Are smokers rights being infringed?

Provincial Health Minister Mike de Jong caused quite a stir during the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention in Vancouver when he suggested that Medical Services Plan premiums for smokers should be higher.

Provincial Health Minister Mike de Jong caused quite a stir during the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention in Vancouver when he suggested that Medical Services Plan premiums for smokers should be higher.

While it was merely an idea, de Jong wondered why people who don’t smoke should be paying the same premiums as people who engage in a habit that will cost more to the health system. Shouldn’t the people who engage in the dangerous habit of smoking be forced to pay more?

It doesn’t look the plan is going to come to fruition because Premier Christy Clark said she didn’t support the plan, adding that if the provincial government wanted to get more money from smokers, increases on cigarette taxes would be the way to do it.

I don’t smoke and neither did my grandfather.

He made his living as a bartender and passed away from lung cancer; there is a correlation between the disease that took his life, his profession and smoking.

I don’t like the smell of smoke and was glad when smoking rooms were introduced at bars when I was younger – I wasn’t a fan of going to a club or a pub and returning home, reeking of cigarette smoke – are we picking on smokers too much?

It is now illegal to smoke in an indoor public area and also near doorways, amongst other areas and in Vancouver it is also illegal to smoke on an outdoor patio but unless cigarettes are made illegal, people should be allowed to smoke.

Again, I’m not advocating smoking but it is not illegal to buy cigarettes and there are more than enough reminders that warn smokers about the dangers of their nicotine-fueled habit.

There are graphic pictures on cigarette packs, including pictures of cancerous lungs and other damaged organs, and there have also been some TV ads picturing people speaking out of a hole in their throat.

There also commercials talking about people that have lost loved ones (who were smokers) to lung cancer.

Smokers get it.

Their habit is dangerous and could very well likely lead to cancer and death.

If they continue to feed their habit, it isn’t like they haven’t been warned.

Besides, help is available in the cost of habit-breaking treatment like nicotine patches and gum, which are now covered by MSP.