Ontario lights a fire under smokers

Anti-smoking activist Heather Crowe died on Monday without ever having smoked a cigarette. You may recognize her from the TV commercial where she spoke of her battle with lung cancer – a disease she was stricken with after working in a smoky restaurant for nearly 40 years.
Meanwhile, next week Ontario will essentially become a smoke-free province – in public places at least. The Smoke-Free Ontario Act promises to “ban smoking in all enclosed public places and workplaces as of May 31, 2006, including restaurants, bars, schools, private clubs, sports arenas, entertainment venues, work vehicles and offices.”
Which brings us to trucking. Since your truck is your workplace, will the smoking ban extend to the cab of your truck?
What if you’re an owner/operator? In that case your cab is essentially your home away from home – shouldn’t you be allowed to light up in the privacy of your own cab? Will it depend on whether you’re on- or off-duty? Whether the wheels are rolling or not rolling? It appears the answers to these questions are shrouded in a cloud of smoke.
While the province of Ontario has reported in the media that its anti-smoking law should supercede any federal mandates, the Ontario Trucking Association has argued that the federal rules (which exempt vehicles) should be enforced.
I can imagine how we’ll find out the final answer. You’ll be driving along the 401, minding your own business when one of Ontario’s finest will flash his lights and pull you over. Panic will strike as you wonder if your load has somehow come loose? But nope, the officer will instead hand you a hefty ticket for driving along with the window down with a cirgarette butt dangling from your fingers.
Just what this industry needs – more regulation! Of course, there are times when smoking in trucks should be forbidden. If you’re a company driver and share your vehicle with others, for instance. No amount of air freshener will remove the smell of smoke from the upholstery and non-smokers shouldn’t have to deal with that while on the job. It’s also not unreasonable for a company to enforce a strict no-smoking policy in all its own trucks – after all, who can blame them from wanting to protect the interior from burn marks and smokestains?
As far as the owner/operator is concerned, however, I hope they don’t get burned by this new rule. Stopping on the side of the road several times a day to have a cigarette is not only inefficient – it’s downright dangerous. While the intentions of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act are admirable, I’m of the opinion longhaul truckers should be exempt from this rule.
And this is coming from a non-smoker.

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • I am really amazed the OTA finaly siding with truck drivers on the no smoking issue?Being the out and out want to be dictarship the OTA has become this really suprises me,could it be that DAVID BRADLEY AND HIS CRONIES DOWN AT THE POSSUM LODGE ON DIXON RD REALIZE IF THIS IS ENFORCED IT COULD ADD TO THE ALREADY DRIVER SHORTAGE PROBLEM?Or is the OTA simply playing hero to make them selves look good in the eyes of smoking truck drivers?Either way it would be hard to enforce think about it,trucks and drivers from the USA carry smokin drivers would’nt a US truck be consider US property the same as a ship registered off shore?My vote would be the OTA is playing hero!It really makes one wonder why did our fathers and uncles go to Europe in WW2 and die fighting for freedom and personal rights when fifty years later we have become a dictarship!And the sad part of all this we’ve sat back and let this happen!

  • Ms. Crowe was a teenage smoker, she quit when she was in her twenties.
    Regardless, there is no reeputable scientific proof that Crowe’s lung cancer was caused by second-hand tobacco smoke.
    There are too many other variables to consider when possible disease causation is concerned.
    It is more likely that Ms. Crowes lung cancer growth was excelerated by the “fresh” Ontario outdoor air.
    If one reasonably factors all forms of pollution and other possible cancer inducing stimuli into the risk assessment equation, there is no valid scientific proof that Heather Crowe’s cancer was “caused” by
    second-hand tobacco smoke exposure.
    Genetics, diet and city living also play paramount roles in the development of cancers in humans.
    Ontario’s and Quebec’s provincial smoking bans have little if any scientific basis.
    And yes, truck drivers should be legally permitted to smoke in their own work vehicles, providing no one complains.
    I am a retired medical professional who is sickened by the second-hand smoke hoax.Smokers should be shown compassion and educated as to the reasons they should give up tobacco products.
    The current war on smoking and smokers is neither ethical or moral.
    And worst of all, the second-hand smoke sham is a specious means of
    brow-beating smokers into quitting smoke via fear and loathing propaganda.
    The anti-smoking lobby are attempting to have smokers viwed as modern day “lepers.”
    Social oucasts.
    Bigotry by any other name is still, bigotry none the same.
    More interesting reading about heather Cowe and her mythical,
    “smoker’s tumor.”
    There is no such thing.
    Dr. Ronald G. Robinson(retired)

  • Speaking as someone who has drivin trucks for most of my life, I must say that this is finally enough. I find Transport driving to be Extremely stressfull and under appreciated. Since when has the smell of cigarette smoke become dangerous to a non-smokers health?, I read one article that said they shouldnt have to put up with that,,,someone should tell them they have bad body odor,,,but wait,,,A boss is not allowed to do that. So while I sit in a cab smelling the last guys 7 day old underwear, i can rest assured that because I gave up my only means of stress releif he wont have to catch a wiff of a cigarette that was smoked the day before.
    Why dont these bleeding harts who scream just to be heard do something about the sea of exaust i must endure everymoring I start my truck or the constant stink of exaust along the 401. I am no Doctor but i think starting a truck on a cold day will do far more damage than smelling smoke, we are not talkin about second hand smoke here but the smell of smoke.
    I have been threatened with dismissal from my company of 10yrs if i smoke in the truck again, meanwhile back at the office the shed outside (built just for their smokers) is fuming away (on company property). So for those who have said truck drivers have not been singled out are ignorant. After 10yrs of solid service I am now walkin a fine line by sneakin in a smoke in the cab because the winds along the 401 intollerable.
    I am not saying that the Government is responsible for my addiction but how bout a warning to try and quit. This was sudden for me, as a matter of fact the first time I heard anything about it was when the Boss laid down his new law. If I wasnt so week I would have quit years ago.
    Every year the fines get higher, the fuel gets higher, the taxable benefits fewer, the drivers we share the road with get worse. Either the shine has wore off or I just feel the B.S. isnt worth it anymore. I am not giving it up because i cant smoke,,,I will be giving it up because it just isnt worth it anymore…


  • YO!
    I used to smoke and there is still, after 30 years, the odd time when the first whiff of a freshly-lit, non-light cigarette still smells “Mmmm…”. But, over the past eight years I have become more and more sensitive to smells, so much so that certain smells make me physically ill. It’s not that I just don’t like smoke or smokers, I truly get physically ill in smoke or other strong smells. Cigarette smoke, especially light or mild brands (don’t ask my why), has forced me to leave three driving jobs because of second-hand and the lingering affects of smoke in the cabs. The other drivers don’t recognize the cab as anyone else’s work-place when they themselves aren’t driving and the companies either cry “exemption” or “settle it amongst yourselves”. I can’t even attend my local church because so many of the female parishoners feel that part of being dressed up includes the wearing of perfume or cologne. Certain stores that have a perfume department right at the entrance are also places that I can no longer patronize. Even candles that spread fragrance throughout the air have become unbearable. I am tired of apologizing to everyone around me for my condition. For years I would get a bite to eat in a truck-stop and grab a quick shower before being banished to the truck, unable to watch TV or relax in their facilities among the smokers.
    “Retired Dr”, shame on you. You of all people should KNOW the effects that smoke and residual smoke have on the human body.
    I am tired of running the gauntlet of addicts getting their fix that congregate around the entrances of buildings where their workplace is smoke-free. I am tired of not being able to go to a bar or lounge legislated non-smoking because the owners can’t or won’t enforce the law because they are scared of losing smoking patrons. Face it! You smokers are addicts! Nothing more or less, and the government is your supplier.