There's good news and bad news about smoking. Recent statistics reveal that consumption rates are at record lows and appear to be dropping even further. And, as those rates fall, the menace of second-hand smoke also recedes. But these positive developments come at a time when new evidence warns that cigarettes are even more hazardous than we have thought. So to end smoking and the many costs it imposes on this continent, let alone elsewhere in the world, much remains to be done.
Environment Canada has been telling us for years that Canada is running off the climate track and -- because of growing emissions largely from the oil and gas sector -- we are getting farther and farther away from meeting our government's self-imposed climate targets. Because of that climate failure, Canada is holding all of us back from prosperity, jobs and better health. That's according to a new study of benefits from international emission pledges made in the lead up to December's UN climate summit. Developed countries around the world -- with the exception of Canada and Japan -- are unveiling their individual climate plans, which were due yesterday.
Basic regulation makes sense. But regulations often proliferate to unnecessary extremes, helped along by special interests that want less competition. The effect of this regulation reality is obvious once again with Uber's entry into the city transportation market, and with predictable opposition from taxi cartels.
The method's goal is to help people make better choices in a variety of areas without removing their right to choose. Researchers claim that individuals select more wisely when provided with a clear set of options. The method may be able to curb problems such as smoking, intemperate drinking, and problem gambling.
The tendency for governments to increasingly regulate the advertising industry, whether in the name of consumer protection or for health concerns, is already on full throttle. After cigarette packs, don't be surprised if sooner or later you see plain bags of chips on the shelves of convenience stores, or plain-packaged chocolate bars. Politicians stand on a steep, slippery slope that could lead to private property and intellectual property violations, and destruction of brands. The economic consequences should be weighted carefully. And such policies backed by solid empirical data, not merely good intentions.
It is true that smoking is a major public health concern, and one might be tempted to say that the change in behaviour is desirable, whatever the effect on government revenue. Again, Laffer tells us that things are more complicated than it seems. While it is true that some people are deterred from smoking by tax increases, this is not the case of all smokers.
School might be out but that doesn't mean we (and our politicians who make the rules) can't learn a thing or two on our summer vacations, be it taxis, airline travel or on convenience in shopping for beer, wine and spirits. Can Canadians learn from the rest of the world? We'll find out in September.
Kevin O'Leary has created an entire persona around a sort of modern-day Gordon Gekko. O'Leary is fond of and famous for employing phrases like "it's all about the money," "people only care about money," and "money makes the world go round." To put it mildly, this is a superficial, even one-dimensional understanding of markets.
Health associations have long been calling for a "fat tax"; taxes on foods that some nutritionists and researchers don't want us to eat or drink. Unfortunately, the lack of sound thinking behind vilifying sugary drinks or less healthful snacks has not changed, nor has the blunt, imprecise, and unfair nature of a "junk food" or "sugary drink" tax. Overly simplistic solutions to obesity that vilify an industry or food product are bad public policy. The reality is that "junk food" taxes or sugary drink taxes are ineffective instruments that fail to recognize the complex and manifold causes of obesity. It's time we put the idea of such taxes in their rightful place: the junk bin.
If a company is selling an herb-based drug that they claim cures your cancer, then this is considered a high-risk claim and they must submit high-order evidence. If they do not want to go through this hassle all they have to do to get the drug approved is make a very general health claim; "supports immune-system health" for example.
For three years, my political party has veered in a direction I cannot follow. And if the GOP insists on framing the 2012 election as a ballot question on fiscal and monetary austerity, or if they nominate somebody manifestly incompetent to do the job of president, they're going to lose me -- and a lot more people.