Cher Yukon,

Comment ca va?

Today’s letter isn’t a funny story or even a human-interest story. It is a little bit more in the realm of a social commentary.

A large city centre obviously has more people than a small city centre … duh. Whitehorse, the largest city in the Yukon, is really a small city and Montréal, well, is a large city centre.

We all understand that.

The larger the city, the more people, the more people, the more a social issue is magnified.

That being said, I have to tell you that in the three months I have been here in the big city, I have smoked more cigarettes than I think I have ever smoked in my life.

“Oh, no,” you are saying. “The influence of the city lifestyle has turned Dale into a cigarette-packing urbanite!”

Wrong! It is just that in my travels on the street, in and out of stores, on and off of buses, I have managed to inhale more secondhand smoke than I would ever want anyone to inhale.

I don’t smoke. I detest the smell of cigarettes, but my poor lungs are taking a beating.

There are so many smokers here. Of course there are by-laws, just like in Whitehorse: NO SMOKING in public areas, restaurants, bars, etc. But the fine art of sidewalk smoking is a real problem.

People stand outside of doorways, puffing away, they walk down the crowded streets, cigarettes in hand and they stand at bus stops and light up.

I have found myself walking to the back of the bus line up to get out of the line of fire, so to speak. I hold my breath when I see a lit cigarette coming my way. I see people pushing baby carriages or strollers while smoking, I see (I really have to laugh at this) cyclists cruising by with cigarettes dangling from their lips and I see a lot of teenagers smoking.

It all saddens me. There is even one section of the main street in Verdun where, if you walk too slowly, you can get “hot boxed” … but that’s a whole other story.

Now I know it is freedom of choice to smoke and some people I care for dearly smoke, but I’m not particularly interested in inhaling more toxins than I already do.

I’m not trying to preach and say to people, “Don’t smoke.” That would be a little too brash and probably politically incorrect, but, well, you can read between the lines.

When we pause to consider the extensive research on the detrimental effects of secondhand smoke and the resulting struggle for the rights of the non-smoker we have to agree that this is a touchy subject that concerns everyone. However, I am really just looking at it from one pair of red eyes and one pair of unhappy lungs.

I leave you on this note today. Enjoy your clean Yukon air. It is something to be cherished. And, like the Anna Nalick song says, “Breathe, just breathe.”

A bientot!

Your friend,

Dale