EDITORIAL – A welcome signpost to cleaner air
LET’S START with the simplest, even though mundane, reason why public smoking should be banned: the litter it brings.It cannot be denied that cigarette butts feature heavily in the thousands of pieces of litter strewn across the car parks, streets and alleys of Bridgetown. In most cases these butts are the only refuse matter you will find at your feet in an otherwise tidy City.Public smokers, if they had a leaning toward puffing etiquette, could dispose of their unhealthy ends properly, but in the belief the outside world is theirs to pollute as a right, most of them don’t. Consider for a moment an elegant building whose driveway or walkway is littered with stubby cigarette ends whose stale and offensive odour clings to your soles – and nostrils.The Government’s coming ban on public smoking would refreshingly eradicate this nocuous and distressing experience of the non-smoker.What smokers are unaware of, or oblivious to, is the discomfort to others by their induced end-product of malodour – and we haven’t yet got around to ill health. The palpably undesirable smell and danger elements of the cigarette linger for a long time after the puffer has left the area of smoking. It is not unknown for a shirt worn in a smoky bar, for example, for less than an hour to be smelling of smoke three days later.And there is no great deal more comfort standing in the open air next to a smoker whose puffs percolate your nostrils and lungs – a case of significant harm to the innocent breather, especially over long periods of time. Let’s face it: the bystander is exposed to risks ranging from cancer to heart disease, which scientific evidence has substantiated for decades now. We have learnt that even short-term second-hand smoke can have a debilitating effect on many of its breathers. Temporary exposure to the exhalations may cause persistent headaches, breathing difficulties, and irritation of the sinuses – just a few of the inflictions by smokers on the innocents.And the Minister of Health’s intent ought not to be derailed by the specious argument that a man should have the right to smoke himself to death anywhere, as he does to eat as unhealthily as he can.Smoking unendingly in a public place before innocents is vigorously different from consuming cholesterol-laced fast food daily. Both practices are understood to be harmful to the consumer; but in the latter case, the fallout is essentially to the user. Maybe the poor eater will die sooner, and if he is also into smoking, sooner yet. The puffer – with fast food or not – will take others with him, or before him. And, it cannot be acceptable, as suggested by Barbados’ largest wholesaler of cigarettes Brydens that the Government should create designated outdoor smoking spots for the addicted. Where would they be? And, how many? And, at what cost?And, for what good reason now that Government has had the guts to rid the country of a nasty and unhealthy habit?