Back in September, when the city first proposed this anti-smoking bylaw, I weighed in with this comment. Now that the bylaw is coming to council, I reiterate my concerns: in short, this is nuts. Here’s why…
The city moved a step closer to banning smoking in playgrounds and parks Monday, as a new bylaw is moving its way through the system.
Proponents of the bylaw — which is already in place in cities like Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg, and others — say it’s a matter of public health. Coun. Amarjeet Sohi, the main booster of the bylaw, was quoted in The Journal thusly: “We do not allow smoking in pubs and bars, but we allow smoking in playgrounds, which are used by kids.”
Well, Amarjeet, there is somewhat of a distinction between bars and pubs, and the great outdoors. That being one is inside, and the other is in … the great outdoors.
I’m no scientist, but when smoke is dispelled into a closed environment, it has nowhere to go, and hangs around, just waiting to go into somebody else’s lungs. But when smoke is dispelled outside, it dissipates into the air, never to be breathed in again.
Now don’t get me wrong — I am as virulent an anti-smoker as you will find. I know this sounds terrible, but when I see someone smoking, my opinion of them drops several notches. It shows a weakness in character that I find very unappealing. When I see a parent smoking in a closed car with a kid in the backseat, I’m tempted to force them off the road, bust open a window and rescue the poor, hacking children.
So yes, indoor smoking bans have been wonderful, a great public health step forward that did not, as its detractors said it would, hurt the food and bar industries. If anything, it probably helped.
But banning smoking outdoors is too much. If a hapless addicted smoker wants to take his child to a playground while he sits on a bench having a ciggie, no harm is done. It is not remotely the same as smoking indoors. An outdoor smoking ban is Big Brother at its finest, and pretty much unenforceable to boot. I wholeheartedly applaud the anti-smoking brigade for making indoor air safer and cleaner for everyone. But this just goes too far. Leave the smokers alone to hack and cough in peace.