January 2002
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A No-Win Situation: Smoking ban fails to butt-out second hand smoke
By: Melody Rogan, Grade 12, Tec Voc High School, Winnipeg, MB

Forget bars! When I turn eighteen in a couple of weeks, I might actually be allowed into a coffee shop or restaurant! Woo-hoo!

You may have heard (the story has made national headlines) that Winnipeg has a new no-smoking by-law. Under the new rules, no smoking is allowed in establishments that admit minors. In response, rather than banning customers who smoke, some restaurants are now banning kids.

I have never been so insulted in my entire life. The fact that businesses here in Winnipeg decided to choose smokers over minors is disheartening, to say the least. I was hoping the smoking ban would deliver a message geared more towards the people who are choosing to pollute not only their lungs, but the clean air around them.

We're all aware of how the whole thing started. On January 1st of this year, Mayor Glen Murray put the smoking ban into effect. Businesses where minors are present would have to be completely smoke-free and anyone caught lighting up in these places would be fined. Businesses that failed to put up proper signs would also be looking at fines.

The whole thing blew up in the faces of those who supported it, however, once business owners decided to ban minors and fire employees who were under the age of 18, rather than lose business from their smoking customers.

This created a huge uproar, with minors being the ones thrust into the middle of the whole thing. Nobody cares about what kids have to say anyway, so it was easy to leave us out of the whole issue.

Well, I happen to think that the whole thing has taught us minors how little respect our elders really have for us. They would rather promote smoking-related diseases than have us in their stores and restaurants.

Why should we have to suffer because of something we have absolutely no control over? We don't have any choice as to how old we'd like to be. People who smoke, on the other hand, did have the choice. They decided to start smoking, therefore, I believe they should be the ones left out in the cold.

Minors are minors because they don't have control over the number of years they've been on this planet. Smokers are smokers because they choose to stick a poisonous white tube into their mouths, which affects all of us.

What is so hard about smoking outside? Oh, your fingers are getting cold? Well, tough! That should get you thinking seriously about what your dirty little habit is really doing to benefit you.

I don't want to breathe in smelly, toxic air, thank you! And if you think I'm being too hard on those who smoke, I can only hope that you have no say in the final decision regarding the smoking ban. Smoking kills people. I have no sympathy for those who continue to do it.

And for those of you who smoke and disagree with what I've been saying, I can only ask you politely to butt out!