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ROBBINS on tobacco, drugs and alcohol- plus CPC budget + crime
  May 09, 2006

This is a random digit dialing of 645 British Columbians between May 5-9, 2006. It features a margin of error of 3.75%, 19 times out of 20 @96% competency. Glen P. Robbins and Associates sponsored this poll.

Question #1
In your opinion does British Columbia have a significant tobacco, drug and alcohol problem?
Yes    86% %
No    14 %
Question #2
In your opinion how ‘bad’ is the tobacco, drug and alcohol problem in British Columbia?
Very Bad    35 %
Bad    56 %
Not Very Bad    09 %
Question #3
Of the following which (2) in your opinion are the most significant symptoms of social problems facing British Columbians?
Tobacco abuse    25 %
Alcohol abuse    24 %
Meth Amphetamine (Crystal Meth) abuse    12 %
Marijuana abuse    09 %
Heroin abuse    08 %
Cocaine abuse    22 %
Question #4
Of the following, which (2) in your opinion are the most significant symptoms of health problems facing British Columbians?
Tobacco-    28 %
Alcohol    13 %
Meth Amphetamine (Crystal Meth)-    05 %
Marijuana    04 %
Heroin    09 %
Cocaine    09 %
Fast food-    32 %
Question #5
Of the following which (2) in your opinion are the most significant negative contributors to the economy?
Tobacco    28 %
Alcohol    31 %
Meth Amphetamine (Crystal Meth)-    02 %
Marijuana    02 %
Heroin    06 %
Cocaine-    08 %
Fast Food    14 %
Pharmaceutical drugs    09 %
Pharmaceutical drugs    09 %
Question #6
In your opinion should fast food ‘chain’ restaurants be compelled by the BC Government to charge a ‘health care tax’ on the French fries they serve?
Yes    77.5 %
No    22.5 %
Question #7
In your opinion which of the following two choices BEST depicts the type of qualifications a person ought to have to deal with another person who has a drug or alcohol problem?
A person with a Masters in Sociology or Psychology-    27 %
A person who has recovered from their own alcohol or drug problem and has not used either that drug or alcohol for many years-    73 %
Question #8
Would you approve of significantly higher taxes on premium alcohol products?
Yes    61 %
No    39 %
Question #9
In your opinion should tobacco products be banned from sale in Pharmacies and large and small grocery stores?
Yes    68 %
No    31 %
Question #10
Do you support the recent Budget of the federal Conservative government including new tougher legislation for criminals?
Yes    71 %
No    29 %
Question #11
The Liberal Senate may not support the Conservative budget. If this happens and an election is called as a consequence, who would you be most inclined to blame for the election?
The Liberal Senate    67 %
The Conservative government    33 %
Commentary: Quite obviously, British Columbians believe that tobacco, alcohol and drug abuse is a problem. It is interesting how these respondents perceive this problem relative to different perspectives offered including social and health problems, and as a negative influence on the economy.
Tobacco, which contains nicotine, a drug as powerful as heroin, is perceived by many respondents to be a social, health and economic problem. Alcohol ‘seems’ to baffle respondents more. Although it is seen more as a social problem and negative contributor to the economy, it is clearly ‘mistakenly perceived’ to NOT be a health problem, when in fact when it is abused by one out of seven British Columbians it clearly is. Clearly, ‘self-serving’ surveys and reports conducted by academics with money from Corporations or others have contributed to the collective propaganda provoking this ‘misdiagnosis’ of alcohol by the public in this ROBBINS poll.
Both alcohol and tobacco are legal products in British Columbia. Smoking is frowned upon by all segments of society and smokers are often viewed as a social pariah, which would suggest why tobacco was often at least one of the two selections made in the majority of instances by respondents over Questions #3, 4 and 5. Non-smokers not only don’t want smokers around them because of second hand smoke, many “don’t even like seeing (sic) other people smoke”.
Alcohol is different. Drinking is not permitted in public, and coupled with the fact that one half of the population have not been exposed to the ill affects of it, many British Columbians are thus not aware that alcohol abuse affects about 50%, or the other half of British Columbians (7% of public is alcoholic-another 7% are problem drinkers). Also, alcohol abuse is higher than most ‘averages’ with people of higher education and higher income, which permits these people to ‘keep a cover on the problem’ for a longer period of time. In essence, many of those people who may be responsible for public policy, or for community awareness may also have their own problems with alcohol, (approx one out of six) or have a family member who does. It is easier for these individuals to point to the many other drugs as a more significant problem, rather than focus on their own problem with theirs. The good news is that less people are drinking now and many more people have finally become aware of the billions of dollars in lost productivity that alcohol causes in Canadian society, not to mention the injury and death that continues on our roads due to drunk driving.
Meth Amphetamine is relatively 'new' bad drug on the block and it is truly an awful thing. Port Coquitlam Assistant Fire Chief John Kenyon is a public speaker on matters relating to this drug particularly in the area of enforcement and he tells ROBBINS “the affects of Meth Amphetamine on individuals who get hooked, their families, and the community are absolutely devastating.” Hooked immediately, Meth Amphetamine addicts will be totally ruined physically and mentally in less than one year, sometimes in six months (without exception). Meth labs, which like marijuana grow-ops are often constructed in residential homes, are even more dangerous because they are constituted from ingredients capable of causing a massive explosion resulting in injury and death. Resources allocated to this burgeoning problem need to be dovetailed with fire and safety personnel for this reason.
The ‘silver lining’ is that Conservative Justice Minister Vic Toews, MP James Moore, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have committed extensively to dealing with the problem of Meth Amphetamine abuse and Meth labs, and have personally attended what are now being called Meth ‘death camps’ where people ravaged by the drug live in tents on the outskirts of suburban areas under bridges and in the bush. Indeed, one observer tells of meeting Prime Minister Harper during the most recent general federal election in Burnaby, BC when the subject of Meth Amphetamines was raised. Rather than continue glad-handing and politicking, the Prime Minister decided to stop and take notes on the subject. It is hoped that these very capable leaders will continue to use their ‘political capacity’ to help to deal with this awful problem. BC radio and well-known talk show host Bill Good and his colleagues at CKNW have done some exemplary public service on this Meth Amphetamine problem, which is coming at us like a Tsunami.
Marijuana gets some attention from British Columbians as a social problem, less as a health problem, and even less as a negative contributor to the economy. According to respondents the grow-ops and the crime associated with these is the foundation for the social complaint, and is also connected to the health problem as well, perhaps even more so than the fact that people ‘smoke’ marijuana like tobacco. It is interesting that most respondents don’t perceive marijuana to be one of their two choices as a negative contributor to the economy. Is the contra inference that it is a positive contributor?
Cocaine has been around the social scene for long enough to be considered ‘mainstream’. It is still perceived as a ‘hard drug’ (rather than a social drug despite the social jet set lifestyle often associated with it), which also ruins lives in a short period of time. It is an expensive habit and as a consequence is capable of bankrupting its victims emotionally, spiritually, and economically in short order. Heroin is still the most ‘sinister’ of the hard drugs (soon to be rivaled by Meth Amphetamine). Linked mostly with the downtown east side of Vancouver the images of people in back alleys or on the streets prostituting themselves is horrific and continues on. Mainstream society is finally beginning to understand that drug abuse is a health problem and needs to be treated that way. There is also no question (literally as we didn’t ask), that people think big time dealers should face more significant penalties. There is no evidence from this poll that British Columbians see marijuana as a ‘problem’ of any significance. Vancouver Police Chief Jamie Graham will tell you that ‘alcohol is the gateway drug, not marijuana’.
This is relatively simple, people who are ‘hooked’ on drugs need to be considered at risk, as a health problem, people who make a lot of money from drugs, so long as they remain illegal, ought to do a lot of prison time.
Respondents who selected Pharmaceuticals in Question #5 believe they are too expensive. Many seniors or other people with illnesses, which require expensive medication, are negatively impacted by this economic cost reflected in the relatively high number who made this selection.
There is no doubt that British Columbians are ready for new taxes associated with health care including taxing French fries from fast food restaurants. Respondents in this poll just loved answering “Yes” to this question (possibly after having to deal with the downer of answering the tobacco, drug and alcohol questions). French fries are unhealthy wherever your purchase them, but fast food ‘chains’ are the main culprit owing to the preponderant amount they sell consumers. British Columbians are becoming increasingly aware of the enormous health costs associated with obesity including other economic costs associated with being overweight such as lost workdays.
British Columbians obviously believe that a person who has experienced problems with drugs and alcohol and who has made a successful recovery is far better equipped to help another person and their family with similar problems, than someone who is ‘textbook’ educated with a Masters degree in sociology or psychology. There are community groups now that subscribe to the latter philosophy when hiring and in fact are often ‘union organized’. This type of ‘set-up’ likely contributes more to people ‘believing’ that something is being done (a manufactured construct) to solve the problem, than is actually being done. ROBBINS thinks if you want to ‘make work’, than build a road, if you want to help people with drug and or alcohol problems, get someone with real life experience.
The majority of respondents in this poll are supportive of higher taxes on premium alcohol, although many don’t know “what the point is” unless those dollars are specifically “directed in areas that help deal with problems caused by alcohol”. To date resource allocation toward assisting British Columbians with alcohol dependence are scant relative to the revenue streams it produces for government, and pitiful when one considers the absolute harm and devastation that it brings to families, communities, and the economy. More and more ROBBINS is beginning to see a public that likes to see specific relationships between taxes collection and allocation, something the BC Provincial government is disinclined to do. Federal programs ought to be specifically earmarked when applicable, or zero money should be offered. This is one reason why the Conservatives cannot give the BC Liberal government $55 million for the 2010 Olympics.
The BC Liberal government has already exceeded their budget of $600 million by upwards of $100 million, which Minister of Economic Development Colin Hansen has FINALLY admitted will be used to promote the 2010 Olympics. Until such time as this additional $100 million or so becomes the responsibility of all British Columbians (and not just those outside of Vancouver where Colin Hansen, Finance Minister Carole Taylor and Premier Gordon Campbell live), the federal Conservative government won’t likely be advancing one thin dime no matter what Finance Minister Carole Taylor is telling us.
The majority of respondents clearly see tobacco products as poison and thus harmful. They agree that the sale of these products should be banned from pharmaceutical stores, and big and small grocery stores. What may be a convenience for a few respondents is clearly a bad choice to others who could care less whether profit margins are affected.
Prime Minister Harper and his Conservative Party’s recent budget is a success with the majority of respondents in British Columbia, particularly when linked to the Conservative’s tougher position on crime. The public currently doesn’t care what the academics might think about prison time for drug trafficking they are fed up with lenient courts generally after more than a decade of perceived Liberal ‘weakness’ on matters relating to crime, and are fed up with paying huge taxes for government agencies and bodies that aren’t perceived as successful, and weary as criminals become wealthy off the sale of drugs while the taxman continues to squeeze small business and the little guy. Nor according to response patterns in this poll does the public care about the SCOC Chief Justice Beverly McLaughlin’s feelings after criticisms leveled by Saskatchewan MP Maurice Vellacott in her direction. Ottawa may care, the Opposition in Ottawa may care, the Press Corp. may even care, but the BC public didn’t budge.
The federal Liberal Senate may as advertised try to hold up the budget in that chamber however if they overstate their position, (or perhaps state it at all) Prime Minister Harper may be able to hang them with it, and potentially call another ‘snap’ election before the Liberal party has even selected a new leader. This is a sensitive consideration with big stakes, but the Senate isn’t popular amongst British Columbians generally, and if given enough rope, the Conservatives might be able to hang them and their party with it. Stephen Harper will have to make the Liberal Senate reach for their sidearm first. If they do, this poll suggests it could be lights out for the Opposition in this country. You heard it hear first!

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