters.

Many senior citizens who live in seniors' buildings are harmed by tobacco smoke pollution in their buildings. Vending machines and smoking should be banned in these buildings and in nursing homes, hospitals and all workplaces.

Kiddie packs of less than 20 cigarettes should be banned in Ontario as well.

Tomorrow, after your visit to Designated Ashtray, you should visit the food court at St Laurent Shopping Centre, not far from McArthur High School. You will see teenagers smoking and you can question whether or not they purchased their cigarettes from tobacco pushers in the shopping centre or whether they used other dealer-pharmacists. Because smoke rises, several months ago I had to leave the McIntosh and Watts china shop on the upper level off the food court because tobacco smoke had come into the open front of the store and got into my eyes, which were burning. I won't go back to that store and I avoid the food court section as it stinks. My clothes pick up that stench and so does my skin and hair.

I don't see how large pharmacies tend to provide better supervision, especially when pharmacists are usually dispensing drugs and not at the cash where cigarettes are sold. Cigarettes are most visible, as pharmacies do display them all where people pay, at the main cash. That's point-of-sale advertising.

We need proper legislation, especially to ban vending machines and to restrict to non-pharmacy premises the sale of tobacco products by pharmacists and to raise the legal age of possession of tobacco smoking to 19 etc. The inaction of many previous provincial ministers, many of whom were smokers, has added to the wasted years, money and health of so many people in this big province of ours. I urge the government of Ontario not to follow the disastrous choice made last week by Mr Chrétien. Stand fast and see that smokers pay their fair share.

We do need the legislation to reform the regional government and the school board zones. We need reform to the Election Act to be able to throw out dishonest elected officials immediately. We need reform to pay fair salaries to teachers -- teachers who do not even try to enforce the smoking ban during lunch or recess etc, who work for an average of $55,000 per school year. That works out, if they teach five hours per day for 196 days, to over $56 per hour, exclusive of benefit costs, which would add another 20%. We need fair tax legislation etc.

I urge the provincial government and all members of the provincial Legislature to take immediate action and pass these government bills, including Bill 119, to make our province a better place for us and for the generations to come. Amen.

Mr McGuinty: Rebecca, it's good to see you again. Rebecca and I spent a considerable amount of time together in the non-smokers' association for Ottawa.

One of the things you made reference to at the outset of your presentation was you asked rather rhetorically whether there was any penalty for possession of tobacco. That's an idea that's been thrown around and it's met with some approval by some medical people and by some teachers as well, and I think by some parents, in terms of putting one more little obstacle in the way of young people. Interestingly enough, we make it illegal to possess alcohol if you're under the age of 19, but as you well know, the death rate associated with alcohol abuse in this province is far less than it is for cigarette smoking.

Also, the government has recently passed a law which will shortly make it illegal for young people, or everybody for that matter, not to wear a bicycle helmet. Maybe we're at 100 deaths a year in this province in terms of people who suffer fatal injuries as a result of an accident while being on a bicycle. That's 100 deaths, and we've made it illegal not to -- we can fine kids. But we have 13,000 people dying in this province as a result of cigarette smoking and kids still can't be fined or can't be penalized. I just wanted to have you elaborate a bit more on that issue.

Mrs Liff: I tried about 15 years ago to get the Ottawa police to catch some young kids near my home who were smoking. Of course, they smoke there about 10 to 9 in the morning, which is the key accident time in the city. One day I called and there were actually three packs of kids just around the school area. The police called me later and they said, "We were there at five to 9 and we didn't see anybody smoking." On another occasion, I was told, "We have in years past clamped down on the kids, and the parents sign a note or something and say they allowed their kids to smoke." The federal Tobacco Restraint Act allowed for a fine I think of about $5 or something. So the Ottawa police were enforcing this for the RCMP, yet you couldn't get the cops out when the kids were actually smoking or just to sit in an unmarked car and catch a few kids and make a test case.


I don't want all the young kids to go to jail. I want a few of them to set an example for the others, "Look, if you're under 16 or you're 12 years old and you're smoking, you might land in jail like this other kid." This is what I want. I don't want to jail all the kids or have them all have criminal records, but I want something that will prevent a kid from passing cigarettes to another kid, because the parents don't know what's going on in the school yard; they don't know what's going on on the way home.

I saw one kid passing a pack to the other kids and the three of them lit up, and they weren't 16 years old. You know what I did? I rolled down the window of my car and I said, "You're not 16, you're not allowed to smoke, and if I catch you again, I'm going to call the police." But I can't just roll down the window and do this every time. It's not my job. I was very annoyed because for 20 years I've been trying to get one kid or two kids as an example so that we wouldn't have this problem.

This is why I question why you aren't doing something so that the kid who's in possession -- the law says if the parents write a note, the kid can go in and purchase cigarettes, and that's not good enough for me.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you for your presentation and the supporting details that you've given us.


Mr Graham Stebbings: Good afternoon, Mr Chairman and members of the standing committee on social development. My name is Graham Stebbings. I'm the owner-operator of five pharmacies in the Ottawa region. I'm also the representative to the council of the Ontario College of Pharmacists for district 1, representing over 650 of my colleagues.

I appreciate this opportunity to make this presentation to you because I want to review some salient points, all of them critical to the issue of the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies. This is the only issue in Bill 119. Were it not for the segment calling for the prohibition of tobacco sales in pharmacies, this legislation would have the support of everyone.

However, prohibiting the sale of tobacco in pharmacies is an extremely serious step and by now you've heard a great deal about it. You have heard how in June 1991, the council of the Ontario College of Pharmacists recommended the removal of tobacco from pharmacies, and you have heard how in August of that year, the elections to the council replaced eight of the councillors who voted for the removal of tobacco. I was one of those people elected, ousting the president under whose tenure the decision to remove tobacco was taken.

You have heard how the council is composed of 16 elected pharmacists and six lay councillors appointed by the government, plus the dean of the faculty of pharmacy. And you have heard, no matter how often a vote in the council is taken on the issue of tobacco, how divided the council is. You have also heard that if a vote were taken among the 16 elected pharmacist members, the resolution to remove tobacco from pharmacies would be defeated. It is clear that the division in council reflects the division in the profession.

You have also heard from a variety of legal sources, your own and that of the college itself, that the issue of tobacco sales in pharmacies is not within the jurisdiction of the college.

You have heard the economic arguments: loss of over 2,700 jobs; loss of sales leading to pharmacy closings; loss of provincial tax revenues.

You have heard how prohibiting tobacco sales in pharmacies will compel some retailers to choose between selling tobacco and licensing pharmacies, how the decision will be made on the basis of economics and how the likely decision will put the jobs of pharmacists and dispensary assistants at risk, as well as those of other full and part-time employees.

You have heard further that the definition of a pharmacy in the legislation is seriously flawed. It is flawed because you are trying to define a pharmacy beyond the scope of the Health Disciplines Act and beyond the jurisdiction of a pharmacist as contained in the Regulated Health Professions Act.

While one of the functions of the College of Pharmacists is to accredit pharmacies, that accreditation is confined to the area where prescriptions are compounded and dispensed.

Bill 119 is in effect proposing that a pharmacy is not some 1,000 square feet but a huge area, possibly a multilevel department store that happens to have a pharmacy, or 75,000 to 100,000 square feet of space in a mass merchandiser or food store where no prescriptions are compounded or dispensed.

Let me remind you that the College of Pharmacists recognized the definition of a pharmacy -- that it does not include the front shop -- when it fought for and successfully obtained an amendment to the Regulated Health Professions Act based precisely on this notion that pharmacies would only be responsible for sexual abuse that occurs in the dispensary, not anywhere in the retail part of a store that could potentially be a five-storey building.

You have heard about surveys and you will no doubt hear about more of them. For example, there is a group known as Pharmacists in Support of Bill 119 that has conducted yet another survey which will be presented to you. However, the pharmacists of Ontario have already spoken loud and clear.

There is only one legitimate and acceptable survey and that is the one conducted by the Ontario Pharmacists' Association, which represents the economic interests of all 8,000 pharmacists practising in this province. That survey found 62% in favour of continuing the regime of having the decision to sell tobacco a voluntary one, to be left in the hands of the professional pharmacist-owner.

All other surveys presented to you do not have the sanction or the legitimacy of the Ontario Pharmacists' Association. Not even the Canadian Pharmacists' Association survey is accurate; it was conducted with a small sample and it's not Ontario-based. I repeat, the Ontario Pharmacists' Association survey is the only accurate representation of pharmacists' attitudes in Ontario.

You have also heard that removing tobacco from pharmacies will have absolutely no impact on reducing the number of people smoking or the amount of tobacco consumed. People will simply go next door and purchase their tobacco from the myriad retail competitors to pharmacies that abound in Ontario.

Let me tell you what I have heard from my constituents, the people who have elected me on two occasions now and who depend on me to present them. Some of my colleagues who do not sell tobacco -- I stress that, do not sell tobacco -- tell me that they deeply resent government telling the profession what to do. They are concerned that if it's tobacco today, what product will it be tomorrow?

I have also heard from pharmacists practising in non-traditional format stores, stores which happen to have pharmacies contained within them. They are worried that if there is a decision to be made between pharmacy and tobacco, it will be the pharmacy that goes. It will be a decision over which they will have no control whatsoever.

Many of my colleagues tell me that they feel they have been unfairly singled out and their livelihoods are at stake. They assert, as I do, that pharmacy is both a profession and a business.

They recall that when discussions between government and the profession about fees were taking place, pharmacists were told that they must subsidize the decrease in the Ontario drug benefit fee by relying on sales in their front shops. In other words, we were specifically told that there was a distinct difference between the retail portion and our dispensary.

Now the retail portion of pharmacy is being attacked with this legislation, and it hardly seems justified or fair, particularly in view of the fact that so many products conventionally carried by pharmacies are now obtainable from so many other retail establishments that will benefit from the ancillary sales that accompany the tobacco they sell.

So I ask you: What will the government have achieved by this legislation? There will be no positive health impact; there will be jobs lost, services curtailed, some pharmacies closed. And for what?


The long, drawn-out battle over this issue, one which has divided our profession, will continue and be exacerbated, because all of us know that we are nowhere near the end of this matter. It is a certainty that this legislation will be challenged in the courts, and that will further prolong and intensify the divisiveness that now characterizes our profession.

If government were serious about curtailing the availability of tobacco, especially to young people, it would remove the product from all private hands and confine its sale to controlled outlets, like liquor or beer. My constituents would support that overwhelmingly and wholeheartedly.

But what is the government doing instead? It appears to be getting at the tobacco companies by hurting a large drugstore chain that is supposedly tied in with a major tobacco manufacturer. In the process, it is hurting the independent community pharmacist, who represents the majority of pharmacists in this province. These are my constituents.

As one community pharmacist asked me to say, "Is this government so intent on punishing the largest drugstore chain in the province that it will sacrifice the economic survival of many independent pharmacists?" Surely this is not your objective and intention. However, you certainly seem to be doing just that.

For well over a century, pharmacists have been on the front line of health care, delivering quality services and excellent products to the citizens of this province. We have been united in our purpose and in our profession.

In the process of generating this legislation, in the fuelling of the controversy surrounding the tobacco issue, government is hurting the good name of my colleagues in the profession and the reputations of those I represent. All of this is deplorable and completely senseless.

I'll be pleased to answer any questions.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you. The parliamentary assistant wishes to clarify some items.

Mr O'Connor: On page 4 of your brief there, the fourth paragraph down, you said, "While one of the functions of the Ontario College of Pharmacists is to accredit pharmacies," and that area is confined, that's not always the case. This committee has been told by the college -- we've had a discussion with the college around that and that was actually raised -- that in some cases the entire pharmacy is part of it. What the college, in my recollection, was saying -- because they'd like to see the total removal -- was that it would then create a level playing field for all pharmacies, which includes some of those in which all the premises are part of the pharmacy. Not always are all the premises part of the pharmacy.

Mr Stebbings: In the basic function of the college, in accrediting the pharmacy, it accredits the area where the prescriptions are compounded and dispensed. When you take a retail establishment, you have to be clear as to whether you want to count the whole store as the pharmacy or just the area which is used for compounding.

There is a diversity of opinion as to what that is. In the sexual abuse case, where we said, "What is going to be a pharmacy; where are we responsible?" we clearly stated that we only wanted to be responsible for the area where prescriptions were compounded and dispensed.

We can't have a double definition, so where is the point of our jurisdiction, and what happens when you do have a large store? You have a Zellers, say; Zellers have pharmacies. Zellers is a large store. They have housewares at one end and a pharmacy at the other end; tobacco at one side, clothes on the other side. Is the jurisdiction over the whole area? When you have a multilevel store, where is the jurisdiction? Do we count where they sell pots and pans as pharmacy too?

Mr O'Connor: I just wanted to clarify that. I think in fact there may even be an A & P where the entire store has been accredited as a pharmacy.

Mr Stebbings: Quite possibly.

The Vice-Chair: Are there any questions at this time? Mr Sterling. Welcome.

Mr Norman W. Sterling (Carleton): Thank you for coming to our committee. I find your brief lucid and well laid out.

I'm interested in the licensing aspect of selling tobacco. I once brought a bill in front of the Legislature to try to implement that kind of regime, and in order to avoid the bureaucracy which the government complains about in doing this, the legislation said that a vendor's permit will initially be your licence to sell tobacco, and part of the penalty, if you are caught or convicted of selling to minors, would be that your vendor's permit would then be appropriately altered so that you no longer could sell tobacco. It was a way of doing it, and as a Conservative, I'm not interested in creating huge amounts of bureaucracy, application fees etc, but I'm interested very much in controlling the sale of tobacco, to minors in particular. I would prefer to see that than dealing with the pharmacies.

I haven't been sitting on this committee a great deal -- I was only involved on the first day, because I've been involved in other committees -- and I quite frankly find this whole debate as to whether pharmacies should sell tobacco or not sell tobacco really a debate which is taking us away from the central issues. I've got to tell you I am upset that we're going on a road show and travelling around this province to talk about whether cigarettes should be sold in pharmacies or not sold in pharmacies, because I don't think it has anything to do with our young people or our old people smoking more or less.

Mr Stebbings: You're absolutely right, sir. We have a situation where the government wishes to bring down a policy of legislation. The legislation as it is formed at the moment doesn't achieve the end, because if you want to reduce smoking and if you really want to stop minors smoking, you have to have some control over the selling of cigarettes, of tobacco. Cutting out one retail establishment does not achieve that, because there are too many retail establishments out there which are selling tobacco.

What you really want to do is give your bill some teeth. What you really want to do is say, "We will have a licensed outlet which is controlled." There is no control here about a mom-and-pop store on a corner. I can tell you that pharmacies are probably greater controllers of tobacco sales than any other outlet. You know, it seems a little ludicrous, but in pharmacy we are sanctioned to sell drugs. We'll sell morphine, we'll sell codeine, we'll sell Demerol, we'll sell narcotic drugs. That's our licence. Nicotine is a drug. If you really wanted to control nicotine, you could put it within the control of a pharmacy and cut out all other licences.

I've heard this afternoon great debate about pizza stores selling cigarettes via delivery. I've heard about vending machines. I personally don't smoke. I see small grocery stores which would sell to anybody. Right now, until we reduce the taxes, there are people openly selling cigarettes in school playgrounds, on corners -- contraband cigarettes.


Here it's even nothing. You need teeth in the bill. It's ludicrous. I know in that we're a little bit hypocritical, because while the government still accepts tobacco taxes, it cannot say it's doing something to stop the consumption of tobacco. If the government is to do something, it must first look at its own house and its own financial status and say, "We're willing and want to do without it."

To control it to children, to minors, I really feel that you have to have a controlled outlet. Part of my submission here is based on the accompanying sale. We've heard pharmacists this afternoon saying that to them it's not a large economic impact. It is a large economic impact. I own pharmacies; I know. If you have a level playing field where nobody sells tobacco other than a special licensed outlet, then that economic impact, or the loss of accompanying sales, is decreased and the viability of those retail outlets is maintained.

Mrs Yvonne O'Neill (Ottawa-Rideau): We've had a very interesting day today. It's not been like the other days. From the presentations we had both in Toronto and here and a conversation I had last night with a manager in the Hudson's Bay Co, I feel that as legislators we'd better be responsible and come up with a definition of pharmacy. The person I spoke to from the Hudson's Bay last night tells me the cigarettes are sold on the main floor of the store and the pharmacy's on the fourth floor of the store. Is that going to have to be a choice that store, which occupies one of the main corners in the city of Toronto, is going to have to make?

There's just no rhyme or reason unless we can define what pharmacy means. I think the public, and I certainly think the owners and other retailers, have a right to know what we mean by pharmacy. We're finding that the complex definitions are now coming forward, and they're going to get more complex, as we were reminded this morning, when Wal-Mart comes in. So that's one thing, and I hope the government is going to be willing to give us a definition of pharmacy. We're either going to go by the regulated health professions definition, we're going to take another province's definition; we're going to do something, I hope, to come forward.

I sat through the Bill 100 hearings, and they were, I would consider, within the five most difficult sets of hearings I've been through, because professionals were on the line, and they were serious hearings. The definition of pharmacy in that Bill 100 is very different than the one we're being asked to abide by here. This is the same government, and I really don't see how we can be expected, in opposition or even as legislators in the government, to accept a definition in one bill and a different definition in another bill. The public of Ontario deserves better, so we better come up with it.

The second thing I was disturbed about this morning, and I am still disturbed about -- and I want to state publicly I'm very sorry that our Minister of Agriculture and Food has had a serious accident. No doubt his parliamentary assistant and others will be able to provide the information, but I really do think this committee should have an update on what the plans are for tobacco farmers who want to get out of this business. Has there been a total hiatus? Are things not happening there? Are programs that were on the books not somehow moving? I think this committee has a right to know we are not just tackling this from one particular perspective and just in one particular way.

The federal Liberals have been criticized because they lowered tobacco taxes. They did other things as well, and unfortunately many people haven't heard of the other four things that were part of the program.

I would like us to be able to have a clean slate and say, "Yes, we have tackled this and our message is consistent," whether it's the definition of pharmacies, whether it's helping people who want to get out of the business, whether it's providing compensation for people who are going to go bankrupt -- and I think they may have to provide business plans to prove that -- but we have got to have some more teeth to this bill and we also have to have a transition period for people's lives who are going to be affected. I would like to have some clarification, and I want the clarification about the Ministry of Agriculture transition programs in writing and I want the definition of pharmacy in writing.

Mr Stebbings: I think Mrs O'Neill is correct in what she requires for your committee. I think you have a myriad job in front of you to define what will be the economic impacts and where the jurisdiction lies.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation. We appreciate it. Parliamentary assistant, did you wish to respond to Ms O'Neill? The questions then will be tabled.

Mr O'Connor: They're tabled and they're on the record. I have them and I appreciate her concerns.

The Vice-Chair: So we will have answers to those questions at the next meeting.

That completes the hearings for this afternoon.

Mr McGuinty: Just briefly, I'm not sure if other members have been provided with copies, but I've received letters from York Student Centre, Mohawk College Student Union Corp and the students' council for Western expressing concerns about the definition of "post-secondary education," I guess is the wording used in the bill, and that's something else that obviously we're very concerned about. Concerns have been raised about whether smoking would be prohibited on campus: bars, residences, restaurants, which are presently subject to bylaws. Bearing in mind that the intent here is primarily is to make it harder for kids to start smoking, I'm not sure how a campus-wide ban would achieve that goal. What it would do would be drive business on campus off campus. So I look forward to a definition of the post-secondary situation.

The Vice-Chair: Two of those representatives indeed were present this morning but didn't have the opportunity to make a presentation. Parliamentary assistant?

Mr O'Connor: I do believe that yesterday while we were on the record, and maybe Mr McGuinty was out of the room at the time, I did offer some clarification. We did hear from some people, and it will be clearly in the record. If he was out of the room at the time, I hope maybe he'll have a chance to review the Hansard.

I'm going to be addressing the students directly. We did get approached by a few today, and I appreciate that, and I think all committee members have been copied with that information and appreciate you raising it and perhaps you'll find some of your answers in Hansard already.

The Vice-Chair: We will recess until 7 pm.

The committee recessed from 1708 to 1903.


The Chair (Mr Charles Beer): Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. We begin our evening hearings in Ottawa with Carolyn Burpee, the owner and pharmacist of Kemptville Guardian Pharmacy.

Ms Carolyn Burpee: Thank you for the opportunity to come here and give my opinion. I am for Bill 119. There's one thing I want to say. I'm not sure how to say this, but at the 4:30 presentation, Graham Stebbings was here. He doesn't represent myself or some of my other colleagues, I wanted to say. I thought he was supposed to be representing his Throop Group and I felt in his presentation that he mixed up OCP along with what he was representing.

Anyway, my whole stance here this evening is very short. It's really as a pharmacist and a pharmacy owner. I believe as a pharmacist that I am a health professional. I've been in this business for 22 years. I was a nurse before a pharmacist. I've been in hospital pharmacy; I've done a residency in hospital pharmacy. As a health care professional I believe that I'm in a position of trust, of responsibility. We must walk the walk, as I said in my presentation there, and not just talk the talk. To me, to sell cigarettes in pharmacies gives a very mixed message.

My credibility as a pharmacist, a health care professional, I believe is on the line. I'm there every day. I am the owner of the pharmacy but I dispense every day. I'm there, I counsel patients, I see them with their inhalers. I know a lot of these people are smokers. For them to go to the front of a pharmacy and then buy cigarettes, or cartons of cigarettes, just to me gives a really mixed message.

My concern is with young people. There are a lot of young people. I'm an ex-smoker too so that I know that when I smoked I used a lot of excuses and rationalizations about smoking. I don't want to be part of that for young people to say: "Well, you sell it in a pharmacy. It can't be that bad." I know that people do say that. I've talked with people. I've talked with young people.

Anyway, that's that part of my presentation, but the other part is as a pharmacy owner. I am well aware that we have a bottom line. I have a business, I have people to pay, I have myself to pay. This margin, I know, has dropped a lot in the last couple of years, and I have a concern about my fellow colleagues who say their stores would go out of business if they don't sell cigarettes. I guess I would really like to see their profit and loss statements. I really don't understand that. We sold cigarettes in my pharmacy and took them out in 1987. It represented 10% of our sales. It took us a little over a year to recoup that. We put in health-related items.

To say that pharmacies are going to go out of business if they don't sell cigarettes, I don't know, maybe they should be a tobacco shop and not a pharmacy. I don't see that we can sell cigarettes and still be credible. Cigarettes interfere with medications. A lot of people who smoke, there's a lot of problems with them on theophyllines, all kinds of medication. They metabolize it a lot faster, the dosage is different.

It really upsets me when I see on TV some of these bigger companies and they talk about a fair playing field. I'm just a little fellow but I am operating a viable business. They advertise about their computerized systems that can check for drug interactions and all kinds of things. We all do that, we all have computers, but the public believes a lot of what they see. Then they go in these stores and they sell cigarettes and they say, "We really do care about your health." To me that's a mixed message; you care about their health but you hand them cigarettes on the way out.

I feel that as a pharmacist we can't sit on the fence any longer. Are we in or are we out? We are a health care profession. There are a lot of services that we provide on a daily basis. There are things that we do where maybe we could negotiate with the government or with third parties that we could get some type of reimbursement for those duties; I don't know.

But to sell cigarettes and for that to be part of the solution of our decreasing bottom line I think is inappropriate. It lacks integrity and responsibility because we have a position of trust. How can anybody trust me if I'm going to sell them cigarettes on the one hand and on the other hand say, "You know, you shouldn't be smoking," or whatever? To me it's a really mixed message and I feel very strongly about that.


Mr McGuinty: Thank you, Ms Burpee, for coming in to see us and making a presentation. You should know that all of the committee members here, and I speak without hesitation in this regard, feel very strongly about developing a comprehensive plan to address the tobacco problem in the province, and particularly in so far as it affects our young people. This bill, I think, is going to go a long way towards dealing with that.

You will also know that a controversial aspect of the bill is the one dealing with the pharmacy ban. We are, I think understandably, a little bit confused because we're getting conflicting messages from different pharmacists. I'm sure that you would agree with me that it would have been much better had pharmacists been able to work this out among themselves.

I'm just wondering -- I haven't asked this question of anybody else -- after this becomes law, is there anything that pharmacists can do further that they're not doing right now? They are on the front line, particularly in terms of helping those people who are addicted to cigarettes at this stage. Is there anything that they could do, any role that they could play that they're not now playing in terms of being a bit more proactive?

I understand right now, of course, if I understand the role of pharmacists, you're behind the counter and you have to wait until somebody makes an inquiry: "Listen, I'm hooked on cigarettes. Have you got anything there that'll help me?" I'm just wondering if there's some way we can harness that human capital there, the pharmacists, in terms of dealing with this problem a bit more proactively. I'm just throwing it out.

Ms Burpee: What I do at my pharmacy is that I share my experience with people who smoke, because I think that they shouldn't give up because they've tried it and they haven't succeeded; they should go back and keep trying until they do succeed. But I have pamphlets on when they do quit -- associations or smoking cessation courses that they can take -- that are available there.

I don't know unless you mean you'd be more active in the community. I do counsel people when they use patches or when they come in to buy their Nicorette gum. I think it's very important they know exactly how to use that -- not as a gum -- and take time to explain that to them, because if they don't know how to use it properly and what to expect, then they may not be very successful and they'll give up too quickly.

Mr McGuinty: Maybe I'm just thinking of something like -- maybe you have something like this now -- some kind of a cessation program that doesn't involve gimmicks, doesn't involve selling a particular product, but some countdown or pamphlet or something put out by the college.

Ms Burpee: Right now I know some of them have -- and we could be involved in that, I think -- a certificate where you say, "This is what I'm going to do," and then we could do some type of follow-up, perhaps something like that, if that's what you're thinking of. Have them come back in two weeks to the pharmacy to see how they're doing or perhaps we'd call them to see how they're doing, to keep in contact.

I think one problem right now is that there isn't any follow-up. People sort of go and they do it and that's it. It's not just putting on that patch; it's not just chewing that gum; it involves behavioural changes as well. There has to be some link.

I, as a pharmacist, can't give you an exact process, but I would be very willing to be involved in that, because I think that contact is very important and I don't know that it's that available at physicians' offices, because they are pretty busy. But we could set that up as a system. I'm sure in pharmacies we could.

Mrs Cunningham: Thank you very much for coming before the committee this evening. Since you're here and the issue of pharmacies is something that we've listened to a lot -- basically this bill is intended to prevent the provision of tobacco to young persons. I'm wondering, in your experience, if you would go so far as to say that persons who sell tobacco should be licensed or, even further, to say that perhaps it should be sold in LCBO outlets, meaning tobacco. Really, if we took your submission and we said that you can't sell it in drugstores in all of the legislation, I'm not sure that anybody has proven that there would be less tobacco sold to youngsters. Those retail pharmacists made that point, by the way. So maybe we have to go further than that. We've got large fines, but right now we know that we are not enforcing the existing law, which says it's illegal to sell. I think this bill needs more teeth and I wonder if you have any advice for us.

Ms Burpee: I feel strongly it should go into like an LCBO. I think that's where it should go and that it shouldn't be left out there.

Mrs Cunningham: What about a licence? Otherwise the penalty would be that you lose your licence.

Ms Burpee: I think it should be that strong, because now it's not enforced, is it?

Mrs Cunningham: It's not enforced, in my opinion. I represent London North and they tell me it's not enforced. You're there and you must know in Kemptville, for instance, if anybody has ever suffered any fines for illegally selling tobacco. I don't know what you're going to say to that. Have they?

Ms Burpee: No. I think it should be licensed and in LCBOs, that type of thing.

Mrs Cunningham: Maybe we didn't need any legislation; we could just enforce what we've got.

Mr O'Connor: Thank you for your presentation here this evening. I know that we've heard from a lot of people, and there's no doubt in my mind, from all the work that I've done with people in the community, that there is definitely strong need for this legislation as well as the other components of the action on tobacco. A Premier's Council said we've got a problem. The chief medical officer of health came out very strongly and your college has been quite strong and for a couple of years has been trying to convince people they should be moving in this direction.

We had the opportunity to hear from a couple of pharmacy students, and they get a very mixed message when they've been watching these hearings. We actually got a written presentation following the presentation from the graduating class from this year. I'm sure that as they look at this evening's Hansard they're going to be able to take a look at, for example, what you've said and the role that pharmacists can play in health care, because that's what they see themselves as graduating to do, to provide that health care; not to be the retailer, knowing that's part of it, but the health care. They're in there and they're going to be involved in the cessation.

I think that we'll probably see some stronger linkages to a lot of the coalitions that are out there working in the community. Government alone can't do it and nowhere did the government say that it can do it alone. It's working with even our friends from the media, talking about this issue; it's working with people in the community as well as with people that work in the community.

Ms Burpee: We're in it together.

The Chair: Ms Burpee, thank you very much for coming before the committee this evening.



Mr George Georgewill: Thank you, Mr Chairman and members of the committee, for the opportunity to present my support for Bill 119. My name is George Georgewill. I own a pharmacy in Ottawa. I studied pharmacy in England and I've practised pharmacy in Canada since 1989. I opened a pharmacy two years ago.

I am here to support Bill 119 because I think it will do a few things. First of all, if pharmacies stop selling cigarettes it will send a clear message to young children out there and even those who are smoking right now, even the elders, that we pharmacists realize that cigarettes are harmful to them. By selling them we are sending a very simple, short, conflicting message that we think cigarettes are good. It should be clear from us pharmacists, as professionals, that cigarettes don't do them any good.

Before I go further I would like to ask two questions both to pharmacists and non-pharmacists who oppose this bill: Do they consider pharmacists as health care professionals or do they consider pharmacies as health care facilities?

In my opinion, if the answers to these questions are yes, then we shouldn't sell cigarettes because it's contradictory to what we are supposed to be doing. We're supposed to serve the public, care for their health, and if we intentionally give any product that is not good for your health, then we are going contrary to what we are supposed to be doing.

A few of the people who oppose this bill have raised certain questions. One is loss of jobs from pharmacies if they stop selling cigarettes. I started my pharmacy at the height of the recession. It's a small pharmacy, I have not sold cigarettes and I'm still having a viable practice. I don't buy that argument.

Some people are opposed because they say the legislation is trying to legislate on everything in our lives. I think they should when it's necessary. Right now, as you all know, you are legislating on drinking and driving because it kills. I don't think it kills more than diseases associated with cigarettes. Is it because we don't see the figures or we don't see the physical action? We see the physical action in drinking and driving and getting involved in accidents. Cigarettes and associated diseases kill more. So why shouldn't the legislators get involved?

Thirdly, some argue that corner stores will be the beneficiary of stopping selling cigarettes in pharmacies. They carry on good businesses. I oppose that because I don't think we should be comparing ourselves with the corner store. If we are health care professionals. we do have responsibilities in the communities we serve. I do not mean that the convenience stores do not have responsibilities, but our responsibilities are a bit different. We care for the public's health. We dispense drugs. We have the monopoly to dispense drugs. They don't do that.

For example, pharmacies are being trusted to sign as guarantors on passports, which is a big responsibility. I don't think any corner store has that responsibility. We should realize that we're being respected in the community in which we serve. Every time we go to meetings every pharmacist is very happy when he sees that pharmacies are being regarded as one of the most trusted professionals in the communities. We are all very happy. How does it come? I believe we should sacrifice certain things to maintain that credibility in the community we serve. We know that cigarettes don't do any good, and if we continue selling cigarettes, we're telling the public out there that we know the facts but because of economics and wrong information we will continue to sell a product that we know is very harmful.

Every time I watch the news I see on the TV some drugstore chains, pharmacy chains, the big stores, and they advertise their health watch, how they watch drug interaction, how you would rather be in the computer than be in the ambulance. That is our job. We're supposed to watch what our patients take. I know and every pharmacist knows there are a lot of diseases associated with the use of cigarettes. They are not less harmful than drug interaction. If we will watch for drug interactions, I don't see why we shouldn't watch for the use of cigarettes. Cigarettes affect every medication most patients use.

One of the members, I think Mr McGuinty -- sorry if I have mispronounced your name -- asked the previous speaker what pharmacies could do. Yes, pharmacies could do a lot. There are a lot of programs out there; for example, right there is a program right now that supports people who want to stop smoking cigarettes. There are a lot of programs around the Ottawa region. I don't have the pamphlets, but if you want I'll send them to you, of programs that are right now helping people who want to quit.

I personally in my store have a list of people who come to buy Nicorette. I talk with them, I spend time with them and I make sure that as time goes on we reduce the amount of Nicorette gradually to suit their purpose. I do that. If you want those I'll send them to you.

Those are some of the things that pharmacists could do. We can even do more. It should be a challenge to our profession that we should get involved. If we stop selling cigarettes, then we have the credibility to go out there and support those who want to quit.

I have a few suggestions as well. One of the members, Mrs Cunningham, asked the question if licensing should be a way. I think so. I think by licensing we don't lose anything. The province can license, collect money from those who want to sell cigarettes, and it can use that to pay inspectors and establish a bureau so that the enforcement could be carried out. So I don't think it's going to cost the province much.

Secondly, I will even go further to suggest that cigarettes be classified in the same situation as alcohol if enforcement will be a problem, so there have to be specific places to buy cigarettes, just as we buy alcohol. I don't even think alcohol is more dangerous than cigarettes.

There's a question I want to pose to pharmacists and non-pharmacists who oppose this bill, especially the politicians as well. If any of us or any of you or any of the pharmacists who oppose this bill know right now that most of your south constituencies that have maybe 13,000, 18,000, 20,000, if you know that 13,000 of your constituency will be dead by the end of the year from a preventable illness which you can do something about, wouldn't you do something? I will, and that's why I don't sell cigarettes. Thank you, Mr Chairman.

Mr Jim Wilson: Thank you, sir, for your presentation. I should begin by saying that I don't know of any political party or any politician who isn't going to support this bill. Everybody supports it. We just have a problem with one particular clause in the bill that we're having a great deal of debate over, as you can imagine.

Mr Georgewill: That will be nice to hear.

Mr Jim Wilson: It's the record, and all parties supported it on second reading. It's motherhood. No politician's going to not support this bill. But you're correct in saying that there's a difference in view among the pharmacy profession and among some politicians. We disagree and I guess some of us see this clause as a freedom-of-business issue.

You have to remember where we're coming from is three years of a lot of this sort of stuff from this government. Unfortunately, it's blown up in a health care field and it shouldn't be. We shouldn't have to confront these business issues in a health care field, but we've had three years of this stuff, culminating in particular with the labour laws last year.

There will be some job losses. I just want your comment on that because you didn't think there would be, and I'd say in some of the smaller pharmacies there probably won't be. But A&P, the grocery store chain, made it very clear in its presentation that if it's a toss-up between keeping the pharmacy at the back of the store and the cigarette counter at the front, when it comes to bottom line in profits their business decision would likely be to close the pharmacies. Zellers made a very similar point, as have many of the other large retailers.


We're seeing pharmacies evolve into larger retail entities. We're going further and further away from the small town pharmacy that just dispenses prescription drugs, OTCs and provides health care advice. I'm just wondering -- a question to you since you asked us a few questions -- whether you think pharmacists should be allowed to be full-fledged retailers.

Mr Georgewill: It depends on what you mean by full-fledged retailers.

Mr Jim Wilson: They're selling everything in Zellers these days, yet this bill calls Zellers a pharmacy.

Mr Georgewill: I think that would be one of the suggestions, that they should not have a pharmacy or sell cigarettes under the same banner as a pharmacy.

Mr Jim Wilson: But my question was, should they be retailers? Because if we can get into the question whether the government should tell retailers whether or not they can sell particular products or not, it reminds me of some other countries I didn't think I'd be living in.

Just on the retail question, though, if they're going to continue to expand and start to sell tires and automotive parts and everything -- you have to understand one of the reasons we have a problem with this bill, as you know, is that the way it's written that entire Zellers store, because it has a pharmacy in one of its 16 departments, cannot sell cigarettes. It's considered a health care facility. I have a real hard time, if I'm standing in the jeans section, figuring out that I'm in a health care facility. That's one of the reasons we don't support this. What the bill says to me is that pharmacists shouldn't be retailers.

Mr Georgewill: If I understand your question, if they want to have a pharmacy, they want to have a pharmacy. Then they shouldn't be under the Zellers banner. They should have a pharmacy separate because a pharmacy, as I have said before, is supposed to be a health care facility. They can sell whatever retail products they want to sell. I guess it comes with the argument that they can monitor the sale of cigarettes. I have worked in Shoppers before. I had no clue when somebody went to the front to buy cigarettes. I was always at the back. So that argument, to me, doesn't work.

Mr Winninger: Thank you for your very sincere presentation. Your remarks have certainly gone a long way towards dispelling some of the myths we heard about the economics not permitting small pharmacies to take tobacco products off their shelves or that it's discriminatory to prohibit tobacco sales in pharmacies when other stores can do it and also arguments we've heard that if there's enough space in between the shelf with tobacco products and the drug dispensary, then it's okay to sell them.

I did hear, though, that you were educated in England. According to Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, tobacco cannot be sold in pharmacies in Australia, Sweden, France, Belgium, Israel and Argentina. I'm wondering what the case is in Britain.

Mr Georgewill: Actually, two days ago I spoke to a colleague of mine at the British Pharmaceutical Society. They don't. It's against the code of ethics to sell cigarettes in pharmacies.

Mr Winninger: So it's not permitted?

Mr Georgewill: No, it's not.

The Chair: Thank you very much for coming to the committee this evening. We appreciate your presentation.


Ms Pamela Newton: Good evening. I will digress immediately and mention that in Britain, Safeway food-drug combinations have pharmacies in their Safeways. There is a big food store and then they have a separate area and they have their pharmacy right in there. They have food-drug combinations in Britain.

Anyway, I'm presenting on behalf of Girdwood Guardian drugstore and I represent no other interests; I'm a lobby of one person. Over the last 19 years I've been a pharmacist at Girdwood drugstore. I've owned the store for many, many years. This store is in a small Ontario town. It's been a drugstore for 148 years, and over the years it has responded to economic pressures and competitive pressures.

We've extended this store from one street right through one block to the other street. This is one of the main reasons I'm here tonight to speak to you. You see, we span one block. At one end of this store, which is 198 feet long, we sell tobacco, candies, other kinds of junk, and way at the other end of the store, adjacent to our car park, for our senior citizens and for the people who are looking for their medical treatment, we have our pharmacy department, we have extensive counselling, we have all our health products, all our pharmaceutical products gathered together at the other end of our store. In the middle of our store we have a large office supply department, we have gifts, we have cards, we have a post office, we have cosmetics.

Now, in effect, we're running a diverse retail operation. It's a very serious drugstore. It's a very big part of my business and it is my major interest. However, we run all these other departments because we are intending to stay economically viable.

The thing with this is that the store layout of our store is such that we could put a dividing wall, we could put barriers, we could put turnstiles, we could put a little mall in the middle and I could run the pharmacy at the back, somebody else could run all the other stuff at the front, and we could house this in the building which we own, over which we have complete control, which would be run by a holding company.

We are a small drugstore when you look at the competition. When you look at Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharma Plus and Zellers and Wal-Mart coming in, we're small potatoes. The fact is that if we wished, which we don't particularly wish to do, because cigarettes represent only about 1% of our business and we are intending to scale them out because there are other things that we wish to do, but the fact remains that if we wished to do so, we feel that we could run both cigarettes and pharmacy products.

Listen, I'm small. If I think that I can do that, you may rest assured that the large food-drugstores, the large combination drug companies know that they're going to do this.

On the next few pages of my presentation, I'm going to expound on this further. You asked for us to summarize our conclusions to start with, so I will. I want to say on behalf of Girdwood Guardian drugstore that we conditionally support Bill 119 provided that sections 4(2)9i and 4(2)9ii are totally enforceable regardless of the size and diversity of the retail premises operated by the parent corporation. The enforcement is necessary to preserve the viability of smaller neighbourhood-focused drugstores that do not have the economic or legal capabilities to circumvent the spirit, perhaps even the letter, of the law.

We also wish to say that we do support raising the age to purchase tobacco to 19 and very much we support the banning of vending machine sales of cigarettes.

We have added an addendum. I can't resist this. We submit an alternative method of collecting tobacco taxes which could uphold tobacco tax revenue and eliminate the economic base for smuggling and eliminate the need for the tobacco export tax, which is going to be a real factor, because tobacco companies will continue to manufacture their tobacco in the States and bring it up into Canada. Anyway, that's an aside.

The pharmacy acts of Ontario are designed to regulate the practice of pharmacy. They set standards of practice and they insist on qualified pharmacists in licensed premises. The other aspects of the pharmacy acts deal with the ownership of pharmacies and include the ownership of pharmacies by individual pharmacists and by corporations, and these can be corporations of any size.

The contemporary practice of pharmacy is located increasingly in a department of a diversified retail establishment, such as large food-drug-department stores. Our concern with Bill 119 is with the ultimate effectiveness of section 4(2)9i, which I'm sure you know of, and section 4(2)9ii. We feel that the above two clauses will be circumvented or will prove unenforceable in the mass merchandising environment in which retail pharmacy is now being practised, and it will be greatly to the detriment of neighbourhood pharmacies, focused pharmacies on health care.

For instance, company A can use a holding company to rent the retail space. You can subdivide this retail space -- Safeway is doing it, Asda in Britain is doing it, Overwaitea is doing it out in British Columbia. Beyond the cash registers of your large food-drug conglomerate, you have your common mall, your common area, and then within this common mall area you have specialty kiosks and booths. These are leased to company A's subsidiaries or to franchisees' subsidiaries, anybody you like.

In this way, by a legal and a spatial separation in a large physical retail location, the concomitant sale of cigarettes and prescriptions will continue, to the financial benefit of the parent retailing company and, I do feel, to the detriment of the pharmacy profession. I underline that most sincerely. I feel the Ontario College of Pharmacists doesn't realize how detrimental this will be to the practice and the profession of pharmacy.


Many drugstore businesses are not just pharmacies exclusively. Of necessity, many drugstores are providing a wide range of diverse products to offset the impact of diminishing margins in the health fields and to offset the impact of larger food-department stores, which are selling products that were traditionally considered drugstore items. A lot of drugstore items are now being general-product-listed. This is making a very big difference to pharmacies.

Unless controlled by laws that also control drugstores -- in this case, just when is a large store with a pharmacy somewhere in it subject or not subject to the same laws as a drugstore? -- large organizations are going to erode the economic base that enables pharmacists to provide professionalism and service to their community.

If a diverse product line drugstore with a pharmacy cannot sell tobacco products, and I agree with that, then should a large food-department store that sells tobacco products also be permitted to operate a pharmacy within its premises? When does a large drugstore become not a drugstore? When does a small food-drug-department store become a drugstore?

We agree, however, that in pharmacies, where sales and services are almost exclusively oriented to the provision of prescription services and health products, the sale of cigarettes certainly seems inappropriate. But the problem with this statement lies in just how does a legislator define a clause such as "almost exclusively oriented to the provision of prescription and health products" or indeed how would a legislator define what is a drugstore in Ontario?

Drugstores need a level playing field on which to operate their business. The question of whether to sell or not sell cigarettes is part of a larger question on how to remain competitive when other non-pharmacies can potentially operate pharmacy departments and still sell cigarettes. It is our contention that drugstores would be amenable to not sell cigarettes and not sell food products, provided that food stores and large multimerchandisers that sell cigarettes not sell prescriptions.

We sell cigarettes at present as a convenience to our customers. Convenience is one of the factors that makes us competitive, and competitive we must be and we intend to be. If we could be assured that we were not being put at a competitive disadvantage by Bill 119 being circumvented by our large competitors offering pharmacy services and cigarettes, we would enthusiastically endorse this bill instead of somewhat conditionally accepting it, as we are at this moment.

We anticipate phasing out tobacco sales from our store. It's financially not very important to us, and that's why I feel it's very important for me to make this presentation to you, because I don't have a very big vested interest in tobacco. Public opinion makes it somewhat compelling that we should, and we have other things that presumably we want to do with the space. But we don't consider that our proposed action is going to contribute in any way to the reduction of smoking by our customers. They're going to go next door, two doors down, three doors up, across the road or across the road the other way. However, we really resent being told what to do.

In conclusion, we do support the ban if -- and we must underline this -- the control of concurrent sale of drugs and cigarettes is enforced in all establishments.

My amendment, addendum -- am I allowed to mention this? The current reduction in cigarette taxes which we know is now coming into Ontario, much to our disappointment, means that there are going to be increased taxes for all taxpayers. As non-smokers and payers of substantial business and personal taxes, we consider the latest trend of reduced taxes on cigarettes to potentially lay an even heavier tax burden on citizens today.

We suggest that consideration be given to a direct taxation on smokers instead of taxing cigarettes at a high level at the cash register. Taxpayers, at their own expense, could be medically tested in a manner found acceptable by insurance companies to determine smokers. Remember, insurance companies are doing this all the time to determine smokers as an insurance risk. Non-certified people, that is, smokers, could then be assessed an annual smokers tax to make up for the lost tax revenue that is currently going to be occurring from the loss of taxes on retail cigarettes. That is right.

Cigarette smuggling simply would not be economic and it would disappear. The export tax on cigarettes would no longer be necessary and the governments, I am sure, are interested in keeping manufacture of tobacco here in Canada. Taxes would be collected from smokers and not from myself at a rate sufficient to equal the current prediscounted cigarette tax revenue. That is my submission. Thank you.

The Chair: The timing of your last proposal is perfect. We'll make sure that gets up to Parliament Hill.

Ms Newton: Good. Thank you.

Mrs Haslam: Thank you very much. It's been a very interesting proposal. I actually like it. I draw attention to the name of your store because it says Guardian Drugs, and I commend you for being that type of a store, wishing to remain in the pharmacy business. Even though you do have the tobaccos, you're actually phasing them out. That's what it's all about, looking at the health issues of tobacco for sale in the same store as health products.

The principles about this legislation and this committee working are the principles of health. It's not about telling stores what they can sell. We're looking at an addictive product, we're looking at something that kills 13,000 people a year in Ontario, and I think the principles are there in front of us to always look at the health care. Small stores will always have to battle with large stores; Zellers will always have to battle with K mart.

Ms Newton: If you're looking at it as a health issue you should ban cigarettes. That's quite simple.

Mrs Haslam: That's true and that has been suggested to us.

Ms Newton: If this a health issue, don't beat around the bush. You ban it.

Mrs Haslam: Well, that's been suggested to us; it has been. I'd like to go to your last page though. It was interesting that you mentioned direct taxation on smokers. I had a presentation of a woman in my office who said, "Why don't you put a tax on people who use the health care system who are smokers?" I wonder if you'd like to comment on that particular treatment.

Ms Newton: I disagree with that, because if you put a tax at the point where persons move into the physician's office or to the hospital, they will not go to their physician or to their hospital in time. If they realize that they're going to have a surcharge put on them at the time of their visit, they're liable to think: "I'll delay. Maybe I'll go in six months; maybe I prefer not to go; maybe I prefer not to be lectured to, really." That's the only reason I would not suggest that as a viable proposition.

Mrs O'Neill: Ms Newton, your point has been brought forward but I don't think as poignantly or maybe even as eloquently as you've done it tonight. You've obviously done a lot of thinking about this.

Ms Newton: I do a lot of thinking. It doesn't get anywhere, but I do a lot of thinking.


Mrs O'Neill: Others have, as I say, gone on the edges, and I have requested a definition of "pharmacy" for the bill. I haven't received that yet. Could you tell us a little bit about what you think could be done to the bill to make what is in it enforceable?

Ms Newton: I'm very pessimistic at this stage about making those two particular clauses that I'm pointing to enforceable. I felt more positive about it about three weeks ago. But having seen the federal government fall to the pressure to reduce tobacco taxes because of the problem with smuggling and the many ramifications of that kind of problem, I'm feeling increasingly pessimistic about the possibility of government really being able to face up to the tremendous lobbies and tremendous pressures that it's going to be facing.

I don't really feel very positive about the possibility of really enforcing this. I wish I did and I wish I could say that I thought it could be enforceable or that I could really think of bright ideas by which it could, especially in this current climate. They just haven't risen.

Mr Sterling: I want to thank you for your brief and I want to indicate to you that your member, Leo Jordan, has echoed the same sentiments --

Ms Newton: Maybe I've been speaking to Leo.

Mrs Cunningham: You've done a great job.

Ms Newton: I'm always talking to poor Leo.

Mr Sterling: -- your same sentiments regardless about a level playing field for the small businesses as well as looking at the bigger ones. Have we been through this argument? Have we been through this mess before in terms of dealing with Sunday shopping and pharmacies? Isn't this the same thing we're sort of inviting again?

Ms Newton: Pharmacists like Sunday shopping, or they did. I don't open on Sundays. I wouldn't like Sunday shopping, but it did offer exclusivity to pharmacies, which they lost with open Sunday shopping.

Mr Sterling: Yes, but that was the argument: Where did the pharmacy end and where did the grocery start?

Ms Newton: They had this definition of 6,000 square feet.

Mr Sterling: But isn't this the same thing we're going to get into with smoking and the pharmacy?

Ms Newton: This is what I fear we are going to get into, where at some point it will be possible to say, "This business is primarily a pharmacy. This is primarily a pharmacy business and therefore should not be able to sell cigarettes," and because of the great difficulty of enforcing legislation against very strong and powerful organizations, there will become this division, some kind of cutoff point like the 6,000 square feet for the Sunday shopping that was there.

They will come this point where they say, "You're primarily a drugstore and that is your primary focus of interest," and in these stores the pharmacy is simply a well-run department in a big company and they're entitled to do this. I think this is going to come about simply because it's going to be so very, very difficult to apply and enforce this legislation.

The Chair: Ms Newton, thank you very much for coming down from Perth tonight. We appreciate it.


The Chair: I call on Mr Don Jones, pharmacist, the Riverdale Hospital Pharmacy. Welcome to the committee.

Mr Don Jones: I just have a very short correction. I'm at the Riverside Hospital, but we'll get that straight.

The Chair: I'm sorry. Riverside Hospital Pharmacy.

Mr Jones: Yes. Looking over the list, it's interesting. I suppose I come to you as a non-retail pharmacist in my background, and my experience has been varied, looking at the presentation I've given you.

I am licensed to practise in Ontario. I've had a two-year post-graduate training in hospital pharmacy in conjunction at the Ottawa General Hospital and the University of Toronto. I did spend 29 years in the Canadian armed forces and retired about a year or so ago. At that time I pursued a career in hospital pharmacy again and I started working at the Riverside Hospital as the drug information pharmacist.

Not only have I worked in military and civilian hospitals but I have continued to work as a retail pharmacist, assisting in part-time help where oftentimes pharmacists have difficulty getting away for holidays and have problems on weekends. I've worked in a number of pharmacies in the retail area that are smoke-free, and at present I am working in two local pharmacies in addition to my affiliation at the Riverside Hospital.

The points that I wish to leave with you are highlighted there, and I certainly fully support the passage of Bill 119 and heartily endorse the proposed removal of tobacco products from pharmacies. I also feel strongly that the introduction of plain packaging would have a significant impact on reducing the quantity of tobacco sold. I also recommend that retailer licensing for tobacco products be mandatory and that effective enforcement be instituted to deter the sale of tobacco to minors.

As a pharmacist working in a community hospital with a palliative care unit, I frequently see the end results of people who have used tobacco for many years. Often they commenced smoking when they were at a very young, early age, usually in their teenage years, and it certainly leaves an impression. One does not go to sleep too easily that night if you've seen a person gasping for his last breath.

When one considers the premature deaths that are often the result, and at significant costs to society, it behooves us as pharmacists to carefully consider our image and the role as members of the health care team with regards to the tobacco issue.

I am somewhat saddened by some of my colleagues who have appeared before this committee claiming that they are dependent on the sale of tobacco to maintain a viable pharmacy operation. The doom and gloom about reduced pharmacy hours, cutbacks in services, layoffs and pharmacies going out of business I feel is premature.

I do not believe that pharmacy needs tobacco sales to maintain profitability. As I say, I've personally worked in several tobacco-free pharmacies that are still in business and in fact have attracted many new customers because of their position held regarding the tobacco issue.

Throughout the years I have devoted my efforts to providing drug information and advice to patients on health care matters as well as dispensing prescribed medications. On moral, ethical and professional grounds pharmacists must now decide if they wish to continue to be viewed by society as responsible members of the health care team.

I firmly believe that the vast majority of pharmacists support Bill 119 and that they do not want to be seen by the public as professionals who dispense lifesaving drugs at the rear of the store but then sell for profit a product demonstrated to be detrimental to the public's health at the cash register.

During two tours of duty in Germany as a military pharmacist I could not help but be impressed by the professional image displayed by pharmacists in this country and the high esteem given to them by the German people. Pharmacies in Germany do not sell tobacco products and their product lines are carefully selected to support the professional image of the pharmacist.

I firmly believe that the time to deal with the tobacco problem is now. I strongly urge you to support Bill 119 and strengthen the impact of this bill on controlling the availability and distribution of tobacco. Clearly the uncontrolled use of tobacco is not compatible with a healthy generation in the future.

Just as an aside, February 14 is always a special day in my life, not just because of the traditional thoughts which come to the surface, but I have three grandchildren under the age of 10 who celebrate their birthdays on Valentine's Day.

Mrs Haslam: Easy to remember.

Mr Jones: Very easy; it makes it very simple. It would sure be wonderful if my grandchildren are not exposed in the future to secondhand tobacco smoke and do not have to face the social and peer pressures that our teenagers have to face today.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I find your presentation to be very concise and to the point. We find at the moment, given what's happening out there re the decision of the federal government to back away from taxes and all that, that's quite a challenge, to say the least, and we feel very strongly that it will impact very clearly on government's attempts to stem the use of tobacco in the country.

Given that we have folks who would disagree with us on the piece that you spoke to today re the selling of drugs in pharmacies, I guess maybe making it a bigger issue than the inconsistency that's there and the double message that's there in selling tobacco products in the same place as health promotion, our sincere desire is to really make this a piece of legislation that will be effective. In light of all of that you talk about licensing, and I think that has some potential and we need to look at it certainly more closely as we try to figure out what to do at this point in time.

We have some ideas in the bill around an increase in fines for stores that would sell to minors and we propose to do that. Have you looked at that, and is there anything we could do with that as opposed to the licensing? If we get into the licensing, I'm sure the small corner stores and businesses will not be really happy with us. They're already complaining about the overregulation of business. We certainly don't want, if we can get away with it at all, to get in the way of people doing business in this province but we certainly want to wrestle this problem to the ground.

Mr Jones: I do have the feeling that one is going to have to look very carefully at the distribution sources, and this is one of the concerns that I think has been demonstrated, that now our young children or teenagers have access to and can get a hold of cigarettes. There don't seem to be enough teeth to really discourage people from selling cigarettes to underage children, and the licensing issue may be one way. It has been, I think, mentioned that the licensing fees would help perhaps to offset some of the costs of policing this, but it certainly is not an easy problem. I don't have any panacea to offer you in terms of handling this, but it will be a concern, there's no question.

Mr Martin: I found the previous presentation quite interesting. It was different than most of what we've heard so far, the challenge that is presented by all the things that she spoke about. Do you have any comment on that?

Mr Jones: Again, I'm coming from a totally different point of view. I'm not in the retail business as such and I feel very strongly that pharmacists, if they're going to maintain a professional image, have to break away from the image that they are mass retailers and that they may have to take a look very carefully at what happens in many other countries where pharmacy is truly much more closely related to physicians, to the hospitals, and they're not mass retailers.

You don't find garbage pails and tires and batteries in drugstores in Switzerland, Germany and France. They don't have this sort of thing. I think we've gotten into a bit of a trap in that our pharmacies in North America have become pharmacies with a very small pharmacy and they've been mass merchandisers. This perhaps is a very big mistake.

Mrs O'Neill: Mr Jones, thank you for making the correction about Riverside Hospital. I'm very happy that you likely had the same opportunity as I to work with Brian Doyle, your former CEO, who has been a great loss to our community.

You come from a very different perspective than most people who have presented to us and you've certainly had worldwide experience. You could have chosen a lot of things to say and you did choose plain packaging and licensing. I wonder why you feel so strongly about plain packaging and why you feel it would help this bill and strengthen Bill 119.

Mr Jones: I think there's a certain aura that seems to be in the advertising world. I'm sure that when companies decide on how they're going to merchandise their product they certainly look at the packaging as a very major point to attract and to sort of make it macho to have that particular brand.

I think the plain packaging could probably serve two or three purposes. It may probably assist in some of the smuggling problems. It would certainly be less attractive to the younger people who often say, "I like the black package because that makes me feel great and I'm one of the in group." So that's my feeling there. Also, I would think this just makes good sense.

Mr Sterling: Thanks for coming to us and giving your submission. You mentioned three things in your brief in terms of what you would like to say to us. One, as my colleague has just mentioned, is licensing, the other is packaging and the third is the sale of cigarettes from pharmacies.

I hate the results of tobacco in terms of the health of our people. Therefore I as a legislator am looking for things to do and I'm quite willing to regulate, even though my general nature is not to regulate as a Conservative. Of those three, would you rank for me what you think would do the most and what would do the second most and what would do the third most to stop the use of tobacco in our province?

Mr Jones: I would say certainly you can mix and match the order that they're in. The bill definitely has a point that has been very controversial, and that is the pharmacy issue. I feel quite strongly that the sale of tobacco in pharmacies should be removed. This may not impact on the total utilization. I would have to agree on that. Cigarettes are still going to be available. I think that from the impact of using, perhaps your more effective licensing of people who sell, and then followed by the introduction of a method to change the package into a common type of package.

Mr Sterling: So you would put third the sale of cigarettes from pharmacies in terms of consumption?

Mr Jones: Yes, in terms of consumption. I think I'd have to have my head in the sand if I thought that just taking tobacco out of pharmacies would decrease the sale. That's not realistic.

The Chair: Thank you very much for taking the time to come down to the committee this evening. We appreciate it.


Mr Raj Gandhi: Good evening, Mr Chairman and members of the standing committee. I haven't prepared a submission for you to look at because I'd like to just speak generally about some points that I feel strongly about with regard to this bill.

My name is Raj Gandhi and I'm the owner of two community pharmacies in Ottawa. Both pharmacies do not sell tobacco. Tonight I would like to speak in support of Bill 119, and specifically the part that proposes to ban tobacco in pharmacies.

I believe that tobacco products are no longer compatible with pharmacy. It is a conflict of interest and hypocritical for pharmacists to dispense prescriptions in the back and sell tobacco in the front.

Some pharmacists will tell you that this is an example of government interfering with business. Nonsense. The part about banning tobacco in pharmacies was initiated by the Ontario College of Pharmacists.

There is no question that some pharmacies will suffer financial setbacks. However, this will be offset by lower insurance and inventory cost and reduced break-ins. A recent Ottawa Citizen editorial quoted that 76 out of 133 pharmacies voluntarily stopped selling tobacco. If they can survive, why can't the other 57 pharmacies?

It's time to have a level playing field for all pharmacies. Do I think there will be a loss of jobs if this bill is passed? Possibly a few. Will pharmacies close up left, right and centre? Definitely not.

For pharmacists who tell you that they are in the best position to sell tobacco because they can counsel patients on how to quit, that's hogwash. Pharmacists don't have the time or they don't have the physical layout to be able to do that on a regular basis. Most stores are quite big and the pharmacist does not even see who is buying tobacco at any given time.


I would also like to recommend that if the bill is passed with regard to banning tobacco in pharmacies, it should be clear enough and it should ensure that as far as pharmacies are concerned, the law is fully enforceable and enforced and not tied up with injunctions and extensions; also that some pharmacies do not circumvent the law by altering their stores. Supermarkets and department stores with pharmacies would have to choose whether they would want a pharmacy in their store or to sell tobacco.

It's time to send a clear message to the citizens of Ontario, and especially the teenagers, that tobacco products are highly addictive and pharmacists will only be entrusted in helping you quit, not helping you get hooked.

I applaud Ruth Grier and the NDP for trying to pass this very tough legislation and I hope they don't buckle under the pressure from the powerful tobacco companies. I thank you for allowing me to make this presentation.

Mr Eddy: Thank you for your presentation. As you gather, this is a very controversial subject. You've heard about the pharmacies in the very large stores. Zellers has been mentioned; Wal-Mart coming in may be mentioned. Do you see a problem with controlling it where there's a very large store?

Mr Gandhi: This is why the legislation has to be clear, if Zellers or Loblaws or Wal-Mart or K mart wants to have a pharmacy in their store.

Mr Eddy: Then you would see the same rule apply, no matter how large it was, as to a small pharmacy?

Mr Gandhi: Absolutely.

Mr O'Connor: We've had the opportunity to hear from a huge number of pharmacists on two sides of the issue, and pharmacy students as well. The pharmacy students I think were really torn because as they went through their schooling they thought, as they were coming out of it, that they were going to go out and become health care professionals and they didn't see themselves as walking into this type of conflict.

I'm sure for those who have sat back and listened to the hearings with a great deal of interest because of course this is their chosen profession, for those who have been torn by listening to those who are arguing, "We're retailers and we're not really health care professionals," and those like yourself who I can see take a genuine interest in the health care element of pharmacy that these students are studying, you show them an example of what you can do and you can actually fulfil what they go to school for. I thank you for your presentation.

The Chair: Mr Gandhi, thank you very much for coming before the committee this evening.


Ms Elinor Wilson: It's a pleasure to be here in front of the committee tonight to present on behalf of the Ottawa-Carleton region of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, representing over 3,500 volunteers in this area. It's also particularly appropriate to be here during Heart Month since the issue that you are dealing with is a very significant issue as it affects heart disease, morbidity and mortality in this province.

As mentioned, I have with me tonight James Howith, who is a student at Glebe Collegiate, and he was kind enough to come this evening to reflect on some of his experiences with tobacco. After James has spoken, I will try to do a very brief summary of some of the major points in our heart and stroke foundation submission. James, I'll turn it over to you.

Mr James Howith: Thank you very much. Like Ms Wilson said, I've just been asked to represent a youth perspective from tobacco and the effects that it has on youth in our society.

I'm 19 years old and I am a Glebe Collegiate student. I started smoking when I was 14 years old and influences on my life were quite numerous. The media definitely portray a very strong influence on youth to portray a very glamorous image, and that certainly had its effect on me, and peer pressure as well. For the most part, what made it so easy for me to smoke was just the sheer accessibility for me to get cigarettes. I don't know how many of you noticed that smoking typically affects your growth. It hasn't for me.

Mr Sterling: I never smoked.

Mrs Haslam: We don't believe you.

The Chair: Order.

Mr Howith: It was quite easy for me to obtain cigarettes. The hardest part for me would be the sheer cost. I was quite financially unstable growing up, so money was somewhat scarce for me to support my habit, and also being a minor and not having a job.

In short, I am personally in support of Bill 119 because of the fact of how it puts limitations and constraints on age and accessibility to youth and to minors. On another personal note, I agree with the previous speakers, Mr Georgewill and Ms Burpee, just because of the fact that the image a pharmacy or a drugstore portrays is that of a health care profession and I feel it directly negates or contradicts the message it's trying to portray.

Briefly, in summary, as I said, I smoked for four years. It was easy enough for me to get them; I didn't have a problem. That could be because of my physical appearance. I quit a few times. Last time I quit was last year, and fortunately it has stayed. I had to quit cold turkey because methods of quitting are quite costly, regardless of what they are. The patch -- I don't know what that's running at, but that was beyond my financial abilities. That's just it.

My personal feelings on smoking are that it's disgusting, it's gross, it has negative health factors involved. I'll shut up. That's it.

Ms Elinor Wilson: I think the issue in terms of tobacco control is the issue of comprehensiveness. I'm sure, as you've heard many submissions and as you've questioned many presenters, it's relatively easy to define parts of this issue and to ask specific questions about parts. I think what I'd like to try to do is to put these parts back together tonight and talk a little bit about the comprehensive package that needs to be in place to control tobacco, not only in Ontario but Canada-wide.

I think you're probably aware that Canada has led the world in the control of tobacco. In fact we as a country are a model for many other countries that are planning their programs and their approaches based on the leadership that has been shown by Canada. This was not done in a piecemeal fashion. The combination of education, legislation and taxation, all working in a synergistic and multiplicative fashion, have made us the world leaders that we are in tobacco control.

I think with the current rollback in the federal taxes it behooves us to now look even more at the comprehensiveness of the package of measures that you are bringing forward in this province. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, I think Ontario is going to have to increase and even strengthen the measures that it is proposing in order to offset in any way possible the impact that this tax rollback will have.

I think if our major issue here is to prevent children from accessing and from using tobacco products, there are three particular areas where we could look at that not only should we bring into being but perhaps even increase from what we see in the proposed bill.

The first one is the whole issue of statutory prohibition. As you will see from our brief, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario has supported in principle the idea of statutory prohibition, provided we can be sure that adequate enforcement will take place. The question now, with the reduction in prices, is how much more of an impact that will make on numbers of people buying cigarettes and the ability of people to actually enforce this statutory prohibition.


We would like the committee to take into account the issues of licensing and, as you go into your in-committee deliberations, to please look very carefully at our ability in this province to enforce statutory prohibition to prevent children from accessing tobacco products.

The second thing is the restrictions in terms of smoking in public places and the exposure to secondhand smoke. With that I will sort of throw in workplaces, because if I look at the young people of today and people like James, a lot of the jobs that they have in order to support themselves are in places such as restaurants and bars, where they are exposed in their workplace to secondhand smoke. We're not just talking about workplaces that only employ adults. We're talking about workplaces that do employ the youth of today. Given that cigarettes will now be easier to access, one of our other measures is to now decrease as much as possible the places where we are allowed to smoke cigarettes.

Last but not least is the issue of plain packaging. You've heard James talk about the allure of plain packaging. That's all tied up in the whole advertising issue. Despite the fact that we do have an advertising ban in this country, there is a report I will leave with the committee on a study done about tobacco sponsorship advertising, specifically in the Ottawa region.

It was released by the Canadian Council on Smoking and Health during National Non-Smoking Week and it really very clearly pointed out that, despite the fact that we have a supposed ban on advertising, we are still inundated on a daily basis. In fact in this region every adult is exposed to a minimum of two messages a day, be that at point of purchase or in a bus shelter, to advertisements for a product that kills when used exactly as intended by the manufacturer.

If we are looking at this whole issue of plain packaging and allure, I think that our plain packaging would help to break the link in people's minds between the package colours, their design, their graphic layout and what we see in these point-of-sale advertisements, what we see on billboards sponsoring sports and cultural events. It's not until we can do all of these things in a comprehensive fashion that we are going to be able to protect the youth of tomorrow from some of the ravages that we are seeing in our adult population.

Once again, I thank the committee for the opportunity of presenting and commend the government, the Minister of Health and all parties for being as rapid as they have been in bringing this forward. I hope that you have a sense now of real urgency, given some of the national issues, and that you will look even more diligently at this bill. Thank you.

Mr Jim Wilson: Thank you for taking the time out to appear before us this evening. I think you're right that perhaps with the unfortunate consequences of the lowering of the tobacco taxes, the upside to that may be that, with this bill before the Legislature, it's an opportunity to do even more than what legislators might have otherwise been inclined to do. We don't want to miss that opportunity because we want to try and discourage young people from starting to smoke, which is the objective of the bill.

James, I just want to ask you a question, because we've had other young people who were smokers appear before us and say that it really doesn't matter what you do, "Oh, whoopee ding dong, you're raising the age by one year, you're taking it out of pharmacies, but we'll get cigarettes anyway." They really, I think, hit home the fact that this is a very difficult problem.

One of the things we've been kicking around is the idea that what this bill does is really continue the old model, and that is that we put all the responsibility on retailers. I mean, Becker's store or any other store that sells to someone under the age of 19 after this legislation passes is going to get nailed pretty badly. That's not much different than the current law, which is 18. Young people tell us that doesn't really work because they just keep trying retailers until somebody sells it to them.

We're wondering about whether we shouldn't be putting some responsibility on young people themselves. There is a model in the States where it's not a criminal offence but is treated somewhat like alcohol in terms of fining young people under a certain age. In one model in the United States they have a licensing system for retailers, but they also have a $25 fine for young people who are in possession of cigarettes or who are caught smoking under a certain age.

In your struggles, which you were very honest about, given that you said you didn't have a lot of money when you were growing up, would that have in any way made you think twice about smoking under a certain age?

Mr Howith: Personally, it would certainly have a deterrent effect. It would make me think twice, but it would also make me be that much more careful. Like, 25 bucks is 25 bucks, regardless of who it is, in these hard economic times. But I see some serious fault in enforcing a proposition like that. Are you going to have smoking police running around checking for ID? That doesn't sound too realistic to me.

Certainly it is a personal choice for someone who wants to take up the habit, and it's an unfair battle for youth nowadays, in my opinion, because of the image that's being represented of smoking. You see these Marlboro men in the big, white cowboy hats. They're very masculine-looking figures, and young males would want to look up to and want to be that type of person, because they figure they'd gain popularity. That is essentially the mentality behind the young people today who are facing this issue.

I believe the only way to take steps against the increasing number of young people smoking would be to portray this differently within the media, have a different effect on the exposure rather than just the enforcement.

Mrs Haslam: On page 7 you talk about annual reports on "the effectiveness of statutory prohibition," which is what is in the legislation, and I commend you for knowing what's in the legislation. We've seen people come forward and say, "We want it to be licensing."

Our concern is, can we put it in place without a bureaucracy, can we put it in place without a large outlay of money when that money can go into enforcement, which is where all of us feel that the best efforts are? I think you agree that enforcement is really where we should -- you're going to have to say yes. The Hansard doesn't record nods, for some reason.

But having said that, I wondered what time lines you were looking at. I know you're recommending annual reports on the effectiveness, but I wondered how long you would consider annual reports because then you said, "If it proves to be ineffective and unenforceable, it is recommended that a retailer licensing system be implemented." In what time lines are you looking at that?

Ms Elinor Wilson: It would seem to me that you would need a time line to ensure that all retailers were adequately informed of the law and of the penalties around the law. I would say that should not take more than a year to reach retailers. In fact there have been many examples of how retailers have already been reached by other methods and by the tobacco industry to post signs. I'm not sure that there are a lot of retailers who are unaware of the law.

I would say that, at a minimum, you're looking at a yearly report from your chief medical officer of health. To me, I would expect in year 1 to be seeing adequate enforcement and we weren't seeing a sudden, very sharp increase. I recognize that will be difficult to deal with if Ontario is forced to roll back taxes, because I'm afraid the health community is expecting to see something that we will not like to see. It will be hard separating out those two things. But, on the other hand, an increase is an increase, due to whatever means, and if we can't start to see that this is being kept under control, then we would need to look very seriously at the issue of licensing.

Mr McGuinty: I want to start with a comment. You raised an important problem, and that is this issue of enforcement. A number of other presenters have raised that as well. I think we simply do not have the financial capability, the personnel to enforce this kind of law. That's not the end of it, though, and that's not necessarily the overriding factor in this.

You know, when it came to drinking and driving, the components that went into deterring that, I think there were three important ones. One is we bumped up the severity of the penalties. Second, we had these spot checks, the RIDE programs and, third, and I think very important, it became socially unacceptable to leave that house drunk after drinking.

I think that we don't have the personnel, as I say, or the money to police 120,000 stores in this province. If they each only sold one pack a day, that's 120,000 transactions. They must be selling many more than that, so you can just think of how that'll increase exponentially. I think at the end of the day it just has to become socially unacceptable.

James, I want to inquire a little bit more about the patch. You couldn't obtain the patch?

Mr Howith: No. Just due to financial constraints.


Mr McGuinty: That's not covered by OHIP?

Mr Howith: Not that I believe.

Mr McGuinty: Okay. I wonder if that's something that maybe we should be looking at. From a government perspective, if we were to prescribe one series of patches, if that's how it works, I think we could save the taxpayer a lot of money in the long run if we get somebody unhooked from cigarettes.

Mr Howith: I appreciate that point. Me being the cynic that I am --

Mr McGuinty: But it's too late?

Mr Howith: That's a good point as well. Me being a cynic I don't believe, like I said, in these hard times of bouncing back from a recession, that people are going to want to reap long-term goals due to other people smoking and trying to get them to quit. I believe in the long-term goals and the benefits but I just don't think that right now at this point that would be entirely feasible, like I said.

Ms Elinor Wilson: I just wanted to go back to the issue of social acceptability. I think you would agree that we have seen a dramatic change in social acceptability over the years, and I think one of the things that creates social unacceptability is the fact that you can't do the behaviour in very many places, you can't find the product with which to do the behaviour, so I think all of the measures that we're talking about here are going to help to increase that social unacceptability.

The flip side of that is, though, I think we must be very cautious not to turn this into a "Let's blame the smoker" and paint the smoker as the bad person in this. This is not an issue about smokers versus non-smokers. This is an issue about tobacco control and it's about non-smokers and in fact most of society fighting to control a lethal product. Most of our surveys that we have show that smokers and non-smokers alike are very supportive of restrictions around access for young people, so it doesn't make a difference whether you're a smoker or a non-smoker.

I think we need to be very careful because we're dealing with a clientele that is addicted. They're to be assisted and helped, not frowned upon for being people who just do this and you'd think they would just quit.

Mr O'Connor: I only have a couple of points I'd like to share with the committee members. The price of the patch is around the same price as what it costs your average smoker for a pack a day, so it's in that balance. Some may have some problems with that, but it's making up your mind that you're going to try to tackle this addiction and many other parts of it.

The other thing is that it's not recommended for young people just because of the toxicity of that patch. It's not recommended for teenagers, for example, who might be in high school who got addicted in grade school. It's not recommended for that group because it's so toxic. That's why of course too it's something that's regulated with the pharmacist and requires a prescription. Thank you.

The Chair: I want to thank you both for coming and appearing before us this evening.


The Chair: If I could then call on James Walker. Mr Walker, just to be clear, I take it you are in fact a medical doctor?

Dr James Walker: Yes.

The Chair: You are here representing the Ottawa branch of the Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada?

Dr Walker: That is right, and I'm here with Cathy Rudick, our executive director. I'll be making the presentation but she may provide some backup information.

I would like first to congratulate the government for bringing forth the bill and in fact the all-party support that this bill has received. We feel it's a very significant piece of legislation in terms of preventive health care in this province. As physicians we are particularly delighted to see the stand on the sale and use of tobacco in health care facilities, and in particular we are pleased to see the stand taken on the ban of the sale of tobacco in pharmacies.

I'd like to give you a bit of history as to what has happened in Ottawa with our organization and with the pharmacy issue. In June 1989 we initiated what was then a pilot project to promote those pharmacies in Ottawa-Carleton that did not sell tobacco products. It was never a boycott; it was always a promotion campaign. At that time, when we started out, there were only 28 pharmacies of 129 in the area that did not sell tobacco.

Within two months of starting our campaign there were 11 more; the number had increased to 39 and a year and a half later it was up to 51. In our last full campaign we actually went to the drugstores to check them last August. If you refer to page 8 in your handout, table 1 at the top of the page, these are the August 1993 study results, and if you look at the column "Do Not Sell Tobacco" you'll see that the total in August was up to 70 out of 127 pharmacies.

What's more revealing, however, is when you look at who sells tobacco and who doesn't, and that is 75% of independently owned pharmacists do not sell tobacco in their pharmacy. In the 20 Shoppers Drug Marts they all sell tobacco and one Pharma Plus does not sell tobacco.

If you look further into our report you will see that the next four tables represent the recommendations of the Ontario College of Pharmacists and the compliance and violation of different pharmacies in their setting, whether they're independent or chain stores, with those recommendations. You can see that the compliance with the recommendations of the Ontario College of Pharmacists is far and away greater by independents and that the chain stores are the main problem in terms of compliance with their own governing body.

There are four points that I would like to make as a result of our studies.

First, it is very clear -- you can see from table 1 -- that voluntary regulations do not work, that we need legislation to control this issue.

Second, of all the pharmacies that have stopped selling tobacco we have had none of them go out of business, and we are unaware of any pharmacy in the country that has stopped selling tobacco that has gone out of business. We would challenge the tobacco industry and bodies that represent the tobacco industry indirectly to bring forth a pharmacy that has shut down as a result of stopping tobacco sales.

Third, there's a very inherent conflict of interest. If you sell tobacco in a pharmacy and you're also selling health-enhancing medications, including those used to treat tobacco sickness, that to me and to our organization is a very grave conflict of interest.

I would make a comparison. We have a number of members who are respirologists who are chest physicians. They make their living basically treating people with chest disease. Can you imagine if they had tobacco vending machines in their waiting rooms? That would be totally ludicrous and in fact they would lose their licence under the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Fourth is the mixed message, particularly to youth who walk through an arcade of tobacco products. As you can see from the compliance with the recommendations, in many stores, particularly the large chains, there still are arcades of tobacco products at the entrance of the stores. If you go to the back to fill your prescription, health-enhancing medication, and you walk back through that arcade of tobacco again, what message does that give to our youth, because our youth are the potential future of the tobacco industry?

We will be submitting further data on eight other Ontario centres and their compliance or non-compliance with the recommendations of the Ontario College of Pharmacists, and these will be submitted later this week or early next week to this committee.

Other aspects of the bill that we're very pleased with are the vending machine laws. We think this is very progressive and something we've been working on for many years.

With the aboriginal issue, we would like the ceremonial and religious terms to be defined as to what is ceremonial or traditional religious use of tobacco. We are concerned that native youth may be unnecessarily exposed to tobacco in what is considered a gift. I have difficulty understanding, although I appreciate I don't have an aboriginal background, that a gift of tobacco would be a good gift with what is known now.

We also have some concern on the aboriginal clause about exposure to environmental tobacco smoke of non-aboriginal people in a health care setting in particular. We would like those areas to be more clearly defined.


Despite the recent announcement federally that there will be a minimum pack size of 20, we ask you to keep that in the bill simply because at this point in time we have considerable distrust and concern for the federal approach to tobacco in this country.

We would also like to put forth a major amendment, which is included on page 5 in your handout, and that is to bring plain packaging into Ontario. Ontario has a chance to be truly a world leader as well as the Canadian leader on this issue. The serious effects of the recent federal tax rollback make this more urgent than ever, particularly with the increased consumption that will result particularly among our youth and with the decreased revenue.

Obviously we are all aware that Ontario is in the position within the next few days that it may, and it sounds like it will, have to fall down in the domino effect that's going to go across the country with tobacco tax rollbacks. We need to counteract this.

The major benefits of plain packaging are, first of all, the removal of the allure of carrying that pack with the trademarks and the associations with those trademarks and colours; second is that the health warnings will be much more prominent when they're on a plain package, and probably one of the major things is to break the connection or the link to tobacco sponsorship.

As you know, as a result of the Tobacco Products Control Act, the federal act, tobacco sponsorship has increased to the point that it's their major form of advertising. But that advertising has to be linked to a package, to something that the child buying tobacco can identify with. If it's in a plain package, then it will really weaken that major form of tobacco advertising that is now under the guise of sport sponsorship or sponsorship of the performing arts.

We feel this issue of plain packaging is of the greatest urgency, and if it cannot be an amendment to Bill 119, we would suggest that it be put through very rapidly as a separate bill. Also, if Ontario can hold up on the tax rollback, it has a chance to identify those packs which come into Ontario from other provinces because the plain package would be Ontario's tobacco.

In concluding, I'd like to go back to the basics: What is tobacco? It's a compound that has no innate value other than to maintain the addiction it creates and it is the only consumer product that we are aware of that is both addictive and lethal when used as intended.

The pharmacist who puts tobacco sales before the personal wellbeing of his or her clientele can hardly be considered a health care professional. We would also predict that if tobacco is taken out of pharmacies, considerable funds from the pharmaceutical industry will become available to be used for health promotion in the field of tobacco prevention.

In 1989, when we initiated this campaign, we were receiving pharmaceutical funding. Because we would not back down on this campaign, we lost all that funding and we have good reason to believe that this was due to pressure from the tobacco industry directly.

We would also like to challenge particularly the Liberal members of this committee to confront their federal counterparts, your federal counterparts, in terms of the mismanagement, as far as we're concerned, of the federal tax rollback and to push for stronger federal anti-tobacco legislation as soon as possible.

Bill 119 must not be weakened by tradeoffs with the tobacco industry. There's no room for compromise with an industry that addicts children and sickens adults. Remember, Shoppers Drug Mart is part of that industry.

Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada recommends that Bill 119 is strengthened by the amendment to immediately introduce generic packaging. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Dr Walker, and again I just note for the record that you have left us with a very full submission with a lot of other data from your study and from the work that you've done here in this area. We just want to thank you for all of that as well.

Mr Jim Wilson: Thank you, Dr Walker, for the presentation. I think it's unfortunate that really the only controversy in the bill has been the pharmacy issue. Mr Sterling earlier today pointed out that is indeed unfortunate because it's perhaps taking us away from strengthening the act and the true goal of the act and, I think, from the public understanding the act.

I've said many times during this hearing -- and you may have inadvertently fallen into this today when you said that the government should keep the ban on kiddie packs in the bill. Well, it's not in the bill, neither is plain packaging, neither is ETS, neither is workplace, and you know that.

But I've read newspaper articles and people tell me this is the greatest bill in the world because it contains all that. The government is asking for the regulatory authority to do some of this stuff, but the bill itself is extremely weak and I think that because we focused so much on the pharmacy fight, I don't know why health groups aren't coming here and screaming at the government and saying, "We want to know what your regulations are now because this bill is hollow without some meat on the bones." Do you have any comments on that?

Dr Walker: Yes, I do. I don't agree that the bill is hollow. I think there are some very significant things that are in the bill per se. To watch the pharmacy issue and the health care issue is extremely significant in terms of the role model for society that it gives. If we were to write the bill, we would write a much stronger bill, very definitely. We would deal with an awful lot of issues. We don't write the bill.

With regard to the issue of plain packaging, I realize it's not in the bill and that's why we've put it forth as an amendment to the bill. We've been through this with the Canadian Tobacco Products Control Act and the Non-smokers' Health Act. Regulations are just fraught with problems. We feel the main issue should be in the bill. In particular, plain packaging I don't think can ever be underestimated as to the impact this will have.

I appreciate the other things you say are not in the bill per se, and we have concerns about the regulations, but there is certainly a lot of strength in this bill.

Mr Jim Wilson: If we see the regulations is my point, but I do appreciate your comments, because you're right.

Mr McGuinty: Thank you very much for your presentation. First of all, you're to be commended for bringing about a reduction in the availability of tobacco products in our local pharmacies here.

Second, I think you make a very, very good point. Something that's coming to rest in my mind over the days is that one of the most substantive improvements we could bring to the bill was to address this issue of plain packaging.

I've developed an understanding now that, for kids, a package is an accessory akin to an article of clothing, earrings, a belt, the latest style of shoe, something that you want to be seen with. Have you actually prepared an amendment? Has somebody actually prepared an amendment that we could use?

Dr Walker: I don't know how prepared you want it. In our statement on page 5, we have our statement about amendments.

Mr McGuinty: Right.

Dr Walker: Also in the appendices, I believe it's appendix 1, is the detail on what plain packaging is.

Mr McGuinty: Yes, I found it very helpful.

Dr Walker: If you want us to write an amendment, we'll have you one in no time.

Mr McGuinty: I'd appreciate that. I guess the other thing I wanted to ask you was -- actually, I've lost my train of thought now, you've been so helpful.

The Chair: Shall I go to another train?

Mr McGuinty: No, I know what it was. This issue of the packaging, I gather that the federal legislation was the subject of a court hearing at the primary level in the Quebec courts and then it was appealed. It was upheld at the appeal level and now it has gone to the Supreme Court of Canada and a decision is to come down in April of this year, as I understand it, for that.

Dr Walker: That applies to the Tobacco Products Control Act?

Mr McGuinty: Right. I gather a packaging provision would likely be the subject of a court action. Does that make sense? I'm just thinking that tobacco producers would be up in arms over this. I'm just trying to anticipate, so that if we do something, we'll know what --


Dr Walker: One thing we've learned in the anti-tobacco campaign is the more noise you get, you know you're on the right track. I guarantee you're going to get a lot of flak and, yes, there probably is going to be a legal challenge, but that shouldn't make us back down, because that means it's an effective move. To me and to our organization, and I think I can speak for many health care organizations, plain packaging would be a very, very big step in the right direction. To make a big step you're going to have to take the flak and deal with it appropriately.

Mr McGuinty: Thank you.

The Chair: To another train of thought, then, and Mr Winninger.

Mr Winninger: Thank you for your presentation. Just two quick points: Your recommendation with regard to section 12 concerning the traditional use of tobacco by aboriginal people might be problematic in that -- of course you're probably aware that tobacco is sacred and it's passed from generation of elders to the next generation.

But aside from that, in the context of our Statement of Political Relationship that the province entered into with the first nations on a government-to-government basis, the strategies around aboriginal healing are largely self-determined because of their self-government aspirations. So it may, in fact, be up to the aboriginal people themselves, in light of their traditions, to define what is ceremonial use and what is not, as opposed to non-native governments dictating what those definitions should be. That was one comment.

Dr Walker: I understand your point. On the other hand, I would think it is in the aboriginal people's best interests to clearly define what ceremonial is so that their youth are not inappropriately exposed to the misuse of tobacco.

Mr Winninger: I expect it will be.

Just one other brief point: I think your suggestion with regard to plain packaging is a good one, but you're undoubtedly aware that there is a federal legislative component to that as well because it involves packaging. I was wondering what you and your organization would be prepared to do to apply similar pressure to the federal government so they could work with us towards that very worthy objective.

Dr Walker: We would certainly be glad to apply pressure to the federal government and in fact the anti-tobacco community has been doing that for some time. We see an opportunity in Ontario to be true leaders here.

Just like the smuggling issue and the tax rollbacks appear they are going to domino across our country from Quebec, I would say if we do this in Ontario, we're going to have the same positive domino effect with plain packaging, and Ontario can quite rightfully be a true leader if we put it in this bill at this time. I think to wait for the federal government to move on it would be a mistake. We will push them as well, but I encourage Ontario with the greatest of urgency to deal with plain packaging now.

Mr Winninger: I wonder, just on that point, whether there is any clarification that might come from the parliamentary assistant or the ministry official as to what the federal limitations are on what you're suggesting.

Mr O'Connor: I appreciate the opportunity to shed a little bit of light on this. I've got no doubt in my mind as we sit around here and discuss this important issue that it would no doubt end up in the courts with a challenge. The provincial governments right across this country, the Health ministers, hoped that the federal government would move on the plain packaging issue because there will be a challenge.

We would just as soon, instead of having to fight this battle in Ontario and then fight this battle -- well, it may not be in Quebec because they don't think this is a health issue -- but all the other provinces across this country, we hope the federal government would take leadership in this issue, and that's why the Health ministers have tried to work with the federal government on this.

The Minister of Health sent a letter to the federal Minister of Health in January 1993 asking for that to take place and, of course, that government of the day didn't feel that it was an important health issue and didn't move on it. Mr Chrétien has thrown this out as a possibility.

We've put in the legislation the abilities for us to do this and we will definitely be looking into that. The difficulty we have is, we want to get this legislation introduced and back into the House for third reading so we can work on the balance of it, but it's not like we're going to forget about taking a look at that issue as well.

I appreciate what you said and I think the appendices you put on there are very concise and I think will help me in our discussion within the ministry.

Dr Walker: Again, we feel very strongly it should be front row and centre in the bill, not in the regulations, because of the delay of implementation and the difficulties with regulations. I think with all-party support this should not be difficult to put plain packaging through, and I say we're going to have to accept the heat. So what if they give us a court challenge? We're on the right track.

The Chair: Thank you both for coming before the committee. I suspect we could continue to discuss these issues, but I'm afraid time means that we must move on to the next witness. Thank you both again for coming.


The Chair: I call on Ms Lois King, representing the Ottawa chapter of the Allergy/Asthma Information Association.

Ms Lois King: Yes. I'm the local Ottawa activator. I understand you have already heard from Sue Daglish, who's our national executive director, so I'll just very briefly summarize our position and put a little personal spin on this.

Just before I start, I hope Mr McGuinty has told all of you to bring your skates and take part --

The Chair: He has.

Ms King: -- clear your brain and go out to enjoy winter.

The Chair: In fact, I should note for the record that Mr McGuinty led a party over to the canal earlier today and he has promised personally to skate to Carleton University.

Mrs Haslam: Although he didn't say what day on the plane and, actually, we know we can rent them just across from the hotel.

Ms King: Yes, and the Beaver Tails are excellent.

Mr Dadamo: All right. We're used to skating on thin ice.

The Chair: It's probably a good thing Mr McGuinty didn't hear what it was he had promised. Sorry, we're getting to the end of a long day.

Ms King: No, I understand. I'm your last speaker this evening. I'd also like to assure Ms Haslam that I will not use the term "level playing field." I caught a little bit of the televised stuff around 6:30 this evening on the provincial channel, so I guess you were here hearing other people at the time.

I represent a group of mostly volunteers, mostly very committed people who are trying to help others and themselves deal with asthma and allergies, in particular respiratory and food allergies. We know that about one in six Canadians have some kind of respiratory allergic disease. It could be asthma, it could be what we call hay fever, it could be rhinitis caused by dust mites or various other allergens.

Our major concern surrounding the issue of tobacco is not the addiction problem so much as the effects that it has on our health and the health of our children who are probably also going to be allergic-type people susceptible to all of these allergic respiratory diseases.

As you are aware, when you have asthma or when you have a respiratory allergic disease, you have quite a lot of inflammation in your lung tissues, in your nose and throat, in the eyes sometimes, and tobacco smoke is one of the most powerful irritants which aggravates this inflammation. It's also a preventable irritant.

There's not much we can do about the fact that there are moulds in the air, if you're allergic to mould; there's not much we can do about the fact that there's dust in the air, but we sure do feel we ought to be able not to have to breathe tobacco smoke when we know it's detrimental to our health and when we know that it can trigger the symptoms of asthma and seems to be one of the most potent triggers for childhood asthma to begin.

This is not to say that childhood asthma would not eventually develop, but something has to start it off. You really don't like to see very young children with asthma, and especially it just breaks your heart to see very young children whose parents are smokers and who just don't seem to be able to stop smoking, even though they know it's bad for their children's health.

Most of us do our very best to have our symptoms under control. We don't like to go around wheezing and coughing. We feel that what we have is well-controlled problems but a somewhat hidden disability. We don't get very much sympathy from the general public when we say, "Please don't smoke near me because it really makes me sick." It's, "Oh, well, you know, you're a bit of a fanatic."


We know that in other areas of physical disability we are starting to turn around public opinion that physical disabilities need to be accommodated. Our particular physical disability is that we are extremely sensitive to this very powerful irritant and it's one that we don't really see any justification in having to be subjected to.

We're asking for protection from this problem in all those aspects of our lives that we can possibly manage, in particular in public places. We feel that we have a right to clean air. We feel that we have a right not to be subjected to this avoidable irritant and this substance that compromises our health.

We are a border city here, with Quebec just across one of several bridges. We are very aware of jurisdiction and problems with making regulations, having them stop at one boundary and therefore not be applicable in the next. We do think that provision for smoking in public places should be regulated as a province-wide issue and not left at the municipal level.

I will not use that nasty term, but let us just say that it is very difficult to argue with people whose businesses depend on the fact that at their bingo hall they can have smoking, whereas in Ottawa you can't have smoking in this establishment, but down the road in Gloucester you can. We feel the way to get rid of this nonsense is simply to have it be a provincial affair and not left up to the municipalities. We also feel that we are making it easier, if you make it provincial, for people to make those regulations, since you won't have this problem of adjoining jurisdictions.

One place that we feel we need more strength in our legislation is smoking in the workplace. I was interested to hear the comment that you're wondering why the health groups aren't jumping up and down and why we're just leaving it to the pharmacies to make their point. Figuratively speaking, I'm jumping up and down. Smoking in the workplace is an issue that keeps on coming back. You think you've got a smoke-free workplace and it turns out that actually what you've got is certain areas of your workplace which are smoke-free, but then you have places where people can smoke.

Smoking lounges don't seem to be the answer. What happens is, first of all, people are unwilling to make them as well ventilated and as separate from the rest of the workplace as would be necessary to prevent tobacco smoke from spilling out.

The other thing we've been hearing about, and I'm sure you've heard from other of our members, is that people are finding that these lounges are becoming the places where meetings are held, whether formally or informally. If there's a little meeting going on in the smoking lounge and you are not willing to go in there because of your sensitivity to tobacco smoke, then of course you're going to miss out on that meeting or you're going to go in there and compromise your health. So we feel there is a need for more work on this one, smoking in the workplace.

We know that we have a problem just now with the taxes and with what's happening, this unsettled state of affairs. It's always been my contention that cost really is a deterrent. But I think if we can make smoking extremely inconvenient for people and socially unacceptable, we may be able in some way to offset the ground we're going to lose with what seems to be the inevitable feeling that we're going to have to cut the provincial taxes on cigarettes. I think we need to work very hard on strengthening the provisions around smoking in the workplace and environmental tobacco smoke.

I'd like to thank everybody who has worked hard. I know this is not an easy job, being an MPP or an MP. This is a very important bill for us and we really urge you, please don't back down on any of this and please consider some of the measures you've heard suggested to strengthen it either in this bill or in future amendments. Thank you.

Mr O'Connor: Thank you for coming here. I'm going to have to look at a little bit of Hansard, because I was out of the room for a wee bit. As we've said clearly right from the beginning of this process, when the chief medical officer of health pointed out clearly that we have a huge public health problem here with tobacco, legislation alone can't do it. We're trying to do our best and we've got a lot of support from all members of the Legislature on moving forward and trying to control the access to tobacco products by young people.

We realize there's an awful lot of work going on out in the community as well from folks like yourself and the Lung Association and people working on cessation programs. I think by having these hearings, we've actually been able to maybe penetrate a little bit deeper into the community. We've had some presentations from young people in schools, so I think we've made this a topical issue right in the schools as well.

I think this issue, which we know kills almost 40,000 Canadians a year, 13,000 Ontarians, needs to be talked about and it's a problem that needs to be dealt with. With everybody working together at it, I think we're actually going to see us work a little bit closer to that goal of a 50% reduction by the year 2000. Thank you for your presentation.

Mr Sterling: I'm really happy to see that you're raising the issue of smoking in public places and the workplace. I first introduced a bill in the Ontario Legislature in December 1985. I was eventually able to get the then Liberal government to come around in 1989 to bring in some form of workplace legislation. In my view, it's a very deficient bill, and I told them that at the time.

I had hoped the NDP government, which supported my stand at that time, would have brought it in now to really put some teeth in the workplace legislation on where they should have separately ventilated smoking rooms, if they're going to have any. That would ensure that workers would have the right to a smoke-free environment, which they don't have under the bill as it stands at the present time.

It's interesting that I also brought forward in December 1985, and subsequently on three different occasions, different kinds of private members' bills to cajole the government to do something on a province-wide basis dealing with controlling smoking in public places. The Liberal government wouldn't do anything. We're going to have something done here, and I view that as the most positive part of this whole bill.

I do wish this government would do something about strengthening provisions of controlling smoking in the workplace, because the present legislation is not satisfactory for a lot of people who are presently suffering from asthma and allergies. I thank you for putting the emphasis of your brief on those two issues.

Ms King: There are a lot of other issues in the bill that I personally have very strong feelings on, but this is the one that goes most to the heart of what I do with the Allergy/Asthma Information Association. I am also the mother of a very young child and I sure don't want her smoking.

The Chair: Thank you very much for coming before the committee this evening.

Members of the committee, that concludes our hearings for today. Can I just remind you that we begin tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock sharp -- the emphasis is on "9 o'clock" and "sharp" -- go through until noon and then pick up again at 1:30 and go through until approximately 3 or 3:30 tomorrow afternoon. With that, the committee stands adjourned until 9 o'clock tomorrow morning.

The committee adjourned at 2110.