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Freedom vs. Health

Jennifer's Journal

New tobacco legislation will come into effect on August 15 in Saskatchewan. It will be the first round of laws to flout our free-will for the sake of our health, leaving us to wonder just how far government should interfere with our personal decisions and lifestyle choices.Of course, it is hard for anyone to find fault with the first bought of legislation meant to cease smoking in the province. It bans smoking on school property.I can remember one school janitor from my youth that would have disagreed with that law. He loved to smoke, and he looked so cool doing it. Come to think of it, that law does sound like a good idea, kids are pretty impressionable.The part of the amendment that is somewhat disturbing takes effect in October. It will ban smoking in vehicles with children under 16 years of age.I am not saying that I condone dosing kids with second-hand smoke. What I am saying is "what next?"Today, you can't smoke in your own car, and maybe tomorrow you can't smoke in your own house. Who's to say how far the government is willing to push for a smoke-free Saskatchewan.For the record, I am not a cigarette smoker, but I do get cautious when the "powers that be" start telling us how to act in our personal lives and on our own property. Also, on occasion, I like to imbibe in one of those flavoured and filtered cigars called cigarillos that were banned earlier this year as part of the ongoing amendments to The Tobacco Control Act. And, as an adult, I felt like my right to indulge in a perfectly legal product was infringed upon.It is easy to see where this type of legislation comes from - pressure from various health agencies that are trying to win the war against tobacco-related death and disease, not to mention the expense. A report commissioned by the Canadian Cancer Society is estimating there is a $1.1 billion yearly price tag associated with the use of tobacco in Saskatchewan.That cost is offset by only 18 percent through tobacco tax revenue. The same report also contends that smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke killed 1,561 people in 2005, or approximately one out of every five deaths in the province.The new legislation's principal goal is preventing new smokers from starting - 100,000 teenagers start smoking in Canada annually.I guess the province has to decide which costs more: the price of smoking or the price of freedom.