Friday, December 03, 2004

Warning: Smoking IS hazardous to your health, and mine too.

Our Canadian Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh is proposing bold new health regulations that will force manufacturer's to design cigarettes that will go out if they are left unattended and burning.

Hailed as "reduced ignition propensity" cigarettes, it is hoped that this design change will reduce the thousands of fires caused each and every year by cigarettes, the leading cause of residential fire-related deaths and injuries in Canada.

Ofcourse, these fires most commonly kill children and elderly people and cause millions in property damage annually. The manufacturers complain that the reduced ignition cigarettes will frequently go out and a cigarette that has been relit after going out tastes awful to the consumer. Oh boo hoo, and give me a break. How can anyone hold that above the life of a child? Oh wait... smokers already hold their right to smoke above the life of a child, or in most cases, many children.

Never mind that two thirds of smoke from a cigarette is not inhaled by the smoker, but enters the air around the smoker, and that this second-hand smoke has at least twice the nicotine and tar as the smoke inhaled by the smoker. Or that regular exposure to second-hand smoke (again, mostly children who have a higher metabolism which causes them to absorb higher amounts of smoke than adults) increases the chances of contracting lung disease by 25 percent and heart disease by 10 percent. Or that infants and children exposed to second-hand smoke are most likely to suffer chronic respiratory illnesses, impaired lung functions, asthma, chronic middle ear infections, food allergies and can even succumb to sudden infant death syndrome. Or that there is no known safe level of exposure to the 250+ carcinogens found in cigarette smoke, for anyone (user or not), ever.

So if people refuse to quit on their own (for the obvious self centered health reasons, or for the protection of their loved ones) then I support the government taking action to protect our most vulnerable citizens by bringing in measures to reduce the number of selfishly caused (preventable) tragedies due to smoking related fires.

The proposed regulations would require all cigarettes manufactured or imported for sale in Canada to meet the new standard by October 2005. I don't know why we have to wait, or how many more lives will be irrepairably damaged before then, but I think the regulations should be altered just a little bit further, to make cigarettes not ignite at all.

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