Rhino's Ramblings - The Tobacco Gestapo Returns

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The Tobacco Gestapo Returns

Next Up My Greasy Rink Burger And Fries

By Robert Thomas - Opinion/Commentary

After years of silence in a grave somewhere buried in petition heaven once again the grey horse of the anti-tobacco and smoking apocalypse is set to ride across the Great Plains of Moose Jaw.

And yes, you’ve guessed it the Friendly City is about to have another notorious debate, or should I say “consultation” on where you can legally smoke a cigarette and this time around also vape, smoke a joint or do something called hookah.

 It’s more than likely to cause numerous emotional responses from both sides of the issue.

But before I get into this column I need to make a disclaimer and that is I am a rampant non-smoker. I personally view it as a filthy disgusting habit and enough said on that one.

Then how could I write a column criticizing impending Council actions?

Simple I don’t think it’s as big of a problem as many proponents of a new bylaw might tell you and quite truthfully it’s a waste of time. 

Smokers are very courteous and conscientious in Moose Jaw and really aren’t out there blowing smoke in non-smokers faces. 

Council has bigger issues to work on and it’s time to return to a common sense agenda like throwing some hot mix in a couple of potholes.

Really are we seriously going to dedicate policing resources to this? And buying a bunch of signs when I see a few old Stop Signs out there needing replacement written in Aramaic and brought over by Noah in the Great Flood of 1974.

I can just see the logic of taking officers away from fighting real crime to chase down some poor guy smoking a cigarette out in a vacant park at 3 am. But then again this is Moose Jaw strange things do and can OK often happen.

We sometimes do silly things here, so much so we are now calling ourselves Notorious.

For those who can’t remember years ago Moose Jaw was Ground Zero for anti-smoking lobbyists and special interests as the community was split by a referendum stamping out the ability to smoke in certain public places.

Well after years of peace they’re back or as the smokers tell me here comes the totalitarians running over their “rights” with a Tiger tank once again. 

We have the special interests targeting the Friendly City once again in really what many will tell you is a faux issue.

This time around it’s not all about second hand smoke, but rather the health district’s war cry that smoking kills. It’s a war cry targeting smokers themselves. It’s crossing the line from protecting innocent non-smokers to dictate morality to smokers. And really is it the place of council to be in the morality business?

In the future are we going to see yet another updated unenforcable bylaw lets say making it illegal to smoke a cigarette in bed after you know , ummm doing “the act?” There goes that great movie cliche.

Certainly tobacco smoking kills because of the toxins given off by the burning of tobacco. Things like smoking a marijuana joint also gives off some of the same toxins but quite noticeably is not part of the upcoming consultations. We are not going to hear that cannabis kills but rather there are those set to market it to tourists. I have to ask myself why?

Should people have to have their leisurely stroll out in Crescent Park disrupted by a waft of second hand marijuana smoke? 

I think not.

Sure there will be those out there that say well marijuana is a Provincial issue and not for the City to take a stand on, but that is what was said about cigarette smoking.

But Moose Jaw still progressively passed it’s still on the books anti-smoking bylaw to protect the rights of non-smokers anyhow. Provincial anti-smoking legislation only came later. Perhaps this entire issue is up to the Provincial Government and not something for Council to even worry about to begin with. Especially since this time around it sat on the backburner for two years.

If it’s all about health let’s tackle the Wacky Tobacky as well and run those guys out of town as well. There’s evidence out there to support doing it. 

Such as stated by Dame Helena Shovelton of the British Lung Foundation “People are under the illusion it is safe to smoke cannabis. Our report shows it is very dangerous to lung health, at least as dangerous as tobacco.”

Why simply target tobacco smokers and people who vape with our moral consternation? Is Council effectively turning these two groups into even greater social pariahs? Sad thing is cigarette smokers are easy targets.

What we are in a roundabout way doing is turning those who smoke into even more of social pariahs then we collectively treat them as right now. But now we are going farther they are not just out smoking behind the outhouse but now under the proposed Bylaw they are going to have to be 10 metres behind the privy somewhere out in the weeds. Out of sight and forgotten.

Did I hear it right but did the discussion also include the possibility of banning smoking on City sidewalks? I suppose forcing smokers onto the streets would cut their numbers through pedestrian - automobile accidents and lead to lower smoker statistics overall in the city. Mission accomplished in harm reduction.

I have yet to see a hardcore cigarette smoker out there trying to convince the kids to smoke but I have seen the cannabis lobby do it. But there is no real public outcry on yet another legal product.

Instead of going after smokers and chase them away from those they love maybe its time we work harder at just keeping this crap away from the kids and give tobacco users supports to quit instead of resorting to banishment.

But really is banishment going to help them quit or just get them more angrier? I am guessing the latter.

I’m sure there’s a few people out there that would love to see someone hung just for lighting up a smoke in a deserted park. They’d likely get away with it if the initiative was not about saving lives. Summary capital punishment for smoking in a public place is something Council can look at in the future when they are inevitably asked to update the Bylaw.

And what about those fire pits people have in their backyards don’t they also entail burning giving off toxins and for many in the city aggravated lungs? Do they not also have the potential of causing people who are sensitive from smoke – like people with asthma, chronic breathing problems or other disorders/diseases – having breathing problems? Of course they do. So why not include them in the same issue? Is this not about burning things after all like a cigarette?

Could it really be true there are anti-tobacco smoking totalitarians out there? And tobacco smokers and vapers are just easy targets for Council? And if the new anti-smoking campaign is all about making it inconvenient for people to smoke why not take an even bolder initiative and simply ban tobacco, vaping and cannabis sales altogether in the City? 

Is that going a tad too far? Yes, highly likely.

I remember being at a doctor’s appointment and as I left the clinic wasn’t that a doctor and clinic staff out back having a cigarette?

Maybe we need to not just target bars, restaurants, parks sidewalks and other public spaces but any medical, hospital, dental, chiropractic, physio-therapy, ambulatory or related health care facilities and all attached lands as well? Maybe they as health care professionals need to set the example first and foremost then they can come out and lecture you about your cherished dart or cigarette?

What is next in the list of things we enjoy in our lives that doctors and others are actively working to take off of the menu - good God it is my beloved greasy rink burgers and fries and with that they have gone too damn far in my opinion.

So as I head out on my daily walk around the City and take advantage of the great outdoors all I truly ask is for cigarette smokers and the anti-tobacco totalitarians to please don’t blow smoke in my face. I am betting the ones that listen, are courteous and oblige are those enjoying another five minute nail in their coffin.

And for that I say thank you.

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