Dear Editor:

While I'm quite well aware of the corporate links between the Vancouver Sun and the Province (which, coincidentally, aren't entirely unlike those between Player's and du Maurier, for example), I never suspected that the editors of either paper had the time -- or the inclination, for that matter -- to smoke...I mean, to read...the others' paper.  But apparently somebody at the Province has been reading the Sun!

That said, I have no qualms whatsoever about anything Sun reporter Neal Hall wrote in his May 24 article ("Suit filed in condo smoking battle").  It would have been nice, however, if somebody from the Province had taken the trouble to actually interview me, directly (as Hall did), before writing an editorial purporting to know what we, at Airspace Action on Smoking & Health, do or do not 'believe'.

Even just the headline -- "Let social pressures sort out condo smoking conflicts" (May 25 'In our opinion') -- is funny.  Hello?  "Smoking conflicts" would never arise in the first place if smokers were responsible enough to ensure that the airborne residue of their filthy, stinking and deadly habit/addiction did not affect anyone else...yes, even in their own home/'castle', certainly in multi-unit dwelling (apartment, condo, duplex, etc.) settings.

But because so many smokers refuse to accept that responsibility...and don't give a damn about the comfort, health and safety of others (Including, in many cases, their own spouses, children, et al) -- some of them still stubbornly believing they have some God-given right to smoke wherever and whenever they damn-well please -- "social pressures" are developing...and, last time I checked, social pressures usually lead to legislation, don't they???

The headline also implies that the 85% of the population that does not smoke should either  1)  just hold its breath (or, alternatively, deeply inhale the crap...and enjoy it, dammit!) or  2)  duke it out with the ignoramuses.

The time is long past due for knowingly and willfully exposing others to secondhand tobacco smoke to be recognized for exactly what it is:  Assault!  Whether it's friends, neighbours, total strangers or family who are being exposed, it's assault!

"It was only a matter of time..."  Yup, that's what we, at Airspace, call 'evolution'...toward a more civilized society.

There's nothing 'alleged' about the "toxic, noxious, carcinogenic and pungent" nature of secondhand smoke; it's a fact!

"...the outcome of the case is eagerly awaited by smokers and non-smokers alike."  While I recognize that that pretty well covers the entire population, it also implies that all smokers are on Claire Bellwood's side and all non-smokers are on Maureen Nicholson's side.  Wrong!  And thanks for putting "smokers" first, too (very KOOL)...and next time you're looking for a picture to accompany such an editorial, how about a picture of a non-smoker?  What a concept!  Okay, come to think of it, that would be kind of boring, wouldn't it?  Based on the picture alone, nobody would have any idea what the story was about.  Okay, on second thought, let's stick with pictures of smokers, ever so glamorously/sexually inhaling and exhaling all that yummy smoke).  Many smokers are very supportive of ever-increasingly restrictive tobacco control measures...and yes, there are a few non-smokers out there who, in addition to being members of the Flat Earth Society, have completely bought into all of the tobacco industry (or nicotine cartel, as I prefer to call it) -perpetuated "freedom and choice", "civil liberties", "charter of rights" crap, as it applies to smoking.  I have to laugh when I hear so-called smokers' rights people talk about "freedom" and "choice" in connection with the most addictive (can you say, "freedom-eliminating" and "choice-eliminating"?) drug known:  Nicotine.  Most notably, very few tobacco executives (or Merchants of Death, as I prefer to call them) smoke...and they sure as hell don't want their own kids to smoke!  But everybody else's kids?  Especially those in Third World countries?  Apparently, they're fair game!

I'm totally fed up with hearing the word "draconian" in connection with any/all tobacco control measures.  Personally, I've been hearing it every step of the way over the last 30 years!
"What?  You want to ban smoking in grocery stores?  DRACONIAN!"
"On airline flights?  DRACONIAN!"
"In restaurants, bars and casinos?  DRACONIAN!"
Blah, blah, whiny blah!

"Non-smokers seem to have won all the recent battles...(THEREFORE IT'S THE SMOKERS' TURN TO WIN ONE???)...getting bans IMPOSED (emphasis mine) in bars, bus stops (oh really?  Show me one smoke-free bus shelter!) and other public venues."  Please pardon the all of our impositions, but we're no longer prepared to sit idly by while our comfort, health and safety, as in Maureen Nicholson's case, is compromised...and continues to be "imposed" upon.

There is no "alternative course of action"; bring on the legislation! 

As far as the dreaded "long arm of the law" is concerned:  If every smokers' smoke stopped at their front door, there would be no need whatsoever for the 'long arm' to extend into their homes.  But therein lies the entire crux of the issue:  Smoke, unless it is purposefully restricted/confined, knows no boundaries.  It permeates everything and seeps into every nook and cranny...and penetrates through every little crack, no matter how airtight it might appear to be...and through some walls, even plumbing fixtures.  Obviously, when the smoking is being done on a balcony on a hot spring/summer day/evening, depending on breeze/wind conditions, that smoke will enter surrounding suites...sometimes in sufficiently high concentrations that the smoker might as well be smoking right inside the otherwise smoke-free suite!  Thanks, but no thanks!

I suspect the writer of the editorial has no concerns about the long arm of the law extending into an apartment where a stereo is blasting away at 3:00 a.m.  While I wouldn't be too crazy about listening to that either, I'm reasonably confident that excessively loud music is not health- or life-threatening.  And I can't remember the last time somebody fell asleep with a stereo blasting...and it set the building on fire!?!

By the way, Canada's first 100% SMOKE-FREE condo will be Oliva, in Tsawwassen...not Envy, in North Van.

Bottom line:  Again, the entire crux of this issue has little or nothing to do with WHAT anybody does (in this case, smoke); rather, it is primarily/exclusively about WHERE they do it and, even more importantly, WHERE THE SMOKE GOES!

I truly appreciate smokers' generous offer to share their smoke with me, but I'm not interested, thank you very much.  So focus much more on your responsibilities than your 'rights'...and either cease and desist or be legislated!  It's your call!

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

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