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In support of the anti-smoking postcard campaign

Dear Editor,
On Friday the regional radio – CBQ out of Thunder Bay - ran a news story about the smoke-free bylaw campaign that is happening in our region. The Mayor of Dryden was interviewed and stated that the high return rate of the postcards did not impress him, as he already knew that over 80% of the citizens of Dryden are in favor of banning smoking (in enclosed spaces). He also said that he didn’t feel that the council would be voting on a bylaw for a long time because they wouldn’t want to restrict the rights of the smoking visitors to Dryden.
This particular position stuns us. How can an elected politician put the apparent desires of the smoking visitors to Dryden ahead of the health and clearly stated desires of the citizens he is supposed to represent? Maybe he should consider that 75% of those visitors he is so concerned about are non-smokers. Can we assume he is speaking for his council?
This is just one example of the weak-kneed responses we are seeing from municipal politicians across the district. Since the postcard campaign has shown that public opinion in NWOnt supports smoke-free bylaws, they all seem to be grasping at every excuse to turn their backs on the clear statement that their electorate have made.
A letter to the editor from Anthony Nickel that appeared in some of the local papers suggests that the Health Unit is wasting money on this postcard campaign. Surely Mr. Nickel understands that it is Dr. Sarsfield’s job to make sure that the people in Kenora-Rainy River District are not exposed to a health hazard. Would it be ok with Mr. Nichol if the health unit ignored a drinking water health hazard?…or a toxic spill on one of our highways? Would Mr. Nichol expect Dr. Sarsfield to consider the cost when moving to protect people from either of these health hazards? Dr. Sarsfield is only doing his job and we expect our local councils to do theirs.
The dollar cost of treating one lung cancer patient far exceeds the cost of this campaign, never mind the emotional cost to the patient, their family and friends. We know, and the municipal politicians know, that smoke-free bylaws save lives.
We encourage everyone to start talking to their councils about this issue…this is the time to speak out.
Yours sincerely,
Members of The Coalition for a Healthy Dryden-Working Toward Smoke Free Spaces
Elva Watts, Erna Sweet-Gilmour, Robert Button, Nancy Davis, Jennifer McKibbon, Sue Wood, Barb Roussin, Karen Mazurski, Christine St. Louis, Julie Makar, Tammy Pentney, Lorne & Anne Silver