Second-hand smoke a health hazard

As a former volunteer firefighter and emergency responder for more than 15 years, I have responded to many different and challenging emergencies.
Over the years, I have been exposed to—and encountered—many dangerous situations at fires, motor vehicle accidents, and medical calls.
A few years ago, I arrived on scene at a local business. I sized up the situation, and it was quite obvious people were inside. I cautiously approached the entrance with my team.
As I opened up the door, I could smell smoke! “Cough!” “Cough!” “Darn, I wish I had an air-pack!”
I approached the counter and cashier’s till. “Cough!” “Cough!” “The smoke is getting worse!”
Members of my team started to cough, and complain about the smoke. The poisonous chemicals and gases from the smoke were starting to overcome my whole team!
Suddenly, I could hear a faint voice. I listened. Again, I could hear the voice. It was a voice of a child. The little voice was calling out, “Daddy!” ”Daddy!” I turned my head, and looked down.
“Cough!” “Cough!” “Daddy!” “Hey, Daddy! It stinks in here!”
Oh! You thought I was in a fire? No! I was just at a local doughnut shop, getting a doughnut for my two daughters.
My eldest daughter didn’t want a donut that smelled and tasted like smoke. So I listened to some wise advice and went to a local grocery store down the street.
Both my daughters approved of the smoke-free environment, and enjoyed their donut.
It’s fact . . . second-hand smoke is a significant health hazard! Yet local restaurants and other establishments throughout Canada allow smoking in their business. Many merchants are afraid their business will suffer if they go smoke-free.
Second-hand smoke is a Class ‘A’ carcinogen, which means it is known to cause cancer in humans and that there is no safe level of exposure!
According to the Physicians for a Smoke-free Canada, heart disease and lung cancer are among the list of diseases in adults that are known to be caused by second-hand smoke.
Among children, the most common health problems caused by second-hand smoke include middle ear infection, sudden infant death syndrome, bronchitis, and worsened asthma.
Fact: Some children will inhale the smoke from 20,000 cigarettes by the time they are in the second grade!
If you wait for the federal or provincial government to pass a law for smoke-free places, you will be waiting a long time. These two governments have given the responsibility of smoke-free laws to the local municipal governments.
And the majority of the municipal governments are saying it is each provincial government’s responsibility.
Some local government officials have stated that until higher forms of government introduces legislation for smoke-free places, we should do as follows:
•When you enter a private business, you enter as a guest, and always have the option of not entering if the setting is not to your liking.
•Don’t go where there is smoke!
•If you don’t like the smoke, stay away!
Well, I have! I never did go back to that doughnut shop, and never will!
Other statements made have been, like, “There is no way to enforce a smoke-free bylaw!” 
Well, enforcing a smoke-free bylaw for public places would be easier than enforcing a residential smoke alarm bylaw.
In Ontario, many organized municipalities have had a smoke alarm bylaw in place years before the provincial government introduced legislation, and made it the law to have working smoke alarms in a residence.
Health units and others have been encouraging and promoting healthy behaviours and lifestyles. They offer some very wise advice, but many people don’t want to follow it!
Credit must be given to the towns and cities in Canada that have passed a smoke-free bylaw, whether it has been successful yet or not!
The higher levels of government don’t want to have any legislative responsibility! They believe it is not their responsibility to pass a law to protect our children, the elderly, and the public from the obvious killer—second-hand smoke.
They all believe in educating the public with smoke-free campaigns, and other anti-smoking information and literature. But no smoke-free law!
Perhaps introducing and passing a smoke-free bylaw is the answer. And if it is in a restaurant, the majority of people who are smokers will more than likely adhere to it. 
Putting up “No smoking” signs and the bylaw information more than likely will be enough to ensure no one will smoke. At the very least, it is a start. Overall, it is the right thing to do!
Most organized municipalities have a mission and vision statement. Keep in mind, a municipality can be progressing and moving forward . . . like a hockey player does carrying a puck.
But if you don’t keep your head up to look and to see where you are really going . . . wham! Progress halted.
Where is your community headed?
Tyler Moffitt is a first aid instructor and a former volunteer firefighter. He writes fire and life safety columns as a public service.

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