Smokers are people too

BRANTFORD, Ont. (CUP) –– I have had an epiphany: Smoking is not positive for one’s health.

This revelation may have occurred as a result of my 14 years of public education, my parents’ warnings and disapproval, the many discriminatory anti-smoking advertisements or even the graphic warnings on and inside the cigarette packaging.

I can, without a doubt, tell you that it did not occur through ignorant non-smokers telling me about their grand revelation. People tell smokers this known fact to enlighten them, to “save” them or to point out their imperfections.

But stating the obvious doesn’t enlighten people, nor does it grant one genius status; it makes you a fool, similar to “enlightening” someone about their skin colour.

Trying to save people by trying to make them quit isn’t saving them, either. About one in four Canadians are estimated to die from cancer, but I can tell you that the one in four Canadians aren’t all smokers. Nine in 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke. These factors include smoking, alcohol, physical inactivity, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Newsflash: 100 per cent of Canadians will die.

There is no saving us because today, everything kills us – lead, plastics, sugar, falling coconuts. People will live the lives they wish to live. Pointing out another person’s smoking problem is only a defence mechanism to shelter your own self-conscious mindset.

Public smoking no longer affects non-smokers because smoking can’t occur within public buildings. Walking by a smoker outside will not give you cancer, but your cellphone, the car fumes you breathe, the sun in the sky and even the chemical-laced food you eat might.

I smoke because I enjoy it. Mixing it with the mental and biological addiction that makes it a problem, it becomes a problem I enjoy. Obesity is a problem, too, but if someone is happily obese, is it right to remind them constantly about the life-threatening problem? If you say yes, put yourself in their shoes.

Smoking does not affect people’s mental abilities. Someone can smoke without impairing their driving; they can work and talk and perform any task.

Imagine that you are drinking at a party and someone tells you the dangers of drinking and tries to get you to stop drinking. And this happens every time you drink. “That’s going to rot your liver, you know!” they chide you.

This would annoy you and probably ruin drinking for you.

I can tell you that it annoys me and ruins smoking for me, but I will forever continue because three years of being lectured and warned has not stopped me. I smoke, I feel, I eat, I sleep, I breathe, I cry, I smile, I walk past you, I sit beside you in class. I am not just a smoker, but a human being just like you.

Josh Linton
Sputnik (Wilfrid Laurier University – Brantford)

Up in smoke

The RCMP are trying to butt out smoking in vehicles.

Charges were laid against two individuals who were smoking in the same vehicle as children in Humboldt on Jan. 3.

The law, which outlaws smoking in vehicles with children under the age of 16, came into effect on Oct. 1. Based on statistics at the end of January 2011, the RCMP had laid no charges – making these two effectively the first of their nature.

The first, yes. The only? Perhaps. The questions I had when the law first came in are, I believe, still relevant. First – how does one enforce a law of this nature?

Children under 12 are supposed to be in the backseat of a vehicle for safety reasons. Nearly all backseats have tinted windows and extremely limited visibility. How is an officer, driving by, probably in the opposite direction, going to see if there is a child in the backseat of a vehicle? Even if the cruiser is parked and a vehicle with an occupant smoking drives by, will the officer be able to determine beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is someone under the age of 16 in the car?

What if the person in the car just looks like they are under 16 and it turns out that they are actually 17 or 18? I know I look like I’m under 16 when I have no makeup on, and I’m 21. Can an officer get away with an accidental pull over? I know random checks are acceptable, but how far can you take that before people start getting angry? If I got pulled over at 2 p.m., doing the speed limit or below, I would be mad. It would be a huge waste of my time and a huge waste of the officer’s time, who is presumably getting paid to actually hand out real tickets. 

Another question I have is – How can an officer even be 100 per cent certain that the individual is smoking? They could be chewing a toothpick, or sucking on a straw. Weirder things have happened. Again, the issue with limited visibility into moving vehicles comes up.

I understand the importance of this law, I really do. There are proven health risks to anyone exposed to secondhand smoke, and the risk only increases when it’s a child involved. I just don’t see how it’s feasible to actually put it into action.

Perhaps the fact that there have only been two charges laid in almost six months proves my theory. Or maybe I’m all wrong, and the law really is more than just smoke and mirrors.

Cheyenne Geysen
Op-Ed Editor

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