arguing for clean air

These are the points I’m hoping I will get across clearly at tomorrow’s City Council meeting.

There are three main arguments people seem to make when resisting smoking bans:
• I have the right to do whatever I want with my body;
• it’s a legal product in Canada so the city has no business telling me I can’t smoke it; and
• if people can’t smoke on White Rock patios, they’ll just go to Surrey, which will put White Rock restaurants at a competitive disadvantage.

rights of one person should not diminish another’s
Scientific research suggests that 90% of people who smoke are addicted to nicotine. Considering that trace amount of second hand smoke has immediate health impacts on asthmatics, children, and people with heart disease, the freedoms of those people and their right to health should take precedence over appeasing a drug addiction.

legal purchase and possession does not impart unfettered legal use
Just because tobacco is legal to purchase and possess does not mean you should be able to use it in any and all places. Legal purchase does not give a right to smoke in public. It does not override others’ right to clean air.

marketing clean air should be a competitive advantage
I keep hearing that if White Rock bans smoking on patios, restaurants will lose business to Surrey patios, which will still allow smoking. My question is, which patios in Surrey would get an advantage? There are very few patios in Surrey. The only ones I can think of that are ever used are Sawbuck’s (which is essentially a smoke pit) and the two places in Crescent Beach.

I think White Rock patios are successful because of their views and location. That is their competitive advantage. Are nicotine addicts really the market that White Rock wants to cater to as a city that has a stated goal of becoming a city of health excellence? Being smoke-free should be seen as a competitive advantage, as supported by market research. Statistically valid phone polls prove that a small percentage of people will go out to restaurants less often if they can’t smoke, but more people will go out more often if they know they won’t have to breathe smoke. That means it is more likely that a ban on patio smoking would actually be good for business.

purpose of it all
The point of a patio smoking ban in White Rock should be to protect the health of the people who work in restaurants (many of whom are youth) and people who are especially sensitive to tobacco smoke – children, asthmatics, and people with heart problems. Let’s make their health a priority.

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