PUBCO attacks "truth" of Non Smokers Rights Association Media Statement

OTTAWA - January 29, 2002 - The Pub and Bar Coalition of Ontario (PUBCO) today reacted angrily to the absurd assertions and innuendo contained in the Non Smokers Rights Association media statement

"Their statement is pure crap. I wish we had access to the millions and millions of tax payer dollars which this group and many others like it use to help close down small businesses across this country", said PUBCO General Manager Barry McKay who accepts $2,000 a month from members fees to run the organization 7 days a week, not the six-figure salary which NSRA president Garfield Mahood is paid.

"We do not receive one penny from the Canadian Hotel Association or any tobacco-related group. If offered, as we've said before, we would take it in an instant - we would take money from any source opposed to this malicious and unnecessary by-law. On the other hand, the self-righteous Non-Smokers Rights Association accepts money from the tobacco industry in the form of tax dollars among the billions that those companies contribute to the Canadian economy."

"We're complimented that the NSRA thinks we're running a 'high profile and pricey communications campaign' that consists of sporadic press releases that I send out, the occasional letter to the editor and hundreds of hours of volunteer time calling and meeting over this stupid by-law. We also share advice and information only with a variety of hospitality organizations across the country who are, understandably, opposed to this assault on small business."

"We have benefited from patron contributions and some fundraising events like a concert staged by local musicians who had lost gigs, a rally by servers facing unemployment and a golf tournament for our members. We will continue to hold events because we pay our bills and because we know that our legal costs will be significant, although about 1/5 as costly as the apparently very expensive David Hill contends."

"We've paid a webmaster $700 to maintain our website which was established, free of charge, by one of our member bars. Not exactly the $10-15,000 which their expert claims."

"As far as B.A.R.S. is concerned, again they have got it all wrong", said McKay. "B.A.R.S. has not disbanded, it's mandate is totally different to that of PUBCO's and it is still operating with a small group of volunteers. It has absolutely no connection with any tobacco interests nor has it ever had."

"Yes, the Hotel Association of Canada did sponsor one of our owner's trip to New Jersey - in January on a seat sale. Total cost of $955.59 for hotel, flight and registration for one day of a conference for a real pub owner to make it crystal clear to the engineers who set the ventilation standards how harmful 100% smoking bans are to small pubs and bars. That pittance was not for PUBCO. For sure, we haven't hired so-called American experts at a cost of over $20,000 US per day to attend public forums like the one in Ottawa. And for sure, we didn't spend thousands of taxpayer dollars to attend the 5-day 11th World Conference last year or the upcoming conference in Helsinki which I presume they'll also attend."

"I think Canadians should be told of the number of employees and all their salaries as well as the amount of our tax money which NSRA receives and the percentage of their budget it makes up."

"I further suggest that we should be told how many millions of dollars have been spent in Ottawa alone by this group and, of course, by our own council in implementing this by-law. The public has a right to know that the anti-tobacco industry is a hell of a lot bigger than pro-small business groups like ours."

"And, of course, the last bit of falsehood by the NSRA is the association's claim that this is a "popular" by-law when the city's own numbers - which they tried to hide - say that over 70% of Ottawans prefer a compromise solution," McKay concluded.

For further information, contact: Barry McKay, PUBCO 613 851-1800