After yesterday’s good news, more bad news – this time from Montreal:
Starting Thursday smokers become persona non grata on terrasses and public areas throughout Quebec.
The final provisions of Quebec’s latest anti-tobacco law come into effect on May 26, 2016, and affect smoking indoors and out.
That means smoking is not allowed:
· on commercial terrasses, including restaurants and bars
· in or near playgrounds, including pools, skateparks, skating rinks, etc…
· on or around sports fields, including areas for spectators
· on public campgrounds
· near outdoor areas used by daycares
· on the grounds of preschools, elementary schools, and high schools
Smoking is also banned in enclosed locations where minors may be present, including cars and common areas of residential buildings.
Bill 44 also clarified existing smoking bans, such that smoking is banned within nine metres of a door, air vent, or openable window.
There is no exemption for those who prefer to vape, since the law treats e-cigarettes exactly the same as other tobacco products.
Fines for smoking in public areas increased last November when the law received Crown assent.
The fine for first-time offenders is $250 to $750, while recidivists can be fined up to $1,500.
Businesses that allow people to smoke can be fined up to $100,000, while failing to post a sign banning smoking can result in a $25,000 fine.
There’s no public health justification for any of this. But they don’t bother with that any more. They’re now openly aiming to stamp out smoking, everywhere.
And when these latest draconian laws don’t work, they’ll be back with even more draconian ones. They wait until everybody has got used to one set of draconian laws, and then they ratchet them up to a new level of draconian.
I generally suppose that this Tobacco Control madness is going to blow over one day, and life will go back to normal. Or halfway back to normal.
But what if it doesn’t? What if it just gets worse and worse and worse? What if the laws just get more and more draconian?
I spent this afternoon sitting in a sunny pub garden with a beer and a cigarette. What happens when that gets banned too? And when all drivers (and not just those with children on board) are banned from smoking in their cars? And when you’re banned from smoking in your own home? Because all these things are happening somewhere, if not right here right now.
In many ways, by historical standards, the persecution of smokers remains pretty mild. We’re not having our noses cut off. We’re not being flogged. We’re not being sent to prison or to re-education centres. But if the war on smoking keeps on ratcheting up, it won’t be long before things like that start happening.
At what point will smokers start really fighting back? Or will they never fight back?
Are smokers going to be like the Jews of Nazi Germany that dutifully did whatever was demanded of them, right up to climbing aboard the trains that took them to death camps? Or are they going to be like the Jews who fought in Palestine to create what is now the state of Israel (and who had profound contempt for the Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust – because they didn’t fight back)?
This isn’t just a question for smokers. It’s a question that all sorts of people have had to face again and again throughout history: When do you decide that you’ve had enough, and that you’re going to war? When do you decide that you can no longer carry on being Mr Nice Guy, and punch the other guy smack in his face, as hard as you possibly can?
I keep a photo of my wartime Spitfire pilot uncle on the mantelpiece in my living room, because he was someone who had faced that question, and who had decided to fight. And yet, precisely because he was one of The Few that fought in the Battle of Britain, it follows that most people chose not to fight. The RAF was not besieged with volunteers. They weren’t queueing for miles. And that’s why there were only The Few.
It was the same with the wartime French Resistance. There were very few of them too. Most French people in Occupied France did whatever they were ordered to do.
So my guess is that most smokers will choose not to fight against their oppressors, however bad things get for them.
But a few will. Even if it costs them their lives.
There’s not much that needs to be said about the majority who will choose not to fight. They’ll have any number of perfectly reasonable justifications.
But what about the minority who do choose to fight? Perhaps we should begin to discuss how smokers might start to really fight back? What makes them flip? What sorts of things might they do? What kinds of strategies might they adopt? Can they fight back at all? Can they ever hope to win?