Butt out… eventually

05.30.05

The proposed smoking ban set to outlaw smoking indoors in all public spaces in Quebec as of January 1 may be delayed until May, reports CTV News. But Health Minister Philippe Couillard promised that the legislation will still come into effect.

Personally I can’t wait until this comes into effect. It will be really nice being able to go out without having to breathe in cigarette smoke all night. Adults can make their own decisions about their health… but smoking in public spaces affects nonsmokers too. If people want to smoke, let them go outside and leave the rest of us free to breathe clean air.

Sure, restaurant and bar owners may gripe. But the ban on smoking is long overdue here; it’s been law in Ontario for a while now, for example, and people still go out to eat and drink in that province. Hell, even Ireland banned smoking in bars… and the pub culture hasn’t disappeared overnight. Somehow, I think that Quebecers will learn to adapt, too.

Quebec has long had a reputation as “Canada’s smoking section”. I, for one, think it’s high time for us to base our reputation on something healthier… like poutine.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 DaninVan 05.31.05 at 8:40 AM

Heheh…here, when a patron absolutely MUST have a ciggie at a restaraunt or wherever, they merely pop outside. At worst, in Winter it might be rainy and maybe +2 celsius…in Montreal, on the other hand…:)

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2 Hanthala 06.01.05 at 5:07 PM

Clean air? Come on Sari, you live in the city.I think drivers should stop driving. We should make driving illegal. I mean adults are free to make their own decisions but drivers affect the health of non-drivers too.

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3 Jill 06.01.05 at 9:53 PM

I’d agree entirely…if bars, restaurants, etc. were actually “public space.” They’re not. Somebody owns the building that houses your favorite bar. That person, and that person alone, should be the only one to decide if smoking will be allowed inside.

Personally, I loathe the smell of cigarettes. Hell, I’m the first to admit that the “smoke-free” municipality where I live sure is a nice place to go out. And, there seem to be no conclusive reports on if these bans hurt business or not; chances are good, though, that they do not, and I’ll happily admit this as well.

But I find all of that ultimately irrelevant. The decision should belong to the person who owns the property or business in question.

Also, I’m not in Quebec, but somehow I managed to have an active social life and work in food service while avoiding smoke most of the time. I managed not to inhale smoke without the government ordering it. Many of my favorite hangouts went smoke-free a long time ago. These kinds of laws – as pleasant as they may be for us non-smokers on a personal level – are not only a violation of property rights, they’re simply unecessary. And I can’t imagine that Canada needs unecessary regulation any more than we do in the states!

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4 DaninVan 06.02.05 at 6:53 AM

Sorry, Jill, you’re way off base. Whatever level of Municipal Authority you reside in has a legal obligation to provide certain services, eg safe drinking water, fire protection, policing, and Building Code enforcement.
We have a National Building Code here in Canada and it’s the bible. You have a similar one in the US.
If an establishment is open to the public, the Municipality has a legal obligation to ensure that the premises are safe for the purposes intended. This might include sufficient fire exits, emergency lighting, sanitary food handling facilities INCLUDING health checks on food handlers, elevator inspections, etc. As a citizen, you have every right to expect that you’re NOT at risk eating at a restaurant, riding an elevator up to the 40th story of a highrise, or buying gas at a service station. If you feel that buylaws governing these ‘Public Places’ are unreasonable intrusions into your life, you always have the option of moving to an Unorganized Area and living a simpler existance without the frills and conveniences that come with development. I’m not suggesting that
you SHOULD do that, merely that the benefits to the majority overule the individuals’ preferences.

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5 DaninVan 06.02.05 at 6:57 AM

OOps; make that ‘bylaws’.

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6 John Palubiski 06.02.05 at 2:30 PM

That’s pretty sound thinking DaninVan. Bar owners have the right to decide on many issues when it comes to operating their businesses, but public health concerns take precedence over private property concerns. The examples of fire-escapes and all that you provide are instructive.

Ciggies are going the way of the DODO. We should remember that many, many years ago spitoons were a common sight in many public places. People just took them for granted. Nowadays, though, the mere idea of such a “recepticle” gives one the dry heaves!

Still, tobacco laws don’t make people quit smoking…..they just protect non-smokers, at least a little bit.

I’ve always wondered whether the whole non-smoking movement wasn’t born out of a sense of impotence with regards to smog and polluted air. Do we obsess about cigarette smoke because we’re unable to do much of anything to reduce harmful emmisions from smokestacks and tractor-trailers and such? Does anyone think there’s a “compensatory” aspect to the anti-smoking drive?

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7 DaninVan 06.02.05 at 5:41 PM

Hey JohnP. Here in Vancouver, the FireMarshall has incredible powers, more than the Planning and Permits Dept!
He gets to determine whether, for example, a pub gets to open or stay open based on his authority; table placement, number of seats, architectural details (doors and windows etc)all get his attention. His Dept. forced ALL older Multiple residences to install fire-sprinkler systems and ALL new homes to have them. His office determines how many, what type, and the location of every sprinkler head in your new building. If you’re looking for rational, there haven’t been any of those tragic multiple death fires (in Vancouver)that seem to plague Quebec and the Maritimes.

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8 josh 06.02.05 at 10:02 PM

Hanthala is so right.
I put a flag on my car and after two weeks, it has darkened considerably from the smut in the air. The cigarette-cancer thing is so overblown and conveniently easy to attack the smoking minority, than to actually tackle something real like car emissions. Though, maybe lttle by little is the way.
I do agree with Jill as well. The ‘law’ might be able to have strict rules about how to build a safe car, how to builda safe building, but can the law tell me what to do with/inside my car, or what to do in my establishment? I think that if a bar wants to voluntarily call itself non-smoking then that’s it’s their prerogative, let’s see how long that lasts. But while a mall is a public place, the individual stores are not (IMO at least) and neither are bars to a certain extent. Y’all know that it will soon be illegal to drink alcohol given this blanket ‘smoke kills’ logic.

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9 DaninVan 06.03.05 at 6:45 AM

Josh; ownership of the building may or may not be private or public BUT the approved usage is NOT private. THAT’s a matter of Zoning, Business Licensing, Worker’s Compensation, Fire Regulations, Insurance Liability, etc. etc.
Just try and operate a bar without complying fully with all the regulations emanating from the above authorities.
The only thing that you truly own is the obligation to pay taxes; EVERYTHING else can be taken away from you. Depressing isn’t it…

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10 DaninVan 06.03.05 at 8:22 PM

” it has darkened considerably from the smut in the air”

Smut?! *blush*

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11 Lynn B. 06.05.05 at 4:25 AM

The cigarette-cancer thing is so overblown and conveniently easy to attack the smoking minority, than to actually tackle something real like car emissions.

Yeah, really. Just like the Islamist-terrorist thing is so overblown and conveniently easy to attack the Islamist minority, than to actually tackle something real like, like, well, organized crime or global warming or … something. I mean, there’s no meaningful connection between lung cancer and smoking, right?

Sheesh.

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12 josh 06.05.05 at 2:25 PM

Lynn B,
when smoking is ultimately banned, people will still die from lung cancer and pulmonary diseases.

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13 John Palubiski 06.05.05 at 3:58 PM

Josh has a point about nanny state policy initiatives. Is a bar or drinking establishment a public place, or is it private? At what point should the public authorities, rather than the patrons, BUTT out?

Cigarettes cause cancer and respiratory ilnesses-there’s no doubt about that-but I still think too much emphasis is placed on the isssue to the detriment of other air quality problemes. It’s somewhat of a *default* issue, in that all drone on about it because other sources of pollution are just too difficult and too costly to tackle.

A few years ago during a summer heat wave I was driving into town via the Lafontaine Tunnel. One gets a clear view of the downtown skyline, mountain and all. Over the city there was a dome of dense brown smog that no one could miss. Every single breath inhaled at every moment was composed, at least in part, of that dome of pollutants, and no matter what you did or where you went you couldn’t *butt* it out.

Ciragettes may be bad, but there are other very important air-quality problemes that should be looked at as well.

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14 DaninVan 06.05.05 at 10:27 PM

I’m thinking, Josh, that you haven’t had a close family member die from Cancer (yet). I say that because your comments suggest a rather flippant regard for the big ‘C’. I sincerely hope that you and your family are spared a close up encounter with this killer ’cause you aren’t going to be the same person if you do.

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