Saint John — The Saint John Regional Hospital’s smoking ban came into effect last week after months of planning. Called “Smoke Free Together,” the new set of rules prohibits smoking on or near hospital property, for the health of patients and employees.
While the plan was designed to foster a sense of togetherness, smokers are angry at having their god-given right to inhale nicotine and tar taken away.
“I thought this was a free country,” said smoker Keith Crandall, 41, between violent fits of coughing. “I’ve been working at the hospital my whole adult life, and I’ve been smoking for even longer. No one’s got the right to rob me of my cigarettes.”
Crandall and a group of other SJRH employees were quick to proclaim that if they’re being forced to butt out, drivers of Volkswagens should be as well.
“I saw on the news last week that Volkswagens give off even more toxic fumes than what’s coming out of my lungs,” said SJRH patient Karen Cormier, spitting a gob of yellow sludge onto the pavement next to her feet. “Those diesel engines are what’s killing us — I say, ban them too.”
Cormier, referring to the Volkswagen scandal stating that the German automotive company has been lying about toxic emission levels for nearly a decade, brought the matter to the attention of the hospital’s board of directors.
In an effort to promote fairness, the board promptly banned Volkswagens as well. And not just those with diesel engines, but all Volkswagens, just to play it safe. Effective immediately, anyone caught driving one within 100 metres of the hospital property will be fined $500 and have their healthcare privileges taken away. If violators of the Volkswagen rule are also smokers, that healthcare ban will extend to their immediate family as well.
“We’re just trying to keep everyone happy and healthy,” said surgeon and board member Dr. Graham Kelly. “Healthcare is a privilege, not a right. People need to help themselves before we can do anything for them — if they want to smoke or drive Volkswagens, they can find someone else to treat their illnesses.”