Monday, January 25, 2010

Smoking bans, outdoor patios & bus shelters

There have been a couple of articles in the news media since the beginning of the new year suggesting that anti-smoker activity has gone too far. The anti-smoker crowd, of course, took exception to both.

But, the anti-smoker brigade is still on the march, goose-stepping their way across Canada. This time it's the Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health pushing for a ban on smoking outside bars and restaurants claiming second-hand smoke is a danger outdoors as well as indoors.

According to council president Mario Bujold, "Different research shows that outside tobacco smoke could have a level as high as indoor second-hand smoke concentrations." He also wants the smoking ban extended to bus shelters where people are “close together”. Maybe he afraid a little social interaction between smokers and non-smokers might get people to thinking smokers are really quite normal.

At any rate, it seems the provincial government is scheduled to review its tobacco policy this fall. Bujold and his anti-smoker crowd appear to be starting their lobbying campaign early.

The CBC claims the idea is even going over well with some smokers, and quote Montrealer Josh Bouzaglou who apparently told CBC that: “It would bother me getting smoke in my face on a terrace or in a bus shelter.”

Sounds like Mr. Bouzaglou has bought into the guilt trip laid on him by the anti-smoker element. But, I wonder how he manages to light up without getting a little smoke in his face? Of course, the article doesn't say what he was smoking.

Peter Sergakis, president of the Union of Bar Owners of Quebec which represents 700 bar owners in Quebec, is opposed to the idea of extending the smoking. ban. Said Sergakis: "They have created second-class citizens with smokers. They put them on the street, and now they're trying to convince the government to disallow them from smoking on the sidewalks or terraces. This does not make sense. It's totally undemocratic, and they're going too far."

Sergakis estimates bars in Quebec have lost 25 per cent of their business since the ban on indoor smoking went into effect, and he claims things will only get worse if the ban is extended. "Could you imagine? Our customers wait for the summer to go outside and smoke, and now we're going to ban them from smoking on the terrace?"

Bujold, naturally, countered that the bar owners' fears are exaggerated. Many people predicted bars and restaurants would be driven out of business when the indoor smoking ban came into effect, he said, but that didn't happen.Uh-huh.

At first glance, there's nothing new in this article. It's a scenario that has played out hundreds (thousands?) of times across Canada over the past decade or more. But, after reading the article, it dawned on me that there was something missing; something I couldn't quite put my finger on. So I read the article a second time. Then I realized what was missing.

There wasn't a single reference to smoking as the number one cause of preventable death; no reinforcement of the anti-smoker claim that smoking kills 45 thousand Canadians a year. No declaration that second-hand smoke was a killer of monumental proportions, lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce on the first unsuspecting non-smoker to pass by.

This is unusual in the main stream media which ordinarily promotes the fear-mongering messages of the anti smoker brigade, without verification of, or perhaps deliberately ignoring, the facts.

But not only was the usual anti-smoker diatribe noticeable by its absence, they even acknowledged, in an admittedly off-handed manner, that the evidence may not support Bujold's contention that second-hand smoke is a danger outdoors as well as indoors.

The article quotes Dr. Gaston Ostiguy, director of the Smoking Cessation Clinic at the Montreal Chest Institute, as saying the concerns of Bujold and the Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health may be exaggerated. Said Ostiguy: “In the open air, a person is likely to be exposed to second-hand smoke for a very short time. To say that's it's dangerous for your health, I think that the data is not available to be affirmative on this”.

But, I'm not about to hand out any blue ribbons to the main stream media for balanced journalism just yet. Their reporting of the second-hand smoke issue has been unquestionably one-sided. Over the last decade or more the main stream media has abandoned the journalistic ethic of fair and accurate reporting. And, in so doing, they've abdicated their responsibility to inform the public.

So, we'll wait and see what the new year brings before handing out any awards for fair and balanced journalism.


Anonymous said...

They're instructed to ban patio smoking AFTER business owners spend thousands of dollare to accommodate their smoking customers. It's the "inside-out" provision in their guidebook. See for yourself. You may need to CTRL and scroll to read it.

Anonymous said...

More ill informed smoker bashing. I do not think the authors would argue with me that smoking over the last 60 years smoking has more than halved (UK 1948 66% of the population, 2009 22.5%) but asthma has risen by 300% (again in the UK). So smoking is not the primary cause of asthma and atopy, I assume the doctor’s cars and industrial pollution. The inconvenient truth is that the only studies of children of smokers suggest it is PROTECTIVE in contracting atopy in the first place. The New Zealand study says by a staggering factor of 82%.

“Participants with atopic parents were also less likely to have positive SPTs between ages 13 and 32 years if they smoked themselves (OR=0.18), and this reduction in risk remained significant after adjusting for confounders.

The authors write: “We found that children who were exposed to parental smoking and those who took up cigarette smoking themselves had a lower incidence of atopy to a range of common inhaled allergens.
“These associations were found only in those with a parental history of asthma or hay fever.”

They conclude: Our findings suggest that preventing allergic sensitization is not one of them.”…/…gic_sensitization_.html

This is a Swedish study.

“Children of mothers who smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day tended to have lower odds for suffering from allergic rhino-conjunctivitis, allergic asthma, atopic eczema and food allergy, compared to children of mothers who had never smoked (ORs 0.6-0.7)

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates an association between current exposure to tobacco smoke and a low risk for atopic disorders in smokers themselves and a similar tendency in their children.”…pubmed/ 11422156

In conclusion let’s have a balanced debate and not characterise smokers as race akin to the devil.

Anonymous said...

It would bother him to get smoke in his face on a terrace or in a bus shelter? It is probably going to bother him a lot more when he gets a fist in the face for turning someone elses life into a misery. They have won, we have been cast out into the street, out of hotels, bars, cafes, restaurants, public transport, theatres, cinemas and the workplace. When is it going to be enough?

Anonymous said...

Can anyone answer the question on why they are not targeting any other addiction but smokeing? I know several drug and alcohol addict people that receive Maine Care and ssi or ssdi whats the deAL . YOU DONT SEE BILLS IN THE SENATE TO RAISE TAXES ON ALCOHOL but it seems that every time they meet they find a way to tax tobacco none for alcohol. Wake up ppl. this is crap and im sick of it and i dont smoke!!!!!!!!!!!