Sunday, September 7, 2008

SHS and the Yeti

Sasquatch is an aboriginal word meaning "hairy giant" and refers to a large manlike creature believed to roam the woods from California up the West Coast and across Canada. The yeti is a mythical beast; a large hairy humanoid creature said to live in the Himalayas in Tibet The yeti, also known as the Abominable Snowman, is a close cousin to the sasquatch or Bigfoot.

YETI (Youth Engaged in Tobacco-free Initiatives), according to their mission statement, is a group of youth dedicated to improving the health of their peers and others in their community by advocating for a happy, healthy, and tobacco-free lifestyle. It’s a project of the Thunder Bay District Health Unit and the YETI, through a process called indoctrination, are close cousins to the anti-smoker fruitcakes.

A few weeks back, the YETI in Thunder Bay paraded with a banner publicizing their latest initiative to keep parks and beaches free of tobacco industry products. They plan to demand that city council amend Thunder Bay‘s smoking bylaw to include outdoor recreational areas.

But, according to an August 14 editorial in the Chronicle-Journal, they will consider seeking designated smoking areas at parks, beaches and campgrounds rather than an outright ban on lighting up outside; at least for now. I’m sure they consider it a very noble gesture; to allow smokers to be herded into their own private ghetto where they can engage in their filthy little habit. (I wonder if they’ll provide ashtrays, or will smokers be forced to butt out on the grass so they can later be accused of being inconsiderate litterbugs.)

In a surprising twist, the Chronicle-Journal editorial suggested that, although their cause was just, the call for a smoking ban outdoors may be going a little too far. “But unless an outdoor public recreation area is jammed with a crowd that contains a considerable number of smokers, the danger and even the displeasure of wafting smoke is minimal and momentary at best”.

No one should deceive themselves into believing that the Chronicle-Journal is a champion of smokers or freedom of choice. Consider their impassioned plea to smokers to quit, for the good of the children. “As for the activity that leads to that short, burnt butt, the evidence of self-inflicted death is overwhelming. So for the sake of your own children, if not all children in Thunder Bay, please follow the example of so many others you know and quit”.

The editorial notes: “But smokers have already been forced outdoors and to suggest they be denied their guilty pleasure at city parks and beaches is asking too much of them”.

Such smug, self-righteous comments can be infuriating, but we must learn to laugh at the lunacy. I don’t feel the least bit guilty about smoking or the pleasure it brings.

OK, once in a while, when my four-year old grand-daughter is running my ass into the ground, I might say something stupid like, “I’ve really got to quit”. But, the feeling usually passes the minute I get my breath back.

But, I wonder. Does the editorial board of the Chronicle-Journal also believe that relaxing with a few beers on the week-end is a guilty pleasure? How about pre-marital sex? Homosexuality? A happy meal at the local McDonals? Who appointed these small-minded hypocrites as defenders of public morals?

But, even this mild criticism of the effort to impose a ban on smoking outdoors was met with a rebuke from Dr. Jim Morris, the chairman of Tobacco Free Thunder Bay. “Your editorial “A good cause gone too far” (Aug. 14) casts a negative voice to the start of the campaign to make city parks and beaches free of tobacco industry products”. He wrote.

Wow. We can’t have any negative voices when it comes to anti-smoker crusaders and their war on smokers, can we? Everybody’s got to be pushing the same propaganda or people might start to see through their secondhand smokescreen.

Dr. Morris goes on: “Part of the function of prohibiting smoking in these areas is to show children that the use of tobacco in modern society is no longer acceptable”. Uh-huh. No longer acceptable by whom, I wonder? I honestly don’t think the children gave a rat’s ass one way or another until the anti-smoker fanatics began their indoctrination campaign.

He goes on: “I agree, tobacco is still a legal product, but it should not be encouraged and non-tobacco users shouldn‘t be co-mingled with tobacco users”.

Co-mingled? Does Dr. Morris also oppose the co-mingling of black and white; how about the co-mingling of catholic and protestant? Is it permissible for smoking and non-smoking friends to co-mingle and share a common space, or are smokers to be completely ostracized? Can you spell bigot?

If tobacco is such an egregious threat to society, why aren’t Tobacco Free Thunder Bay and others of their ilk pushing for prohibition?

He is a doctor after all. He can’t be that concerned about losing his anti-smoker pay cheque, can he?

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