On Friday, CBQ radio station out of Thunder Bay ran a news story about the smoke-free bylaw campaign that is happening in our region.
The mayor of Dryden was interviewed and stated the high return rate of the postcards did not impress him, as he already knew that more than 80 percent of the citizens of Dryden are in favour of banning smoking (in enclosed spaces).
He also said he didn’t feel the council there would be voting on a bylaw for a long time because they wouldn’t want to restrict the rights of the smoking visitors to Dryden.
This particular position stuns us. How can an elected politician put the apparent desires of the smoking visitors to Dryden ahead of the health and clearly-stated desires of the citizens he is supposed to represent?
Maybe he should consider that 75 percent of those visitors he is so concerned about are non-smokers. Can we assume he is speaking for his council?
This is just one example of the weak-kneed responses we are seeing from municipal politicians across the district. Since the postcard campaign has shown public opinion in Northwestern Ontario supports smoke-free bylaws, they all seem to be grasping at every excuse to turn their backs on the clear statement their electorate have made.
A letter to the editor from Anthony Nickel that appeared in some of the local papers suggests the Northwestern Health Unit is wasting money on this postcard campaign. Surely Mr. Nickel understands it is Dr. Sarsfield’s job to make sure the people in Kenora-Rainy River District are not exposed to a health hazard.
Would it be okay with Mr. Nickel if the health unit ignored a drinking water health hazard, or a toxic spill on one of our highways? Would Mr. Nickel expect Dr. Sarsfield to consider the cost when moving to protect people from either of these health hazards?
Dr. Sarsfield is only doing his job—and we expect our local councils to do theirs.
The dollar cost of treating one lung cancer patient far exceeds the cost of this campaign—never mind the emotional cost to the patient, their family, and friends. We know, and the municipal politicians know, that smoke-free bylaws save lives.
We encourage everyone to start talking to their councils about this issue. This is the time to speak out.
Elva Watts, Erna Sweet-Gilmour, Robert Button, Nancy Davis, Jennifer McKibbon, Sue Wood, Barb Roussin, Karen Mazurski, Christine St. Louis, Julie Makar, Tammy Pentney, and Lorne and Anne Silver.
Editor’s note: The above are members of The Coalition for a Healthy Dryden Working Toward Smoke-Free Spaces.