To be clear, smoking kills and no one...

To be clear, smoking kills and no one should smoke.

Posted in the Georgetown Forum


Georgetown, Canada

#1 Sep 29, 2013
To be clear, smoking kills and no one should smoke.

But tobacco remains a legal product and the latest plans by the Toronto Board of Health to further restrict smoking in public go too far.

We do support the board’s intention to ban smoking from the entrances of public buildings by creating a nine-metre setback, not that anyone will be out there with a measuring tape.

That said, people entering public facilities, such as hospitals, shouldn’t have to run a gauntlet of smokers huddling outside near the doors.

But banning smoking from restaurant and bar patios — ironically while patrons are often simultaneously sucking in car fumes — is both hypocritical and yet another restriction these businesses don’t need in a still-struggling economy.

Banning smoking from beaches, sports fields and public spaces like Nathan Phillips Square and Yonge-Dundas Square, smacks of overkill.

Indeed, the health board itself hints its real purpose here is not to protect people from second-hand smoke, but social engineering.

“Images of people smoking in public places normalize smoking in the minds of children and youth,” argues the report, prepared by Toronto Medical Office of Health Dr. David McKeown.

But surely even the health board must know the state cannot protect everyone from everything, nor should it.

If all it takes for young people to start smoking is seeing other people smoking on the sidewalk, it’s a safe bet no deterrent program was ever going to work them.

More important, growing up is all about taking personal responsibility for one’s decisions and assessing risks.

It’s not the job of the health board to bubble wrap the young to the point where they are protected from the image of seeing people smoking on the street.

People do all sorts of offensive things on the street. Some get drunk, some take drugs, some are obnoxious, some swear, some get into fights.

We can’t ban every type of behavior that might set a bad example for the young.

At some point, we need the young — and for that matter everyone — to employ good judgment and common sense when it comes to making decisions about their personal health and behaviour.

The health board and the interventionist politicians on it love making these kinds of proposals — some of which would require changes to provincial legislation — because it’s easy and there’s little risk of political blowback.

Beating up on smokers is standard operating procedure for governments with nothing better to do, because they know they have few public defenders.

But there comes a point where enough is enough.

Governments that arbitrarily and unreasonably remove the rights of citizens who engage in legal activities — and smoking is legal — tend to be the same governments who think nothing of taking away other legal rights.

Indeed, that’s how the Nanny State got started

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