Where there’s smoke…

BEYOND THE HEADLINES: Village of Lumby blasted for putting majority of population's health at risk

Lumby may be the last bastion of the smoker.

Council recently gave the green light to a ban on smoking in areas frequented by children, but if there aren’t kids around, feel free to light up.

“They (adults) have a right to use the park as much as anyone,” said Coun. Lori Mindnich on why a full ban for everyone isn’t being initiated.

A similar view comes from Mayor Kevin Acton.

“Twenty per cent of the population still smokes and we don’t want to be unwelcoming to special events or having the park used,” he said.

Read between the lines and Acton doesn’t want to infringe on those people who enjoy a butt at a beer garden or need a drag in between running bases at a ball tournament.

That’s awfully considerate of Acton but has he never heard of a little thing called second-hand smoke?

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, just being around cigarette smoke can put you at more risk of developing lung cancer. It can also increase your risk of cancers of the larynx and pharynx.

You can also develop heart disease and breathing problems.

When pressured, Acton admits some adults have concerns about being around cigarette smoke and all of the chemicals they contain.

“They will have the choice to enter those grounds or not,” he said.

Pardon me? Did we hear that right? Acton is placing the onus on the majority to walk away and not those who are emitting noxious fumes?

That’s a rather unusual concept given that the rest of the world operates the other way.

Acton is concerned that a complete ban on smoking in parks will lead to fewer bookings or that beer garden sales will plummet at special events. But has he considered that an even worse economic spiral could develop by casting the 80 per cent aside?

Has anyone at the village office also considered that designating adult-only areas for  smoking is unrealistic?

If teams come to town for a ball tournament or some other event, the players will likely have children with them. They aren’t just going to be shoved off to the playground. They will be around the bleachers and taking in the action on the field.

Is that then an adult-only area where smoking can occur or is it a non-smoking zone because kids are present? The rules will be clear as mud for the bylaw officer on scene.

Coun. Nick Hodge opposed any regulations at this time.

“I thought we were rushing it. We didn’t check with the public about going ahead with this,” he said.

Democracy is a wonderful thing, but Hodge must remember that council was elected to lead and there have been numerous decisions — far less important than public health — made without consultation.

In the end, this isn’t about beating up on smokers. Tobacco is a legal product and they are within their rights to use it.

But as has become the norm in other communities, there needs to be a balance between smokers’ needs and those not wanting to hack up a lung. One would hope Lumby will reconsider its plans.

richard@vernonmorningstar.com