READER REPORT:

Smoking bans are 'discrimination'

SHANE GARNETT
Last updated 15:00 06/08/2013
smoking
IT HURTS: Smokers are being discriminated against, writes Shane Garnett.

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My stand on smoking bans

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We've asked our readers to share their views on smoking bans in New Zealand cities.

I am continually stunned by the hypocrisy so many in our society are exhibiting over the concept of secondhand smoke and proposed smoking bans. 

Obviously, it isn't right for people to smoke indoors where there are other people who are not smokers. Also obvious, is the idea that it would be ideal if everybody just quit smoking. But if you've ever been a smoker, you'll know it isn't that simple.

What irks me though, is the indignation towards people smoking in outdoor spaces and the suggestion that it is a significant health risk to those around. Of course it's a risk. There are numerous studies that prove this. But most of those studies seem to also suggest that the risk is low.

Anti-smoking campaigns in New Zealand are misguided. We've all seen them. "Smoking is kaka", one said. Another, with someone saying they "wouldn't date someone who smoked". 

How these are supposed to encourage people to quit smoking is quite beyond me. But what it does encourage is a fair amount of stigma and indignation from the non-smoking community.

What do we hope to achieve by generating what I think is quite hostile stigma towards the people in our society who smoke? Why do we have to condemn the person, rather than the habit? In all likelihood, if you read a little about psychology, such attitudes are likely to encourage the person to continue smoking, rather than to quit.

I think encouraging people to quit a habit which is bad for them is a generally good thing. But the campaign has been mismanaged from its outset. It has been judgmental and demeaning from its inception.

I think the proposed smoking ban is discrimination. 

Health risk seems to be the big driving force behind the proposed smoking ban. But again, the hypocrisy of it is disgusting. 

Yes, the smoke from one cigarette may blow on to you if the smoker is in your vicinity in the open air. However, it will blow off you equally as fast. 

Why should the many thousands of people in Auckland be allowed to drive around all day, putting invisible matter into the air that we all have to breathe, yet an apparent minority is not allowed to partake of a habit which they are chemically addicted to?

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The fact is, there's a lot of things we do in our current society that are detrimental to the quality of the air we are all breathing. Yet all of those evils continue and the smoker gets targeted. 

To a degree, I suspect the smoker is targeted simply because the emissions from their cigarettes are visible.

I'm not even going to go into the fact that smokers are soon to be banned from smoking in outdoor areas provided by bars because of their "filthy" and "deadly" habit, while inside there is a wildly out of control drinking culture.

People, in fact, commit a wide range of offences while under the influence of booze. 

Gee, I'm sure glad those people outside the bar can't smoke anymore. I feel so much safer.

In comparison to other evils, smoking seems pretty minor. I think we need to stop whining and look at some bigger and more far-reaching problems.

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