Get real

I have been following the smoking/non-smoking debate in Fort Frances with great interest. Having been born and raised in Fort Frances, and returning yearly as I do, I feel I am justified in putting my opinion forward.
I have the luxury of perspective in the case of discussing smoking bans since I currently live in Ottawa—one of the growing number of towns and cities in Ontario that have banned smoking in public places. From where I sit, I can offer a few comments:
a). Despite claims of support for smoking bans, there can be no arguing it has hurt a lot of businesses and charities. One of the victims of Ottawa’s smoking ban has been revenue generated for charity at
Recent estimates put the loss in revenue at nearly 50 percent. A smoking ban generally is supported by those who do not rely on this money for help.
Also, while large chains and upscale establishments have been able to weather the ban, smaller “mom and pop” establishments have been closing in record numbers.
Smoking bans in “public” buildings can and should be limited to government buildings and not bars and restaurants. While smoking bans do hurt smaller businesses, on-going government support for the Canadian tobacco industry means that they have not been hurt.
Perhaps tobacco industry subsidies should be removed.
b). It is blatantly hypocritical on the one hand to support the “free market” and on the other to impose restrictions on businesses because of smoking.
Let the market decide. If there is support for non-smoking establishments, one would think there would be more of them.
Non-smoking establishments should exist to cater to that element of the marketplace but it should not be imposed. Just as there are different types of restaurants (Italian, Mexican, etc.), there can be non-smoking and smoking establishments. This should be up to the owner or the establishment to decide.
After all, it directly impacts on their bottom line.
The support Dr. Sarsfield claims exists for the ban does not bear out in the marketplace.
c). Dr. Sarsfield and others in Fort Frances pushing for a ban on smoking are picking an easy and politically acceptable target. They are not addressing what is arguably the biggest source of lung problems in Fort Frances—the paper mill.
Why don’t they address the pollution caused by the mill before they address smoking? Far more people in Fort Frances breathe in constantly—and daily—the airborne particulate of the mill.
While it has improved since I was young, the town still has a daily dose of pollution from the mill. Every time you smell the mill, you are breathing in whatever has spewed out of the smoke stack. Even if it has been scrubbed, it is still more prevalent and more persistently toxic than smoke.
People can avoid second-hand smoke if they need or want to. In Fort Frances, you cannot avoid the mill. If the public’s health is truly what is at stake, then efforts should be directed at the cleaning up the mill and not at smoking.
In closing, I say get real. There are far worse things in the air of Fort Frances than second—hand smoke. Efforts to ban smoking, however, likely will prove successful as can be seen in places like Ottawa.
Once all is said and done, Fort Frances will be left with some closed businesses and less money in the tax and charity coffers—and absolutely no improvement in the overall respiratory health of its citizens.
Kirsten Gunderson
Ottawa, Ont.