This post goes out to Jason, by request. I mentioned that buying cigarettes in Canada (if you're so inclined) could be a financial adventure, with tobacco taxes at their highest in Alberta. I don't normally smoke heaters, but with a few beverages in me, I've been known to bum a few from time to time. Such an occasion arose at the wedding after hours party down at the Drake Inn in Canmore, AB.
My buddy Jason had long since run out of Parliaments that he bootlegged in from the States. He wasn't able to hold out a 2nd night without scoring some nicotine. He hit me up to go in with him on a pack. So we made our way downstairs from the main bar and dance floor of the Drake to a set of double doors. I walked through the doors and exclaimed, "What. Is. THIS!?" It was the bar I was looking for. Not some club with a fairly shitty reggae band (which did fit the bill nicely for a group of mostly drunk wedding-goers, including the bride and groom). I only say shitty reggae band because once you've heard one reggae song, you've pretty much heard them all. At least from these guys. Anyway, the downstairs bar was playing some obscure Pearl Jam, which instantly made me swoon for the place. Good looking people, a well-staffed bar, no over-crowding, a great jukebox.....what more do you want?
Oh yeah, buying smokes. So Jason inquires to one of the bartenders if they sell any. He says that they're in the bottom 2 racks on the vending machine. Beauty! So we make our way to the vending machine, and we look for the heaters. Apparently, along with making them so heavily taxed that only drunk Americans would want to buy them, they also treat them like they're the nudie mags on the top rack at the Qwik Shop. You couldn't see the cigarettes, as proprietors are no longer allowed to display them out in the open, apparently. Suddenly it occured to me that I hadn't seen any smokes in any gas station or convenience store, either. Fascinating.
So, faced with the decision of picking either what's behind Door #1, or Door #2, I left that one up to Jason. I believed he picked Door #2, because he's got a smooth reputation to live up to, I guess. Like a little kid getting the Super Ball out of the kiddie vending machines at the grocery store, here's Jason holding up his newly prized contraband. Smoke em if you got em.
Another peculiar, disturbing, and funny thing about Canadian cigarettes are all of the warning labels. If the US wants to get serious about curbing tobacco usage, I would have to think that this type of aggressive campaign would work. In Canada, they don't mess around about just talking about birth defects, cancer, etc. on the packaging. They come right out and show you the tumors. I know. The warning label is required to cover 50% of the front and back of the packaging. They also show things like little kids resenting their parents, kids learning how to smoke, old men choking, blood clots and tumors on the brain, and my personal favorite, the one below. Fittingly, these smokes are meant for "Players".