April 3, 2011 - The veritable health risks of smoking and second-hand smoking have, with good reason, led to a society laced with smoking prohibitions. Many argue, though, that taking the law into the living room is going too far.
Denmark - housing association has plans to build 30 smoke-free units..
Lobbyist organisation, DARY – short for /Danmarks Rygerforening, or the Association for Danish Smokers – believes that banning smoking from housing and even public areas is not in keeping with our freedoms. In fact, in an interview with The Copenhagen Post, DARY representative Stefan Garvig called the situation a genuine witch-hunt sanctioned by parliament. In what Garvig called a direct violation of the right to freely choose your own home, “from now on, one is requested to document one’s smoking habits in order to be approved as a commendable resident.”
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Figures from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) from the World Health Organisation show that Denmark has an incidence of 326 people in every 100,000 developing cancer, the highest incidence in the world. Figures are based on 2008 statistics. (WHO figures show Denmark reports most cancer per 100,000 in the world.)
In 2010, Ørsesunds Dormitory officially became a non-smoking complex according to Berlingske. Intriguingly, many of those voting against the smoking ban were not smokers themselves; rather, they were simply opposed to being told what they may and may not do in their own homes.
“As a smoker, all other things being equal, one should and must have the free choice of selecting one’s home,” contended Garvig. However, housing associations across the nation are moving towards smoking prohibition.
As the first in Denmark, Frederikshavn Housing Association is introducing a complete smoking ban in residents’ own apartments. At least two other housing associations have announced that they too hope to soon offer smoke-free residences, reports TV2 News.
Kim Madsen, the business manager of Frederikshavns Housing Association, pointed out the needs of those with a lung disease or an allergy. The ban “is simply to guarantee that group of people a little to choose between,” Madsen told BT.
The Danish Smoking Law of 2007 aims to protect non-smokers from the health risks of second-hand smoke which, according to the Danish Lung Association, is responsible for nearly 2,000 annual deaths in the country.
According to Garvig, though, the adoption of the new smoking law has done much more than that: “Every one of the 1.6 million Danish smokers has virtually become an outcast.”
DARY considered the recent developments far too extreme, arguing that readily available indoor air conditioning essentially makes indoor smoking a non-issue. Not to mention outdoor smoking bans, which they deem laughable.
“The general air pollution will totally outnumber that tiny contribution of smoke from a few cigarettes,” Garvig explained.
DARY considers smoking a centuries-old, peaceful source of pleasure that should not be regulated by law, especially in a society in whic personal freedom is placed on such a high pedestal. They think the regulation of smoking in public areas should be assigned to, administrated and executed by those responsible for a particular location.
Similarly, Jacob Mchangama, the chief legal adviser of the liberal think-tank Cepos, argued that residential smoking bans are both ridiculous and puritannical. He warned against smoke-free residences becoming a part of the Danish smoking law. He, like DARY, believed it should be the owners of the building itself that regulate residents’ behaviour.
Reference: Smokers under siege, Mary Sandberg News, Copenhagen Post, 4/2/2011.t