Thursday, February 5, 2009

Smoking, secondhand smoke & self-righteous bigots

Rose Marie Borutski, of Surrey, BC, claims she’s developed asthma and a smoker’s cough since moving into a housing complex where she was “forced to assimilate with smokers”. So, she and a dozen other tenants in the 257 unit building have filed a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal, alleging discrimination due to secondhand smoke exposure from other tenants.

Says Borutski:
“I now use an inhaler to help me breathe. I need to take it each morning and at night before I sleep. Smoke drifts in from people smoking in the suites below, from people smoking outside, it comes in through the ventilation system. Everywhere we turn there’s smoke.”

Ms. Borutski and her dirty dozen are suing the Kiwanis Club (the owner), the management company (Crescent Housing Society) and BC Housing. The parties named in the suit (including the province, which provides the subsidy), supposedly, want it dismissed.

Borutski has suggested the building be split into two parts, with smokers on one side and non-smokers on the other.

Janet Furcht, manager of the non-profit, says the segregation solution is unworkable. Management can’t force tenants to move against their will and can’t afford the cost of moving tenants even if they agreed to move willingly. And, they can’t afford extensive modifications to the ventilation system.

But, if they can’t afford to move people around, and they can’t afford to install proper ventilation, what possible action could they take to resolve Borutski’s alleged health concerns?

Aye, and there’s the rub. For the only other solution is to demand smokers quit smoking in their home. And, the landlord took the first step in that direction last August, introducing a no-smoking policy that prohibits new tenants from smoking in their suites or on their balconies.

And that’s why I have no sympathy or concern for the bigoted Ms. Borutski and her fellow whiners. I simply don’t believe them. They propose to justify their open hostility to smokers with exaggerated or non-existent health concerns. They’ve bought into the secondhand smoke hysteria propagated by the anti-smoker movement and they’re all too willing to join in the persecution of smokers.

For the last couple of years, anti-smoker fanatics have been holding meetings across the country to discuss ways and means of making multi-unit dwellings smoker free.

Various members of the anti-smoker cult have been lecturing landlords on the high costs of maintenance they claim are associated with smoking tenants. They’ve been spreading fear among non-smokers, encouraging them to “protect” themselves from secondhand smoke by forcing smoking neighbours to quit or be thrown into the streets.

They are not interested in compromise solutions. Nothing less than the complete capitulation of the smoking public will suffice.

But, they’re providing absolutely no evidence that secondhand smoke is anything more than a controllable nuisance in such situations.

The objective, of course, is to force smokers to quit by threatening their housing. They’re looking for legal precedent they can use to pressure government into passing legislation which openly discriminates against smokers.

The intention of Borutski et al is not to protect themselves from the alleged hazards of secondhand smoke. They may have lodged the complaint against the landlord; but smokers are the real target.

Borutski moved into the subsidized building eighteen months ago, knowing there were smokers living there. At least, a reasonably prudent person should have known there would be smokers in the building, because 20% of the adult population still smokes. Still, she chose to move into the building, knowing full well she would be “forced to assimilate with smokers.”

One must assume the woman moved into a subsidized apartment for the same reason that most people, including smokers, move into such units; because she couldn’t afford a decent place to live otherwise. Now, she wants the building owners, and those providing the subsidy, to deny those tenants who choose to smoke the same privilege.

The anti-smoker crowd has chosen subsidized housing to further their efforts to establish “smoker free” housing precisely because the residents are primarily low income earners, seniors, etc. They are dependent on the decent, affordable accommodation which social housing provides. And, if confronted with a choice of smoking or being tossed into the street, well . . .

Oh, and just how do I conclude that Ms. Borutski is a bigot?

Well, I could say her reference to being “forced to assimilate” with smokers was my first clue. But then, nobody wants to live next to one of “them”.

Or, I could say that her proposal to segregate smokers provided some insight into her character. Of course, she just wants the building segregated. It’s not as if she wants smokers removed to some remote location in the BC interior, surrounded by barbed wire. At least, not yet.

But, the simple truth is, I used the same scientific methodology used by anti-smoker extremists to establish the hazards of secondhand smoke in the first place.

I made a calculated guess based on inconclusive evidence and baseless assumptions and declared it to be fact. Hell, if the process is good enough for Health Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Health Propaganda, and the hate-mongers in the anti-smoker brigade, it’s good enough for me.

I’ll have more to say on this subject in my next post.


Ben said...

The easiset way for the owners to solve the problem: evict Borutski. She will always be trouble, whether there are smokers or not.

Michael J. McFadden said...

Old Rambler wrote, "Oh, and just how do I conclude that Ms. Borutski is a bigot? Well, I could say her reference to being “forced to assimilate” with smokers was my first clue. But then, nobody wants to live next to one of “them”. "

Yep. I'd say that was a pretty good leading clue. Usually Antismokers are better trained. They'll go on at length about how supposedly all the mountains of evidence back up their health concerns and such and it's not till the very end of their statements that they start comng out with "And it STINKS!"

Nonsmokers forced to be "assimilated" by smokers? What next? Smoker/Nonsmoker miscegnation? What will happen to the children of such mixed marriages?

There oughta be a Law! And don't doubt that it'll be pushed for... just give them time.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

Mrs. Pelican said...

With people like Mrs. Borutsky, it's NEVER enough. If she moves to a "smoke-free" building, you can bet she will be complaining about someone's cat, kids, music or whatever - I feel sorry for her new neighbors, whoever they are. Expecting the rest of the world to accommodate your own personal wishes is a personality problem, not a physical one.

Anonymous said...

Truth is, it is a terrible addiction and a truly filthy habit that does stink and does cause medical problems for people. I am a smoker, desperately trying to quit. I find it odd that many benefit programs do not offer coverage for smoking cessation drugs like Champix and Zyban. If you are a non-smoker who lives in an apartment with smokers, it really is a serious problem, and could lead to health problems for them. So, vilify her if you will, one way or the other, our days as legal smokers are numbered. And I am glad.

The Old Rambler said...

The woman in question claims secondhand smoke “caused” her asthma. There is no scientific evidence to support that allegation. In fact, asthma rates have been increasing dramatically for decades, while smoking rates have been in decline. Whether or not smoking is a “filthy habit” or “stinks” is simply a matter of opinion.

Perhaps the dismal success rate of Chantix and the plethora of side affects is the reason the drug is not funded. Quitting smoking “cold turkey” is the most effective method for long term abstinence, but given your defeatist attitude, I suspect it would be of little benefit in your case. And, if tobacco is a true addiction, making it illegal will not improve your chances of quitting. It will simply turn you into a criminal when you can't shake the habit.

If you want to quit; do it. Nobody else can do it for you. If that's your choice, I wish you luck.

Michael J. McFadden said...

I have always found it amazing and amusing that the people who beat the drum about "addiction" the loudest are the same ones who predict that another 50 cents per pack tax will help reduce the number of smokers.