Smoke-Free Ontario: Smoker vs. non-smoker

Editorial cartoon

Illustration by Sam Bullis/The Dialog

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Non-smoker

As of Jan. 1, 2015, the government of Ontario added to their Smoke-Free Ontario law, further limiting smoking areas.

It will be illegal to smoke on and around children’s playgrounds and publicly owned sports fields and surfaces, on all bar and restaurant patios (with an exemption for uncovered patios established by the Royal Canadian Legion before Nov. 18, 2013), and to sell tobacco on university or college campuses owned or leased by the institution or student union.

Upon reading about this new law, I sighed with relief. I am a non-smoker with personal reasons as to why I detest smoke around me.

This law was long overdue and I appreciate the government of Ontario boldly coming out with smoking bans at most places in the province. Though after much thought, I realized the reality faced by smokers in Ontario‚ as I have some close friends who smoke and some who use it to relieve stress.

Even while I agree with this new law, a strong imposition of it without good social support systems or smoking-cessation plans in action is ridiculous.

Thinking about my smoker friends and other smokers in Ontario, I feel this new law restricting tobacco sales in certain places where the people who would purchase them are of legal age is also ridiculous.

First, I would strongly support the Ontario government putting into action smoking-cessation plans and other forms of support for smokers, along with the imposition of banning tobacco sales on college campus.

Most of the smokers I know have their reasons to use smoking in order to seek relief, especially youth at college campuses. It’s like snatching away the crutches from an injured or disabled person and asking that person to walk or run. If such a law is to be imposed by the Ontario government, a major component would be to promote smoking-cessation programs that would help in the long run.

Secondly, the Ontario government should plan, execute and analyse major lifestyle change programs on college campuses to help promote stress relief using healthier methods.

Therefore, in opinion of a non-smoker, this outlandish law is more distressing than the stress of having smokers around.

-Deepti Batra

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Smoker

In 2006, Smoke-Free Ontario developed a strategy combining education, policies and legislation. The strategy was designed to “help smokers to quit, protect non-smokers from exposure to second-hand smoke, and encourage young people to never start.”

This strategy included prohibiting smoking in enclosed public spaces, motor vehicles when children under 16 were present, in the workplace, and prohibiting the display of tobacco and selling of flavoured cigarillos. All of these were justified, gave non-smokers breathing room, and made tobacco products invisible to minors.

As a smoker I know the associated health risks, but it is a chance I’ve chosen to take, partly out of stupidity and partly out of addiction. While the ability to understand the health risks has allowed me to cut down, there is still the addiction part that acts as a stress reliever during tough times, so having to abide by a new smoking law that prohibits smoking from almost anywhere makes me feel pressured to quit, which in turn causes me to be more stressed than I already am knowing I should quit for my health.

This new smoking law makes no sense because the government went from making tobacco products invisible to continuing to sell them with no place to smoke them, and prohibiting retailers to sell them in post-secondary institutions where the majority of students are of legal age to purchase them.

To smoke, an individual must be 19 years of age or older, and by 18 people are considered adults, so why are adults telling other adults how to live their lives and when they should put down the cigarette? Because non-smokers feel it’s the right time?

I wouldn’t be surprised if the people making these stupid decisions were all non-smokers, as I really don’t believe a smoker would ban smoking everywhere without having some designated smoking areas for the people who may not want to quit.

This is not logical and I believe it will cause more headaches. I also feel as though it is not non-smokers’ choice, though they seem to have all the power.

Also, why allow legal-aged individuals to purchase cigarettes but ban smoking everywhere with no current intentions of shutting down cigarette companies?

If the government decided to shut down these big cigarette corporations and ban any store from selling them, then this law would make more sense.

-Tina Todaro

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Smoke-Free Ontario: Smoker vs. non-smoker