Where others’ noses begin
Editor, The News:
Here’s a question for council: cigarette smoke is a proven toxin that has a horrific toll in terms of damaging human health and destroying life.
It is rightly banned in public places and even in outdoor areas like parks (Edmonton has a park ban that extends to 10 meters).
Orange County is now leading the way in enlarging its bans to include residential patios and balconies (http://www.ocregister.com/articles/smoking-288662-patios-city.html).
In doing this, people are simply recognizing the basic human right to protection from harm by proven deadly toxins.
Here in Maple Ridge, how do we protect ourselves in our own homes when neighbors sit outside a few feet away and multiple times daily blow this toxin into our homes?
How do we protect our children and the special needs people who live with us?
The neighbors are probably trying to keep their own home from the stink of smoke, but then subject others to this stink and deadly toxin.
And why protect people only in commercial areas, which they only occupy for limited hours per week?
What about homeowners who cannot just pack up and leave to get away from nearby smokers?
It appears there is some hope for protection from the B.C. Human Rights Commission, which has recently awarded two judgments against smoking neighbors.
Hopefully, this is the beginning of widening the ban as in Orange County.
People have the freedom and right to smoke.
But in our societies, we all recognize that none of us has the right to harm others.
As a pediatrician said recently in response to the question why we ban smoking even in outdoor areas like parks: “Because we cannot harm others.”
That sets clear limits on the freedom of people to cause others harm.
As someone said about personal freedoms, the right to swing our arms ends where others’ noses begin.
Enough evidence and health experts have concluded that “all exposure to tobacco smoke is harmful,” “tobacco smoke is toxic waste,” and “there is no known safe level of exposure for these substances.”
The EPA classes second hand smoke in the same category for the most deadly cancer-causing substances such as arsenic, asbestos, benzene and vinyl chloride.
The World Health Organization says that the death toll from this toxin is now almost six million people a year.
The same web site notes this destruction amounts to 15,000 people killed every day. That’s more than a third of all smokers and more than half of all long-term smokers.
It has killed 40 million in the last decade.
And it wrecks the health of many more people.
My question to council: you ban such things as lawn chemicals to protect people and animals, why not protect human life in our community against one of the most dangerous toxins that we know of?