Today marks the second day of the Quebec Tobacco-Free Week, entirely dedicated to encouraging Quebecers to quit smoking before it's too late. The banner, "Tobacco makes its victims suffer before it kills them," is a scary, but accurate statement about the realities of smoking, but the message sadly gets lost behind an over-the-top cringe-worthy commercial.
No one cares about stats.
Instead of just blowing smoke about the stats of cigarette-related illnesses, the Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health decided to release a terrifying TV spot portraying the "victims" in the depths of their illness, with the hopes of making even the heartiest smokers think twice about inhaling another drag of deadly tobacco.
The glamour of smoking.
While this is an extremely important initiative, and definitely a far cry from the glamorization of days of yore, the video is about as effective as those gross pictures you find on packs of cigarettes, and instead of giving a face to the damage smoking causes, it essentially just caricaturizes its victims.
Ignoring the message.
Promoting a smoke-free Quebec is a worthy cause (it is 2015 after all), but is watching a man inserting his voice box really the way to go? Especially when these spots are played around dinner time, where the sound of a man telling us how much smoking is making him suffer before it kills him, just makes us want to change the channel.
There's no denying the shock value of these images, which can sometimes make people look, but as to whether it actually translates to getting smokers to take it seriously is debatable.
It's just too profitable for the government.
Though the fact that one person in Quebec dies every hour as a result of smoking should be shocking enough, the truth is our society simply doesn't respond unless there are visual cues, and even then, it gets easily overlooked. Showing the visceral effects of what happens can definitely serve to hit the point home, but the reality is, until they actually make cigarettes illegal, people will continue to smoke, as they always have. Unlikely, though, as the industry generates too much money for the government, which makes the whole campaign largely ironic and rather hypocritical, given that it is presented in collaboration with the government of Quebec.
At the end of the day, it's just noise like everything else.
The objective of the Quebec Tobacco-Free Week 2015is to "lift the veil on their suffering," but that's sadly all it seems to do. As long as it happens to characters on tv, it will never actually inspire anyone to give up smoking. Until it happens to them or someone they know personally, it's noise, albeit horrifying noise, that most will just gloss over like everything else we're bombarded with on a daily basis.
Instead of just promoting a week-off from smoking with a shocking video, wouldn't banning cigarettes all together be more effective?
Though you don't need to be a professional actor, the company is looking for outgoing Montrealers who are regulars at a sandwich restaurant in Montreal. Only Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada can apply.
Auditions for "Project Sandwich Montreal" will be held online on July 16 and the shoot will take place on a day between July 23 and 27.
If selected, sandwich-lovers have to take a COVID-19 test on July 20 or 21, so you'd need to keep both dates open until the test is booked.
Those who get hired will make $75 for a wardrobe appointment, $75 for a COVID-19 test, and $750 for one day of filming. If your footage is used in the final commercial, you'd receive an additional $1,500 to $2,000.
Sandwich Commercial Actor
Salary: $750.00 to $2,250.00
Company: Groundglass Casting
Who Should Apply: Montreal-area sandwich lovers aged 18 to 75 years old. No acting experience is required, and this job posting specifically asks for Anglophones.
Youth vaping continues to rise in Canada, despite youth smoking being at its lowest level in decades, according to Health Canada.
The health authority says vaping could lead to tobacco use, threatening Canada's efforts to lower the number of people who smoke.
"Research shows that flavoured vaping products are highly appealing to youth, and that youth are especially susceptible to the negative effects of nicotine - including altered brain development, which can cause challenges with memory and concentration," says Health Canada.
Health Canada's proposed ban — which is open for consultation until September 2 — would prohibit all sugars and sweeteners in vape juices, as well as the majority of flavouring ingredients, with limited exceptions to allow for tobacco and mint or menthol flavours.
The regulatory changes would also include "sensory standards" to "prevent a sensory perception" of flavour other than one that is normal for tobacco and mint flavours.
Health Canada expects that the new changes would make vape products less appealing to young Canadians while providing adult smokers with a small range of flavours to transition to vaping, which it says is a less harmful source of nicotine than cigarettes.
The health authority says businesses that sell vaping products would not suffer an administrative burden from the proposed changes — but they would have to limit their product ranges, potentially resulting in less revenue.
"It doesn't make sense or have any scientific justification," said Flory Doucas, spokesperson for the CQCT.
"Menthol is the second most popular flavour among youth, tied with mango [...] If the goal is to protect youth from the underhanded tactics of the vaping industry, this proposed regulation does not get a passing grade."
Meanwhile, the Coalition des droits des vapoteurs du Québec (CDVQ) said Health Canada's proposals could cause thousands of vapers to reconsider their decision to quit smoking, arguing that the variety of vaping flavours currently available has been key to helping smokers ditch cigarettes and adopt vaping instead.
"Its success lies in its effectiveness in combating smoking insofar as the products to be consumed are pleasant to the taste, whereas that of tobacco reminds them too much of cigarettes," the CDVQ said of vape flavours.
Imperial Tobacco Canada echoed the CDVQ's statement, saying that the proposed changes would only push consumers towards cigarettes.
"The reality is that many smokers are looking for a lower-risk alternative to smoking that they will enjoy. So flavours and nicotine levels play an important role," said Eric Gagnon, vice president of corporate and regulatory affairs for Imperial Tobacco Canada.
"Isn't it the government's duty to provide a reduced-risk product that satisfies these needs so that consumers don't return to smoking?"
Au Québec en 2020, 12 % des personnes de 15 ans et plus fument la cigarette et 4 % vapotent. Depuis le début de la… https://t.co/JCAhzjIJtQ
— Institut de la statistique du Québec (@Institut de la statistique du Québec)1621522782.0
Here are the stats for cigarette smokers by age group from most to least:
25-34 years old (15%)
35-64 years old (14%)
18-24 years old (12%)
65 years and older (8%)
15-17 years old (4%)
Who vapes more?
Here are the stats for vapers by age group from most to least:
15-17 years old (18%)
18-24 years old (15%)
25-34 years old (5%)
35-64 years old (2%)
65 years and older (1%)
Vaping results show a trend in young Quebecers
The data highlights that the highest percentage of vape users in Quebec are 15 to 17-year-olds, about three-and-a-half times higher than the percentage of 25- to 34-year-old vape enthusiasts.
Quebecers aged 15 to 24 make up the largest portion of vapers in the province at a combined 33 percent of all vapers, the data shows, while Quebecers aged 65 and over make up only one percent of all vapers in Quebec — indicative of the new trend among teenagers and young adults.
However, the highest percentage of cigarette smokers in the province are aged 25 to 34 at 15%, followed by those aged 35 to 64 at 14%, showing that millennials are still opting for cigarettes over vapes, while Gen Z is leaning heavily toward vaping.
While some are ubiquitous to all major cities, there are a few that truly make Montreal, Montreal.
The Busker Who's Way Too Good To Be Busking
You get out of the metro car and a mellifluous melody echoes through the station, stopping you in your tracks. Walking up the stairs, you spot a busker, playing for the uninterested passersby as if they're headlining Osheaga.
And really, they should be headlining Osh because this busker is way too good to be busking. Drop a few dollars and stick around for a tune next time you see them.
The Person Smoking A Joint While Waiting For The Bus
If the person smoking a cigarette three feet away from you wasn't enough, some person decides that the only way to make this bus come faster is if they spark up the biggest, ugliest joint you've ever seen.
Bonus points if the entire bus smells like weed after Cheech gets on.
The One Who's Going To A Music Festival
Decked out in the finest floral headwear and H&M clothing, the music festival goer is blissfully unaware of you trying to go to work and also sunscreen.
I get it, you're super excited to be standing next to 20,000 people for the next six hours to see Kendrick Lamar, but since you're already going to a music festival, why start one in a crowded metro?
The Off-Duty Bus Driver Who's Very Much On-Duty
Often found in a Tim Horton's line, the off-duty bus driver who's very much on duty has as much right as anyone to get their mid-day caffeine fix.
Their jobs are gruelling, after all.
But you try explaining empathy to a bus full of confused-looking commuters growing angrier by the second.
The Westmount Mom
As she juggles her ungrateful kids, shopping trips to Holt Renfrew, yoga and manicure appointments, the Westmount mom is never far from her Range Rover, always ready to carpool at a moment's notice.
The Westmount mom is fashionable, works hard, and might yell at a customer service employee from time to time, but she's pretty cool overall and isn't afraid to show it.
The Hot Cop
Also often found in a Tim Horton's line, the hot cop seems to only exist in Montreal, at least in my experience.
Characterized by a healthy scruff and a utility belt that seems to accentuate certain assets a little too well, the hot cop won't hesitate to give you a silly ticket but you'll feel fine about it.
Wait a minute, SPVM, is this by design? Get back to me.
The American Frat Boy Who Doesn't Know How To Drink
Hailing from a school you've never heard of in Vermont, this annoying caricature of a dude-bro wants to challenge you to an arm-wrestling contest in the bar and chugs beer like he's Stone Cold Steve Austin. Unfortunately, he's 18 and this is his first time drinking.
And no, I don't know what the best strip club in Montreal is.
The JMSB Bro
The JMSB bro wears a suit to class and walks around with an air of confidence that belies the fact that he's incredibly stressed out about competing with 400 other aspiring accountants for a handful of jobs.
The Habs Player
It's exciting the first time you see Brendan Gallagher at a restaurant and I'm sure he doesn't mind respectfully being asked for a selfie, but don't ask him every single time you see him somewhere.
Chill out, he's just a hockey player!
The Headphones In, Texting Cyclist Who Almost Ran You Over
I have nothing against cyclists, but some of you are just flat-out dangers to society.
Nothing says "I don't care about anything" than a cyclist who's blasting down the Maisonneuve bike path in the middle of the day while texting and listening to music. How you have not had a huge crash yet is astounding.
The UQAM Student
The UQAM student is from les régions, studies at the Concordia Library, goes out with Anglophones, protests about literally everything and is actually really good at sports.
The UdeM Student
The UdeM student is actually from France, doesn't go out with Anglophones, won't stop talking about how much better the food in France is, secretly thinks the food is actually very good here, and never complains about being broke because it's "not polite to talk about money."
The Concordia Student
The Concordia student is actually from one of the coasts, says they know all the best study spots downtown, is obsessed with "the arts," wears vintage clothing and lives in a $1,500/month Mile-End four-and-a-half apartment with seven other people.
The McGill Student
The McGill student is actually from the U.S., will outdrink you, studies at the Concordia Library, has a driver's license, wears all brand names, and complains about being broke while living in a condo downtown.
It could be the middle of the day and out of nowhere a group of sweaty first-years covered in paint and wearing neon shirts comes stampeding down the street, consuming every drop of alcohol in their path.
Better move out of the way quick before you're swept up in their wake and end up downing several test tube shots at a club on a Wednesday night.
The Construction Worker Smoking A Cig While Watching 4 Of Their Coworkers Dig A Hole
All you can do is shake your head at them because they get paid a lot of money to not give a damn that they are the sole reason you're stuck in an endless line of traffic.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.