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Michael Smyth of The Province had this to say, with regard to the Campbell government's decision in 2001 to permit smoking rooms in pubs: "Let's get real: This was a cave-in to the Liberal Party's political supporters in the hospitality industry. Politics was more important to them than the health of British Columbians, hundreds of whom die every year from diseases related to second-hand smoke. Thousands more get sick. You'll probably hear some griping from the industry in the coming days about Campbell's decision to get rid of these smoking rooms. Tough... The bottom line: This announcement is better late than never. But it's shameful that Campbell didn't do the right thing when he had the chance five years ago to save thousands of people from being exposed to these deadly poisons."

Here's the entire column: Premier better late than never with all-out ban

Here's a response from Airspace:

Dear Editor:

Huge smoke-free kudos to Michael Smyth for "Premier better late than never with all-out ban" (Nov 5).

Given this government's overtly tobacco-friendly stance over the last 5 1/2 years, we are extremely cautiously optimistic about Gordon Campbell's announcement. As the Clean Air Coalition's Jack Boomer responded, "It's all about enforcement, making sure these policies are enacted and enforced."

Campbell appears to be on the right track by banning smoking on all school property (good riddance, smoke pits!) but if he's serious about reducing youth smoking, his next step should be drafting legislation which would outlaw the possession of tobacco by anyone under 19.

Errol E. Povah
President, Airspace Action on Smoking & Health

Here's a response from another Airspace member to the Penticton Herald:

Gordon Campbell had the opportunity to do the right thing five years ago and chose instead to capitulate to hospitality sector demands that it not be required to provide safe working conditions for employees or adhere to necessary measures to protect public health. This in turn led many bar owners to ignore readily available information on the ineffectiveness of ventilation technology in protecting people from the health risks of secondhand smoke and make a huge investment that they now feel was made in vain.

The human right of British Columbians to protect their health and have safe access to venues purporting to be open to the public was sacrificed to misconceptions that the hospitality industry would collapse unless it were permitted to cater primarily to the whims of the 15% of British Columbians who still smoke.

The taxes smokers pay do not even come close to compensating us for the problems they create for us all, so please do not cry me that river. The cost of self-inflicted illness is only a portion of the issue: there is the extensive harm caused by secondhand smoke to other people's health; infringement of the human right to protect one's health; limitations on access to employment, housing, and a normal life; the ubiquitous smoking-related litter; ruining everyone's general quality of life; and preventable fires caused by negligent smoking and all of the suffering and loss that those cause.

The argument about general pollution is illogical, like saying that we should be allowed to kick people because so many are hit by cars every day, and being kicked is not as bad as being run over. Would Tim Coy argue that we should stop investigating assaults until we have put an end to all dangerous driving?

Still, Mr. Coy may be satisfied to know that even if Premier Gordon Campbell's stated intention to upgrade British Columbia's current pretense at having smoking regulations is actually implemented or enforced in two years' time, we will still have the weakest regulations in Canada of any province or territory that has any tobacco-related legislation at all.

Sera Kirk

More details in the November 7 Vancouver Sun: Restaurants allowed smoking patios, by Pamela Fayerman