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Sunday, 2 March 2008

THE PERLEY VETERAN SMOKING ROOM

An update on the Perley Veteran smoking room (for background see THE PERLEY VETERANS SAGA CONTINUES and ARE PEOPLE RESIDENTS OR INMATES?).

While they finally got their room, at least one journalist – Earl McRae – is starting to understand how over the top the fear of second hand smoke has become. Actually, although we know that the propaganda does feed the hype of a number of hypochondriacs, we don’t believe that most people are afraid of second hand smoke. Many non-smokers simply don’t speak out because 1) They don’t care since it’s not affecting their lives 2) Go along with it because they don’t like the smell of burning tobacco. It is too bad that many people only care and get involved in an issue when it affects them directly and by then it’s already too late because the precedent has been established. Many of the modern day campaigns against this and that, take their model from the anti-smoking campaign. For those who are apathetic to the smoking issue, may we remind them that’first they came for the jews…’’.

Room to improve

Veterans finally have their smoking lounge, some of the time ...

By EARL MCRAE, OTTAWA SUN

The aged war vet was angry. I encountered him in the corridor leaving the smoking room at the Perley and Rideau Veterans Health Centre where he'd just had his third cigarette of the day.
Yes. Believe it. The renovated room is finally open. After months of opening promises and letdowns that confused and frustrated the smokers who had to go outside to indulge their pleasure -- their frail health vulnerable to rotten weather -- the room that the benevolent you, the public, made possible with some $80,000 in donations opened last Thursday.

I went over yesterday to check it out, not expecting anymore glitches, (surely no more glitches), and saw the sign: Hours Of Operation 9:15-17:00 Daily.

Hold it. The room is open only between 9:15 in the morning and 5 o'clock in the afternoon?

"No one told us this," said the vet bitterly. "It's saying 'We don't like you smoking, so we're only going to let you smoke up to 5 o'clock.' They're treating us like children. Bloody ridiculous."

Ridiculous, indeed. Does the Perley and Rideau think smokers automatically stop smoking at 5 p.m. each day only to automatically start again at 9:15 a.m.? What is the room -- a retail shop with closing and opening hours, including for holidays?

Does the Perley and Rideau believe bad weather only happens between 9:15 a.m. and 5 p.m. after which lovely weather automatically sets in making it a delight for the smokers to once again go outside between 5 p.m. and 9:15 a.m. the next day?

"I had to go outside last night to smoke," said the vet. "Why in blazes can't that room be open 24 hours? I'm telling you, they're trying to discourage us from smoking. Sure I'm addicted, but it's what I enjoy. At my goddamn age in life, I don't need do-gooders trying to get me to stop."

The room for the smokers is off a smaller non-smoking room that connects to the main corridor. The smoking room is windowless, not large. Maximum Occupancy -- 6 Persons, says its sign. Six? It's big enough to comfortably seat more. It has two green, hard plastic chairs. A round table with two ashtrays. Thirty-eight butts are in the ashtrays.

Another sign on the smoking room door: You Have To Live Here To Smoke Here. And Due To The Grave Health Effects Of Second-Hand Smoke, Employees Are Not Required To Enter. Grave health effects from second-hand smoke? From the smoke that is being provincially-standard, state-of-the-art ventilated to the outside? Give me a colossal break. You'd think "employees" would be stepping into the screaming hell of a thousand, torturous, diseases.

FIRE-RETARDANT APRONS

And in the outer-room, what were those six plastic, beige aprons hanging on hooks, aprons with the printed words Smoking Lounge?

Fire-retardant aprons? The smokers so careless they have to put on these aprons, kind of like an apron being put on a child in a highchair? Aprons to be worn voluntarily? Or enforced?

I phoned Paul Finn. He's managing director of the Perley and Rideau Foundation that co-ordinated the fund-raising. A non-smoker, Finn has been a huge supporter of the room for the smokers. A hero, no villain. The delays, the glitches, were outside his control.

The closing and opening hours sign. "The room doesn't shut down at 5 p.m. until the next morning. By law, it has to close each day for cleaning, but only for two hours and 15 minutes after 5 p.m. Except for that, it's open 24 hours." The sign is wrong, he says, needs to be clarified, and will be.

The aprons? He was puzzled. "I don't know about that. I didn't see them. I'll find out and let you know on Monday."

Finn said there will be more furnishings for the room to make it pleasant, including wall ceramics, and a large, flat-screen, high definition TV. "We want to thank all those who made the room possible. Since it opened, we've received calls from people saying thank you."

On the wall outside the entrance off the corridor, are two gold plaques: One crediting the "individuals and businesses" who "generously supported" the room; the other a dedication of the room on behalf of District G, Ontario Command, the Royal Canadian Legion.

The words on those two got it right.

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