Underground

March 29, 2009 § 2 Comments

Red Feather

Kahnawake smoke shop

A surprisingly well-researched article from yesterday’s Gazette about the contraband tobacco industry.  If I wasn’t writing a dissertation about something else I’d have a whole lot to say about it, but for now some quick points:

  • I don’t know anyone who still smokes store-bought cigarettes.  At nearly $10 a pack, I don’t know anyone who could afford to.
  • Knowing this, I am extremely skeptical about government claims that smoking rates have dropped drastically, as these are usually based on declines in legal cigarette sales.
  • Despite the fact that cigarettes are not technically illegal, smoking bans function as a kind of spatialized prohibition, which leads me to wonder if every depression starts with one.
  • I am fascinated with the way that smoking traverses political fault lines in Quebec, both in terms of the historically fraught relationship between First Nations communities and the provincial police (remember Oka?) and the economic divide between the city of Montreal and the regions.
  • I remember the last spike in contraband cigarette sales in the 1990s and the fact that both levels of government were forced to roll back tax increases to counter the problem.  I suspect that it would be political suicide to do the same today, so smuggling is probably here to stay.  That is, of course, unless we start seeing mob wars, in which case all bets are off.
  • In the meantime, I am quite happy to give my money to the Mohawk Nation rather than to the government.  Idiots.
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§ 2 Responses to Underground

  • I noticed more smoking out West than I see in Montreal. It seemed to have something to do with needing to stay warm while working/playing outside.

  • tornwordo says:

    I thought it was interesting that the cartons got as low as $6 before the Natives themselves put into place some price controls. $6! The profit margins are staggering.

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