Fredericton — Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em because tobacco use in public is about to become more regulated than the Energy East pipeline. Today, Health Minister Victor Boudreau unveiled even more anti-smoking amendments to the Tobacco Sales Act — regulations that the minister claimed to be the most aggressive on the continent.
Last week, the provincial government released new measures to ban smoking from many outdoor places that may be used by children including restaurant patios, beaches, parks and sports fields. Also, new rules for e-cigarettes and vaping were announced, which will restrict those devices to smoking areas. This past Friday, the government subsequently revealed plans to prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes as well as candy and fruit-flavoured cigarillos as of Jan. 1, 2016.
But, the Liberal government isn’t done with smokers yet. Today, they released additional tobacco use limits, the most restrictive and punitive in North America.
Starting July 1, smoking in public only will be a legal activity between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. All types of public smoking outside of this 10-hour window are strictly prohibited, and punishable by a fine of $1,110. This restriction is to reduce the likelihood that a child will be exposed to secondhand smoke, and greatly reduce the risk of children witnessing the act of smoking.
Other new restrictions include the following:
- In addition to the fine, anyone caught smoking unlawfully will be forced to speak for the rest of the day using an electrolarynx, the medical device used to produce a robotic voice for people who have lost their voicebox due to cancer;
- Anyone under the age of 19 caught smoking will have to smoke the entire pack in front of an inspector, or eat an unfiltered cigarette and prove that they swallowed it;
- Each package of cigarettes now must include a simulated piece of diseased human lung;
- Citizens will be obligated by law to speak as sanctimoniously as possible to anyone seen smoking. The smoker must be told “you’re killing yourself” at least once every 60 seconds until the cigarette is finished;
- Smokers only can receive health care if they agree to wear a scarlet letter “S” on their hospital gown over their lungs while receiving services;
- The price of a carton of cigarettes will be increased to include the wholesale cost of an oxygen tank, which will be provided to local health-care facilities proactively on the smoker’s behalf.
At 20 percent, New Brunswick has the highest per capita smoking rate in the country compared to the national average of 15 percent. For those between the ages of 20 and 24, the rate is even higher at 28 percent. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, lung cancer accounts for about 25 percent of all cancer deaths in the province, and 85 percent of those cancers are caused by smoking.
“Smoking is set to become the most tightly controlled human activity in New Brunswick history,” said Boudreau. “As long as the government is paying for health care with tax revenue, we can justify just about any tobacco regulation and tax. So, we are just going to town on them.”
When asked whether there will be additional regulations on other health-adverse activities such as alcohol and caffeine consumption, unhealthy food, poor sleep, over-work, inactivity, lack of vaccinations, promiscuous unprotected sex, high-risk recreational activities, and poor oral hygiene, Boudreau was incredulous. “We can’t regulate those things the same way as smoking. This is still a democracy after all. I’m not sure what you are getting at.”