Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Perhaps a bit too far

I don't like smoking and anyone who knows me is pretty much aware of that. You might think it odd that so many of my friends smoke, but as they like to point out, I eat too much crap and that's just as likely to kill me as their cigarette smoke. It's a vice detente as it were.

But when I was with The Express I wrote editorials supporting the banning of cigarettes in public areas. I was very much in favour of getting rid of it in bars. And, oddly enough, I've noticed the hospitality industry in Newfoundland hasn't collapsed on itself with the ban.

This is the way you get cut back on cigarettes, by the way. Not taxing it to death, because people will just smuggle in cigarettes. You hurt it by nibbling it to death. You'll ever get rid of it completely, but the last estimate I read said that between 20-25 per cent of Newfoundlanders still smoke. I think within 20 years you'll see that number under 10 per cent. And that's an acceptable number.

I'm sure there's more tweaking to be done to the legislation, but I'm pretty comfortable to where it is now. I know there was some talk last year about making it illegal to smoke in cars, which struck me as a touch silly. And then there is this article, which says that a recent poll showed a majority of people in Ontario would be in favour of banning smoking in apartment buildings.

Understand, that I have empathy of this position. The last apartment we lived in clearly had ventilation problems that allowed cigarette smoke from a neighbouring unit into our space. If nothing else, it firmly changed my mind on legalizing marijuana for usage in a person's private residence, which I supported. Along with the regular cigarette smoke we were getting more than our fair share of marijuana smoke as well. It was a bloody nuisance because our neighbour was too stupid (or, you know, stoned, to do basic things like turn on the oven fan, crack a window on mild days or put a damp towel across their door. Or burn incense. Anything to make it less obvious.

But I don't think I'm quite ready for the government to legislate what I can or can't do in the privacy of my own home, especially if the activity is legal, as smoking still is. Some building owners are making their apartments smoke-free, and I have no problem with that. It's their property and if they don't want the hassles of dealing with cigarette smoke or apartments reeking when they want to rent it out to new tenants, then that's understandable. Same way you see many apartments don't allow pets. I think in the years to come, apartments that don't allow smoking will have a much lower vacancy rate than those that do allow it.

Also, good luck trying to enforce that law. Once you get neighbours ratting each other out to the police over smoking, well, that's a pretty slippery slope.

So nice idea, and I truly empathize. One of the things I like about this place is that apparently none of our neighbours smoke. But that's going a step too far.

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