Smoking is a very personal issue for me. My grandmother, easily the most kind-hearted woman I’ve ever met, lost her life several decades too early as a result of lung cancer, thanks to second-hand smoke. It was at that time, when I was still very young, that I decided I would do what I could to protect those around me from smoke.
Like many, I grew up around a number of smokers. My mom smoked while I was young but made the right decision to stop after she saw how it was affecting me and my brother. She was also smart enough to smoke outside, or at least primarily so, unlike the situation many children are trapped in. This is where my fury kicks in.
You see, smoking is a contentious issue. Some people think it is their right to do what they want. What they are often blind to, is how it impacts others around them. I’m looking at the parents smoking around their kids (makes me want to puke) and those that smoke in shared spaces, like indoors in an apartment building.
Thankfully, smoking is in decline across most developed countries. Unfortunately, it is not declining quickly enough, as 13% of Canadians still smoke daily. This is why I have decided to continue the fight by joining the Canadian Cancer Society.
The great news is that for those that are passionate about putting an end to smoking, there are a number of opportunities to get involved. The Canadian Cancer Society runs a number of campaigns, fundraisers and lobby groups to push for a smoke-free Canada and it is very easy to get involved.
Smoking in multi-unit dwellings is a battle currently being fought. I am very excited about this initiative because I have been personally subjected, time after time, to second-hand smoke that leaks through walls and vents. The good news is that from a tenant point of view, you can approach your landlord about having this behaviour stopped. Most buildings have no-nonsense, no smoking indoors policy, and fire codes tend to be strict about this ridiculousness.
From a legal point of view, there is still ground to cover. My goal is to make it so that if someone is smoking and it is entering your residence, you can treat it just like a noise violation. After all, both involve a private activity that affects the livelyhood of others, so they should be treated similarly. The difference is that smoking can cause health problems for everyone, especially the venerable. At the very least, you should be able to call in a complaint to have a fine issued.
It will be decades before smoking is relegated to history, but it is our collective responsibility to protect those who choose clean air, especially children, and ensure that others’ freedom doesn’t come at the cost of our loved ones.