I have followed with interest the smoking bylaw debate, and I am saddened by the stand the majority of our local politicians are taking on this issue. The most common response seems to be that even if passed, a smoking bylaw will lack the teeth to enforce it.
While this may be true, I feel the larger point is being missed. That is, the vast majority of people in Rainy River District (and elsewhere) are law-abiding citizens—smokers and non-smokers alike—and would comply with the bylaw, if passed.
Recall that until recently, smoking was allowed in the Memorial Arena. One woman thought this was wrong as the arena is a place frequented by our youth. In fact, I believe I first read about it in her letter to the editor of the Times.
This one citizen felt strongly enough to be moved to action. She was the catalyst that caused the amendment to the town bylaw restricting smoking in municipally-owned buildings (Aug. 13/01).
During the transition period when some forgot and lit up, they were politely reminded by others about the new rule. So you see, the community has a built-in enforcement system—the people themselves!
Smokers have the right to smoke. However, I also believe they have the ability to eat a meal in a restaurant and leave before needing to light up.
It would have been easier to not write this letter. However, if the woman I mentioned believed this, our youth may still have been breathing in second-hand smoke at the arena.
So hats off to the power of one! As for the rest of the silent majority out there, contact your local councillors and let them know how you feel.