Too convenient

The local corner store offers convenience, but, there are some items best left as inconvenient as possible.

When regulation of tobacco became more intense a few years ago, cigarettes, cigars, and such were hidden from view. Store owners cried foul at the cost of hardware and smokers felt one more paddle on the backside. It was one more step for them on the road to being a complete pariah.

Few stores closed, despite dire warnings from merchants. We still see kids smoking, and remain unconvinced the policy worked as brilliantly as predicted. Few smokers we know would wish the enslavement to nicotine that so many generations have now suffered. What we do know, is that curtains are now the law – despite tobacco being legal – and the government profits on every ounce sold.

This is where the story takes a little twist that is a bit hard to believe. We have noted numerous convenience stores in recent months displaying drug paraphernalia in clear, plastic showcases. Bongs, glass pipes, and so on, used to smoke illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine, crack, and whatever other kinds of dope that users smoke. It’s a contradiction in public health and one that we think should be addressed.

We asked a contact with the OPP if there was a program or law with respect to those utensils of doom. Of course, store owners are left to their own judgement on what they sell and offer for sale, providing it is legal. Such devices that drew our ire enough to mention it are not illegal – until they have been used to smoke illegal products.

Then they become, in essence, a mini-crime scene or evidence of use within a larger bust. That seems silly.

More bothersome than the contradiction is the normalcy such displays exhibit. The cool factor – the very hypocrisy the curtain law attempted to address by hiding flashy packaging and glitzy marketing pitches – sits in the open, easily viewed through clear glass. Many of the pipes sport some sort of artistry and sketching with dragons or skulls as themes.

So, as toddlers go in with parents for an ice-cream bar or another treat, the question must surely come up – what’s that for dad? Open dialogue of course is a bonus, but those discussions might best be held somewhere other than in front of a clerk and other customers. For teenagers the prospect of gadgetry and the potential shock effect on friends and parents makes a purchase so tempting and easy.

The first time we saw this kind of thing was on a school trip to Toronto where a couple of students known to test the waters more than the rest, slipped into a seedy little store and came out with an evil looking little pipe adorned with a skull and bones. That was big News for most of us farm kids who only ever thought of a pipe as something from Sherlock Holmes.

To encourage the drug culture with such brazen displays is not the type of convenience any of us should accept and can ill-afford to ignore. Perhaps if people who are friendly with store owners stated their disapproval merchants would decline offering pipes for sale – certainly product placement away from impressionable eyes would be a good first step.

It’s long been known that kids looking for trouble will surely find it – they always have and always will. All we’re suggesting is let’s not promote it, front and centre, at neighbourhood convenience stores.