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Who does how much of what in HRM What's your pleasure?
By David Swick The Daily News
Sunday, May 11, 2003
It?s true that you are what you eat ? but that?s only part of the story. You are also what you drink, smoke, and otherwise put into your body. All of these affect the mind, and you are what you think. Most of us take a variety of drugs for pleasure, because we want to. Some of these are widely accepted, like coffee and chocolate. Others, like increasingly popular crack cocaine, is shunned by almost everyone but its users.
Here is a look at what drugs we are doing, and how much of each. If reading all these statistics makes you want to have a drink, maybe you should go outside and take a walk instead.
Beer is by far the most popular alcoholic beverage. Fully 82 per cent of all the alcohol drank in Nova Scotia is beer, followed by wine at 12 per cent, spirits at six per cent, and coolers and miscellaneous items at two percent.
But while beer is by far our most popular alcohol, its grip is loosening ? we drank less of it last year. The average Nova Scotian downed 78.5 litres of beer in the year ending March 2002, a litre less than the year before. Wine meanwhile is increasing in popularity, to 8.2 litres per person (up 35 percent in five years), and spirits have increased moderately to 7.7 litres.
The average person in metro spends $339 a year on alcoholic beverages. Of that, $204 is spent in liquor stores, $121 in licensed premises, and $13 on home brews.
Keith?s is by far our most popular beer ? selling more than the next three most popular beers combined. ?Keith?s market share in Nova Scotia,? Al LeBlanc of the NSLC says, ?is far superior to that of any single beer in any other province.?
The most popular imported beer is Mexico?s Corona, with super cheap Old Milwaukee second. Captain Morgan White Rum is by far our best-selling spirit.
Imported wine is growing in popularity, and now sells more than twice as much as domestic wine. Five years ago, 41 per cent of the wine that we enjoyed was Canadian; now it?s below 33 per cent.
Metro?s busiest liquor store is in Sackville?s Downsview Mall. But it is only the second-busiest in the province, bested by Sydney River. Downtown Truro is third.
Next time you are in one of the more than 100 liquor stores, remember that you are not just picking up a sixpack: you are helping pave our roads and build new schools. Of every dollar you spend at the NSLC, 36.7 cents goes to government coffers. Those added up to more than $144 million last year, and another $58 million was raised in HST.
Creamy, savory chocolate is a daily fixture for many people, who like both the taste and its stimulating qualities. Statistics Canada?s latest figures for chocolate consumption are from 1996, and are national, not provincial. The average Canadian spent $14.06 on chocolate in that year, half on chocolate bars and half on other chocolate. (As well, each of us spent $22.29 on sugar candies and confections.)
Showing this statistic to friends and colleagues, $14.06 a year on chocolate, suggest there are two kinds of people in town. There are those who calmly say, ?That makes sense,? and those who scream, ?That?s all?!?
Our chocolate and candy intake is on the rise. Since 1982 chocolate consumption doubled, and the eating of other sugary treats more than tripled.
Tobacco is less and less and less popular. In 1965 more than 53 per cent of Nova Scotians smoked. That fell to 38 per cent by 1985. Rural people tend to smoke more than city people; today only 25 per cent of Nova Scotians and 22 per cent of the people in metro are still smoking.
?When I started in this in the ?70s,? says Bill VanGorder of the Lung Association of Nova Scotia, ?I never thought we?d get to this point by now.?
In 2001 the average Haligonian spent $293 on tobacco products and smokers? supplies. The lion?s share of that money goes to cigarettes. But with a pack of cigarettes now in the $10 range, says Craig Sievert of Sievert?s Tobacco on Barrington Street, smokers are taking to cheaper stuff.
?In ?97, 12 per cent of our business was pipe tobacco and pouch tobacco ? now it?s 21 per cent,? he says. ?Pipe tobacco is more popular partly because people are looking for a safer alternative. But mostly this is based in price.?
The popularity of cigars peaked in metro in ?97, Sievert said. That summer, cigars were a massive 43 percent of his business. Today they are less than half that, at 21 percent ? the same as pipe and pouch tobacco. Ready-made cigarettes are 37 percent of his sales, up from a mere 12 percent in ?97.
In metro today 80,300 people will smoke tobacco ? and they will smoke an average of nine cigarettes each.
In 1996, the average Nova Scotian spent $17 on bulk coffee, $10 on bulk tea, and $66 on soda pop. These compare with national averages of $24.50 for coffee, $7.25 for tea, and $55 for pop.
(Incidentally, for all our food, we spend about five times as much money in grocery stores as in restaurants.)
The Senate report issued in November suggests that as many as 100,000 Canadians smoke pot daily. Our portion of that suggests 1,160 Haligonians will smoke pot today. And the Senate says that as many as two million Canadians have smoked pot in the last year ? that equals 33,200 people in this city alone.
Sgt. Roger Merrick of the Halifax Police Service drug squad says marijuana is by far our most popular illegal drug ? and it appears to be increasing.
?We?re seeing a lot more marijuana,? Sgt. Merrick says. ?It could be because people feel it?s going to be decriminalized, so it?s no big deal. People are a little more blatant in where they use it. It?s not just at home anymore, but in the parking lot at the theatre, or the parking lot at the restaurant.?
Marijuana smokers agree. ?I see it as basically decriminalized,? says Matt, a Halifax student. ?The law is stupid, and the government says they will change it. Just about everyone is much more open about smoking now.?
A very small number of us have ID cards that permit smoking marijuana under the Health Canada medicinal marijuana program. In all of Canada there are 860 people with cards, 36 of whom live in Nova Scotia. In metro, that means there are about 13.
Next to marijuana, crack cocaine is the most popular illegal drug in metro, according to Sgt. Roger Merrick of the drug squad.
?In the late ?80s and early ?90s powder cocaine was the cool drug for the middle class,? Merrick said. ?But users have moved on to crack. It?s the same expense, and the high is supposed to be a lot more intense. You go uptown to where guys are standing on the corner, and they?re selling rocks of crack cocaine.?
Merrick estimates that the number of crack users in town is ?well into the hundreds.? Crack?s popularity compared to powder cocaine is revealed in last year?s figures: $150,000 worth of crack cocaine seized, but only $15,000 worth of powder cocaine.
One former user, Gary, who is unemployed, describes crack as ?one of the best highs you can have. It doesn?t last long, but it is incredibly intense. You feel strong and good, like you can do anything.? He doesn?t do it now, he said, because he doesn?t have the money ? and was afraid it would take over his life.
Smart thinking. Crack is highly addictive, and often leads users to commit crimes to afford the drug. The relative good news, according to Merrick, is that crack is not quickly moving out of its circle of users.
Other street drugs are popular too, of course.
Dilaudid, a form of morphine, was the reason for several pharmacy robberies a few years ago. Little Dilaudid is now kept locally ? when prescribed, it is shipped in.
LSD and magic mushrooms are enjoyed by some people who use them sparingly, and do few other drugs. ?We see a fair amount (of mushrooms),? Merrick said, ?but it?s a fairly select clientele.? Ecstasy ?is still fairly popular in the younger population.?
Seizures last year included $16,000 worth of hashish, $10,900 worth of steroids, $3,000 worth of magic mushrooms, $1,300 worth of Dilaudid, $800 worth of LSD, and $300 worth of Valium.
HRM has little heroin. ?We don?t have a heroin problem like in the West or Toronto,? Merrick said. ?We have some, but we haven?t seized any in the last year.?
Around the world, nine Viagra pills are dispensed every second. More than 10 million men have used the drug.
Since Viagra was launched in Canada five years ago, 2.5 million prescriptions have been filled. Its maker, Pfizer, does not disclose regional information, but assuming we have our share, 5,750 Viagra prescriptions are filled in HRM every year.
The pills come in boxes of four, and they?re pricey ? about $58 a box. Few health plans cover them, so they are usually prescribed, two local pharmacists explained, one or two boxes at a time. A prescription usually lasts in the area of six weeks, so might be filled nine times a year.
Crunching these numbers, the number of men using Viagra in metro is about 659.
This is the part that amused me....
?We see a fair amount (of mushrooms),? Merrick said, ?but it?s a fairly select clientele.?
Oooohhhh, we're "select".
-------------------- You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for that my dear friend is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it. ~ Adrian Rogers