Tuesday, July 18, 2006

As you probably know, I have been spending quite a bit of time these past few months on the other side of the Rocky Mountains with Joan in Vancouver. There are many things that I love about Vancouver, in fact I could write an entire blog on the things I like about Vancouver, but there is one thing in particular that I want to talk about tonight.

Over the past month, between the World Cup and the Stampede, Joan and I have spent our fair share of time in bars, restaurants and clubs in both Calgary and Vancouver. We have enjoyed ourselves in both places, but here in Calgary our enjoyment always comes at the price of putting up with other people’s cigarette smoke. In Vancouver, smoking has been banned for years now in all workplaces, including bars and clubs.

Just yesterday, I saw on the news that Calgary city council will be debating moving a proposed smoking ban for this city up from January 2008 to January 2007. Bar owners are complaining that it will affect their bottom lines and that they will be forced out of business. I cannot believe that in this day and age, with so much evidence to the contrary, that city alderman give these concerns any consideration.

I remember when you used to walk into Tim Horton’s and be greeted by a wall of smoke. Everyone went to Tim’s for a coffee and a smoke it would seem. I don’t recall if it was legislation or a corporate decision that prompted the donut chain to go smoke-free many years ago, but I can tell you that despite the fact that you aren’t allowed to smoke there anymore, the lineups at Tim Horton’s are as long as ever.

In my hometown of Wolfville, and in my new favorite city, Vancouver, bars are full despite the fact that nobody can smoke inside. Bar owners in these, and just about every other city where bans have been implemented, expressed the same concerns as those here in Calgary. Years later, bars continue to thrive. People have not stopped going out just because they aren’t able to smoke at bars. Smokers in these cities dutifully go outside to smoke, and allow us to enjoy ourselves without needlessly risking our health.

For those who feel that bars are justified in their fears of losing revenues, there is something else that should be considered, that is the human cost of second hand smoke. A few months ago, the CBC reported the death of Heather Crowe, a long-time waitress who died of lung cancer despite having never smoked in her life. It is sad that bar owners would be so worried about losing a few dollars when their own employees are literally risking their lives to work at their establishments.

I sincerely hope that Calgary’s city councilors do take this opportunity to do the right thing and move the ban up. In fact, it would be nice if they would make it effective immediately. I cannot tell you how much better it is to be able to go out for a night on the town and not come home smelling like you have been fighting fires for hours. It is time for Calgary to follow the lead of so many other cities and make bars and restaurants safer for everybody.


Joan said...

That would definitely make our wing nights more enjoyable!

9:41 PM, July 18, 2006  

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