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Why isn’t all booze limited to flavourless vodka?

Canadians sure are a schizophrenic lot when it comes to what sort of substances we will legally allow to be used for a chemical high. Take, for instance, e-cigarrettes/vaping.

Canadians sure are a schizophrenic lot when it comes to what sort of substances we will legally allow to be used for a chemical high.

Take, for instance, e-cigarrettes/vaping. You can see displays for them at the corner store, but normal cigarettes are hidden from view. We have whole stores, vape shops, dedicated to the wide variety of flavours and nicotine strengths.

And the same can be said for our now-plentiful cannabis stores. Perhaps the only successful marquee policy Justin Trudeau brought in as prime minister thus far was the legalization of marijuana. He proved it could be done without the utter collapse in society many, myself included, kind of expected.

Saskatchewan has also been moving towards more liberalized access to alcohol, slowly but surely moving to a fully privatized model. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney wants to move a lot further down that road, thinking alcohol access should be similar to that in Europe – in other words, it’s not a big deal. Want to have beer with your picnic? Fine.

Some people are now suggesting decriminalization should be applied to other hard drugs, something I certainly don’t agree with. But it would appear that’s the path we’re on.

So how is it that we can be on an inexorable path to liberalization on all these various mind-altering substances, but we’ve become the metaphorical Nazis on nicotine and tobacco? (And note, I detest both.)

First you couldn’t smoke in bars and restaurants. Then you couldn’t smoke inside. Then you couldn’t smoke near a door. Or on public property in certain places. You couldn’t smoke in a vehicle with kids in it. Very soon you won’t be able to smoke on planet Earth.

All the interesting flavours like menthol or spearmint? Those are bad! Can’t do that! It encourages kids to use it!

Fancy packages are bad, too. Plain labelling is the order of the day, something that’s been applied to marijuana, too. Well, plain except for all the horrific consequences of smoking shown on packages. But hey! It’s still legal, kinda sorta.

Vaping is the latest, greatest thing, and many former smokers I know swear by it. Their vape is never far from their reach, with all its fruity flavours.

Now CBC Nova Scotia reports, “Nova Scotia says it will become the first province to make it illegal to sell any kind of flavoured e-cigarettes and juices, announcing Thursday (Dec. 5.) a ban that will come into force on April 1.”

So much for your business model if you’re a Halifax vape shop. Does this mean you will be able to buy multiple varieties and flavours of marijuana in Nova Scotia, but be limited in cigarettes and vapes? Will we see an illicit Maritime trade in vape juices come April 2? Will they have to inspect lobster fishing boats for bringing in pink lemonade vape juice from P.E.I., lest the adults in Nova Scotia have a choice in their personal pollutants?

The story went on, “The province has worked hard to become a smoke-free culture and doesn't want to lose ground as the number of people who are vaping continues to grow, said Health Minister Randy Delorey.”

So they don’t want you to intake nicotine. I guess that’s because tobacco kills you slowly, very slowly, over years. Pot kills off your brain cells, too. Just talk to a long-time pothead, and you get the idea. Vaping? Well, there’s some concern it might be killing people a lot quicker due to a new, mysterious illness linked to it.

I’ve spent about six years sitting in courtrooms in North Battleford, Battleford and Estevan. I have never sat through a trial or sentencing of someone who killed someone else because they spent a few hours, or days, vaping, toking or smoking.

But I have sat through the sentencing of a woman who killed six adults and one unborn child due to drinking for a few days and then getting behind the wheel of her car. I have walked among the bodies scattered along Highway 16, right in front of the graveyard east of North Battleford, no less.

If I recall correctly, the three young people got drunk and stole a minivan from Saskatoon, then rolled it across four lanes of traffic. I have seen the preliminary inquiry, and discharge, of a man who punched his brother so hard over a case of beer at a house party, his brother’s head hit the floor and he died.

In those six years, I can say without a doubt at least three-quarters of what passes through those courtrooms started with a bottle of alcohol.

A century ago, the temperance movement was successful in getting a constitutional amendment to prohibit alcohol in the U.S., something that utterly failed. All Canadian provinces flirted with prohibition before dropping it. Some had it for a decade or so, Quebec for less than a year. By 1930, all but Prince Edward Island had dropped prohibition. The Islanders got around to it in 1948.

Now, you can get an almost unlimited variety of types and flavours of booze. Yesterday, I saw a Facebook post for “Estevan Vodka.”

So why is it that you can have infinite varieties of alcohol – much more likely to cause you immediate grief, and possibly someone’s death – but governments continually limit similar variety in tobacco and, in Nova Scotia, vapes? I’m told there’s plenty of variety of flavour in marijuana, too.

Why don’t we limit all booze to vodka, as it has no flavour? That’s the idea with smokes and now vapes.  

Like I said, this is schizophrenic behaviour, in a metaphorical sense.


Brian Zinchuk is editor of Pipeline News. He can be reached at