A new bylaw went into effect on Sept. 1, prohibiting smokers from lighting up in public parks and on beaches in Vancouver — excluding Wreck Beach, of course.
In a string of initiatives to deter smoking, the new ban is just another drop in the bucket. The bucket, however, is getting pretty full. How long will it be until the right to smoke a cigarette in Vancouver is abolished?
Then again, if the impact of smoking in Vancouver is so harsh and uncompromising, perhaps there’s a greater issue at stake. Why not just make it illegal?
Smoking does appear to be falling into a category of socially unacceptable behaviour, akin to shooting heroin and smoking meth. These days, the satisfaction from inhaling a cigarette in public is rivaled by the ethical judgments of a preeminent non-smoking community.
Besides, how long would it really take for devout smokers, and casual smokers alike, to kick the habit if cigarettes were taken off the market? There’s no shortage of healthy alternatives readily available to fill the void: yoga, swimming, coffee, breathing fresh air. The list goes on. Sadly, they don’t possess all the toxic qualities cigarettes do, and are therefore significantly less attractive pastimes. But why not give it a shot?
Indeed, cigarettes have been around for eons. But change is inevitable. So rather than looking at the new bylaw as a retraction of some inherent spiritual liberty, let’s consider the possibility that the concerned, health-conscious and politically active are genuinely trying to save us from ourselves, one step at a time.
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Here’s what a few students on the Richmond campus had to say about the issue:
Program: General studies
“I think it’s good. If you don’t smoke, I don’t think you should be surrounded by it. But I don’t think it should be banned because it’s still your personal choice.”
“It’s not even politically correct to smoke.”
“As a social smoker, I feel like we smoke when we’re having a good time, when we’re out at beaches, when we’re out at parks and together there. So it kind of takes away that activity. It does take away people’s right to smoke, as a smoker and as an individual. Who is anyone to tell me what I can and can’t do?”
Program: Interior design
“I think it’s getting to the point where it could be illegal, in the next decade or so. I wouldn’t say smoking is irreplaceable, but it’s better than doing hard drugs. I suppose you could get physically active, but I prefer smoking.”
“I don’t think it’s going to do much. People are going to smoke if they want to. It’s a very serious addiction, and I think they’ll find a way to get around it. I would absolutely vote to get [smoking] off the market.”