The Niagara News is the community newspaper of Niagara College located in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. It is created and produced by the students of the Niagara College Journalism program.
It’s no secret smoking is bad for you. It’s also no secret the Ontario government publicly denounces smoking while continuing to find ways of making money from it through taxes. The newest smoking ban, which can result in a fine of up to $250, makes it an offence to smoke in your vehicle while there is a person under the age of 16 present. An internal memo sent from Glenn Murray, assistant deputy minister public safety division, to all police chiefs in Ontario, outlines the reasoning behind the legislation. The memo states the cut-off age of 16 was chosen because “there is strong scientific evidence to demonstrate the harms of exposure to second-hand smoke in a vehicle up to the age of 16.” If the government is so concerned with the wellbeing of young people why is it lawful for them to smoke their cigarettes? Surely inhaling the smoke directly isn’t good for you either. A Canadian Press article published Feb. 17 highlighted this hypocrisy. A 20-year-old Port Hope, Ont., man was recently pulled over and cited with a $155 fine for smoking while having a 15-year-old female passenger in his vehicle. The girl proceeded to get out of the car and began to smoke her own cigarette while the officer wrote the ticket. Hard to believe, but there is nothing Const. Tammie Hartford could do but watch the girl do it. It’s a crime in Ontario to sell tobacco products to anyone under 19, but it’s somehow perfectly legal for them to light up on their own. How do the Liberals think minors are getting their cigarettes: growing their own tobacco and rolling it themselves? No, they are buying it or having others do it for them — both illegal — while the government happily collects taxes from the sales. There is a double standard here and it stinks more than a dirty ashtray. Lifestyle choices , unhealthy as they may be, should not be subject to this kind of regulation. We live in a free society and this is a case of the old slippery slope. A 2001 study by the RAND Corporation showed that obesity poses a greater health risk than heavy drinking, poverty or smoking. Who is to say the next move won’t be fining parents who feed their children greasy fast food? These observations aside, the most unsettling thing about the new law is that an officer needs to suspect you’re smoking in your car while transporting a minor to have grounds for pulling you over. Queen’s Park has crossed the line. Smoking is a nasty habit.Adults should know better than to do it around their kids, but this is not a situation warranting government intervention. Sometimes politicians need to just butt out.