George Brown, Black Press
Putting the “red” in Red Deer, that city’s politburo has enacted a bylaw under the same authority Ponoka town council used to restrict liquor sales hours and has toughened its Smoke Free Bylaw for “the safety, health and welfare of people and the protection of people and property.” It is now illegal to smoke within 10 metres of playgrounds, skateboard parks, toboggan hills, sports fields and skating rinks. Council is considering a ban on smoking at children’s festivals, along parade routes and public markets.
Personal choice and property rights aside, anti-smoking activists have had science on their side in their victories to ban smoking in the workplace but outdoor bans to protect children from minimal exposure to wafting secondhand smoke is more about prejudice and preference than science. Sanctimonious non-smokers are again flexing their moral superiority on the minority.
The very acts these coddled children are in parks to enjoy are more likely to cause them injury than a few particles of secondhand smoke: broken bones in the skate park, concussions from toboggan hills and broken teeth playing hockey are commonplace.
Smoking tobacco is legal in Canada and it is a treasured source of tax revenue for senior levels of government but at the same time, governments are obsessed with saving smokers from themselves and micromanaging the lives of the proletariat. Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne wants to follow the City of Leduc’s lead and ban smoking in vehicles if there is a passenger under the voting age. Shouldn’t that be a decision made by a parent, not a minister of the Crown? Will the government insist family court judges give more weight in custody battles to the parent who doesn’t smoke?
Next there will be a ban on smoking in private homes, because, well, smokers are stupid and deserve to be punished. Should the cable guy refuse to enter your home if you’re a smoker? Isn’t he entitled to a smoke-free workplace?
The marginal health effects of passive smoking in close contact with heavy smokers is the basis for most bans on smoking in office buildings, apartments, bars and restaurants ? trumping the property rights of their owners. If a restaurateur wants to prohibit smoking, so be it. Others may wish to permit smoking and cater to that clientele. The marketplace will sort that out. Let governments ban smoking in government buildings it owns and leave the owners of commercial and private property decide for themselves. Employees can decide for themselves whether they want to work in a smoking environment.
Smokers and Big Tobacco are adapting to these restrictions and now e-cigarettes are making their way onto the market. E-cigarettes are small cigarette-shaped canisters that are used to stimulate the sensation of smoking. Batteries within the canisters heat up fluid-filled cartridges that then give off a vapour that resembles smoke. E-cigarettes containing nicotine are not yet legal in Canada and hundreds of commercial shipments of e-cigarettes have been seized at the border over the last few years.
E-cigarettes might help those interested in quitting to ease their addiction, or it could perpetuate the addiction of smokers who now have a less obtrusive way to smoke in public.
We’ll soon found out for sure whether governments and anti-smokers are truly concerned about nicotine addiction, secondary health hazards or tax revenue.
Black Press editor George Brown grew up in a non-smoking home and made the lifestyle choice decades ago to enjoy premium cigars. He is courteous when he smokes and willingly accommodates those who senses are offended. He is also willing to share a cigar with fellow cigar enthusiasts.