no mercy

Yesterday’s Province had an editorial by John Martin titled “Anti-smoking bullies have gone far enough in their regulatory jihad”

This is my reply.

As instigator of the proposed smoking ban in White Rock, Mr. Martin implies that I am a “righteous bully in a regulatory jihad”. He is correct.

I believe very strongly that every person should have the maximum degree of freedom possible. But what if one person exercising their personal freedoms impairs the freedoms of someone else?

What happens when a person who chooses to feed a nicotine addiction in public causes someone else discomfort or bodily harm? Is it righteous to choose health as a priority over drug addiction? If it is, then I am.

It sounds like the underlying assumption supporting Mr. Martin’s opinion is that smoke outdoors simply disappears: no harm, no foul. He doesn’t believe outdoor smoking is a problem. So, since a jihad is a holy war against unbelievers, then maybe that’s what this is.

As a smoking diner indulges their nicotine addiction on a patio, indeed the breeze takes their smoke away. But en route, it is carried past the faces of others and often blown into the restaurant’s open windows, doors and air vents. Perhaps Mr. Martin’s opinions would be different if he had asthma, a heart condition, or appreciated the risk to children and expectant mothers?

It is becoming better known that tobacco smoke kills over five times as many people as the sum of all car accidents, suicides, murders, and illegal drugs every year in Canada. Though historical tolerance makes us blind to it, nicotine addiction has a very serious and significant negative impact on our quality of life. Research proves smoking bans as the most effective tool for preventing exposure to smoke, and the second best for reducing smoking rates.

And so, if a bully is a person who uses power to intimidate those who are weaker, and if knowledge is power, and if confusion or lack of knowledge constitutes a weakness, then I suppose I am an unintended bully since I apparently have a greater understanding of nicotine addiction issues than Mr. Martin, who appears to be confused as to why I would want to restrict someone’s freedom to poison the air that others have to breathe.



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