Increasing Smoke-Free Venues
When I had my first job working in an office, another older woman worked at a desk alongside my own, and she was an dependent smoker, one after the other. She was a good-natured, friendly woman, who should have noticed my aversion to the thick smoke that enveloped me at times, wafting over from her cigarettes, so I would take to waving it away, but she didn't seem to.
And when I was older, and in the hospital to have my babies delivered on one occasion I shared a room with a woman who smoked, even though she too had just had a baby, and her visitors smoked as well. I choked on the bitter, nasty odours that were prevalent. And I would also see doctors on their rounds casually smoking as well.
How things have changed. Only ten years ago I recall having words with another supermarket shopper whose cigarette had smoldered dangling in his mouth while he was leaning over the meat counter, leaving bits of residue all over a number of meat packages. I remonstrated with him, reminding him that a notice at the doors warned of a no-smoking policy.
He reciprocated by telling me to mind my own business, which of course was precisely what I was doing, since health and hygiene is everyone's business. But there was no enforcement back then. Food stores often had those signs prominently displayed and many people simply ignored them. That was then, and now Ottawa and many other cities reflect provincial regulations against indoor smoking.
Now, in federal government buildings, smokers hang around the outside perimeter in all kinds of weather, dragging and puffing on their cigarettes. No one need now ever return home from work with their clothing having to be changed and washed to remove the odours of the day's cigarette smokers. And people can finally be assured that they are not being exposed to the morbidity of second-hand smoke.
It killed my father; I've achieved an age he never realized because he had cancer of the throat thanks to his cigarette habit. And now new regulations are being proposed by Ottawa public health officials to ensure that city parks, outdoor patios, beaches and other areas close to the exterior of city facilities, like arenas and even City Hall, will be free of smoke.
The existing smoke-free by-laws are to be extended to exclude smokers even from outdoor venues. Offenders, should they ignore the new by-law, if it does become law, will face a $305 fine for violating a new, extended prohibition. With the prohibition on smoking in certain designated areas there will be a partnering of assistance to help people with smoking cessation techniques.
This is something that the public wants to see addressed; the extension of non-smoking areas. And it would appear that it's not only non-smokers, concerned about public health, but smokers themselves, 50% of whom agree that this new direction has their support.
Where once smokers protested that their rights were being infringed upon, unwilling to admit that their habit constituted a threat to other peoples' rights and health, that appears to have changed. And society is far better off for it.