Cigarettes are legal, with only a few certain age restrictions. And they are also lethal. In fact, put to exactly the purpose they are intended by the manufacturer, they kill about half of the people who use them.
If we sold cars on the same basis, we could dispense with seat belts, air bags, and a host of other expensive safety devices, such as headlights, brake and signal lights, windshield wipers, and what have you, that the consuming public has demanded be added over the years.
In fact, if we accepted the same 50 per cent lethality rate for cars that we accept for cigarettes, we probably wouldnâ€™t need most of the restrictive legislation that forces us to adhere to speed limits, respect crosswalks, and stop at stop signs.
Allowing 50 per cent lethality would give us a lot of leeway that we simply donâ€™t accept in most other products, except maybe alcohol, grease-infused fast foods, or some cutting-edge medical treatments that actually give new hope to people in dire straits â€“ people like those suffering from lung cancer or other tobacco-related illnesses.
In B.C., smokers currently constitute about 13 per cent of the population.
Thatâ€™s the lowest rate among provinces throughout Canada â€“ but the Canadian Cancer Society feels thatâ€™s still not good enough, and wants the provincial government to take steps to push the rate down to at most nine per cent.
They want tobacco taxes raised from the current $47.80 to $50 per carton (200 cigarettes). They want current indoor smoking bans extended outdoors, to cover beaches, parks, and playgrounds, as well as bar and restaurant patios. They recognize the dangerous influence of e-cigarettes, and want them banned wherever smoking is banned. And they want the B.C. government to step in next year â€“ if the feds donâ€™t this year â€“ to take action against flavoured tobacco products.
Itâ€™s certainly not too much to ask during National Non-Smoking Week.
We ask far more from our cars.