Anti-smoking column justified?

Readers debate smokers' rights

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Re: “Smokers: the dregs of society” & “Non-smokers should just hold their breath”
March 7, 2007 & March 9, 2007

To the Editor:
I would like to respond to Nicholas McRae’s letter about so-called “smokers’ rights.”

McRae says he believes Dave Ward is exaggerating the situation caused by second-hand smoke. While not a big fan of Mr. Ward, I’m afraid both myself and science are on his side. McRae says non-smokers shouldn’t be worried about inhaling a “minute amount of smoke.” Many pathological studies have found your cancer stick’s minute amount of smoke to be THE MOST SIGNIFICANT SINGLE ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARD. You may think your cigarette isn’t contributing much, but remember there are billions of smokers worldwide polluting the atmosphere. That cloud of smoke doesn’t remain in a bubble around the door you so annoyingly huddle around for warmth and then magically disappear when you’re finished.

Secondly, studies have shown exposure to second-hand smoke can increase a non-smoking adult’s risk for lung cancer two-fold. Lung cancer is one of the most deadly cancers, with a five-year survival rate of less than five per cent. Pardon me if I don’t want to drop my odds so you can have a fix.

Lastly, you claim you don’t want smokers to be marginalized more. You made the choice to smoke; you can’t blame your “marginalization” on anyone but yourself. This notion is insulting to people who are marginalized for things they can’t change, such as a handicap, their race, their sex or their sexual orientation.

Dave Ward may not own the air you’re smoking in, but you don’t own the air we’re all breathing either.
"Julia Corby
Pharmacology and Toxicology IV

To the Editor:
Nicholas McRae’s letter to the editor last week was a brilliant example of why non-smokers believe smokers have “little respect for their fellow man.”

There is a smoking policy at Western requiring smokers to stand at least 10 metres from any building entrance. However, smokers seem to believe this policy only applies when it’s warm and sunny, if even then. Every day, crowds of smokers surround Western’s building entrances, puffing away, apparently expecting me to “just hold my breath” as I pass.

Smoking is a definite health hazard, and increased cigarette taxes and public smoking bans are socially responsible! Every year, thousands of people die prematurely from smoking-related diseases and billions of tax dollars are spent treating these patients. If we are marginalizing smokers in this country, it’s because we’ve finally realized smoking isn’t only a dirty and disgusting habit " it’s a black mark on society (and our lungs).

And if you don’t like that, don’t hold your breath expecting society to re-embrace smokers!
"Jason Brown
MSc Biology

To the Editor:
In my years of reading The Gazette I have never been more shocked than when I read Dave Ward’s intolerant, hateful and offensive article. I’m a smoker trying to kick the butt, and Ward’s libelous claims against us “degenerative” smokers have struck a chord.

What some fail to remember is smokers aren’t just a group of isolated people trying to kill the rest of the population with second-hand smoke. They are our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends, all with a serious addiction and in need of help. Would you consider one of them degenerate? Are they, as Mr. Ward put so callously, irrelevant because they’re going to die first?

It would have been more beneficial and less hateful and offensive, Mr. Ward, to have written about the university’s lack of services and encouragement to help people quit.

As for myself, the article hurt. I’m not a dreg of society, I’m not a degenerate, and I would rather die a smoker but a good person than die an intolerant, hateful non-smoker that attacks others’ vices when maybe he should be looking at his own. Have our civil liberties eroded to such a state where people can be intolerant of a minority afflicted with an addiction?

Clearly, in the opinion of Mr. Ward, they have.
"Margaret Smith
History & Political Science IV

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