I'm a smoker. There, I've said it. I realize the stigma around smoking today makes me the equivalent of a modern day leper, but it's a decision, a bad one, I made years ago.
I've been shoved outside in the pouring rain, dispelled to the outer reaches of society, and if the Town of Gibsons would have it their way, I wouldn't be allowed to smoke in or around any municipally-owned lands. C'mon now, never mind the human rights surrounding that, where am I going to go?
Put the pens down, stop typing the angry emails you're thinking about sending me; I am not a tobacco lobbyist. It is by far the stupidest decision I've ever made, and I am not suggesting that kids should pick up a pack of cigarettes and rise against city council.
However, I am a resident of Gibsons, and I have a right to enjoy municipally-owned lands in whichever way I see fit, even if that includes smoking in public.
At last week's council meeting, the idea of banning smoking in all Town-owned lands was discussed - briefly, mind you - but the idea was floated around the table.
Just to clarify, municipally-owned lands include sidewalks, bus stops and our world-renowned parks.
I will applaud their efforts, but this proposal has gone too far. On that logic, fast food restaurants, liquor stores and lack of exercise should all be banned in Gibsons. Once you open that Pandora's box, where do you draw the line?
The Town of Gibsons' argument is the second hand smoke effects inflicted upon good, healthy citizens. Fair enough, and the motion was an extension of banning smoking in workplaces and company vehicles, which I support. But until now, you could always pull over and get out to have a smoke. What are we going to do now - step over the sidewalks and stand in the middle of the road?
I wonder if their insurance would cover that?
Politicians have shoved us outside for years because that was supposed to be better for the non-smokers' health. Fine. So I ask council, why take that away from us now? You put us out there, so where do you suggest we go?
This motion screams municipal condemnation, punishing us for being a smoker. It is a person's personal right to make stupid decisions; it is a human right.
Taking away a British Columbians' right to enjoy our natural parks, parks we smokers as well lobbied so hard to have created, is a slap in the face - not to mention the amount of provincial and federal taxes we pay on those packs of cigarettes, which, amusingly enough, helps to maintain and restore our parks.
I wonder how many smokers in Vancouver pledged funds for the Stanley Park restoration project, a project that raised just over $2 million. I wonder how happy they would be if the City of Vancouver banned smoking in Stanley Park?
Smokers are not bad people; they pay taxes just like the rest of the non-smoking population and have a right to enjoy the fruits of their labours.
I cannot tell you what to do, but to all you smokers or non-smokers, I suggest write with your concerns or praise to the Town of Gibsons and tell them what you think.
This is an issue that needs discussion. Council needs to hear what the towns residents think. Don't let them make this decision by themselves.
That being said, I'm off to walk off the frustration in one of my parks. I'm going to enjoy my time there, and yes, that will include smoking.
Gibsons, forgive me.