Should Drivers Be Allowed To Smoke In Their Trucks?
December 1, 2009
BOWMANVILLE, Ont. - An Ontario truck driver gained mainstream media attention in early October after a police officer fined him for smoking in his cab -an apparent affront to the province's Smoke Free...
BOWMANVILLE, Ont. –An Ontario truck driver gained mainstream media attention in early October after a police officer fined him for smoking in his cab -an apparent affront to the province’s Smoke Free Ontario Act, which considers a truck cab a workplace and, therefore, a smoke-free zone.
Both fellow truckers and members of the public came to the driver’s defense through a variety of means, including op-ed pieces, online comments, tweets and other social media.
While most supporters of the smoking trucker claimed the officer was making an unfair example of the driver, the government is standing by the decision, claiming that the law is purely a health issue and should be viewed as such. But is this tough stance going too far? Truck News stopped by the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop in Bowmanville, Ont. to see if truckers think smokers should be able to light up in their rigs.
Dave Parent, a driver with R & G Transport in Sussex, N.B., said the law is just one more thing the government has done to take the enjoyment out of trucking.
“The government, especially in Ontario and Quebec, has taken away just about everything there ever was to enjoy in trucking. I’ve smoked all my life, and I’m not about to stop now for them or anybody unless I want to,” he told Truck News, adding he would take the case “right to the Supreme Court of Canada” if he had been fined.
Ron Thompson, a 30-year veteran driving for Kemira Waters Canada out of Varennes, Que., said he thinks drivers should be allowed to smoke in their rigs -provided they’re not running team.
“If they’re all alone in the cab, I don’t think they should be forced not to smoke in a truck. I think it should be the driver’s preference whether to smoke or not, and the law should not be forced onto a driver. We’ve got enough laws to follow now without having that – that one’s pretty ridiculous,” he said.
Thompson noted that Ontario’s new hands-free law is something he definitely supports and police should be spending more time enforcing laws like that instead (see the November installment of the Truck Stop Question for more on that topic).
Nick Schmidt, a driver with Sunbury Transport out of Mississauga, Ont., says asking drivers to butt out in their cabs would be no different than asking someone not to smoke in their own house.
“I just quit smoking, but if I was (the trucker who was fined) and I had a cigarette and the cop pulled me over I would have said, ‘Well you better start pulling over all these cars that are company vehicles’,” Schmidt said.
“I’ve seen millions of cops smoking in their cars and doing their laptops while they’re going down the road. I don’t think it’s right. I wouldn’t pay the fine. I’d fight it all the way.”
John Moon, an owner/operator for CRST Malone in Eldridge, Iowa, says he disagrees with the law, but admits that non-smokers’ rights need to be taken into consideration.
“I think you ought to respect non-smokers’ rights. If you have a non-smoker with you, that’s between you two. But I think (the law) is going overboard on it. I can see if I go in there and it smells smoky, alright, I’ll obey that law, but in my truck I should be able to smoke as long as I’m not on a petroleum site property or something where there’s a ban on the property. But for all of Ontario, that’s absurd.” •