Paul Parillo Up in Smoke

Legislation has been footed to the members of parliament that would make smoking on patios illegal in 2013. Although I’m a non-smoker to begin with, I must admit, people smoking around me on a patio has never been too bothersome. Generally, people are courteous and respectful (or should I say most people), and it’s not too common that I have thick yellowy walls of smoke penetrating some meal I may be trying to enjoy.

Regardless of any variance to your own experience (and I’m sure there are some bad ones), the argument of an individual’s freedom always seems to poke its sometimes redundant head into this kind of business. So, would this new bill be an infringement?

Like any form of segregation, both opposing sides have their reasons for being pissed off. In this instance, you have the folks who insist that smoking interferes with “everyone’s air” and it’s rude and not fair that non-smokers should be subject to it. Ironically, the people who are most offended often seem to incite an equal amount of egotistical rudeness that could challenge any smoker’s apparent lack of care.  

And of course, the smoking demographic never budges from their right as free individuals to smoke whenever and wherever they choose. But as we’ve seen over the past twenty years and more, smokers have been slowly ex-communicated from the general public in most social settings – as if they’ve been marooned by a vengeful crew (get off our smoke-free boat!).

Infringement on personal freedoms versus the medical risks of smoking (both direct and second hand) – how does one decide? I have no doubt that if the bill gets passed, it won’t be long until smokers (who have been siphoned onto the sidewalks for cigarette breaks) will be kicked off the sidewalks and onto the streets. This may sound like a “slippery slope“ fallacy, but how unrealistic is it to imagine smokers eventually being put in a position where smoking means some severe quarantine scenario just so they all end up quitting to rejoin the rest of the smoke-free population?

Regardless, it’ll be interesting to watch this new bill unfold before parliament, and like sociological scientists, we can watch the human condition change to fit the new mandated way of living.   

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