Sunday, November 23, 2008

Smokers - hounded 'til death

Before anti-smoker crusaders launched their war against smokers, personal behaviour, whether or not it might be deemed unhealthful, was considered an individual’s private business. Among the personal behavior frowned on was drinking, overeating and smoking.

Through the years, these activities have been considered by many to be not only unhealthy, but immoral. But, since they were essentially private indulgences, they were generally accepted by the public as little more than a nuisance; sinful perhaps, but harmful to no one but those who chose to indulge.

To be sure, the sale of some legal products has always been controlled to some degree, largely to protect children deemed too young and inexperienced to make responsible decisions on their own. Regulations on the sale of cigarettes and alcohol to minors are prime examples.

Few have opposed these legitimate restrictions. The vast majority of adults understand instinctively the need to shelter children from questionable habits, at least until they can fully appreciate the possible adverse consequences of their actions.

Unfortunately, the fanatics have also convinced the public that it’s not only children who need protection, but workers and the general public as well. They’ve managed to escalate a mere nuisance like secondhand smoke to the status of public health hazard.

But, the agenda of the anti-smoker fanatics has little to do with protecting anyone; it’s really about punishing smokers for insisting they have a right to consume a legal product and engage in a legal activity. It’s about control. And, the agenda of the fanatics leaves no room for compassion.

How else can you interpret efforts by Britain’s NHS (National Health Service) to close smoking rooms for terminally ill patients in Birmingham, England?

The Sheldon Unit, a palliative care home for terminally ill patients is one of only two health care facilities in the region with smoking rooms provided on sympathetic grounds.

Board members in charge of the unit, on learning of plans to upgrade the smoking room with a new ventilation system, intervened. Dr Chris Spencer-Jones, South Birmingham public health director, ranted against the renovation, determined to deny smokers one of their few remaining pleasures, even at death’s door.

It doesn’t matter if patients might be terminally ill,” said Spencer-Jones, “that is not relevant because there are other units where such patients cannot smoke. The practice at the Sheldon Unit is unacceptable.”

The question is why? Why is it unacceptable to allow smokers, at Sheldon Unit or any palliative care facility, to retain a little dignity as they face death? Why is it necessary to denigrate and demean these people to the bitter end; aren’t they suffering enough as it is? What in God’s name have they done to deserve such despicable treatment?

Nor can Canadians claim any superiority to the arrogant, outlandish treatment of the elderly and infirm in Great Britain.

Jack Lakey, in a Dec 6, 2006 article in the Toronto Star, told the story of Suzanne Penny, diagnosed with cancer, destined to die and forced outside and into the cold to enjoy a smoke. Cigarettes may have been the cause of the cancer that ravaged her body, but they also provided some solace as she awaited death.

Dennis Brown, CEO of Grace Hospital, is quoted by Lakey as saying: "When that bill was being enacted, we actually did consult with the ministry (Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion) specifically about our palliative care unit. We were told very clearly that there would be no exemptions for palliative care units."

Lakey’s article also points out the hypocrisy of the situation, noting that: “both the University of Toronto and York University recently created rooms for professors who smoke marijuana for medical reasons, but didn't want to sneak around outside to do it.”

Yet, the elderly, the infirm and the terminally ill are herded into parking lots like cattle; deprived of dignity; subjected to callous and inhumane treatment simply because they choose to smoke.

And the anti-smoker bigots sit in their cushy offices and pat themselves on the back for their efforts to “save mankind” from a hazard which has never been proven to exist.

There’s a name for people like them. As a matter of fact there are several. You can take your pick.

2 comments:

vincent1 said...

Old Rambler- Hard to believe people could be so cruel in this day and age, isn't it.
I wonder if these people addicted, to power and control, go to church?
How can anyone be so blinded by such propaganda is beyond me, along with the cruelty, they know propaganda brings.
mandyv

Tom Wing said...

This is what smokers have been turned into by the anti-smoking cartel. It's ridiculous, these monsters, all under the disguise of "public safety," have turned me and my fellow Americans into the slaves of their social engineering.

It's an absolute disgrace.

Tom Wing
President ShipSmokeOut