November 27, 2002
Heather Crowe asks Labour Ministers to ban smoking in all Canadian workplaces
“I want to be the last person to die from second-hand smoke at work.” – Heather Crowe
(Ottawa). - A former waitress in Ottawa, Heather Crowe, this week wrote to all fourteen federal, provincial and territorial Ministers responsible for workplace health and safety asking them to ban smoking in all workplaces, with no exceptions.
Ms. Crowe, who never smoked, has inoperable lung cancer due to second-hand smoke. The Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board recently accepted her insurance claim in compensation for workplace exposure to second-hand smoke during her 40 years as a waitress. Ms. Crowe is featured in a current Health Canada advertising campaign against the dangers of second-hand smoke.
“I am the canary in the coal mine for the hospitality industry,” remarked Ms. Crowe ruefully. If Labour Ministers do not move quickly to ban smoking in all workplaces, then waiters, waitresses and other workers will continue to die from second-hand smoke.
Continuing her remarks, Ms. Crowe said, “It would be like ignoring the fact that the canary in the restaurant has stopped singing, and sending the workers in anyway to certain danger, and perhaps death.” All federal, provincial, and territorial occupational health and safety laws oblige employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace.
“The scientific evidence is now clear – any exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke is dangerous and workplace smoking should be banned,” said Neil Collishaw, Research Director for Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. Yet Ministers of Labour have failed to give employers the tools they need to meet their legal obligations. “Not one of these jurisdictions has regulations that provide 100% protection to workers from second-hand smoke. But Labour Ministers have both the power and the authority to adopt such regulations, and they should do so without delay,” urged Mr. Collishaw.
Roy Romanow has been reminding us that not only is prevention better than cure, but it is also much cheaper for Canada’s health care system. What better way to save lives and save money than get rid of smoking in the workplace! Second-hand smoke causes an estimated 1,000 to 8,000 deaths a year in Canada. Workplace smoking bans that apply nation-wide would cost nothing; they would prevent a great many of those deaths, and reduce the burden on our health care system.
Failure to act to protect the blood supply has resulted in charges of criminal negligence against officials. Mr. Collishaw asks, “Could the same thing happen to Labour Ministers and their officials who fail to create regulations that protect workers from a known workplace hazard – second-hand smoke?”
For information: Neil Collishaw