A story from Global TV's News Hour, November 30, 2012:

Link to Global TV page

A transcript appears below Airspace's commentary.

So often, when we see people smoking on TV, we don't see the entire face of the smoker...we see the lips (we see just enough of their faces to see the smouldering butt coming and going from their lips, often with a "Honest, I'm not really all that stupid!" smirk on their faces) and maybe part of the nose and chin. What I found rather unique and interesting about much of the video in this segment was that it featured so many smokers (2 women together [one of whom looked like staff], a man, then 2 individual women, one of whom, yet again, was smoking just a metre or two from a BC Cancer Agency [this time, the Fraser Valley Centre], then a man and a woman), at VGH...who seemed to be quite well aware that they were being filmed, but didn't give a damn.

The video portion also shows a big (roughly one square metre) 'sticker' on the ground, which repeats the highlighted part of the audio message, above...and features a roughtly one square foot No Smoking sign.  And there are sandwich boards that convey a similar message.
All in all, I'm only slightly impressed.  The stickers on the sidewalk will be trashed in no time...by people walking/cycling/rollerblading on them, the weather and, I'm predicting, a few ignorant smokers, who will, no doubt, put cigarette/bic/match burns into them, spit on them, draw swastikas on them, etc. (and Bruce Allen will no doubt be cheering them on).  In many smokers' minds, an inch or two of snow and ice, covering that sign, will automatically mean that the policy no longer applies.

And, while I'm quite well aware that how the media works, re editing, etc., I was very disappointed with Patricia Daly's comment.  Yes, she used the word "comprehensive", but I'm not convinced that that necessarily includes ENFORCEMENT, which is absolutely critical with this and every other No Smoking policy/law.  The simple fact that Global got so much video of so many smokers blissfully ignoring the policy -- and continuing to smoke, even when they knew they were being filmed -- over such a short period of time only reinforces the need for ENFORCEMENT.  The cute little sticker on the ground and the pre-recorded voice might deter a few smokers from lighting up, but I suspect that, for most of them, it will be 'business as usual', including littering.

I like Aaron McArthur... and sense that, whether he writes the news script or not, he's on the right side on this issue.  That said, I'm not impressed with his comments about "gently reminding" (people [read, smokers] to take their habit elsewhere)...and "more subtle reminders" (signage and wandering patrols).  Speaking of "wandering patrols", I'd like to know exactly who the 'wandering patrollers' are.  Are they RCMP or Vancouver City Police Officers?  Bylaw ENFORCEMENT Officers?  Security guards?  Or is it just hospital staff, "gently reminding" ignorant smokers about something that they are really very well aware of (when did [albeit feigned] ignorance of the law become an excuse?).  I suspect it's the latter...or perhaps even the latter two...bearing in mind that security guards, themselves, really have little or no authority or clout, in terms of ENFORCEMENT.

There is no place for "education" here!  What is needed -- at the risk of being accused of "ostricizing", "picking on" and/or "stigmatizing" smokers -- is exactly what is very efficiently and effectively applied to every other bylaw infraction:  ENFORCEMENT!

Think Bylaw ENFORCEMENT Officers aren't very good at ENFORCING any laws?  Try leaving your car at a parking meter with no time showing on it.  I can virtually guarantee that, within 3 or 4 minutes, your otherwise dull and boring windshield will have a pretty blue or yellow ticket on it!  It's happened to me, more than once...especially in Vancouver.  Each and every time I get a ticket, I get extremely angry.  A little bit of that anger is directed toward myself, for being so stupid as to let the meter expire.  But most of my anger is directed toward all levels of government, for not taking the tobacco/smoking issue anywhere near as seriously as it should be taken.  Municipal governments, in particular, could make millions of dollars of much-needed revenue if they ENFORCED both No Smoking bylaws and No Littering laws just half as aggressively as they ENFORCEparking regulations.

It has nothing whatsoever to do with, "CAN No Smoking laws be ENFORCED?"...it is solely and exclusively about, "WILL No Smoking laws be ENFORCED?"  And that brings to mind another kind of "WILL":  POLITICAL WILL.  Ultimately, that is all that is required here, to eliminate a major problem.

Bottom line:  The time is long past due to end the namby-pamby, woe are they, slap-on-the-wrist attitude toward and treatment of those smokers who choose to ignore long-established, well-known, clearly-defined and accepted rules.  Stop the gentle/subtle reminder crap...and embrace the exact same aggressive, efficient, effective-- and, dare I suggest, SLEDGE-HAMMER -- approach that is used on those who dare to park on the street for 3 or 4 minutes without money in the meter.

If Vancouver is truly serious about becoming "THE GREENEST CITY IN THE WORLD", a great place to start would be working toward eliminating THE LEADING FORM OF LITTER, BY FAR (and making lots of money in the process):  TOBACCO!


M - Aaron McArthur (Anchor), H - Sylvia Houchen (lung transplant recipient), D - Dr. Patricia Daly (Vancouver Coastal Health), L -Goldie Luong (Vancouver Coastal Health). 

M -Smoking is bad for you.  That shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.  But just how bad...and who is most at risk has come to a revelation for researchers:  Patients exposed to even small amounts of secondhand smoke generally have longer hospital stays and are vulnerable to a wide assortment of afflictions.  Armed with some new information, Vancouver General Hospital is taking the problem of secondhand smoke so seriously they've installed new smoke detectors, outside.

then they go to a previously recorded clip

M -After a lifetime of smoking, Sylvia Houchen's body finally told her it was time to quit.  Suffering from COPD and emphysema, a lung transplant was the only way she could keep breathing.  After spending so much time in hospital, she can't believe how many people still smoke; patients and staff.

H - Especially on the hospital grounds, I'm really surprised.  Like, even coming here, there was a couple of people just around the corner there, smoking.  And people walking back and forth, with a cigarette in their hand...and I'm just thinking, "Oh God, I hope you don't have to go through this."
M - Healthcare facilities in B.C. have officially been smokefree for years, but staff and patients routinely sneak a butt on the hospital grounds.  Studies show even small amounts of secondhand smoke have a major impact on patient outcomes.  Enforced(emphasis mine) anti-smoking bylaws make an immediate difference.

D -Research has shown that, the more comprehensive those policies, the greater the benefit for the population.  We see that they can prevent heart attacks, strokes and respiratory diseases.

Then Goldie Luong, also with VCH (standing in a little cubbyhole ['littered' with No Smoking signs] where, apparently, smokers like to congregate, especially in inclement weather), demonstrating how the outdoor smoke detector works, lights what appears to be a candle and, within seconds, what sounds like a pre-recorded voice (as opposed to a live voice) comes through a speaker, saying, "Please put out your cigarette or smoke offsite.  All of our buildings, grounds, sidewalks and parking lots are smoke-free."

M -VGH is taking this new research and putting it to good use.  New highly sensitive outdoor smoke detectors are gently reminding people to take their habit elsewhere.  There are more subtle reminders as well...signage and wandering patrols are trying to stem the tide of cigarette butts at some of the hot-spots for smokers.  So far, the pilot project seems to be working.

L -We've had increasing inquiries for the smoking cessation program and since our launch, I've had dozens of feedback from staff, saying that they're really happy that we're actually doing something different and more to ensure that the grounds are smokefree.

M - Sylvia has more than a few more years left with her new lung...and she wants to take care of it, considering it doesn't really belong to her.  The more people who butt out for good, the better for everyone.

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