No smoking, please

By Kris Kotarski

Some issues are easy. Racism is bad, women should be equal and homosexuals should not be shunned by society. In these cases, it is not hard to take a stand. Agreement is universal unless you count a swine from the Ku Klux Klan, or a bigoted old man who thinks all gays have aids.

However, some issues are not so easy. Abortion is one-both the pro-choice and pro-life factions have a solid argument. Another issue is the right to choose, especially when it involves a cigarette.

Smoking has been under attack for a while in Canada, with significant federal and municipal laws throughout the country. Victoria and Ottawa both have bylaws stating that smoking is not allowed in indoor public spaces, and tobacco companies are not allowed to advertise their products anywhere in Canada.

On September 30, the City of Calgary has a chance take steps toward joining Victoria and Ottawa and we at the Gauntlet hope the city follows through. There is an obvious argument concurring personal freedom, but in this case, the freedom to smoke in public spaces should be revoked.

According to a recent survey conducted among Calgarian residents, over 90 per cent agree that nicotine is addictive, that smoking is harmful and that there are significant health risks associated with the activity.

Calgarians are less heavy-handed when it comes to banning smoking in restaurants (only 59 per cent agreed) but why stop with just stating "we don’t like smoking?" Smoking should be eliminated from restaurants, bars, bus shelters, stadiums-anywhere that’s not a private space or the great outdoors. The majority of smokers start before they turn 18-and why do they do that? They see parents, older siblings, even older friends who smoke without regard for those who do not. When these teenagers grow up, they try to quit because most realize how idiotic their habit is. Most can’t because of the addictive properties of nicotine.

We should do nothing to make this habit an easy or a pleasant one. Calgary has the chance to follow Ottawa and Victoria and we should take that chance no matter how many cry foul because they can’t light up. It’s unfortunate they can’t smoke anywhere they want, but it’s unfortunate to have to sit in a hazy restaurant, a stench-filled bar or a nicotine-stained bus shelter.

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