Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Toronto has launched its very own city-branded condom wrapper


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I SUSPECT this could be one of those columns wherein, regardless of what I write, there is a good chance I will end up offending the community standards of those readers who still have community standards.

Most likely, no matter what I type, it will somehow end up being an unintended double entendre that will prompt sensitive readers to fire off outraged emails making the central point I am, in fact, an idiot.

I say this, because today’s topic is: condoms. I felt compelled to tackle this sensitive issue after reading news reports describing how Toronto has just officially launched Canada’s first limited-edition, city-branded condom.

Using the hashtag #condomTO, Toronto Public Health took to the social-media service Twitter to slowly reveal their official city-branded condom wrapper on Wednesday, provocatively rolling out the design tweet by tweet.

The tongue-in-cheek wrapper of Toronto’s condom features (cough) three aptly named street signs: Coxwell Ave., Wood St. and Cummer Ave. A message on the package — which features a long, pointy graphic of what we assume is the CN Tower — states: "No matter which way you go, put it on!"

In a nutshell — yes, you could take that one the wrong way, but that’s not what I intended — the #condomTO campaign is intended to promote safe sex and decrease sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.

Toronto is the first Canadian city to unwrap its own city-branded condom, but it’s following in the footsteps of some other big-name North American municipalities.

"Following the success of campaigns in New York City and Los Angeles, Toronto Public Health is launching condomTO — a free limited-edition condom," Toronto’s health department gushes on its website. "Why are cities branding their own condoms? It’s simple. When condoms are more easily accessible and available, condom use tends to increase."

I am definitely down with that, assuming that means what I think it means. As a safety precaution — which is sort of what this thing is all about — I first bounced the condom concept off my wife. Sorry, what I mean is I asked my wife whether it would be a stretch... OK, again, sorry, but I think you get the general thrust... OK, never mind!

For the record, my wife thought the idea of Toronto dispensing more than 280,000 of its official condoms in bars, clubs, hotels, gyms and clinics starting next week was kind of a nifty thing for a hip and happening city to do.

I believe her exact words were: "Ha ha ha. I like it. It’s funny."

What with being a worldly modern journalist, I personally have no issue with the City of Toronto doling out free condoms. That’s a good thing. It’s just that I am — how shall I phrase this — mildly bemused they felt compelled to shell out for their very own city-branded designer condom. I mean, typically, municipalities slap their names or stamp of approval or logos on more mundane items, such as football stadiums, hockey arenas and community-works project. We’re all used to seeing politicians’ names on signs taking credit for street repairs, but I’m not sure I’d be comfortable reading: "This condom brought to you by... " To say nothing of how hard it would be (cough) to place your civic motto on a condom wrapper, not that I have a clue what Toronto’s actual civic motto happens to be. But I certainly hope it’s not: "Toronto: Rising to the occasion!" Or: "Toronto: We’re really starting to grow!" Or: "Toronto: We love to brag about the CN Tower!" I suppose these things are going to become the souvenir of the summer in Toronto. It won’t be long before we see cheesy T-shirts shrieking: "My Grandparents Went to Toronto and All I got Was This Crummy Condom!"

What I’m trying to say here is I applaud Toronto for being the first Canadian city bold enough to take a provocative step like this.

Now the rest of us have to decide whether, in the interests of improving public health, we want to follow suit and design our own municipal condoms.

I believe with all my heart Winnipeg is just as hip, if not more so, than any other city in the country, but I’m not sure I’d like us to roll out a customized condom with a giant needle-nosed mosquito on the wrapper.

Still, congratulations on having your very own condom, Toronto. You seem like a nice town to visit, but we don’t want to go steady.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 6, 2014 a2

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