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A lot of hard-hearted people inhabit this ol‘ world, and righteous non-smokers are at the top of the list.
Last week we reported on cigarette butts littering the periphery of the Bridgepoint hospital, mostly from staff and visitors. We inadvertently learned that patients who smoke anywhere on the property — no matter how far from the doors — are violating the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, which totally bans smoking on hospital grounds.
Even though we have never smoked, we expressed sympathy for people in a health crisis who need a cigarette and aren’t able to quit just because they’re confined to a hospital where it’s against the rules.
We were stunned by the lack of compassion for smokers dealing with serious health problems. Dozens of non-smokers weighed in, seeming to delight in the discomfort caused by the new rule, which came into effect Jan. 1.
“Too bad so sad,” said Jane Choy in a Facebook post. “Don’t stink up the hospital and its surrounding with your smoke and buds (sic).”
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“I find it hard to have any sympathy or empathy for them,” said Glen Hamilton. “Sooner or later these Dodo birds will get the message.”
“I have no sympathy for smokers,” said Renay Lambert, who has never smoked. “Whenever I walk by individuals who are smoking, I always visualize myself with a fire extinguisher and pulling the lever.”
Nora Rafferty took the other side, saying, “the failure to provide smoking areas and butt receptacles outside hospitals and rehabilitation centres is cruel.
“Punishment of smokers is perhaps the last accepted arena for state sanctioned intolerance and unkindness.”
Rita Mario, a non-smoker, said she can’t stand the smoky haze near entrances to buildings, but, “having said that, I think that not providing a place to smoke for patients is a little harsh.
“People that are ill cannot just be expected to quit cold turkey because they need to be hospitalized. I’m not a doctor, but it might even impact their getting better.”
“The removal of a smoking area for patients, who are already enduring other woes, is absolutely cruel,” said Carrie Loring.
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“I am less concerned about employees or visitors who have the ability to leave the facility and have a smoke elsewhere. But, patients who smoke who are captive to their present circumstances, should be allowed on occasion to have a smoke.”
We wrote last week that the Bridgepoint patients are “outlaws and litterbugs, through no fault of their own.” That was enough to provoke Kathy Mann to reply on Facebook that it is “beyond ridiculous as a statement.
“Of course it’s their fault. They are choosing to smoke and choosing to litter. Just follow the rules and don’t smoke while you’re at a hospital!!!”
“Get with it or quit,” said Emily Mc. “Any smokers that have respect for people’s rights to not inhale second hand smoke would agree.”
In almost 15 years of writing Fixer columns, it’s fair to say we have never come across such indifference to suffering. Bridgepoint is a complex care/rehabilitation hospital.
Some of the patients are in trouble up to their eyeballs. And if you can’t understand why they aren’t likely to kick a habit with at least as much grip as heroin at the worst time in their lives, you are marvelously blessed.
Keep your fingers crossed that your luck holds up.
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