Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Guardian article

My article on smoking shelters on hospital grounds was published in the Guardian today. Follow the link to read it and leave your two cents.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Senior Citizens Punished Again

Philipina got worldwide attention with our recent petition, but that was just the beginning. America is now trying to roll out a nationwide ruling that senior housing will be smokefree:

An addiction to smoking may soon get some Burlington residents kicked out of their homes. A new smoking ban at a few of the city's subsidized housing complexes has resident smokers upset.

The policy change is part of a national movement headed by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to make low-income housing a healthier place for all its residents.

But why? Secondhand smoke isn't a risk to anyone if they smoke in their rooms, or a provided smoking room. And fires? Well, then candles and stoves must be included in the ban too. And aerosols - what if one gets left by the window and explodes in the direct sunlight? We know it's not about health though, because these tyrants won't even let them smoke outside, instead they must go to the street. That's right, all those senior citizens must now walk to the street, risking attack, assault, falling over and injurying themselves and even getting hit by cars, because smoking by the front door is too dangerous.

But Jackie Allen is a non-smoking resident and says she's thrilled with the policy change.

"I absolutely love it. Before you couldn't sit out there without five to 10 people immediately lighting up. I would have to leave because I can't take the smoke."

you'd expect someone of that age to be able to do the simple arithmatic of "10 of them, 1 of me, i'm in the minority."

Housing officials says this new policy isn't meant to single out any particular population

It doesn't single out any particular population at all, oh, except smokers. But they don't count apparently.

Housing officials says this new policy isn't meant to single out any particular population and explains that many area landlords have no smoking clauses in their leases.

This is a nationwide policy affecting only senior citizens, people who literally have nowhere else to go. It isn't the same as a private landlord making an individual decision.

The comment section contains 3 comments from the same person, who will hopefully one day understand how it feels to be treated this badly:

Cigarettes are $7-8 a pack, and going up. At a pack a day, that's $210-240 a month. Decker Towers is public housing, subsidized by the taxpayers. The residents, who receive SSDI or SSI, pay 33% of their income, typically $250-400. That means that most could swing between 50-66%, instead of %33 of their rent if they didn't smoke. Why do taxpayers have to underwrite someone's habit? Residency there is voluntary.It's not a right, but a privilege, although many today consider it to be an entitlement.
So, in a sense, we're paying for their cigarettes.
Also, what about added costs for medical problems? Hey, smoke away, just don't ask me to pay for it by subsidizing it.
Simple solution- pay for your own place out of your monthly check, and smoke 'til you drop.... Or take advantage of the cessation help that's being offered, and stay.

The financial argument never stacked up. They're senior citizens, they paid tax their whole life and so it's their own money that is being used. Secondly, they're smokers, who pay far and above the usual tax rates non-smokers pay, and the so-called costs removed for treating smokers is substantially smaller than the gross sum collected. So these people are paying for themselves.

How is it fair to expect someone who has smoekd for 50, 60+ years to suddenly quit? The fanaticism is such now that people don't even think of the harm to health that can be caused by such a change in lifestyle habits at that age.

It's All About Health - Honest

Ok, you can pull the other one now. We'd take the diatribe of 'it's all about health' much more seriously if you could produce a study, any study, that shows why it's justifiable to ban smoking on beaches and in parks. Given you can't even find an independent study finding indoor SHS to be a cause for concern, the odds of finding one in an outdoor setting are nil.
We'd take it more seriously if your 'it's for the chiiildren' bullshit didn't mean moving smokers out of adult settings like pubs, where children shouldn't be, and into the home where children naturally are.
Or if you didn't talk about removing adopted and fostered children from the care of smokers, to be placed back in the care home, even if said smoker only smokes outside. Because being in a care home feeling neglected and unloved is preferable and healthier than living with someone who smokes but not around you?
Or if a bus driver hadn't lost her job for smoking an e-cig, which, as yet, is legal to use wherever you please.

But this, well, who can actually justify this is for 'health' and not social hate?

Free Speech: Not Where Tobacco is Concerned

A little nugget that has been doing the rounds lately (I found it courtesy of Head Rambles and Juliette Tworsey) is that smoking news that isn't anti is being banned from the Irish Examiner. To quote directly, in correspondance to the head of Forest Eireann (Forest's Irish branch):

“John, the editor says there is no way he going to allow his paper to
be used in any way as a vehicle for a lobby - funded or not – that
condones or promotes the consumption of a hazardous subject - legal
or not. “

In other words, anti-smoking news will gladly be carried in its printed papers, but anything not anti won't be. This isn't just pro-smoking stuff, but neutral content too. So, for instance, if Forest, or indeed you or I, write a perfectly balanced and justified letter to the editor explaining that a smoking ban in cars is scientifically without merit, it will be barred from print.

Anyone with half a brain (and I'll refrain from jokes about the Irish intellect here) can acknowledge that a balanced point need not be condoning or promoting anything. It's a similar argument to someone saying 'the risk of AIDs from intercourse is pretty low, relatively speaking' being tacit condonement for sleeping with as many people as possible. It's not a logical progression and it makes no sense.

It's perplexing that the Irish Examiner has focused this on tobacco, and we can see how much this is an encompassing new regime by seeing if any news stories come up on alcohol that don't only call for minimum pricing, or topics on the war on drugs only look at promoting its cause. Any dissent from condemning the evils of the world will show this for what it really is: horseshit.

Most troubling, though, is the blow to free speech. What sort of society, supposedly developed, actively bans freedom of speech? The editor is really saying the readers who keep him in a job need to be spoon-fed content and are so fickle to their lifestyle habits that the slightest mention that something may not kill you on sight will encourage them to engage in said activity to the nth degree. Well, if that is the case, let them do it. The world's a crowded place and if we can lose some idiots then i'm sure we'll be better for it. Besides, it'll help Ireland's ruined economy.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Philipina Schergevitch: Petition and the Media

Hopefully most of you are aware of the petition I started to try to keep Philipina Schergevitch in her home. For those of you unaware of the story itself, click here. The upshot of this alarming story was the aforementioned petition; in 4 days we got 88 names, one for each year she has been alive, and emailed it off to the Housing Association. Unsurprisingly I've had no response (yet) but the original story was in newspapers all over Canada, and signatories for the petition were citizens from the UK, Austria, America, Canada, Australia and some other European countries. This is another demonstration that we can all pull together when we need to.

Last night Eddie Douthwaite of Freedom2Choose Scotland emailed me the following, a scan of the Scottish newspaper Sunday Post's article on Philipina and the campaign. The article can be read here.

Following this, Michael McFadden sent this link. Read it, weep, and show everyone you possibly can. The more people understand where this tirade is coming from, the more hope we have of gaining enough support to stop it.

Once again, a huge thank you to everyone who signed the petition and helped spread word of it, the support was overwhelming.