Transcript: How Canada Became a Country of Smokers | Feb 10, 2021

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and gray plaid tie.

A caption on screen reads "How Canada became a country of smokers. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says THERE WAS A TIME WHEN ALMOST 50 PERCENT OF CANADIANS SMOKED CIGARETTES ON A DAILY BASIS. HALF. THAT'S FALLEN SUBSTANTIALLY NOW, TO BELOW 20 PERCENT. BUT IN ITS HEYDAY, SMOKING SEEMED UBIQUITOUS AND UNSTOPPABLE. WHY? THAT'S THE SUBJECT OF DANIEL ROBINSON'S NEW BOOK. IT'S CALLED: "CIGARETTE NATION: BUSINESS, HEALTH, AND CANADIAN SMOKERS, 1930 - 1975." HE'S AN HISTORIAN AND ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR IN THE FACULTY OF INFORMATION AND MEDIA STUDIES AT WESTERN UNIVERSITY IN LONDON, AND DANIEL ROBINSON JOINS US NOW FROM MIDTOWN IN THE PROVINCIAL CAPITAL.

Daniel is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with mid-parted wavy white hair. He's wearing glasses, a gray suit and a blue shirt.
A picture of his book appears briefly on screen. The cover features a picture of a lit cigarette resting on an ashtray that contains a small painting of a rural scene.

Steve continues I'M DELIGHTED TO SEE YOU'RE NOT SMOKING. HOW ARE YOU TODAY?

Daniel says I'M DOING FINE, THANKS.

Steve says GOOD. GLAD TO HEAR IT. I WANT TO TAKE YOU BACK TO THE TURN OF THE LAST CENTURY WHEN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, YOU TELL US IN YOUR BOOK, ACTUALLY PASSED A BILL BANNING THE SALE AND PRODUCTION AND IMPORTATION OF CIGARETTES. CLEARLY THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN. SO WHAT DID HAPPEN?

The caption changes to "Daniel Robinson. Western University. Author, 'Cigarette nation.'"
Then, it changes again to "In the beginning."

Daniel says WELL, THAT CAME ABOUT BECAUSE THERE WAS A GROUP CALLED THE WOMEN CHRISTIANS TEMPERANCE UNION ADVOCATING FOR A CIGARETTE BAN. THEY THOUGHT CIGARETTES WERE AMORAL AND IT WOULD BE A GATEWAY VICE AND THEY WOULD BE TRUANT AND THE REST. THEY WERE PUSHING FOR THIS IN THE EARLY 1900s. BUT THE ISSUE HERE WAS THAT THE CABINET DIDN'T REALLY WANT TO DO THIS BILL AND THE PRIME MINISTER DID NOT AND, FRANKLY, TOBACCO INDUSTRY LOBBIED PRETTY EFFECTIVELY AGAINST IT. SO THE COMPROMISE WAS THAT IN 1908, THEY AGREED TO A LAW THAT WOULD BAN THE SALE OF CIGARETTES TO PEOPLE UNDER 16, AND THE WCTU KEPT PUSHING FOR THIS. BUT BY WORLD WAR I, THIS WAS EFFECTIVELY ORDER. WORLD WAR I SHOWED CIGARETTES WERE VITAL AND IMPORTANT FOR SOLDIERS OVERSEAS.

A picture pops up of a red whit and yellow poster featuring a drawing of a soldier and the caption "Our boys want smokes. Canada's Tobacco Fund, organized by the Over-Seas Club."

Steve says LET ME TAKE YOU TO WORLD WAR I WHERE THERE WAS A CONCERTED EFFORT TO TARGET WOMEN TO SMOKE MORE. TELL US HOW THAT HAPPENED.

The caption changes to "Daniel Robinson, @djr100Daniel."
Then, it changes again to "Women join the smoker's club."

A black and white portrait shows a woman smoking.

Daniel says WELL, WOMEN START SMOKING IN LARGE NUMBERS IN THE 1930s AND DURING WORLD WAR II. SO IF WE GO BACK TO THE '30s, THIS WAS ACTUALLY THE PERIOD WHEN ADVERTISERS FIRST START TARGETING WOMEN. IT WAS THOUGHT BEFORE THAT TIME THAT IT WAS SOCIALLY IMPROPER FOR WOMEN TO SMOKE IN PUBLIC. AND SO WHAT YOU SEE IS A NUMBER OF ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS TARGETING WOMEN IN THE '30s AND '40S. YOU ALSO SEE WOMEN DEPICTED IN HOLLYWOOD FILMS SMOKING A LOT, ACTRESSES LIKE JEAN HARLOW AND MAE WEST AND MARLENA DIETRICH. SO IF YOU WERE A YOUNG WOMAN SITTING IN THE AUDIENCE AND LOOKING UP IN THE 1930s, YOU MIGHT BE THINKING, HOW AM I GOING TO DEVELOP A PERSONA AND YOU'RE LOOKING UP AT THE SCREEN AND SEEING THIS WONDERFUL DYNAMIC FEMALE STAR SMOKING AND YOU MIGHT BE THINKING, "I WANT SOME OF THAT." SO THE QUESTION BECOMES WHY NOT SMOKE? AND THIS CARRIES INTO WORLD WAR II. WOMEN SMOKING RATES START TO RISE CONSIDERABLY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR AS WELL.

Steve says LET'S STICK WITH WORLD WAR II. BECAUSE CIGARETTE SMOKING CLEARLY BECOMES AN IMPORTANT AND ACCEPTED PART OF CANADIAN SOLDIERS' DAILY ROUTINES. HERE'S A LITTLE EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK ON THAT...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Canadian soldiers during World War 2." The quote reads "More than chocolate, beer, or candy, cigarettes (especially Canadian ones) were integral to the sensual, psychological, and social experiences of preparing for and waging war."
Quoted from Daniel Robinson, "Cigarette Nation." 2021.

Steve says HOW SO, DANIEL?

The caption changes to "Lighting up on the frontlines."

Daniel says WELL, WAR IS A VERY STRESSFUL TIME, OBVIOUSLY, ESPECIALLY FOR THE COMBATANTS. SO CIGARETTES WERE A WAY OF RELIEVING THAT STRESS. THEY WERE LIGHTWEIGHT, THEY WERE NON-PERISHABLE, YOU COULD USE THEM, TRAVEL WITH THEM DURING MOBILE MILITARY CAMPAIGNS. SO THEY WERE VERY PRACTICAL AND USEFUL ITEM FOR SOLDIERS TO HAVE DURING THE WAR. BUT I THINK MORE INTERESTINGLY, THE CIGARETTES THAT SOLDIERS RECEIVED GENERALLY CAME AS GIFTS FROM FAMILY MEMBERS OR FRIENDS BACK HOME AND OTHER INSTITUTIONS BACK HOME. SO THEY WERE NOT BOUGHT THROUGH MILITARY CANTEENS OR MILITARY RATIONS. THAT MEANT WHEN YOU GOT THESE CIGARETTES, THERE WAS SORT OF A SENSE OF GRATITUDE AND MUTUAL OBLIGATION THAT WENT WITH THAT. THE CIGARETTE SHARING AND GIVING ACTUALLY CEMENTED TIES BETWEEN SOLDIERS ON THE HOME FRONT. THESE CIGARETTES IN TURN WERE SHARED WITH OTHER SOLDIERS. AND THAT ENHANCED THE KIND OF SOCIAL BELONGING AND SOCIAL COHESION OF THE MEN IN THESE MILITARY UNITS. IT MADE FOR THEM... IT HELPED THEM BECOME A BAND OF BROTHERS, SO TO SPEAK, AND IT ARGUABLY ENHANCED THEIR FIGHTING EFFECTIVENESS BECAUSE THE MORE SOCIALLY ATTACHED YOU ARE TO THE MEN IN YOUR UNIT, THE MORE LIKELY YOU ARE TO HAVE THEIR BACKS AND FIGHT HARD FOR THEM. SO CIGARETTES WERE VERY IMPORTANT IN THAT SENSE. THEY WERE IMPORTANT FOR PoWs AS WELL.

Steve says LET'S MOVE THE STORY ALONG ANOTHER COUPLE OF DECADES TO THE 1960s AND TOBACCO EXECUTIVES SUDDENLY DECIDE, WE'RE GOING TO TARGET THOSE UNDER THE AGE OF 18. TELL US ABOUT THAT.

The caption changes to "Targeting teens during the 1960s."

An ad appears briefly showing a woman smiling as she holds a cigarette. Text on the ad reads "The wisdom behind the du Maurier filter..."

Daniel says SO IN THE 1960s, THE INDUSTRY COMES TO REALIZE THAT TEENAGERS WERE A VERY IMPORTANT DEMOGRAPHIC GROUP. YOU SEE THIS REFLECTED IN ONE INSTANCE BY IMPERIAL TOBACCO, THE LARGEST TOBACCO COMPANY, LOWERING THE MINIMUM AGE IN THEIR SURVEYS FROM 18 TO 15. THEY START ASKING THESE TEENS WHAT THEY LIKE ABOUT SPORTS, WHAT THEY LIKE ABOUT SOCIAL ACTIVITIES, THEY ASK THEM WHAT BRANDS THEY SMOKE... THEY DO A WHOLE HOST OF MARKET RESEARCH TO FIGURE OUT WHAT MAKES THESE YOUNG PEOPLE TICK. AND THEN THEY START DOING SOAKS GROUPS AND OTHER TYPES OF RESEARCH TO FIGURE OUT WHAT ADVERTISING WOULD WORK BEST. THEY DO ALL THIS BECAUSE THERE'S A REALIZATION WITHIN THE INDUSTRY IN THE '60s AND '70s THAT THE LONG-TERM SUCCESS OF A BRAND IS LINKED TO HOW EFFECTIVELY YOU GET THAT BRAND INTO THE HANDS OF STARTER SMOKERS. A STARTER SMOKER IS TYPICALLY SOMEONE UNDER 18. SO SOMEONE SMOKING PLAYER'S, FOR EXAMPLE, WHEN THEY'RE 15 OR 16, ARE LIKELY TO CONTINUE SMOKING THAT BRAND WHEN THEY GET INTO THEIR 20s AND BEYOND. SO THAT'S HOW YOU BUILD UP LONG-TERM SUCCESS BY GETTING THE BRAND IN THE HANDS OF YOUNG PEOPLE. THE PROBLEM FOR THE INDUSTRY IS THEIR ADVERTISING CODE FORBADE THEM TO DO THAT. THEY WOULD PUBLICLY DENY THEY WERE DOING THIS. THEY CERTAINLY DIDN'T WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW BECAUSE THEY WERE CONCERNED THE GOVERNMENT WOULD COME IN AND REGULATE THEM MORE STRINGENTLY IF IT WAS KNOWN THEY WERE MARKETING TO TEENS.

Steve says LET ME ASK A FRIGHTFULLY NAIVE QUESTION: WAS NOBODY CONCERNED ABOUT THE IMMORALITY OF DOING THAT AT THE TIME?

Daniel says NOT SO MUCH. I'VE LOOKED AT A LOT OF INDUSTRY DOCUMENTS IN THAT RESPECT. VERY LITTLE CONCERN IS EXPRESSED IN THAT WAY. IT'S USUALLY MORE CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT YOUR COMPETITORS ARE DOING IN TERMS OF GETTING AN ADDED ADVANTAGE IN THAT RESPECT.

Steve says WHAT WERE THE CONSEQUENCES OF MARKETING DIRECTLY TO 14, 15, 16-YEAR-OLDS?

Daniel says WELL, AT THE TIME THERE WEREN'T REALLY A LOT OF CONSEQUENCES. LATER THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES IN TERMS OF THE LITIGATION THAT HAS HAPPENED WITH THE INDUSTRY. AND IN FACT MARKETING TO TEENS IS ONE OF THE PRIMARY REASONS FOR WHY THE INDUSTRY HAS FOUND ITSELF IN HOT WATER IN TERMS OF SOME OF THESE LAWSUITS.

Steve says LET ME TAKE YOU TO 1968 NOW. THE CURRENT PRIME MINISTER'S FATHER IS THE PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA, PIERRE TRUDEAU, AND HE PUTS A GUY FROM HAMILTON IN HIS CABINET NAMED JOHN MUNRO WHO BECOMES THE MINISTER OF HEALTH. AND WHAT DID HE DO VIS-A-VIS TOBACCO IN THIS COUNTRY AT THE TIME?

The caption changes to "Government response."

Daniel says WELL, JOHN MUNRO WAS A YOUNG GUY THEN. HE'S 37. HE'S A JUNIOR CABINET MINISTER IN THE HEALTH PORTFOLIO. HE'S ALSO A TWO PACK A DAY SMOKER AND HE'S TRIED TO QUIT MANY TIMES AND CAN'T. SO HE'S VERY MOTIVATED, VERY PASSIONATE ABOUT THIS ISSUE. AND SO HE APPEALS TO PIERRE TRUDEAU TO SAY THAT THE GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO BE MORE PROACTIVE ON THIS MEASURE. HE GETS A COMMITTEE IN PARLIAMENT TO INVESTIGATE THE TOBACCO INDUSTRY AND THE ISSUE OF SMOKING AND HEALTH. AND THEY COME BACK WITH HARD-HITTING RECOMMENDATIONS AGAINST THE INDUSTRY, INCLUDING A TOTAL BAN ON CIGARETTE ADVERTISING. SO MUNRO TAKES THOSE RECOMMENDATIONS TO CABINET, WHICH IS VERY RELUCTANT, THE CABINET IS RELUCTANT TO GO ALONG WITH THIS ISSUE. BUT HE TAKES THOSE RECOMMENDATIONS THERE AND GRADUALLY GETS THEM TO AGREE TO A BILL THAT WOULD HAVE A BAN ON CIGARETTE ADVERTISING IN CANADA. IT'S INTRODUCED IN PARLIAMENT. BUT THEN NO SOONER THAT IT'S DONE THAT THE WHEELS START FALLING OFF THIS WAGON OF MUNRO'S. OTHER CABINET MINISTERS BECOME MORE OPPOSITIONAL AND EFFECTIVE LOBBYING COMES FROM THE TOBACCO INDUSTRY AND THEIR NEWFOUND ALLIES WHO ARE NOW THE NEWSPAPER AND MAGAZINE PUBLISHERS WHO ARE NOT HAPPY ABOUT LOSING THAT ADVERTISING. SO IT ALL COALESCES BASICALLY TO KILL THE BILL.

Steve says DO YOU THINK MUNRO WAS AHEAD OF HIS TIME GIVEN THAT A FEW DECADES DOWN THE ROAD THIS WOULD EVENTUALLY HAPPEN?

Daniel says ABSOLUTELY AHEAD OF HIS TIME. IN FACT, HE WAS AT LEAST TWO DECADES AHEAD OF HIS TIME BECAUSE IT WOULD NOT BE FOR ANOTHER 20 YEARS THAT YOU WOULD SEE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ACTUALLY IMPOSE A BAN ON CIGARETTE ADVERTISING IN CANADA.

A picture of an article appears briefly containing a picture of John Munro meeting with John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Steve says NOW, PEOPLE RECOGNIZE THE NAME JOHN MUNRO A LITTLE BIT, IT'S PROBABLY NOT FROM THE SMOKING CAMPAIGN THAT HE WAGED, ANTISMOKING, IT WOULD BE FOR HIS TIME HANGING OUT WITH ONE OF THE BEATLES IN A BED... THERE WE GO. JOHN LENNON AND YOKO ONO CAME TO OTTAWA AND JOHN MUNRO GOT A GREAT PHOTO OP WITH THEM. WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THAT?

Daniel says YOU SEE A COUPLE OF ASHTRAYS THERE SO THAT TELLS YOU ABOUT THE COMMONALITY OF THEM SMOKING, I GUESS. HE WAS A COLOURFUL FIGURE, RIGHT, A DYNAMIC FIGURE. HE JUST DIDN'T HAVE A LOT OF INFLUENCE IN CABINET IN 1968 WHEN HE WAS STARTING OUT. HE WOULD LATER IN THE '70s IN DIFFERENT PORTFOLIOS. YOU NEED TO BE INFLUENTIAL IN CABINET TO REALLY GET LAWS PASSED.

Steve says LET'S DO ANOTHER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK HERE, SHALL WE?

Another quote from Daniel's book appears on screen, under the title "A strange paradox." The quote reads "What few likely realize is that the best years for the Canadian cigarette industry came after smoking-and-cancer news surfaced in the early 1950s. In 1950, adult per-capita cigarette consumption stood at 4.9 cigarettes; in 1960 it reached 7.9, rising steadily thereafter until peaking at 9.6 in 1980."

Steve says DANIEL, THAT OF COURSE MAKES NO SENSE. THE MORE THAT WE KNOW THAT SMOKING CAUSES CANCER, THE MORE PEOPLE SMOKE. EXPLAIN.

The caption changes to "Disinformation."

Daniel says THAT'S THE CENTRAL PARADOX OF THE BOOK. WHAT ESSENTIALLY HAPPENS IS THAT THE INDUSTRY... THEY'RE ABLE TO REALIZE THE KIND OF MARKETING OPPORTUNITY THAT THE CANCER NEWS PRESENTS, AND THEY DEVELOPED WHAT I CALL A STRATEGY OF HOPE AND DOUBT. SO ON THE HOPE SIDE, IT INVOLVES MARKETING. AND IT'S EFFECTIVELY PRESENTING HEALTH REASSURANCE TO SMOKERS IN THE FORM OF NEW PRODUCTS THAT ARE PERCEIVED TO BE SAFER THAN OTHERS. SO INITIALLY YOU BRING IN FILTERS ON CIGARETTES, AND THEN YOU INTRODUCE BRANDS THAT HAVE LOW LEVELS OF TAR AND NICOTINE, AND THEN YOU INTRODUCE LIGHT AND MILD BRANDS IN THE '70s. AND ALL OF THIS IS MEANT TO CONVEY TO SMOKERS THAT THERE ARE SAFER ALTERNATIVES OUT THERE, AND SO IT KEEPS THEM IN THE RANKS OF SMOKERS. ON THE DOUBT SIDE, THIS IS ESSENTIALLY THE DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN THAT THE TOBACCO INDUSTRY WOULD RUN FOR ABOUT 40 YEARS. EFFECTIVELY WHAT THEY DID IS THEY JUST ATTACKED THE SCIENCE LINKING SMOKING TO CANCER AND OTHER DISEASES. THEY ATTACK THAT SCIENCE OVER AND OVER AGAIN. THEY ALSO PRESENTED DUBIOUS ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS FOR WHY LUNG CANCER RATES WERE RISING. SO THEY SAID IT WAS THINGS LIKE AIR POLLUTION OR CAR EXHAUST FUMES OR EVEN VIRUSES. SO THEY CREATED DOUBT IN THE MINDS OF SMOKERS THAT WAY. AND I THINK IT WAS VERY EFFECTIVE BECAUSE EVEN BY THE LATE 1970s, WHAT YOU FOUND IS THAT ABOUT HALF OF SMOKERS EITHER DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE LINK BETWEEN SMOKING AND CANCER OR ARE UNSURE ABOUT THAT LINK.

Steve says I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I'M OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER SEEING... I DON'T KNOW ABOUT COMMERCIALS ON TELEVISION, BUT CERTAINLY ADS IN NEWSPAPERS WITH MEDICAL DOCTORS WEARING THEIR WHITE COATS AND STETHOSCOPES AROUND THEIR NECKS SAYING I SMOKE THIS BRAND OF CIGARETTE BECAUSE... OR IN TELEVISION PROGRAMS, DRAMATIC OR SITCOMS OR WHATEVER, THERE'S A DOCTOR SMOKING CIGARETTES WHILE ATTENDING TO A PATIENT. I MEAN, WE LOOK BACK AT THIS STUFF TODAY, AND WHAT DO WE THINK?

Daniel says WE THINK IT'S A DIFFERENT WORLD. I MEAN, IT REALLY WAS A DIFFERENT WORLD. I MEAN, THIS WAS A WORLD THAT ANYWHERE BETWEEN 50 AND 60 PERCENT OF PEOPLE SMOKED, INCLUDING LOTS OF DOCTORS. PROBABLY A THIRD OR MORE OF DOCTORS WOULD BE SMOKERS IN THE 1940s. THERE'S JUST A GREATER SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE OF SMOKING IN PEOPLE'S LIVES, EVEN AFTER THE CANCER LINK IS DETERMINED IN THE 1950s. IT STILL TAKES A LONG TIME FOR ALL KINDS OF SECTORS OF SOCIETY TO DISTANCE THEMSELVES FROM SMOKING.

Steve says NOW, IF YOU WERE A SMOKER IN THE 1960s AND '70s, FAST FORWARD. HOW ARE YOU FARING TODAY?

The caption changes to "Back to the future."

Daniel says WELL, IF YOU STARTED SMOKING IN THE '60s OR '70s, CHANCES ARE YOU WERE A TEEN BECAUSE THE MAJORITY OF SMOKERS START BEFORE THE AGE OF 18. SO THESE PEOPLE TODAY WOULD BE PROBABLY IN THEIR 60s OR 70s. THEY... SMOKING WOULD PREMATURELY END THE LIVES OF ABOUT 40 percent OF SMOKERS. SO THAT'S ABOUT 40,000 CANADIANS A YEAR. SO PEOPLE WHO STARTED SMOKING IN THE '60s AND '70s, PROBABLY IN EARLY 2000, 2010, STARTED TO EXPERIENCE THE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF THAT AND THAT WOULD BE THINGS LIKE LUNG CANCER AND HEART DISEASE AND OTHER FORMS OF CANCER, RESPIRATORY DISEASE. SO THIS IS... THIS DECADE AND THE PREVIOUS DECADE ARE THE TIMES WHEN THE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF SMOKING THAT STARTED IN THE 1960s AND '70s, WHEN THOSE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OCCURRED TODAY. IT'S NOT ALWAYS THE CASE, THOUGH. SOME PEOPLE WHO STARTED IN THE '60s AND '70s, MANAGED TO QUIT, LIKE MY MOM AND DAD. AND SO FOR THEM, THEIR HEALTH OUTCOMES ARE GOING TO BE MUCH BETTER.

Steve says I SHOULD PUT A VERY ODD OBSERVATION TO YOU. I CAN REMEMBER TALKING TO A HEALTH ECONOMIST MANY YEARS AGO WHO SAID: SMOKERS ARE ACTUALLY REALLY GOOD FOR OUR ECONOMY. THEY PAY LOTS OF TAXES WHEN THEY BUY THEIR CIGARETTES, THEN THEY TEND TO GET VERY SICK AND DIE QUICKLY AND THEREFORE THEY DON'T COLLECT THEIR PENSIONS AND DON'T LIVE A LONG TIME AND DRAIN THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN THE WAY THAT OTHERS WHO MAYBE LIVE INTO THEIR 80s AND 90s AND BEYOND DO. IT'S AN AMORAL POSITION TO TAKE, BUT WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT?

Daniel says WELL, IT'S CERTAINLY AMORAL IN THAT SENSE. I WOULD DISAGREE THEY DIE QUICKLY BECAUSE OFTEN SMOKING RELATED DEATHS CAN GO ON FOR YEARS. I THINK THE LARGER ISSUE HERE IS NOT TO THINK ABOUT COST SAVINGS OR WHATEVER. IT'S JUST TO THINK ABOUT WHAT KIND OF A SOCIETY WE COULD HAVE IF IN FACT SMOKING RATES WERE HALF OF WHAT THEY ARE NOW OR FAR LESS THAN THAT. I THINK THERE WOULD BE LOTS OF ECONOMIC IMPROVEMENTS TO GAIN FROM FROM THAT KIND OF SOCIETY AS WELL.

Steve says IN WHICH CASE, WHO'S STILL SMOKING TODAY?

Daniel says WELL, IN CANADA TODAY ABOUT 15 percent OF CANADIANS SMOKE CIGARETTES REGULARLY. THAT'S DOWN FROM OVER 50 percent 60 YEARS AGO. SO THAT'S A GRAND ACHIEVEMENT IN PUBLIC HEALTH. WHAT YOU DO FIND, THOUGH, IS HIGH RATES OF SMOKING AMONGST CERTAIN GROUPS LIKE LOWER SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS GROUPS AND YOU FIND HIGHER RATES OF SMOKING AMONGST INDIGENOUS CANADIANS. SO, FOR EXAMPLE, THE SMOKING RATE IN NUNAVUT TODAY IS OVER 70 percent, AND THEREFORE MANY INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES IN THIS COUNTRY WHERE THE SMOKING RATE IS TWO OR THREE TIMES THAT OF NEARBY NON-INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES. SO SMOKING REMAINS AN IMPORTANT AND SERIOUS PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE IN INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES ACROSS THIS COUNTRY.

Steve says I'M SURE YOU AND I BOTH WELL REMEMBER WHEN GOVERNMENTS REALLY GOT ON THE SCENE ON THIS ISSUE AND THEY SAID THINGS LIKE: ALL RIGHT, THE DAYS OF SMOKING IN MOVIE THEATRES ARE OVER, IN ELEVATORS ARE OVER, IN BARS OR RESTAURANTS ARE OVER, AND THERE WERE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO REALLY OBJECTED TO THAT AT THE TIME. ANY DOUBT IN YOUR MIND THAT WITH THE BENEFIT OF HINDSIGHT THOSE WERE THE RIGHT MOVES?

Daniel says ABSOLUTELY THEY WERE THE RIGHT MOVES. BUT REMEMBER, THOSE MOVES ONLY REALLY STARTED TO HAPPEN IN THE 1980s. EVEN THOUGH PEOPLE COMPLAINED ABOUT CIGARETTE SMOKE IN PUBLIC SPACES FOR DECADES BEFORE THAT, THOSE MOVES ONLY HAPPENED IN THE '80s BECAUSE THE ISSUE OF SMOKING AND SECOND-HAND SMOKE WAS REDEFINED AS A HEALTH ISSUE THEN AND NOT JUST A NUISANCE ISSUE. AND IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT, THAT WHEN IT BECOMES A HEALTH ISSUE, GOVERNMENTS TEND TO RESPOND... NOT ALWAYS, BUT THEY DO TEND TO RESPOND MORE SO THAN IF IT'S JUST A PUBLIC NUISANCE ISSUE.

Steve says DANIEL, I WANT TO SHOW YOU A COUPLE OF PHOTOS. THE GREATEST SINGER IN THE HUMBLE OPINION OF YOUR CORRESPONDENT IS THIS GUY, FRANK SINATRA, WHO LIVED INTO HIS 80s DESPITE SMOKING.

In a black and white picture, a young Frank Sinatra sits by a window smoking.
Then, another picture shows a young man standing in the shadows surrounded by vapour.

Steve continues FAST FORWARD TO THIS CENTURY AND THAT WAS A VERY FAMILIAR SCENE TO A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO VAPED. AND I WONDER IF YOU COULD DRAW SOME PARALLELS BETWEEN THE ADVERTISEMENTS THAT WE SAW IN THE PAST... MAYBE WITH PEOPLE LIKE MR. SINATRA... AND HOW THE VAPE COMPANIES OF TODAY ADVERTISE THEIR WARES?

Daniel says WELL, VAPING TODAY IS A REAL PROBLEM, ESPECIALLY WITH YOUNG PEOPLE. IN ONTARIO ABOUT ONE IN FOUR TEENS NOW ARE REGULAR VAPORS. I MEAN, THAT'S UP FROM ABOUT 10 percent THREE YEARS AGO AND UP FROM LESS THAN 5 percent 5 YEARS AGO. A HUGE INCREASE IN TEEN VAPING IN THIS PROVINCE. WHAT YOU'VE SEEN WITH PRODUCTS LIKE JUUL AND VIPE, YOU SEE IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS, INSTAGRAM, ESPECIALLY A FEW YEARS AGO, THIS WAS VERY PROMINENT. SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCERS ON INSTAGRAM AND OTHER PLATFORMS ALSO PROMOTING VAPING DEVICES TO TEENS. TEENS TODAY TURN TO VAPING FOR SOME OF THE SIMILAR REASONS THAT THEY TURNED TO CIGARETTES IN THE PAST, ALTHOUGH THE VAPERS TODAY, THE YOUNG ONES, FOR THE MOST PART DON'T SMOKE. WE INTRODUCED A NUMBER TO NICOTINE ADDICTION WHO NEVER ACTUALLY SMOKED CIGARETTES. THEY VAPE BECAUSE OF SOCIALIZATION ASPECTS, BECAUSE THEIR FRIENDS VAPE, THEY VAPE FOR STRESS RELIEF, AND THEY ALSO VAPE BECAUSE IT'S VERY EASY TO DO IT. YOU CAN BE VERY DISCREET AS A VAPER WHICH YOU CAN'T AS A SMOKER. THEY COULD VAPE AND THE PARENTS DOWN THE HALL WOULDN'T KNOW ABOUT IT.

Steve says THEY HAVE FRUITY FLAVOURS. I'M GLAD YOU USED THE WORD "ADDICTION" THERE BECAUSE SMOKING AND VAPING, THEY CAN BE ADDICTIONS, AND I WONDER IF YOU THINK, GIVEN THAT, WE'RE EVER GOING TO GET TO A POINT IN THIS COUNTRY WHERE NEITHER OF THOSE ADDICTIONS... WE ALREADY KNOW THEY'RE SORT OF SOCIALLY UNACCEPTABLE, BUT DO YOU THINK WE'LL GET TO A POINT WHERE NOBODY IS DOING THIS ANYMORE?

Daniel says IT'LL TAKE A WHILE BUT I'M HOPEFUL. WE'VE HAD A LONG RELATIONSHIP WITH TOBACCO, MORE THAN 400 YEARS. WE'VE HAD A SHORT RELATIONSHIP WITH VAPING, BUT IT SEEMS TO BE AN INTENSE ONE RIGHT NOW. ULTIMATELY, THOUGH, TO STOP NICOTINE ADDICTION AND OTHER FORMS OF ADDICTION LIKE THAT, YOU HAVE TO HAVE A STRONG ROLE FOR GOVERNMENT. IT'S JUST NOT GOING TO HAPPEN WITH RESPECT TO PEOPLE FIGURING THESE THINGS OUT ON THEIR OWN SO MUCH AND INDUSTRY DOING THE RIGHT THING. WHEN GOVERNMENTS STEP IN AND IMPOSE HARSH RESTRICTIONS OR BANS, THEN THE OUTCOMES TEND TO BE MUCH BETTER.

Steve says WOULD YOU BAN VAPING TODAY IF YOU COULD?

Daniel says I WOULD IMPOSE A LOT OF RESTRICTIONS ON VAPING. I DON'T KNOW IF I'D GO SO FAR AS BANNING IT. I WOULD MAKE IT VERY HARD TO PURCHASE THOSE PRODUCTS, MUCH HARDER THAN IT IS TODAY. YOU HAVE TO RECOGNIZE THAT FOR SOME PEOPLE WHO ARE TRYING TO GET OFF CIGARETTES, VAPING CAN BE HELPFUL IN THAT RESPECT. BUT FOR THE MOST PART THE INDUSTRY IS GEARED TOWARDS YOUNG PEOPLE NOW WHO ARE NOT SMOKERS. SO WE NEED TO SHUT THAT DOWN.

The caption changes to "Produced by: Preeti Bhuyan, @PreetiBhuyan. Student Intern: Mia Maaytah."

Steve says GOTCHA. WELL, THANK YOU FOR THIS MORE THAN 100-YEAR-LONG WALK THROUGH THE HISTORY OF CIGARETTE SMOKING IN THIS COUNTRY. THAT'S DANIEL ROBINSON, WHOSE BOOK CIGARETTE NATION: BUSINESS, HEALTH, AND CANADIAN SMOKERS, 1930-1975" HAS BEEN THE SUBJECT OF OUR CONVERSATION TONIGHT. TAKE CARE, DANIEL. GOOD TO SEE YOU.

Daniel says TAKE CARE. THANKS SO MUCH.

Watch: How Canada Became a Country of Smokers