Smokers: Enough is enough

My dad did it, my brothers did it, even my mom did it.

They all smoked.

Actually, my dad and two older brothers, who started inhaling in their mid-teens and are now 48 and 50, still often do. Mom’s the only one in my immediate family who has tapered her puffing down to nearly nothing.

I remember her giving me $2 to run to the corner store to pick her up a package of Rothman’s. I also remember going to house parties at my uncle’s house and having to swim through a sea of smoke just to find Mom to let her know my cousins and I were going to cruise the streets.

Later, when I was old enough to frequent bars, it was the same. You would come out after an hour or two with your eyes bloodshot and irritated, and your clothes would reek as if you had fled a forest fire.

Smoking was not only accepted back then, it was the norm.

“Everybody” smoked – except me, or so I felt.

tI actually don’t remember even trying it, although I’m sure I did. But I hung out with friends who were as into sports as I was, and smoking and wind-sprints didn’t, and never will, mix.

The perception of smoking has come a long way from the days when it was considered cool – even sexy – to being tagged with such abrupt and cutting adjectives as rude and ignorant. Non-smokers’ tolerance level with smokers has gone from acceptance to disgust. The pendulum has swung and I’m not sure it’s exactly right and fair.

Don’t get me wrong. I think smoking is a horrendous, senseless and incredibly unhealthy, and I am a strict promoter of non-smoking with my two teenage daughters.

But our provincial government, which makes millions of dollars from tobacco taxes, is extremely hypocritical when it comes to the new laws that took effect last week.

The biggest of the smoke-free changes states, “There will be a three-metre smoke-free zone around most public and workplace doorways.”

How can and will the three-metre smoke-free zone be enforced?

Are non-smokers and business operators expected to pack a tape measure with them and proceed each time to draw a three-metre line from their doorway to the smokers’ toes?

This clearly is a means to cut down on second-hand smoke intake but I think it’s being overblown, pardon the expression.

A friend of mine who smokes recently vacated the pub we were visiting to go for a smoke. On his way out, I joked, “Do you want me to call you a cab to make certain you’re far enough away from the doorway?”

He didn’t see the humour.

Simply demanding that smokers refrain from smoking inside businesses and often stand out in the cold – using a doorway’s overhang to prevent them from getting rain-soaked if need be – to engage in their nasty habit is good enough for me.

I understand those who may disagree with my stance but it must be at least acknowledged that smokers have been forced as much as anybody to alter their ways in the last 20 years for the betterment of healthier, cleaner living.

And now, enough is enough.

I think perhaps the time has come, instead, to limit the mileage rung up by drivers of gas-guzzling, emissions-spewing, environment-damaging SUVS as a better way of reducing second-hand fumes.

If you don’t believe me, walk behind a parked SUV with its engine running and see how it tastes.

Larry Pruner is a reporter with The Tri-City News, a sister paper to The Leader.


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