‘Iron fist’ wrong tack

Dr. Pete Sarsfield has taken the Northwestern Health Unit’s anti-smoking crusade a big step further by notifying municipalities in the Rainy River and Kenora districts that second-hand smoke is a “health hazard.”
This, in turn, opens the door to possible legal action down the road if municipalities don’t voluntarily pass a bylaw that bans smoking in all enclosed public places, which the health unit has been pushing for since the New Year, starting first with a postcard campaign to get public opinion on their side.
That tack seems to have worked, with several municipalities, including Fort Frances, agreeing to revisit the issue after initially trying to put it off for a proverbial rainy day.
While this latest step shows the health unit means business, it’s equally clear the “iron fist” approach isn’t sitting too well with some towns, again including Fort Frances. And the last thing Dr. Sarsfield and Co. should be doing is alienating municipal reps (didn’t they learn anything from last year’s operational review?)
Yes, second-hand smoke is a serious issue that warrants the type of widespread debate we’re seeing across the district these days. Ultimately, though, this problem will resolve itself when enough people speak with their wallets.
It’s really that simple.
Redoubling efforts to get people to quit smoking, or never start in the first place, also would do wonders in solving this problem. And that, in the end, remains the best tack of all.